Lead Paint and the Older Home

When you’re shopping for a new home in Southern Ontario, you have a hard choice to make. Do you go with the charm and built up neighbourhoods around older homes, or do you choose the wide open spaces of the newer houses located a little further out? If you do choose an older home, do you buy one that is already renovated, or do you take on that project yourself to get exactly what you want? It’s a lot to think about, but we still have to add one more consideration to the list.

A common line in Toronto real estate ads is: “A renovator’s dream!” That’s code for a home in desperate need of some TLC to get it up to modern standards. These older fixer-uppers can be a great investment, but you have to hold something back in your renovation budget for the services of an environmental remediation firm. Why? Because if the house was built before 1980 there’s a good chance that there is at least one layer of lead paint standing between you and the renovated house of your dreams.

Why Worry About Lead?

If undisturbed, lead paint generally isn’t a problem. It’s when you start planning renovations that testing for lead and making sure it’s properly addressed becomes an issue. There are a lot of reasons to worry about lead contamination in your home, including lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is sneaky because the symptoms like behaviour problems in children and hypertension in adults are often attributed to other causes. It’s only after thorough investigation, and a lot of long term damage, that lead is revealed as the ultimate source of ongoing health problems.

Safety Precautions for Handling Lead Paint

Traditional paint removal techniques like sanding or heat stripping are not safe to use when dealing with lead paint. Safe ways to address lead paint include:

  • Wet scraping or sanding with appropriate HEPA filters;
  • Encapsulation to bond a new material to the lead paint to preserve it;
  • Enclosure with new material to simply cover the lead surface;
  • Replacement of the affected surfaces (walls, window and door frames, etc.)

If you are removing paint because it is chipped, flaked or peeling, it’s also important to address the cause of that damage. For example, there might be a problem with a leak or window condensation causing the paint to bubble and crack. Repairing or replacing the damaged lead paint won’t address the underlying issues.

Learning there is Lead in Your Home

It can be a crushing blow to learn that your dream house comes complete with lead paint. Fear not! Even though the presence of lead paint is an obstacle, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. It’s true that lead is a health hazard, but with the lead abatement services of a professional lead removal company, the newly renovated home of your dreams can be yours – safe and sound!


Image courtesy of hyena reality / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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