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I am moving into a historic home that, more likely than not, has some lead paint on the walls. Either encapsulated, painted over without encapsulating paint, or unabated. I know the techniques for testing for lead paint underneath the top coat, but it doesn't seem as obvious how to tell whether the lead has been encapsulated appropriately.

This being said, is it safe / safer to simply use encapsulating paint again, if we are repainting a wall anyway, just to change the color? I'm not aware of how the price of encapsulating paint compares, but from a safety standpoint, I'd like to know the best way to proceed (barring full remediation).

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  • What, exactly, is "encapsulating paint"? Is it somehow different than simply applying another coat of paint to the wall? Also, remember that lead was removed from paint sometime in the 70s, so anything that's been painted in the last 40 years or so will have a lead-free layer on top, at least (if they didn't remove the old paint first).
    – FreeMan
    Jul 21, 2022 at 16:06
  • @brubsby can you tell us about a paint that is not a water based (latex) or oil based. From my experience that is all there is.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 21, 2022 at 16:10
  • Encapsulating paint is paint designed explicitly for the purpose of lead paint dust/chipping mitigation, and usually contains a bittering agent so children will not consume chips of it. And is one of the only other recommended options by the EPA that is not full removal/remediation.
    – brubsby
    Jul 21, 2022 at 16:12
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    While not everyone who frequents this site has stopped by this question (not by a long shot), it seems you're the local expert on lead encapsulating paint. If your research hasn't turned up an answer on 2 layers v 1 layer, I'm not certain if anyone here will be able to help. Though a guy has just shown up recently who ran a paint store for 20+years, so he may know. I can't imagine a 2nd coat would hurt, though, and it's probably cheaper than getting all the old coats off, so if those are your options, I'd go with the 2nd coat.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 21, 2022 at 16:21
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    If a paint is chipping it is not a candidate for painting over any chipping needs to be removed, many states have codes for lead remediation and may suggest encapsulating paint as a recommendation but it is not required and by the way it can be oil or water based. I have specialized in old homes and had the oregon remediation class more than 10 years ago. I did not let my kids or grandkids chew on the walls or window sills so there has never been a problem.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 21, 2022 at 16:22

2 Answers 2

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It seems that you are considering two options:

  1. Repaint with a lead encapsulating paint (specifically designed to go over lead containing paint and with an additive designed to discourage kids eating it).
  2. Whole house lead abatement followed by painting with "regular" paint.

I can't imagine that adding a second coat of encapsulating paint would be a recommended practice (since your research hasn't turned up any indication of it being so), however, I can't fathom how it would, in any way be harmful and/or detrimental.

I'm certain that encapsulating paint is going to be significantly more expensive than "regular" paint, but I'm also very confident in stating that it's significantly less expensive than full-house lead abatement followed by a "regular" paint job.

Since lead paint is high on your list of concerns, and you are not (apparently) made of money, I'd recommend...


Actually, after having reread the original question a couple of times, I would recommend having each room tested for lead paint. At this point, you don't know which rooms may have lead paint and which don't.

While a "historic house" will likely have had coats of lead-based paint applied over the years, it's entirely possible that someone in the last 40-50 years has already done remediation in one or more rooms. Lead test kits are readily available at my favorite big-box store for $35 or less (half the price of a single gallon of quality paint) and look like they contain enough testing material to do a huge house.

Once you know how much lead paint you're dealing with, you can make a more educated decision. While full remediation is expensive, doing the two rooms that test positive is much less expensive than the whole house and might just about break even with a full house repaint with lead encapsulating paint.


We now return you to the originally posted answer:

going to with a full coating of encapsulating paint. It seems like the most cost-effective way of dealing with the situation. You could save money by only encapsulating rooms that hadn't been done before, but unless there is a method of testing for prior applications of encapsulating paint (and those methods of testing are less expensive than just painting), it looks like your best option.

I'd also suggest starting and keeping up with a "home maintenance journal" indicating that you have coated all interior/exterior (as applicable) surfaces with the encapsulating paint. That way you remember 30+ years from now, and you'll have a list of things you've done to share with the realtor when you decide to sell so the next person doesn't have to wonder. It could make the sale easier and probably net you a little more profit.

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All paint that covers the old paint is encapsulating the old paint )or the color would blend through).

if you scratch the paint on an old home you will just about always have a positive for lead.

Since lead paint in the US was removed decades back there are possibly multiple coats of lead free paint.

I just use quality paint for better coverage and have not had a problem on resale.

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    If the paint is damaged a positive for lead will occur no matter what type of paint is used if lead paint is below any type of paint.
    – Ed Beal
    Jul 21, 2022 at 16:28

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