Lead Paint – Cautions

Every junker has done it: bought something coated in lead paint. Sometimes you just cannot pass up that wonderful junk! Lord knows the things I have worked on and never tested. Recently, just for precautionary reasons, I had my doctor test me for lead and my levels are all normal… whew! After 17 years of refinishing that was great news. Anyhow, with the ever-increasing DIY trend, I wanted to share some of the precautionary measures that I have mentioned before.


Utilizing Lead paint testers are a great starting point before you decide what you are going to do with a piece of furniture. Many DIY hobbyists opt to sand old finish off rather than stripping. DO NOT – I repeat DO NOT – sand off potential lead paint. The sanding process produces airborne dust particles which you then breathe in. Some signs of lead poisoning are nausea, depression, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and muscle pain, just to name a few. Needless to say, lead is VERY bad for you.


Lead paint actually wasn’t banned until 1978, which really was not that long ago! 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1977 have lead paint while 87% of homes built before 1940 have lead paint. The EPA has more information here should you be concerned about lead paint in your home.


I wanted to share this information with you because we truly do come across this very issue in our daily work. A client recently dropped off a child’s play hutch; after talking with her and seeing it, I asked how old she thought it was, and when it was built (by the look of it, I thought there was a good chance it was coated in lead paint).

This was a great opportunity to share and learn! I normally would have just power sanded the flaking off paint, and filled the holes and cracks. However, that simpler prep option was off the table in this case. I purchased these lead testers; if it turns pink or red, lead is present.

I tested in several spots through out the piece just to be sure. Then with a new tester; I control tested something I knew didn’t contain lead because I had painted it myself.

Just like that: Pink. Yup, we’ve got lead!

These are super easy to use. Just squeeze points A and B, and then shake! Apply to concerning finish like lipstick (on your piece of furniture, not your face 😉)!

This is going to change what I do to this piece and it’s going to take a lot more work to get this safe for kids to use!

What have you purchased in the past that raised your concerns about lead paint? Are you going to test it?

Thank you for reading this weeks blog and learning one more way to DIY the right and SAFE way!

Tara and Becca

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