Whether you’re refurbishing an industrial building for commercial retail use or worried about the safety of antiques before putting them in your home or office, knowing how to effectively paint over lead paint is the key to making the surface safe.
Lead encapsulating coatings are an EPA and HUD recognized method of proper lead abatement, but not just any paint is a lead sealer.
What does it take to ensure a surface covered with lead paint is safe? Here are some key answers to frequently asked questions about painting over lead paint that we receive often.
How Do Lead Encapsulating Sealers Work?
Lead encapsulants, such as our LeadX™ clear lead sealer, are designed to cover lead paint so that it no longer produces dangerous dust and is no longer a health hazard. When the encapsulating coating is painted over lead paint, it should test negative for lead on the surface, which confirms the surface is now free of lead.
Many people like to keep the look of the original lead paint, which is why so many choose our one-of-a-kind LeadX™, which is clear with a matte finish and allows the underlying surface to be seen while making it safe.
Can Any Paint be Painted Over Lead to Make the Surface Safe?
No. Standard paints for use on walls or other surfaces aren’t made to be an encapsulating paint and most likely won’t encase the lead properly. If you’re painting over lead paint you want to make sure you use a coating that is specifically engineered and sold for lead safety and has been tested to effectively cover lead paint.
Are All Lead Sealers The Same?
There are different types of lead encapsulation coatings on the market and the one thing they have in common is that they are designed for coating over lead paint to abate the surface and make it safe. But other than that, they have some key differences, which include:
- Some only come in white or another color, LeadX™ is available in a clear lead encapsulating coating or a white or custom tinted lead encapsulation coating
- Some are elastomeric going on at 20 mils per coat, while others (like ours) are latex going on at 4 mils per coat (thicker encapsulants can have a dry film thickness 30 times that of LeadX™)
- Some coatings for lead paint have additional protective benefits, for example, LeadX™ is also mold, UV, and moisture resistant
- The cost per square foot can vary widely among lead encapsulating paints. Read the fine print. The gallon price is not the installed price. LeadX™ has excellent coverage rate and thus a very competitive cost per S.F..
What types of Lead Paint Surfaces Can Be Painted Over?
In order for a lead paint sealer to be effective, it has to have a sound surface to adhere to. The lead paint cannot be loose or flaking, otherwise, anything you paint over it will just come off along with it, exposing the lead. If unsure, it’s a good idea to do an adhesion test first.
Basic needs for the lead paint surface before it can be encapsulated are:
- Clean, dry and free of dirt, dust, grease, or other contaminants
- The lead paint should be adhering well to the surface
- It should not be in a friction area, such as a door jam or window edge that’s opened and closed
- Any holes or large cracks should be repaired prior to application
How Are Lead Encapsulating Coatings Applied?
You’ll want to check with the manufacturer and follow their instructions, but typically they are applied similar to a paint. LeadX™ encapsulating coating can be applied with standard paint sprayers, a brush, or roller (short 1/4″ nap). Our recommendation is 2 coats for our lead sealant to perform effectively.