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I have an exterior wall (maybe 15' x 15') with several layers of lead paint, decades old. About 1/3 has been professionally deleaded and is bare wood. Big parts of paint elsewhere are peeling/cracking. There's also dirt everywhere as it's never been cleaned.

I like the idea of removing all the paint to the bare wood and putting a wood stain (not paint). Hiring someone is out of question so I am doing it on my own. My biggest concern is not making a mess with lead dust, I don't care too much if the process is slow. I heard of some "revolutionary" tool based on infra-red heating that minimize lead dust. Has anyone tried them and can advice me? Are those tools the best way of doing it, and is it something I can do myself? Any advice on what scraper to use in combination? Thanks.

  • Please safe for yourself and your neighbors. Here is some information on removing the lead epa.gov/lead/… – Ack Apr 12 at 16:53
  • I had to take a class in Oregon for lead abatement , but a home owner could get away with doing the work both inside and out here. I would check your local regulations I can’t even remove sheetrock if there is a minor child in the home if for lead abatement. And the tarping and collection outside is tough also. Check your regs just in case our rules are almost as tough as asbestos. I don’t know if it has changed but would check prior to any work so you don’t get a fine. – Ed Beal Apr 12 at 16:54
  • thank you for all the the comments. Is the "heat gun" the same as "infra-red". I heard it was "revolutionary" but maybe it's just cheap advertising. – Manu Apr 14 at 16:58
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I like the idea of removing all the paint to the bare wood and putting a wood stain (not paint).

Be cautiously optimistic. Often wood is painted when it has too much surface damage to look good in stain.

My biggest concern is not making a mess with lead dust, I don't care too much if the process is slow.

There are a bazillion ways to remove paint. Some of them (most of the good ones) don't involve lead dust.

Lead dust is the threat vector. Skin is a total barrier to lead from paint, the problem is when you inhale fine lead dust into the lungs. Don't make lead dust.

Honestly, most of the time I'm just concerned with leveling the surface, so I use sanding, and wet sanding is possible. But if my goal was to remove all old paint, I would never sand. It will leave old paint in all the low spots.

I heard of some "revolutionary" tool based on infra-red heating that minimize lead dust.

Well, softening old paint via heat is hardly anything new. Normally one just uses a heat gun, which is vaguely similar to a hair dryer but with higher spot heat. Then you just use a scraper of your choice and preference. It is important with the heat method that you capture all the scrapings. While the heat+scraping process does not make hardly any micro-fine lead dust that one might huff into lungs, the paint scrapings post-heat will be very brittle and will tend to disintegrate into dust, which will then blow around and be a contaminant. So bag the stuff straight-away. You need very little PPE (except maybe a cartridge respirator for the fumes that cook out of the paint) as the skin is a total barrier against lead from the scrapings.

You can also consider chemical paint strippers, such as Aircraft Remover, in combination with hand scraping. Again this creates essentially none of the fine dust we're worried about, and the scrapings are heavier and stickier, so less likely to be taken in the wind etc. However you need proper PPE (gloves) - while skin is a total barrier to the lead in paint scrapings, skin is vulnerable to the corrosive chemicals used in the strippers.

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I’m sure you’ve Googled “How to remove lead paint” and other searches for remediation. There are a couple of issues with your project: 1) containment, 2) infrared abatement, 3) staining

1) You live in a climate zone similar to me, except I’m west coast. Exterior abatement without proper containment can create other problems such as air contamination (you have windy conditions) for neighbors, soil contamination (you have rain that can wash contaminates into the soil), etc.

I’d be careful trying to do the work yourself “regardless how long it takes”.

2) Infrared method is not recommended. Here is a good resource by the state of Illinois...see page 6:

http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/publications/get-theleadout-homeowner-lead-based-paint-abatement-guide-042016.pdf

3) Staining exterior wood is an art. It looks so good the day you finish you’ll get compliments. However, in 3 years (or less...based on where you live) you’ll need to re-finish or it will start to fade, discolor, from the sun and rain. Unfortunately this fading will not be uniform so fixing the stain will be difficult.

I live on the coast too...and I wouldn’t recommend staining. I’d hire the balance of the abatement or I’d encapsulate the lead paint by painting.

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