How Do You Know If Your House has Lead Paint?

It’s a good idea to know if your house has lead paint. Lead is a heavy metal that can cause serious health problems, especially for children. Lead poisoning is an invisible problem that can cause permanent brain damage in children, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues. The only way to find out if you have lead paint on the inside of your home is by getting it tested for lead content. Unless you are planning to remodel or renovate your home, there is no need to remove lead paint in good condition and not flaking or peeling. Before getting deeper into it, let’s discuss what lead paint is?

What is Lead Paint?

Lead paint is a type of paint that contains lead. Lead was used in paint because it makes it more durable, flexible, and less likely to chip or peel. Lead can also cause a paint color to be brighter. Before the 1980s, lead was frequently added to paints to speed up drying time, enhance durability, and resist moisture loss. It was a cost-effective technique for making paint.

In 1978, the use of lead in household paints was prohibited due to the severe health hazards it posed in the United States. Non-leaded pigments, anti-corrosive chemicals, and drying agents are now widely accessible and frequently used by paint producers so that you won’t find lead-based paint on your local hardware or paint store.

While it is now outlawed to use lead in paint, some countries still permit it. This means that if you’re planning to work on an older home or building constructed before 1978, there’s a chance it has lead-based paint.

Also See: Best Home Remodeling Ideas

What Are the Health Hazards of Lead Paint?

Lead is a heavy metal that can cause serious health problems, especially for children. In the United States, it is required by law to disclose lead paint hazards before selling a home. Lead poisoning can affect children through a variety of means. They tend to chew on lead-painted surfaces. Door edges, windowsills, built-in storage, and even some toys are examples of these.

Lead dust may be ingested when playing on the floor and subsequently put their fingers in their mouths as it coats their sticky fingers. When lead paint is being stripped or sanded off surfaces, it can create a lead-contaminated work area. If this lead dust is not cleaned up, children may be exposed to it.

Pregnant women are also at risk for lead poisoning. Lead can cross the placenta and enter the developing fetus. This can result in low birth weight, premature birth, and developmental delays. Lead dust particles can cause severe and even fatal health issues if breathed. Other signs include high blood pressure, headaches, developmental issues in children, nausea, abdominal discomfort, joint and muscular discomfort, memory and attention difficulties, mood disorders, male and female fertility issues.

Signs of Lead Paint

There’s no way to be sure whether or not the paint in your home contains lead unless you get a professional evaluation. However, there are a few things you can do and indications to look for to help you decide if you need a certified inspection or excision lead-based paint:

Know When Your Home Was Built

In 1960, the sale of lead paint for residential use was prohibited in New York City, and it was prohibited throughout the United States in 1978. If your house was built before 1978, you could assume that lead paint was used at some point during the construction process. If you are unsure whether the house was constructed before or after 1978, you can look for a building permit. The date on the permit will tell you when the house was built. Or else you can ask the previous owner or your real estate agent.

Recognize the symptoms of lead

Identifying the early indicators of lead poisoning is a method to detect lead paint. If you reside in an older house and your family is experiencing problems, lead paint probably is to blame. On the other hand, lead poisoning does not have a single identifying symptom; it can show up in a variety of ways. The following are some typical early symptoms of lead paint exposure:

● Irritability

● Loss of appetite

● Weight loss

● Sluggishness

● Abdominal pain

● Constipation

● Headache

If you observe any of the above signs in your child, take them to a pediatrician for a blood test. Pregnant women must be tested for lead poisoning.

See Also: Tips for Moving While Pregnant

Look For Signs of Damaged Paint

If a surface isn’t damaged or decaying, it’s not hazardous. Even if the paint contains lead, well-maintained paint is not immediately harmful to your health.

Start by searching for paint that has been damaged. That’s where your fears about lead paint should be the greatest. Peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, and dampness are all damage indicators. Pay extra attention to areas with a lot of friction because they’re likely to have a lot of wear and tear. Paint on bathroom and kitchen walls, around door frames and edges, and on the outside of the house are common places to find damaged paint.

Also Read: 24 Best Bathroom Colors for Your New House

Check For Sub-layer of Paint

If you notice many coats of paint on surfaces, especially in older, pre-1978 structures, it indicates that the property has been coated with lead paint. Because removing old paint may be time-consuming, some people choose to cover it rather than strip it away. Although a new, clean-looking layer of paint might be on top, there may still be lead in the underlying layers.

You might also come across sub-layers of paint beneath layers that are already damaged or chipping. These are previous coatings that have been painted over during repair or upgrading. The older the paint, the higher the chance it is to include leadership for the same reasons as previously stated. In general, if sub-layers of paint are present on a surface, the paint likely contains lead.

You may also read our article on What’s the Average Paint Dry Time?

How to Test for Lead in Paint

If you’re concerned that your home may have lead-based paint, the best way to find out is to get it tested. Lead testing can be done through a private laboratory or your state or local health department. Two types of tests can be performed: surface-wipe and painted chip tests.

A surface-wipe test is helpful in detecting the presence of lead on a painted surface. A small sample of paint is collected from the area of concern and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results will tell you whether or not there is lead in the paint and, if so, how much is present.

A painted chip test helps determine the lead content of a specific layer of paint. A small piece of paint is cut from the area of concern and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Both tests are relatively easy to perform and can provide you with a good understanding of the lead paint status of your home.

If You Have Lead Paint in Your Home

If your home does contain lead-based paint, there are a few things you can do to minimize the health risks posed by the paint:

● Regularly clean all surfaces that may come into contact with food, such as countertops, cutting boards, and stovetops. Wipe these surfaces down using a wet cloth and a non-abrasive cleaner.

● Avoid eating or drinking in areas where lead paint is present.

● Make sure your children don’t play near lead paint.

● If you must remove lead paint, hire a professional abatement contractor to do the job. Do not attempt to remove lead paint yourself.

● If you’re pregnant or have small children, consider moving out of your home while lead paint is being removed.

Lead paint can be dangerous if it’s not properly taken care of. However, by taking some simple precautions, you can minimize the health risks posed by lead paint in your home.

Also See: How To Babyproof Your New House | Tips for Moving While Pregnant

How Do You Remove Lead Paint Safely?

Once you’ve confirmed that your home contains lead paint, the next step is to learn how to remove it safely and effectively so that it no longer poses a danger to you and your family.

If the paint is in good shape (no peeling, chipping, cracking, or flaking), you may be able to cover it rather than removing it. Encapsulation is the application of encapsulants, special paints that prevent lead-containing paint from flaking and producing dangerous lead dust. It provides a barrier between people and the lead paint and is a good option if the paint is in good condition and you don’t want to remove it.

Another alternative is to have the lead paint removed. This must be done safely and legally, according to EPA recommendations. Unless you’re an expert, it’s best to hire a lead abatement professional. They might use several techniques to remove the paint, including scraping with liquid paint removers or sanding using special vacuum equipment.

Once the paint is removed, it’s essential to clean the area thoroughly to remove all lead dust. This can be done with a wet cloth and a non-abrasive cleaner. Be sure to dispose of the waste material properly and keep children and pets away from the area until it’s been cleaned up. You may also choose to replace the materials and surfaces the paint is covering (walls, doors, woodwork, drywall, etc.) entirely if you’re removing it as part of a bigger remodeling project. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s done safely and correctly.

Also See: How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors for House | How to Paint Upholstery


Lead paint can be dangerous if it’s not properly taken care of. However, by taking some simple precautions, you can minimize the health risks posed by lead paint in your home. If you’re unsure about how to deal with lead paint in your home, consult a professional abatement contractor who will be able to remove the paint safely and effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have lead paint in my house?

Paint testing kits are available at your local hardware shop to test surface lead on walls. Rubbing a solution on the wall is how you do it. If the solution turns pink, there’s probably lead on the surface of the wall.

Is it safe to live in a house with lead paint?

It depends. If the lead paint is in good condition and not flaking or peeling, it may be safe to live with. However, if the paint is found to be in poor condition, it may be best to consult with a professional abatement contractor about lead removal options.

What are the health effects of lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning can cause various health problems, including brain damage, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems in children. It can also cause miscarriage, decreased fertility, and nerve damage in adults.

Can I remove the lead paint myself?

Unless you’re an expert, it’s best to leave lead paint removal to a professional. Improper removal can create even more health hazards than leaving the lead paint in place.

What happens if you breathe in lead paint dust?

Lead poisoning can affect nearly all systems in the body. It has even been proven to be deadly. Lead builds up in our bones, liver, and kidneys before being absorbed into our blood. Lead poisoning’s symptoms may linger long after the source of exposure has been eliminated.

Written by

Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.