I'm repainting the ceiling in an enclosed porch. The existing paint is in good condition, but contains lead.

I see lots of blogs saying that lead encapsulating paint is required for painting over lead paint, but I don't see it mentioned on the Lead section of the EPA's website (https://www.epa.gov/lead).

Should use the lead encapsulating paint? Please provide documentation.



2 Answers 2


Lead Encapulating Paint" (as a special kind of paint) is hype.

All paints have that characteristic.

The classic problem with lead paint is the paint starts peeling, and then children peel the paint and then eat it. In fact, this was traced back to tenement buildings when scientists were looking for reasons for patterns of learning disabilities in children. And this got very intense national attention because of the social injustice.

Crowds love to fear silly things - satanic day care centers (fake thing but real fear), Dungeons & Dragons, violent video games, you name it. So when a thing is even a little not silly of course it might as well be plutonium. Generally, lead paint just sitting there isn't a threat to you. It does not emit vapors or dust. So your best defense is do not eat paint chips, no matter what TikTok influencers say!

So the #1 task of encapsulation is preventing paint from peeling. Paint peels when it separates from the layer underneath it - but these are between two old layers of paint! Magic new paint can't fix that. Only surface preparation can.

You need to peel up any paint that might be inclined to peel. Peeling generally happens when air and humidity gets access to the boundary layer between the two old layers of paint; the oxidation crawls under between the layers. So you need to peel all the paint whose attachment to the old paint has oxidized. Then sand it so your new coat of paint will stick, and then prime and then paint with almost any product.

Yes. Surface preparation is work. It doesn't come in a can. There isn't a power tool that does it for you.

Sanding is important to scuff-sand the old surface and remove gloss so the next layer will stick. All this should be done WET. Proper sanding isn't even really necessary for de-glossing; a ScotchBrite pad is just fine, i.e. the "green stuff" in kitchen scrub sponges. This makes it easier to do "wet" as you just keep the sponge wet.

The wet areas on the wall will be heavy with fine lead dust. DO NOT just walk away from that, or eventually it will become lead dust in the air. After you are done sanding, re-wipe-down the walls with clean water and sponge several times to pick up all that wet dust.

To avoid any dust that gets away from your wet containment, wear a mask. Any halfway respectable mask such as you've been using for COVID should be fine. N95s are more than adequate.


(I realize this is an old question, but it comes up on google, and the currently top-rated answer gets some things wrong. In particular, if you're a DIYer, do not sand lead paint! That's horrible advice.)

It's not "hype", and the EPA absolutely does recommend its use in certain circumstances. However, there's no need to apply it to every surface that has lead paint --- especially if it's already buried under several layers of non-lead paint.

Part of the reason lead encapsulating paint is not prominently mentioned on the EPA site is that the EPA thinks you should use a lead-certified professional to deal with lead paint, and the professional can make the determination if a lead encapsulating paint is worthwhile. On the one hand, this is frustrating for DIYers because DIYers are capable of doing some lead remediation (like applying lead encapsulating paint). On the other hand, the EPA's reluctance to say this is understandable because when it should be applied is actually a tricky subject, and the EPA doesn't want you to think you know how to remediate lead paint because you read a webpage.

The EPA does mention lead encapsulating paint in Lead In Your Home: A Parentís Reference Guide. They don't call it "lead encapsulating paint"; they call it an "encapsulant" :

With encapsulation, however, the barrier is a special type of coating --- called an encapsulant --- applied to a lead-painted surface.

"Lead encapsulating paint" is a type of encapsulant.  The EPA gives a little more information in their guide for workers (see section 7-9). One important point they make is that

ASTM has developed three standards for encapsulants. Only encapsulants that meet these standards should be used

The standard you'll see most often is ASTM-1795. The EPA's point is important because not all "lead encapsulating paint" meets that standard! You may have to dig into datasheets to find this. E.g., Home Depot's page for Insl-X Lead Block doesn't mention AST-1795. However, the manufacture's datasheet does state that it "Meets ASTM-E 1795".

This is tricky, which is part of the reason the EPA thinks you should use a professional!

Another reason the EPA doesn't say that much about lead encapsulating paint is that providing guidance for remediating lead paint isn't their department. It's the job of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If you want more information on when you can and can't use encapsulants, see their guidelines. Note that this is just one chapter of HUD's extensive guidance on lead paint hazards in housing. The complete document is available here.

A few direct response to the previous answer:

  1. For the love of god, do not sand lead paint. Get a professional!
  2. It was once thought that the main way kids got lead in them was by eating paint chips. We now know that lead dust is just as much of a problem. (The dangers of lead dust are clearly mentioned on the EPA website.)

So fixing lead paint chips by making lead dust is a horrible idea unless you absolutely know what you're doing and have the right equipment. Wearing a cloth COVID mask and wiping down the walls does not cut it. Professionals wear serious personal protective equipment and clean, clean, and clean some more, like the place has never been cleaned before.

I should say that I kind of split the difference between DIY and pro. I got a professional lead inspector to identify the lead paint, determine what did and didn't need remediation, and provide recommendations about what to do. I did the things I was comfortable doing. I'm hiring professional lead remediators to do the rest.

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