Can You Paint Over Lead Paint?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • You can safely paint over lead paint in an abatement strategy known as “encapsulation”.
  • Painting over lead paint helps to trap dust and chipping underneath a sealed surface, preventing exposure.
  • This approach is safe if you follow the proper precautions as you encapsulate the surface with an approved paint.
  • It’s recommended that you only rely on a trained professional to handle lead paint in any way.

Many people are aware of the potential health risks of lead paint and know that they should consider the presence of lead in their homes. For many, the remaining question is figuring out the best way to perform lead paint remediation so they can mitigate any risks associated with it.

Lead paint was banned for use in homes in 1978, but many homes built before that point still contain lead paint today. According to the CDC, approximately 29 million housing units have lead-based paint hazards in them.

Knowing this, it’s important for homeowners to have strategies in their pockets to handle it. Painting over lead paint is a commonly suggested solution—with the right approach and safety precautions, this is a safe method for lead paint remediation. When it comes to this strategy, the value of a professional service cannot be emphasized enough.

What Is Lead Paint?

Lead paint is any paint that contains lead, which is a toxic metal that is hazardous to human health. Lead-based paint was banned for use in homes in 1978, but it was commonly used before this point, making lead testing for older homes especially important.

Lead paint can lead to several health risks like:

  • Abdominal, joint, or muscle pain
  • Mood changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Developmental delays in children

Lead paint is dangerous largely when it begins to crack and peel, creating dust. Dust can also form when paint is scraped, sanded, or heated during home renovations or repairs. People are most often exposed by interfering with the paint in ways like chewing on surfaces or breathing in the dust.

Professional lead testing is crucial for homeowners to determine if lead paint may be present in the home. By understanding the full scope of the issue, you can take the appropriate steps to address it.

Can You Paint Over Lead Paint?

Yes, you can paint over lead paint. This process is known as encapsulation, and it’s an EPA-approved lead remediation technique. However, if you take this approach, it’s important to follow careful safety procedures in the process so you can ensure the safest result.

However, you should only paint over lead paint if you have the appropriate materials and procedures. For example, it’s crucial to use a lead encapsulating paint that will fully eliminate the risks, standard paint is not enough.

Safe encapsulants include:

  • Polymers with flexible membranes
  • Epoxy or polyurethane polymers
  • Cement-like materials with polymers

Is It Safe To Live in a Building Where Lead Paint Has Been Painted Over?

Encapsulation is a safe method for lead remediation, and residents can safely stay in a building where this process has been done. Because the main threat with lead paint is the spread of the chips and dust, painting over lead paint encapsulates the dust so that it won’t lead to any respiratory issues.

If the process was carried out with careful precautions and the right materials, then yes, it is completely safe to live in a building where lead paint has been painted over. For encapsulation to be considered safe, the old paint must be completely sealed in using an effective encapsulant before the new paint is applied.

To ensure complete safety and peace of mind, it’s often best to rely on a professional service. These services will be able to assess the full threat both before and after the process to ensure that the space is safe to reside in after the job is done.  

Considerations Before Painting Over Lead Paint

If you choose to paint for lead remediation, it requires thoughtful planning and preparation. Careful consideration before painting will ensure long-term safety.

Before painting over lead paint, you should take the following considerations:

  • Have a professional lead test completed – Lead testing the paint is essential for understanding your level of risk and where lead resides in the home so that no residual paint on any surfaces gets overlooked.
  • Avoid chipping or scraping the paint – Chipping or scraping the paint can release harmful dust, so never sand a surface with lead paint before repainting.
  • Assess the condition of the paint – If the paint has deteriorated too much to where you can’t paint over it or there is any damage to the surface, removal will be a better option than painting.
  • Use an encapsulant – Lead encapsulating paint is thicker than standard, store-bought paints and will be more effective at sealing in risks of lead, making it essential for safety.
  • Test the painting surface – Before applying anything and committing to the process, you should test the surface to verify the paint will stick.
  • Be selective when painting – You should never paint over high-friction surfaces like floors or stairs.

Risks and Safety Measures with Lead Paint

If you are going to be around lead paint in any capacity, taking careful steps to ensure your safety is essential.

Take the following steps to preserve the safety of yourself and your household:

  • Have the appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Seal or tape off the affected area where you are painting in order to prevent any dust from spreading
  • Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum to collect any particles
  • Cover all furniture and personal belongings around the affected area
  • Remove and safely dispose of any residual chips or dust after the job is done

Maintaining these steps to safety will go a long way toward minimizing any threats of lead to your health. At Alpha Environmental, we take all the above safety precautions and more to ensure the safety of your home and your family. With specialized equipment and careful procedures, our certified team will mitigate the risks of lead paint without risking further exposure.

Proper Techniques for Painting Over Lead Paint

Painting over lead paint is a safe and approved method for lead abatement if you do it correctly. Proper technique is crucial for preventing the spread of lead dust and ensuring a safe final result.

Take the following steps when painting over lead paint:

  • Choose a lead paint encapsulant that will fully encapsulate the surface and mitigate the risk of dust spreading
  • Prepare the surface by wiping over it with a warm cloth—do not scrape or sand the surface.
  • Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum to collect any residual dust particles.

Ultimately, any efforts to seal or encapsulate lead paint should be carried out by a skilled professional service. With the risks of lead paint, encapsulation is not a task suitable for a DIY project.

Alternative Solutions for Lead Paint Remediation

Painting over lead paint is an efficient way to address the issue, but homeowners can consider other lead remediation solutions as well.

The most common are:

  • Lead paint removal Lead paint removal is less costlyand will completely take the threat out of your home, but any lead paint removed must be transported and disposed of very carefully, so support from an EPA-certified professional service is absolutely necessary.
  • Material replacement – Removing materials painted with lead paint is a better option if the materials are damaged. For example, if you have lead-painted cabinets, replacement makes more sense. This option is another way to completely remove the threat from your home, but it is more time-consuming.  

Both of these solutions have their benefits and drawbacks compared to encapsulation—encapsulation may be more costly, but it will save you some time. Regardless of your preferred solution for lead paint remediation, it’s best to leave it in the hands of a trained professional.

Professional lead remediation services will have established tools and procedures to ensure a safe result while following all Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines and best practices.

How Alpha Environmental Can Help

Painting over lead paint can be an effective solution for containing lead paint and reducing the risk of it spreading, but messing with lead paint can pose significant health and safety risks. With the many risks involved, it’s far better to rely on a professional remediation service than take a DIY approach.

Alpha Environmental has the expertise and tools to support you with safe and effective lead remediation. We offer support in everything from lead testing to lead paint removal. We’ll take steps to ensure every flake of the paint is safely removed to keep your home free from the potential health and safety threat.

Contact Alpha Environmental today to schedule a free estimate and determine what steps you need to take.

Contact Us

A trusted member of our team will reach out within 1 business day to schedule

Why Choose Alpha Environmental

Our goal is to get the job done right while protecting our client. We are committed to ensuring you are safe in your residence, no matter what. We are fully licensed, bonded, insured, and here to help with all of your environmental needs.

Family Owned & Operated

We pride ourselves on strong company values that translate into service levels which go above and beyond average service providers

21+ Years Experience

For over two decades we've been doing the dirty work, serving residential and commercial customers in the greater Portland area

Care & Ownership

Our entire team is committed to ensuring your home or place of business is safe and every job gets done the right way

David D.
Lake Oswego, OR
Read More
My wife and I experienced a hot water pipe busting in the crawlspace. It has been a total nightmare. However, Chris and his team provided expert quality care, with timeliness and the greatest degree of professionalism. I would HIGHLY recommend Alpha Enviornmental!
Zhanna S.
Beaverton, OR
Read More
Can’t say enough about Alpha Environmental! Their costumer service is 10/10, they have really good systems in place, responsive, and professional. The gals in the scheduling department are always so kind! As a real estate agent, I use Alpha’s services numerous times a year. Either it’s for Mold bids, oil tank decommissioning, radon etc. They always do a fantastic job! Thank you for all the work you do!