I have some paint on a small wall in the basement staircase that I suspect is lead paint. The house is from 1916, and this is the only layer of paint on a plaster wall. Total area is only ~10-15 sq ft. I don’t really want scrape it, as my wife is pregnant and I have a 2 yr old.

Only a few small sections are peeling. I am thinking about covering the small peeling sections with joint compound, and then using an encapsulating primer to cover all of the paint. Then top coating with some latex paint.

Will that work? Or am setting myself up for some deterioration in a few years?

For what it’s worth, the 10 yr plan involves remodeling this section of the house, so at that time I can just have this section of wall removed.

  • 1
    Is it possible to cover it with drywall, and paint over that? I think it would be a better method.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 14:44
  • It’s not a square section, so I’d have to make some curving cuts to match the ceiling which is beyond my skill level.
    – TonyH
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 15:20
  • 1
    Grabbing one of the cheap DIY lead tests would be a good first start. If it is lead you might want to look at Peel Away 1 by Dumond, which combines a chemical stripper and adhesive paper. Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 16:53

2 Answers 2


Any time the paint is pealing it will only make things worse by putting more on top unless covering with something like sheetrock as suggested. I would not use joint compound it will probably cause the loose paint to flake off. Making a divot because of the old paint and joint compound thickness.


Assume it is lead. Take precautions to contain the paint and it's deterioration dust such as with a mister before wiping down. There is a lead-lock approved primer you can order but in 5 gallon sizes.

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