Share This Post!


Avoid Lead Poisoning By Safely Removing Lead Paint

The primary source of lead poisoning comes from the dust of deteriorating lead paint. When lead particles are spread throughout the air, it becomes a severe health issue for children, especially for kids six and younger. Don’t let living in a home with lead paint hinder your plans to repair, remodel, or upgrade your home.

Lead Paint Removal Basics

Banned from residential paints in 1978, lead paint is in the majority of homes built before that year. Lead poisoning is caused by paint that is flaking, peeling, chipping, and chalking, or by dust during a repair project. However, by following the EPA guidelines, we can safely contain the dust and keep your home lead-safe and worry-free. Before hiring someone to remove lead paint, paint the inside, paint the outside, or repair your home, look at some of our recommended lead-paint work practices.

  1. Find the causes of damage and know whether or not you have lead paint by testing for it.
  2. Ensure whoever is working to remove lead paint has all federal, state, and local regulations covered, including all licensing.
  3. Confirm that extreme caution is taken when disturbing the lead paint, and all lead-safe dust control methods are followed. This includes setting up the work area, separating the workspace from the occupied space, and isolating the project’s dust part.
  4. Protect occupants, especially children, from lead poisoning by keeping them away from the work area and cleaning up the job site before they return. For workers, this includes wearing proper respiratory protection for lead dust, keeping the area clean, and not taking lead dust home by wearing protective outfits off the job-site.
  5. Clean up throughout each day, at the end of each day, and once the job is finished. This is extremely important, so lead dust particles are not being spread.
  6. Maintain the painted surfaces and keep them clean. Floors and painted surfaces should be vacuumed and mopped often, rugs and carpets should be cleaned as well.

Damaged surfaces that contain lead paint represent a health threat to occupants. One thing to keep in mind is if your house has any damaged surfaces. If it does, it is essential to correct the issue right away; otherwise, the damage will continue to occur.

Areas For Concern

The following conditions are examples of potential causes of damage to painted surfaces. Be sure that the planned work will correct these conditions if they are present.

Moisture From Outside

Moisture From Inside

  • Condensation due to poor ventilation, unvented steams, leaking plumbing, and failed seals.
  • Rubbing and impact of painted surfaces
  • Doors and windows, along with unprotected wall and trim

Places that Collect Dust and Paint Chips

  • When possible, repair or remove places where dust and paint chips may accumulate. If those areas are damp, they may contain mold. Our tip is to keep all flat surfaces clean and cleanable.

Structural Damage

  • Some issues may be caused by damage like dry rot and foundation settlement or shift.

Before You Start To Remove Lead Paint

Setup The Work Area – Interior

  • Restrict access by having occupants and pets vacate the areas where work will be done.
  • Protect the floor with taped down plastic sheeting extending at least six feet from where the lead paint is being disturbed.
  • Protect furniture by removing objects from the work area and covering and sealing objects that cannot be removed. Another important step is to close all windows, doors, and duct openings so dust particles do not spread.
  • Put all necessary tools and supplies on protective sheeting so you can avoid stepping off protective sheeting.
  • Wear protective shoe covering to prevent tracking lead dust to other parts of the house or areas nearby and remove them whenever you step away from sheeting. Use a trackpad or wipe down shoes whenever you step off protective sheeting. You can also use a HEPA vacuum cleaner to remove dust particles on clothing and shoes.
  • Setup a dust room which will make it easier to do dust-generating work and clean up after the job.

Setup The Work Area – Exterior

  • Protect the ground by covering it with plastic sheeting extending at least ten feet from the area of paint being disturbed. The distance allows for dust and falling debris to land on the sheeting for a detailed cleanup.
  • Attach protective sheeting to the wall with tape or staples.
  • Build a curb around the work perimeter when a sidewalk or another property is nearby.
  • Close all windows and doors within 20 feet of the work area. If they cannot be closed, seal them with protective sheeting. If the entrance must be used, closer than 20 feet, place a shroud above and on both sides so workers can pass through while confining dust and debris.

During this process, you should be aware of other construction hazards, including scaffolding, fall protection, ladders, head protection, hazard communication, construction, electrical, slips, trips, and falls. If you want to learn more, visit OSHA’s website.

Worker Protection

  • Protect eyes with safety glasses or goggles.
  • Keep clothes and tools clean, free of dust and debris whenever leaving the work area. After each workday, any dusty clothes and HEPA vacuum off the dust. This is in addition to wearing disposable protective clothing and a painter hat.
  • Wear respiratory protection.
  • Post warning signs.
  • Wash face and hands thoroughly each time you stop working.

Safely Removing Lead Paint

Interior Preparation

  • Set up (see above.)
  • Remove lead paint or deteriorated paint by wet scraping any loose, peeling, or flaking paint.
  • Fill and patch holes.
  • Prepare the surface by cleaning the walls, de-glossing surfaces, and priming the surfaces with high-grade primer.
  • Clean and clear up.

Exterior Preparation

  • Set up (see above.)
  • Clean surface with lead-cleaner, detergent, or a scrub brush.
  • Wet scrape wood and siding.
  • Mist and sand, using wet-dry sandpaper or a wet sanding sponge. You could also use a power sander if attached to a HEPA vacuum.
  • Prime and paint.
  • Clean up and clear the area.
  • Dispose of any wastewater collected.

Lead Paint Removal

  • Setup the work area interior and exterior (see above)
  • When using chemical strippers, make sure the protective covering is tightly fastened so that the stripper does not damage other surfaces. We recommend using a second layer of protective sheeting to collect the waste from stripping lead paint. After stripping the paint, use caution when sanding as it may contain lead residue.
  • Hand stripping, paint can also be removed with a scraper. Misting areas where lead needs to be removed is critical. Using a hand pane removes all paint and all residue. It also creates very little dust.
  • Using power tools for mechanical stripping’s such as sanders or grinders to remove lead paint is another mechanism. Make sure the device is shrouded and attached to a HEPA vacuum. Respiratory protection is still necessary during this process.
  • Heat stripping is another lead paint removal process that includes using a heat gun to remove paint. Be sure the temperature is set below 1100 degrees F.
  • Clean up and clear up. This involves picking up the work area, picking up the protective sheeting, HEPA vacuuming, misting and scrubbing, using a rinse rag, misting and scrubbing, and mopping the area.
Chemical Stripping

Knowledge and Resources

Lead Disclosure Rule

  • Before buying a pre-1978 home, the seller must disclose available records, reports, and info on lead paint and lead hazards. You must read through the sales contract as it must include a specific warning statement about lead paint. If you plan on buying a home, you have up to ten days to check for lead.

Renovation, Repair, and Painting


  • Buckets
  • Dustpan
  • Half mask respirator
  • HEPA shop vacuum
  • Paint scraper
  • Putty knife
  • Rags
  • Utility knife
  • Wet-sanding equipment


  • 6-mil poly
  • 6-mil trash bags
  • Carbide scraper
  • Duct tape
  • Medium and coarse sanding sponges
  • Paper shoe covers
  • Paper towels
  • Rubber gloves
  • Spray bottle

Additional Resources

About SFW Painting

SFW Painting prides itself on offering a full range of Portland and Seattle lead paint painting and renovation work. Our crews work to add or maintain your home’s value using the highest quality paints and materials available. With our lead paint removal, lead paint abatement, and historical home restoration process, your home will aesthetically pleasing and function well. If you want to see pictures of us safely painting a home or removing lead paint, visit the house painting portfolio page.