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I have a basement wall with several layers of chipping paint. I can't say officially, but I'm pretty certain the bottom layer (dark green in the photos) is lead-based, while the upper layers are not.

The other issues:

  • the wall is not uniform (concrete block on top of fieldstone)
  • we need to optimize for horizontal clearance -- we had to remove the old paneling in order to move anything large in and out of the basement

I recognize the dangers of paint removal, and with the porous concrete block, chemical stripping isn't a viable option. At the end of the day, while I'm experienced at home renovation, I'm not a pro and I have a young child in the house.

Here was my plan for encapsulation:

  1. Carefully wet-clean the surface
  2. Use tack cloth / duct tape to pick up loose chips
  3. Cover everything with Sherwin-Williams Loxon XP (masonry conditioner)
  4. Paint over that with ChildGuard (encapsulant)

However, I found that the surface was in rougher shape than I hoped. Paint hasn't been flaking off, but duct tape can pretty easily remove bits, even after several applications to the same patch. And the fieldstone masonry basically turns into dust when you touch it.

So what do I do? Is there any sort of skim coat that can bind to chipping paint? Should I go the route of thin furring strips and paneling? Honestly, I could care less how the wall looks, so long as I can put a coat of paint on it, I can get down into the basement, and I'm not putting my family at risk.

Photos:

The wall (upper): the wall (upper)

The wall (lower): the wall (lower)

Chipping paint: chipping paint

Uneven wall: uneven wall

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The info for Ecobond LBP seems to imply that the surface just has to be dry. Anyone have experience with that? –  Aaron Beals Aug 28 '11 at 23:08
2  
My only concern from the advice others are giving is that you mentioned lead based paint. That's typically not a DIY job to remove. Please use extra caution before following any suggestions here or elsewhere on the internet to do this yourself. –  BMitch Aug 30 '11 at 13:42

5 Answers 5

If you have a 4 inch angle grinder ($40 for a base model), you can find a wire brush attachment for it at most big box home improvement stores. Using that, while wearing safety gear of course, will take that paint off in a jiffy. Elbow grease not required. Painting over the peeling paint will not work at all. No matter what the "wonder paint" claims it can do. Just strip it off, and address the moisture issue. That issue will more than likely have to be addressed from the outside.

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If you follow the advice of others and use a wire brush to knock off the paint, be aware that the dust particles from lead paint are the main hazard. There are some precautions on NY's DoH page that I'd recommend, including disposable coveralls, respirator, and goggles in addition to completely sealing the area from the rest of the home (remember the air vents).

If you want to cover the area, you can frame out the wall with thin wood slats or even 2x4's turned on their side. Be ready to shim out each board so they are perfectly vertical and align with each other (you don't want wavy drywall). With concrete, there are moisture concerns, so use pressure treated lumber, a vapor barrier, and the foam separator. In this case, I'd probably apply the vapor barrier to the wall first to lock in the paint and any dust. Then install drywall on top, using mold resistant if you have any moisture issues in the basement.

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Get someone who does CO2 blasting with dry ice gun. I have the same problem and that is the best solution from all my research. There are some mold and mildew removal contractors that do that and they can take the paint right off. They used this process on the Statue Of Liberty back in the 80's. Does a fantastic job.

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I'm guessing that it's not chipping as much as you have a moisture problem and the paint is coming off with the moisture migration.

I'd do what I could to remedy that first.

Then, I'd take a wire brush and get as much of the loose stuff off as I can. Use a Shop-Vac with a HEPA filter to vacuum it all up to avoid issues with the lead paint.

Then I'd cover it all with a heavy-duty primer and paint.

This is actually what I've done with our basement laundry room.

Stuff like dry-lock or 'concrete conditioner' will likely be of little to no use as they typically need to be applied to virgin concrete surfaces.

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Please, please do not use a wire brush to remove lead paint! Lead paint should never be mechanically disturbed, unless you can wet it down and keep it wet during the entire process. And even then, you should never use a power tool to remove lead paint.

The best way (and as far as I'm concerned, the only way) to remove this paint is using a good stripper like Peel Away 1. It will contain the lead paint completely and remove it easily. I had two large basement concrete block walls that looked just like yours, and I was able to abate it with Peel Away. Surprisingly, the stuff doesn't even smell that bad, although I would recommend using a respirator.

The disadvantage of using Peel Away on such an uneven surface is that the residue is difficult to clean off the surface after you've removed the paint. I was able to clean most of it by using a garden sprayer and collecting the runoff with a tarp.

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