Lead Paint Safety When Painting Your Home's Exterior

Painting your wood siding gives your home a new look. The fresh coat of paint also does more than just jazz up the appearance, it also protects the wood from moisture damage, rot, and warping. If your wood siding dates back to before 1978, there can be concern about lead paint. The following guide can help you repaint your exterior safely when lead is a possibility.

Why Is Lead a Concern?

Lead poisoning can cause organ damage. Although it's generally seen as a problem for children, who are more readily exposed since they are more likely to put things in their mouth, it can also affect adults. It was present in paint prior to 1978, and it can leach out into the environment as the paint degrades. Exposed lead paint on your siding is a concern when you repaint. You can also release the lead into the environment and air, where it can be inhaled, as you sand and prepare the siding for repainting. Lead testing is necessary to verify that your home is lead-free.

Environment Preparation Tips

You can avoid lead from leaching into the soil during your painting job by covering the ground with large, heavy plastic drop cloths. Make sure the cloths come right up to the side of the house with no gaps. You should also cover any bushes or small tress near the home. Prepare the house on a still day, so lead dust isn't blown beyond the protected area. After each work day, gather up the drop cloths carefully and dispose of them.

Protect Yourself

Tyvek suits are available that will protect you from lead paint. You will need to wear these along with gloves and a face mask that are made for use around lead toxins. These suits are disposable, so you will need to put on a fresh suit each day that you are working on the house. Do not wear these suits indoors or into lead-free areas, since they will have lead dust on them after you have been working on the house. You do not want to contaminate any other areas with lead.

Lead Management As You Work

It's best to use disposable materials for every aspect of the job, since your tools will be coming in contact with lead. Use a shop vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean up sanding and scraping dust as you work. You also need to have a separate trash can onsite for disposing of everything. This will need to be taken to your city or county hazardous waste center when you are done.

If this sounds like a lot of work, or seems dangerous, consider hiring an exterior painting contractor like one from Christopher Painting LLC. Look for one that has experience with lead paint.