We removed a shelving unit in our kitchen that was attached directly to the wall.

We intend to paint the entire room but the cabinet was on top of many layers of flaking old paint. The house dates back to the 30s and it is likely that some of the paint is lead based.

The area is roughly 3ftx6ft and we don't have any children. Should we avoid scraping it and call in professionals or is that small an amount relatively fine?

What about sanding?

3 Answers 3


Don't sand, that puts lead dust all over the place. Get some medium plastic and taped it to the wall and extend it out 6-12 feet to catch all the chips. Scrape it carefully so all the chips fall on the plastic. When done, roll up the plastic to trap the chips and dust, tape it closed, and dispose in the trash. (I don't like that step, but last I heard, there was nothing better).

Wipe all surfaces down with damp towels until no more dust is removed.

Wash your clothes thoroughly; be careful not to track through the rest of the house.

If you have a HEPA vacuum, use it! :)

You may not have kids now, but it's the lingering lead dust that is most dangerous.


Wear a mask while sanding or scraping. Clean up with towels and a wet solvent. Don't eat the lead chips.


This sounds like a good project for a modern paint stripper.

Get a sample size of SoyGel (or CitriStrip or whatever), and cover the whole surface with the goop. Then cover the gel with strips of plastic wrap, and leave it overnight. In the morning, you'll be able to remove it easily with a scraping tool; it just melts off. Repeat as needed if you have many layers of paint.

Benefits of this approach:

1) Minimizes lead exposure. The lead paint is bound into the goop.

2) Modern paint strippers don't contain methylene chloride. They still don't smell great, but they're a lot safer for indoor work.

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