How can you tell if it is lead paint?

snoggle75June 8, 2011

Is there any way to tell if paint is lead paint?

At the 1904 farmhouse we're buying, there is a very small brick shed that is falling down beyond repair. I'd like to take the bricks from it and use them to build some raised garden beds. The shed was painted white on the outside - is there any way to tell if the paint contains lead? I'm not sure I want to used them for garden beds where I'll be growing veggies if there is lead in the paint.

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There are swabs that turn pink when they contact lead paint, but if there are multiple layers they only work on the layers they can make contact with.

Lead testing is also performed using a radiation source and measuring the back-scatter (in situ testing) or by sending paint chip samples to a lab.

If you send samples be sure to go all the way through all the paint to wood to get a reliable answer.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 9:47AM
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I have a question about lead paint that might help you, snoggle:

Is lead found only in oil-based paint?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 10:21AM
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If the inside of the shed wasn't painted, use those sides of the bricks to face the inside of the beds--repaint the outsides to seal in the old paint.

Paint does not soak into bricks much so I'd say it should be okay if done that could also line the beds with plastic sheeting to keep water from getting into the bricks.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 12:52PM
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if the paint is in good condition, you could conceivably paint it with an encapsulation paint (this is not normal paint), then face that towards the outside like columbusguy suggests.

if it is peeling, i wouldn't use it at all.

unfortunately, the only reliable test is to take it to a lab. there are home kits where you mail the sample out or if you are in a city, you should be able to find an environmental testing lab locally that will test for a nominal fee.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 2:51PM
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