Can You Paint Over Lead & Is it Safe to Paint Over It?

lead paint testing

Are you wondering whether it’s safe to paint over lead-based paint or not? The correct answer is: It depends.

If you were to Google it right now, you’d likely encounter a myriad of conflicting answers online because this question is steeped in nuance.

Therefore, in this article, we are going to break down and explain when and how it is safe to paint over lead paint. We will also shed light on whether it’s safe to live in a building where there’s been a paint job done over existing lead paint. Such a process is called encapsulation.

So, without further ado, let’s delve into it all today.

Is It Safe for Workers to Apply a Fresh Coat over Existing Lead Paint? 

Whether it’s safe to paint over lead-based paint depends on two factors: the state of the existing lead paint and the surface you’re working on. Lead-based paint can pose serious hazards, potentially damaging surfaces and emitting harmful lead dust or fumes when disturbed.

For professional painters, the process can be deemed safe when certain conditions are met. If the lead paint is in good condition and workers are equipped with the proper protective gear, the painting job can proceed without risking any health issues.

These protective measures include:

  • Disposable clothing covers
  • Disposable shoe covers
  • Disposable gloves
  • Painter’s hat
  • Respiratory protection equipment

When painters take such safety precautions, they become well versed in tackling such lead-based paint hazards without compromising their health or the quality of work they have to deliver.

Is It Safe to Live in a Building Where Lead Paint Has Been Painted Over? 

Yes, it can be safe to live in a building that was previously painted with lead-based paint. This process of painting over existing lead paint is known as encapsulation, and it’s an EPA-approved method for addressing lead paint in any building. However, encapsulation requires a specific technique and professional expertise to properly apply an encapsulant to the walls and ceiling.

While some may assume that ordinary store-bought paint is sufficient to encapsulate lead paint, it’s not the case! The following are not considered encapsulants:

  • A new paint coat or primer
  • Wallpaper coverings
  • Contact paper

Effective encapsulation typically involves sealing the old layer with a new lead paint that is no longer harmful. You can perform a simple test by applying a small amount to ensure that the new paint adheres to the surface. If it does, you can proceed with the paint application.

So, what exactly is an encapsulant? 

An encapsulant is a specialized material that forms a protective barrier between lead paint and the environment. It prevents lead dust or paint chips from spreading into the environment and getting ingested or inhaled by a worker or resident.

Encapsulants come in adhesive or liquid forms and can be categorized into different types, including:

  • Polymers
  • Epoxy or Polyurethane Polymers
  • Cement-type materials mixed with Polymers

When Should You Not Paint Over Lead Paint? 

The encapsulation process may not be suitable for certain types of surfaces. For instance, surfaces that are damaged or have experienced a significant amount of friction and wear and tear may not be suitable for encapsulation.

These surfaces can include:

  • Surfaces with cracks, peeling, or chips.
  • Damaged surfaces with holes or cracks that require filling.
  • High-friction surfaces such as window and door frames and hinges.
  • Floors, stairs, and other surfaces that people walk on.
  • In such cases, alternative methods for addressing lead paint may be more appropriate.

Read More: Dangers of Lead Exposure at Workplace


Do You Need Help with Lead Paint? 

Are you planning to get your property painted and not sure what you’re dealing with? Do you want to avoid lead paint hazards? It’s better to be safe than sorry.

At Manhattan Lead Inspection, our professionals can help you provide the best lead inspection service at the best affordable price.

Lead is a neurotoxin chemical which can be harmful for young children and pregnant women. Taking precautionary measures beforehand will ensure your children have the best health. Dial (212) 226 1614 and schedule a lead inspection in Manhattan today.