Lead paint is found in mostly older homes, and it can pose a serious risk to your health and the health of your family.

If you own an older home or you’re thinking of purchasing one, getting a lead paint test is recommended to ensure your safety.

Read on to discover some signs that you may have lead paint, and what to do if you suspect it’s present in your home.

Lead Paint Basics

The paint we use today doesn’t contain lead, however, it was a common ingredient in paint used in the past. Painters loved this type of paint thanks to its lustrous and glossy appearance.

Lead tends to hold pigment much better than most other ingredients, which means that paint jobs could often be completed with just one coat.

In fact, painters loved using lead paint so much that they stocked up on it even after it was banned.

The US Federal Government banned the sale of any lead-based paint back in 1978. Many homeowners assumed that anything built after this year was free of the dangerous substance.

Unfortunately, lead paint continued to be used by several painters, which means that many homes built after 1978 could possibly still have it on the walls. Even homes built as late as the 1990s have been found with lead-based paint.

The government has a reason for banning this dangerous substance. If lead is eaten or if the dust is inhaled, it can cause a myriad of serious health issues. Everything from seizures to death has been linked to lead-based paint, especially in young children.

Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause a variety of problems for adults and children alike. If it’s breathed in for long periods of time, it can turn into even more serious problems that can be difficult to correct.

If you’re planning to purchase an older or historic home, a lead paint test is always a good idea. You may also be asked to sign a disclosure stating that there’s a possibility that lead paint is present in the home.

Signs of Lead Paint in the Home

Example of lead based siding on an older residential home.

Since you can’t tell if your paint contains lead just by looking at it, how do you know if it’s there? One common sign is when the paint starts to have a “scaly” look as it ages and deteriorates.

This scaly appearance is called alligatoring, and it looks flaky and scaly at first glance. If you don’t know where to look, start by closely inspecting the cracks along the walls to look for any scaliness.

Another area to inspect includes around the trim and baseboards of your home. Take a closer look inside all closets and around the window sashes of your basement, if applicable.

Lead paint also tends to flake off in white, dusty clouds. Gently rub the walls of your home and look for an unusually large amount of dust. It’s best to wear a protective face mask when performing this kind of DIY test.

Generally, the older your home is, the greater the odds are that you have some form of lead-based paint. In fact, most homes built before 1978 contain this paint in at least one part of the home.

A professional inspector can test your home for the presence of lead paint. They’ll generate a report that explains which areas of the home contain the highest levels and make recommendations for how to mitigate the problem.

The Lead Paint Test Process

Residential Painting Estimator Testing for Lead on Older Home

If you suspect that you have lead-based paint in the home, it’s always wise to get a test as soon as possible. Contact your local health department or a professional home inspection company to find out how to have your home tested.

In some cases, the paint may be in good condition, and encapsulation is all that’s needed. The process of encapsulation involves sealing or painting directly over the older layers of lead paint on the walls.

However, if you see a lot of chipping and flaking, it’s time for more drastic measures. If you don’t want to hire a professional, many hardware stores sell home lead paint testing kits. The test includes a special solution you rub on the wall that turns pink if the lead is present.

Home tests have limits and only detect lead that’s lurking on the surface. If the paint has been covered up by layers of new paint, a DIY home test won’t be sufficient.

If you’re concerned about the presence of lead paint, a pro can use special equipment to find out more. A piece of equipment called an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer is used to detect the presence of lead-based paint in your home.

The special equipment used by inspectors can test through several layers of paint. It can even determine which areas of the home contain the highest levels of lead so you can start to correct the issue before your family’s health is affected.

Stay Safe and Test for Lead-Based Paint

Now that you know about the risks and dangers associated with lead-based paint, it’s prudent to get a lead paint test if you’re concerned. Any home built before 1978 should be tested just so you can be assured your home is safe.

With the right tools and help from the professionals, you can easily detect the paint and then take the proper steps to correct it for a healthy house.

For more information about our services including interior and exterior painting or lead testing, contact us today!

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