Stripping Lead-Based Paint from Siding


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Old 06-08-10, 09:59 PM
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Question Stripping Lead-Based Paint from Siding

Hi everyone. What is the least toxic method of stripping lead-based paint from wood siding? From what I've read there's 3 options: chemicals, sanding, and using a heat gun. Chemicals seem to be non-toxic if used properly, sanding seems to be toxic due to the dust produced, and I'm guessing using a heat gun will burn the lead, which is very bad. Am I right about that?

I'm asking because I need to strip some lead-based paint from the wood siding of my house before putting on some new paint. The current layer of paint is in such bad condition that it wouldn't make sense to paint over it, even if I took off the pealing sections. There's 350 sq ft of siding to paint, so even though chemical paint strippers seem to be the best option, they simply wouldn't work with my budget.

So, I seem to be left with sanding or using the heat gun. I guess if I vacuum the dust as I sand and use a standard dust mask, then sanding shouldn't be a problem? But, I'd prefer to use the heat gun because it's easier to use than our sander. But, would that be too toxic?

-Eric
 
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Old 06-09-10, 04:35 AM
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First let me say that there are new regulations concerning lead abatement that became effective earlier this year. Since I'm retired I haven't taken the course [for certification] and don't know the extent of the new regs

It's never a good idea to sand lead based paint. The dust gets airborne and even if you protect yourself you can't contain the dust. Lead removal is all about containing the debris! Scraping and containing along with proper disposal of the chips is required. A paint stripper would probably be the best way to remove the adhered paint. I've use a torch [years ago] to remove lead paint but don't know if that's kosher or not
 
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Old 06-09-10, 09:25 PM
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The dangers of sanding have been well described. Dangers of heat gun (and torch) are 1) vaporizing the lead (you could wear a mask, but still risky) and 2) starting a fire by overheating the exposed wood or other materials inside walls. if you buy a 2 temperature model. Low should not be hot enough to vaporize lead and also reduces the chance of starting a fire, but it is slow. Look up a product called "silent paint remover" it is supposed to be good and fast. I rhink you can rent them if it is too expensive to buy (probably also a good resale market). Debris containment remains an issue though. Even when using a heat gun, I would wear a respirator rather than mask.

Heres a couple of good links:
Lead in Older Homes | CMHC

What Home Owners Need to Know About Removing Lead-Based Paint
 
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Old 06-10-10, 04:43 AM
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"Dangers of heat gun (and torch) ......... .......... starting a fire by overheating the exposed wood or other materials inside walls.

I probably should have added that using a torch to remove paint is now illegal most everywhere... because of the danger of fire after you leave. The backside of the wood can heat up, smolder and then light up when no one is looking
 
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Old 06-10-10, 05:20 AM
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Hi eboyer7,
I'm not sure what Canada's regs are, but one of the problems with DIY and hazzardous materials is answering the questions years from now, like "how was the lead removed?" Here in the states, the regulations were less and people might have done as you are doing. Now, new buyers may ask that very question and if the answer is DIY, then they may want further testing, thus pushing the value of the home down. I know this speculation on my part, but the rules do change and the perception as to the degree of the hazzard can change as well. If you put down a ground cover and follow all of the guidelines for safe removal, take some pictures to be able to show it was done right.

Bud
 
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Old 06-11-10, 07:03 PM
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Hi everyone. Thanks for the tips, info, and links. I'm now growing quite weary of doing this paint-stripping on my own, so hopefully it's not too expensive to get done professionally. I will further investigate the regulations in my area for removing lead-based paint and for using a heat gun to do it.

If anyone has some more info to add, feel free to post.

-Eric
 
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Old 06-11-10, 07:59 PM
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This might sound a little overkill but I wonder if it would be easier and safer to just remove the siding and put something new like cement board (if you like lap siding) or vinyl. You would have no dust, no chemicals, no residue and about 99.9 lead free.
 
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Old 06-11-10, 10:09 PM
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You will make a lot of paint chips by pulling the siding though. Many people simply cover the old siding with a layer of insulation and new siding. This means you have to deal with the window and door trim somehow and in my opinion it usually doesn't look great, but I don't like vinyl siding even when it is original. Stucco is another option.

Another consideration with regard to safety (Iknow it doesn't address regulations or resale issues) is that if the paint is already in poor conditon you can be assured there is a fair bit already on the ground and if you use reasonable care in stripping, you are not likely to make it substantially worse.
 
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Old 08-10-10, 01:35 PM
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Whoa there... The reason that burning off lead-based paint is a prohibitted practice isn't because of the fire hazard, it's because lead absorption is much higher for lead fumes than lead dust, and lead dust is more than hazardous enough. An 8-hour day of power-sanding lead-based paint is enough to cause adverse effects of exposure to lead-based dust. In America, EPA requirements prohibit using heat-guns that create more than 1100 degrees F on lead based paint.

So again, I don't know Canadian laws, but I can comment based on American laws. I've just completed the EPA certified renovator course because as of April 22 of this year, my local government requires it for building permits for homeowners doing their own work where lead based paint might be affected. My course I took would NOT cover abatement, which is what this might be classified as. That would be going to the next level, and as such I'd speculate that if your laws required a certified lead abatement contractor, you might find that covering or replacing with vinyl siding or even new wood siding would probably be much cheaper.

If a lead abatement certified contractor had to be involved the way it would be in US, beyond the actual work there has to be someone involved who has to renew certification every year and take a class every 3 years, licensing is thousands of dollars, plus his work has to be verified by a certified supervisor. They have to test lead levels before and after including sending out sampling of cleaning materials to a lab, which takes at least a couple weeks. And this certified contractor must be present during all work. And you can't be in the home until they have cleared it.

RRP doesn't exactly cover lead paint removal, what it covers is work where lead paint will be disturbed. Painting, cutting holes in walls, sanding, scraping. It does not cover encapsulation or abatement. It covers temporary measures (as defined by the law) it does not cover permanent measures (the law defines encapsulation as a permanent abatement measure, even though the lead paint is still there and over time can come out anyway, but that's the difference between law and reality sometimes)
 
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Old 11-11-10, 01:53 PM
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Low Heat Gun

I agree you should try and save that old wood. You can't get stuff that good anymore. I found a way to safely use heat for lead paint removal - low heat speedheater infrared. I really liked that the scrapings of soft paint clumped on my tarp and that was sure easier than flying lead dust!
 
 

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