Lead Paint: What You Need to Know About Older Homes

Lead Paint: What You Need to Know About Older Homes


If you live in a home built before 1978, there’s a chance that some of the paint on the walls is lead-based. Back in the day, the dangers associated with lead poisoning weren’t as widely known as they are today. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about lead-based paint, lead poisoning, and home renovations.

What’s the Big Deal?

If you’re not familiar with the dangers of lead, it might seem odd that a common ingredient in household paints could actually pose a serious health risk to anyone. However, it’s true: the lead used in this type of paint can pose the same risks as any toxic metal. The reason it went undetected for so long is that lead-based paint on walls only becomes dangerous as it deteriorates.

If your home has lead paint on the walls, it’s possible that it will never pose you any serious risks, assuming the paint remains unbroken and doesn’t begin flaking off. However, over time all paints will break down, and the lead dust from the paint will get into your home. If there’s lead paint on the exterior of your home, it could also contaminate the soil.

Risks to Your Health

Children are especially vulnerable to this problem. Since they’re more likely than adults to put things like paint chips or toys into their mouths, they’ve got a much higher likelihood of ingesting the toxic metal. Likewise, kids playing in contaminated soil could encounter high concentrations of lead from the home’s exterior paint.

Even adults aren’t immune. If you live in a house with deteriorating lead paint, odds are good you’re inhaling lead dust. This is terrible for your health, and prolonged exposure can have serious side effects.

When to Renovate

If your home was built before 1978, it’s possible it could have lead paint. The older the home, the more likely lead-based paints were used somewhere in the home. If all of the surfaces in your home are pristine, then you’re in no immediate danger. However, you should consider having your home inspected before you do any major renovations that will break the surface of paint jobs inside and outside your home.

If the inspection determines that the paint on your home is lead-based, then you’ll need to take special precautions when renovating. These steps can include either sealing the lead paint permanently behind specialized coatings or having a professional completely remove the paint from all surfaces in your home.