5 Important Do’s and Don’ts of Painting Over Lead Paint

Phoenix has witnessed a growing trend of homeowners and landlords who are concerned about the possibility of lead-based paint in their properties.

Given that homes built before the late 1970s are likely to contain lead paint, this is an issue that cannot be ignored. For residents and property owners in Phoenix, understanding the specifics of lead paint testing and safe repainting practices is a good idea if you care about your health.

Key Takeaways:

  • Proper lead paint testing is key before any repainting or remodeling project.
  • Encapsulation, if done correctly, can be a safer and more cost-effective alternative to lead removal.
  • Lead hazards can cause severe health issues, especially in children and pregnant women.

Is Lead Paint Dangerous?

The simple answer is yes, lead paint is dangerous! But to truly understand the risks lets learn how lead impacts our health.

Understanding Lead’s Effects on the Body

Lead is a naturally occurring element. When lead enters the body, it can disrupt various physiological processes, affecting the nervous system, blood cells, and kidneys.

Children: The Most Vulnerable Group:

Children under the age of six are particularly at risk from lead exposure. Their developing nervous systems are highly sensitive to even small amounts of lead. Elevated blood lead levels in children can lead to:

In severe cases, lead poisoning can be fatal for children. Children due to their natural curiosity and behaviors like hand-to-mouth activity, are more likely to ingest lead dust or paint chips, increasing their exposure risk.

Effects on Adults

While children are the most vulnerable, adults aren’t immune to the effects of lead. Chronic exposure can lead to high blood pressure, digestive problems, reproductive problems, memory difficulties, and muscle or joint pain.

a woman dealing with muscle pain from lead poisoning.

Lead Paint: A Silent Menace

Homes built before the 1980s are likely to contain lead paint. As lead paint ages, it can chip or turn into fine dust. These paint chips and dust, when ingested or inhaled, can result in elevated blood lead levels. Remodeling or repainting can disturb the lead paint, releasing more lead dust.

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Painting Over Lead Paint

DO: Undertake a Thorough Risk Assessment and Testing

Before embarking on any painting project in Phoenix, especially in homes built before 1978, you must get a thorough lead paint testing done. The objective is to determine the lead content on painted surfaces. Ensure the use of proper equipment and techniques to get accurate test results.

DON’T: Assume That All Old Paint Contains Lead

Not all old paints have lead. But, if your home or apartment was built before 1978, it’s wise to suspect the presence of lead-based paint. Consulting with professionals in lead paint testing in Phoenix can provide clarity and guide your next steps.

a room with different paints.

DO: Consider Encapsulation Over Removal

What exactly is encapsulation you ask? Here’s a breakdown!

An encapsulant is a specialized material or chemical formulation designed to safely seal lead paint, preventing the release of lead-contaminated dust or chips into the environment. When applied correctly, encapsulants form a protective barrier between the hazardous lead paint and the surrounding atmosphere, ensuring that no harmful particles are ingested or inhaled.

There are primarily three types of encapsulants available:

  1. Polymers that Form Flexible Membranes: These encapsulants dry to create a flexible coating. They are commonly used because they can accommodate the natural expansion and contraction of building materials, reducing the risk of cracking or peeling.
  2. Epoxy or Polyurethane Polymers: These create hard yet flexible membranes. They are durable and resist environmental wear and tear, making them ideal for exterior surfaces or high-traffic areas.
  3. Cement-Like Materials with Polymers: Forming a thicker, more substantial coating, these encapsulants are designed to endure in more challenging conditions. Their sturdy composition can handle more aggressive environmental factors.

Before considering the application of an encapsulant, it’s very important to evaluate the current state of the lead paint. Encapsulants are most effective when the lead paint is in good condition. Meaning the paint is not peeling, chipping, or cracking.

Once the encapsulation is done, regular monitoring is required to ensure that the encapsulant remains intact, preventing any potential release of lead particles.

DON’T: Disturb the Paint Without Adequate Safety Measures

Undertaking any project that might disturb existing lead paint, whether it’s renovation, remodeling, or even a task as simple as scraping off old paint can have risks.

When the paint is disturbed with without proper precautions, it can release hazardous lead dust into the environment. This dust is incredibly fine, making it easily inhaled or ingested, increasing the chances of lead poisoning.

It’s not just about the immediate environment either. Lead dust can settle on pretty much anything in your home. The risk isn’t limited to the person doing the work, family members, especially children, are at an increased risk.

lead paint that's chipping

Before starting a project, always use the proper safety gear. This includes wearing gloves, and some clothes you don’t mind throwing away.

Remember, it’s always better to be overly cautious when dealing with potentially hazardous materials. Lead exposure has cumulative effects, so even minor lapses in safety can contribute to significant health concerns over time.

DO: Stay Informed and Educated

Regularly updated knowledge about lead hazards, lead testing methodologies, and remediation techniques can safeguard your family’s health. With the rising concern about lead in Phoenix, numerous resources, including local health departments, provide insights into the proper handling of lead hazards.

Other Considerations

In Phoenix, other services often accompany lead paint testing, such as mold testing and asbestos risk assessment. These are a good idea if there’s water damage or if you’re considering remodeling an older property.


The threat of lead hazards, especially from lead-based paint, is real, but with proper precautions and informed decisions, risks can be minimized. If you suspect the presence of lead paint in your Phoenix home, prioritize safety. Consult with professionals who specialize in lead paint testing in Phoenix.

Ultimately, the health and safety of your family and tenants should always be paramount. Remember, it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive when dealing with potential health hazards like lead.

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