Eastern Pennsylvania Testing & Inspection Services
Eastern Pennsylvania
Testing & Inspection Services, LLC
Nazareth, PA 18064
Phone: 610-417-1006
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PA Department of Environmental Protection
PA DEP ID# 2475


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Repainting Lead-Painted Surfaces

Repainting is often used on painted surfaces that have begun to deteriorate due to problems such as structural defects or water damage. It is a good choice for walls and ceilings because they are not constantly bumped or rubbed. Repainting a surface with a lead-free paint will help to lessen lead hazards by reducing the amount of lead dust and paint chips. It is very important that you check the surface regularly and maintain it. If properly maintained, you can expect your repainting effort to last from 4 to 10 years.

Recommendations for Repainting a Lead-Painted Surface

If you plan to repaint a lead-painted surface, take the following steps:

Make sure that what is causing the paint to deteriorate is fixed or eliminated. This can include repairing water leaks, defective plaster, and damaged structural parts.

Use a high-quality paint recommended by a manufacturer for the type of surface you are painting.

Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for applying paint.

Repairing Friction and Impact Surfaces

Friction surfaces are surfaces that are subject to abrasion, that is, rubbing or friction actions that cause wear on a surface. Common examples of friction surfaces are the parts of a window that rub when opened and closed, tight-fitting doors, cabinet doors and drawers, stairs and hand railings, and floors. When covered with lead-based paint, friction surfaces subject to abrasion can disturb lead-based paint. Friction surfaces may be treated by fixing the areas that rub together.

For example, if you replace a tight-fitting door with a loose-fitting one, you will reduce the chances that the door will create lead dust.

Impact surfaces are surfaces that stick out and tend to be bumped or banged. The most common impact surfaces are doors and doorjambs, door trim, doorstops, outside corners of walls, baseboards, shoe moldings, chair rails, and stair risers. Repeated impacts can cause small chips of paint to fall to the floor and contaminate dust. You can reduce impact surface problems by placing barriers in front of the surfaces. For example, put a new chair rail on a lead painted wall. This will lessen the damage done to the wall when a chair bumps against the rail.

How to Repair a Friction or Impact Surface

The following actions will help to reduce lead hazards from lead-painted friction and impact surfaces in your home. Remember when performing any type of interim control, always cover work areas with thick, plastic sheeting and spray components with water to reduce dust.

If you are repairing a window, remove the window. Wet scrape the deteriorated paint. If the window trough is badly weathered, cover with back-caulked, aluminum coil stock. Reinstall the window.

If you are repairing a door, remove the doorstop and dispose of it properly. Remove the door by pulling out the hinge pins. Mist the door with water and plane the door to eliminate areas that might rub together. Reinstall the door and install a new doorstop.

If you are repairing stairs, install a hard, cleanable covering, such as rubber tread guards. You can install carpeting on the stairs instead, but fasten it securely so that it does not cause abrasion. Repaint any railings that may have deteriorated lead-based paint.

Other ways to repair friction and impact surfaces include.

  • Removing and replacing shoe moldings around baseboards.
  • Installing new plastic or wood corner beads to abraded outside corners.
  • Removing and replacing cabinet doors, or having the paint stripped off at a professional paint stripping plant. Strip paint from drawers and drawer guides or plane impact points and repaint. Or, install rubber or felt bumpers at points of friction or impact.
  • Repainting porches, decks, and interior floors.
Preventing Access to Soil Hazards

Whether the source is lead-based paint or leaded gasoline, soil that is contaminated by lead can be dangerous if children play in it or if it is tracked into your home by people and pets. If you think that your soil may be contaminated, have a risk assessor test it. A test will determine what action, if any, needs to be taken. Never plant vegetable gardens in lead-contaminated soil. You can get lead poisoned from eating carrots and leafy vegetables grown in leaded soil.

Lead Abatement: What It Is, Who Should Do It

You can reduce the risk of lead exposure in your home by having a contractor perform an abatement. An abatement is a way to permanently contain or remove lead hazards. Merely painting or papering over lead-painted surfaces is not abatement.

The four abatement methods for structural components are:

  • Replacement. Removing a part of a building that contains lead-based paint and replacing it with a new, lead-free part.
  • Enclosure. Building a new wall, ceiling, or floor over an existing one.
  • Encapsulation. Using a special type of coating to cover a lead-painted surface.
  • Paint removal. Stripping the lead-based paint off an object. EPA strongly recommends that you use a certified abatement contractor. If the abatement and the cleanup following it are not done right, the chance of lead poisoning will increase. A contractor trained in lead-based paint hazards and abatement will know how to safeguard your family before, during, and after an abatement.

When hiring an abatement contractor, use the following checklist to find someone who can do the job safely and correctly.

Tips for Finding and Selecting an Abatement Contractor

Begin by getting a list of lead contractors. Call the HUD Lead Listing at (888) LEAD-LIST for a list of inspectors, risk assessors, and abatement contractors who have been trained by an EPA-accredited training provider. Your state lead contact can also provide a list of contractors who perform lead activities in your area.

Check your contractor's credentials. Always ask to see a contractor's lead-based paint license or certificate. If the contractor is not certified, ask to see the contractor's training certificate. EPA has developed training courses for lead-based paint professionals so ask if the contractor's training was based on EPA course materials. Beginning in August 1999, Federal law will require lead contractors to be certified.

Check your contractor's references. Call at least three of your contractor's previous clients. Make sure your contractor safely and properly completed the work requested.

Once you have hired a contractor, you should understand what your contractor is going to do. Start by:

Having your contractor explain how the project will be carried out.

Talking to your contractor about what precautions will be taken to prevent you and your family from being exposed to lead.

Depending on the type of lead hazard, your contractor will choose either replacement, enclosure, encapsulation, paint removal, or a combination of these. Read on for more information.


Replacement is the removal of a building part that contains lead based paint and the replacement of that part with a new, lead-free one. Replacement is a good choice for windows, doors, and woodwork. Replacement of walls, ceilings, and floors is very expensive, and the process stirs up a lot of dust. Enclosure or encapsulation might be a better choice.

Lead-based painted windows are often the highest source of lead dust in a home.

Advantages of Replacement.

Removes lead-based paint permanently.

Safest permanent intervention.

Upgrades your home.

Can lower heat and maintenance costs.

Disadvantages of Replacement.


Areas next to replaced part may be damaged.

Replacement part may not be as good as the original.


Enclosure is the process of covering lead-painted surfaces with paneling, wallboard, or other materials. The materials are fastened with screws and sealed with caulking to prevent exposure to the lead-painted surfaces.

Enclosure is useful for surfaces that are cracked or chipped. Encapsulation may be a better choice for surfaces in good condition. Enclosure is most appropriate for walls, ceilings, and floors.

Advantages of Enclosure



Generates little contamination.

Disadvantages of Enclosure

May not be a permanent solution.

Must be checked every 3 to 6 months to make sure it stays intact.


Like enclosure, encapsulation provides a barrier that prevents lead dust from spreading. With encapsulation, however, the barrier is a special type of coating called an encapsulant applied to a lead-painted surface. Once dry, it forms a stiff barrier, which can then be painted. This method of abatement is a good choice for wall surfaces in good condition, for surfaces that are not rubbed often, and for curved surfaces.

Advantages of Encapsulation.

Generates little contamination.


Disadvantages of Encapsulation

Use of some encapsulant products will create hazardous waste.

Cannot be used in high-friction areas.

May not be a permanent solution.

Must be checked every 3 to 6 months to make sure it stays intact.

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