Lead Abatement and Removal
Archived Q&A and Reviews
My husband and I are expecting our first child in May, and since we live in an old San Francisco building with a significant amount of peeling paint, we're concerned about lead levels. We spoke to our landlord, who despite some initial balking, asked us to find out what needs to be done to remediate the lead problem (and there definitely is one; the building is pre- 1906) and get him the names of some contractors. We honestly have no idea what lead remediation involves, or how to find the right contractor for the job. Is this a huge job? Will it cost our landlord tens of thousands of dollars? Since we are only renters, the most we can ask him to do is to bring the unit up to SF code. If anyone has experience with anything like this, we'd love to hear from you! Thanks!
Ugh, lead paint. We had the same issue (not to mention asbestos!) I'd call a good painter to give you options and speak to your landlord. We used Ken White and he's definitely going to be a good option for you, because he's been doing this forever and your landlord would be hard-pressed to discount anything he tells him, and he's someone who'd be willing to explain his recs to your landlord. (415) 533-0999 leddit
The Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is no longer providing lead paint or soil testing services or test kits. But the Program is continuing to offer free in-home consultations and classes to owners of pre-1978 residential properties in Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland. Financial and technical assistance services are also available for rental properties with low-income tenants. And healthy homes services are available for eligible families with a child with asthma to help reduce asthma triggers in the home. For more information call the public information line at 510-567-8280 or visit www.aclppp.org
Remember, even very small amounts of lead can cause serious long term health effects for your child. Make sure they are tested at 12 and 24 months if you have any reason to suspect they may have been exposed to lead. And learn how to work lead-safe on your home. Call the Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 510-567-8280 if you have any questions. Julie
I'd like to find a good, yet inexpensive painter trained in the removal of lead paint. I'd like to repaint my windowsills and doors and it seems there is some lead in the existing paint. Toxic Free
My coworker recommended painter Ramon Meza at 510-875-5479 because I needed to fix problems from previous poor work to my Aameda home. I've hired Ramon for inside and outside complete prep and repainting and now I wouldn't hire anyne else. He is trustworthy, professional and reliable. The work is beauiful and will last. My home was built in 1986, so lead paint was not an issue for me, but I know he does excelent work. Good luck! Susan
Dan Prine 510-860-9166 is a great painter that is certified in lead removal. He has done a lot of interior and exterior work for me, and has always done an excellent job. He is clean, reliable and reasonably priced. I highly recommend him. Lisa S.
I live in an old house that was built in the 1920s. We just had our house painted indoors and outdoors by a wonderful painter named Aurel Cimpoaie. He is certified to deal with lead paint removal and he is meticulous in his work. He also keeps his staging areas very neat. His prices are very reasonable for the caliber of work he does, and he finishes projects on time. His phone is 510-303-4691 and License #: 950759. Rachel
I've got a 1930s house with some big projects. I'm looking for a responsive contractor to do lead abatement & repaint our basement and the drawers/cabinets in our kitchen. One issue is whether it's worth the cost to have someone sand off the original paint from the kitchen drawers & cabinets, or whether we have to replace them. We weren't planning a full remodel quite yet... We are also replacing our old windows, and need to find a contractor who will take out the dry rot and replace the stucco siding. The windows are old, and are likely to have lead issues as well. Any suggestions? We've had trouble finding people who'll follow through on their commitments and make sure the job is done right. Separate recommendations for painting and window replacement companies are fine as well, as are recommendations for women-run businesses. New(ish) Berkeley Hills houseowner
I don't have a specific contractor recommendation for you, as the guy we worked with doesn't really do cabinets. But I highly recommend that you take the *free* class on lead-safe remodeling offered by the Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention program. http://www.aclppp.org/homeown.htm This will help you decide exactly what you want done and how, and it will prepare you to interview contractors and oversee the work. The guys from ACLPP will also come out and do a free assessment of your home and give you advice and a kit for testing levels in different areas. They are awesome. As for how to deal with cabinets specifically, it depends mainly on how intact the current paint is. If you just have chipping in a few areas, I would definitely go with minor repairs rather than true abatement. (This will be the recommendation in the class.) Our 1890 house is full of lead, lead, lead, but it's all safely encapsulated & we now know how to deal it when we do have to disturb it. Best of luck to you! Old home here, too
Editor Note: recommendations were also received for Contractors
I am looking for a handyperson for small odd jobs. Can anyone recommend someone who is careful to control the lead dust? careful consumer
You are going to want to use somebody that carries a state Certification as a Lead Abatement Supervisor or Project Monitor. I had great luck with Thousand Oaks Painting. My house had a ton of lead peeling all over it, Thousand Oaks came in and they were very professional. I really can't say enough about the service they provide. It is a family owned and operated company, everyone there was either born or raised in Berkeley/Albany. No Home Depot Joe's. Contact (510) 410-6806 and talk to Bruce, Roland or Mark. You won't be sorry. Be Lead Safe
I have a house built in 1910 and thus that many years of lead based paint. I was wondering if anyone has used the chemical/eco friendly base paint removal system to remove the paint from the trim (RemovAll, Smart strip...)? Did any of these really work? I cannot keep painting over and I have small kids in the house. Thus, I really need paint out of the house and stop chipping. I will have to do this myself since we do not have the funds to have someone else do the painting. Worried Parent
I used 3M Safest Stripper several years ago and had great success. You need alot of rags or paper towels to clean it off and you will likely repeat the process two or three times if you are trying to restore the wood underneath. It strips many layers at once, I just followed the directions on the carton. Remember not to sand or scrape any of it while it is dry, and to dispose of the paper towels/rags as hazardous material. Sue
In our previous house we had some areas with lead paint. I did a lot web research, and thru Alameda County there was a program where they'd give Alameda residents a lead removal kit and info on how to do it yourself. I don't know if the kits are still available (I got mine at thru the Osh Hardware on Ashby), but the same information on how to remove lead paint that was in the kit was on line. The kit had: a disposable coverall, disposable mask, scraper, a spray bottle, and this liquid to dilute in the spray bottle (to spray on the lead paint areas to minimize dust as you scraped). They said to rent a vacum with a HEPA filter (we got one from some industrial rental company on MacCarther, found it in the phone book). The kit said to wear the coverall and mask, and scrape off as much of the flaking lead paint as you could, spraying the area as you went to stabalize any dust, then vacumming everything up with the HEPA vac. Then when all loose material was scraped off, to prime the area then paint over it. That was it. Very simple. If you are painting over lead paint and it is still flaking up, then you may be using the wrong type of paint. For example, if you are painting latex on top of an older oil based paint, then it won't stick. another broke homeowner
We bought a UV heat element that fuses multiple layers of paint together so they can be scraped off in one piece. It is about shoebox size and costs about $500. Replacement elements cost $100 and I did break one. We stripped the exterior of our old house down to redwood. It does not work very well on single layers. If you leave it on the paint for long enough (30secs to 1min) it willl usually separate easily from underlying wood, though ease of removal varies and seems to depend on the condition of the wood/how it was treated prior to painting/how much sun/water exposure it has had. The chunks of paint are collected on heavy plastic drop cloths and discarded as hazardous waste. We used this in conjunction with a heat gun for smaller areas. We bought a variety of good quality scrapers from the hardware store and have used them all.
It is a long process though not unpleasant if you have the time. Don't try to use just a ladder as you need traction to do heavy scraping. If you cannot stand on the ground you'll need scaffolding. Wear reflective safety glasses and the mask that makes you look like a fly and scares the littler kids in the neighborhood (don't turn around when a stroller passes). Kathy
We rent an apartment that has lead paint on the windows, which are in disrepair. Our landlord hasn't been helpful and we need to figure out what to do. The first step seems to be getting an EPA certified lead paint assessor. Can anyone recommend someone?
start by calling the alameda county lead poisoning prevention program. they provide a wide array of services free. as a renter though, you may need your owner to make the official request. they can refer you to inspectors if need be. but definitely call them first. 567-8282
public health employee
We have a 75 year old very small stucco bungalow with wood trim in need of painting. The issue is that underneath the current paint on the trim is a layer of lead paint (or part of a layer--house was sanded at that time, I think, about 12 years ago). I know there are all sorts of recommendations about not sanding lead paint but I see homeowners and painters alike working on similar houses all over our neighborhood who seem to sand with abandon. How can we safely repaint while minimizing lead exposure to our two youngsters and also not spend an arm and a leg but still do a decent job repainting (which everyone tells me involves sanding!)? anonymous
I do think your concerns are very valid. We just re-painted the exterior of our house (built in 1940), and my husband scraped the whole thing, and carefully contained the scrapings. He had heard of someone's dog getting very sick from the lead based paints. It's a lot more tedious, but a lot safer. anon
Help! We need to paint our house, inside and out, this year. We're looking for someone who is going to be very conscientious about lead abatement. The people mentioned in the archives are popular and busy, we've called multiple times and haven't heard back. We need some new people to call. Syndallas
I strongly recommend MB Jessee painting. The owner, Matt Jessee has been a painter since he was a kid. His company has worked largely in Piedmont and Montclair. This is a company that is very serious about delivering a top quality service, and really taking care of its customers. You will not find a company with more integrity. They have an account manager who is there to take care of YOU. On the off-chance that a problem arises, they fix it immediately. You will not, I repeat NOT get shoddy work from these guys, they are all about giving the customer quality and VALUE for your money spent. The account manager is Jon - I have his business card - call him at (510) 393-8686. I believe that his policy is to return all calls within 24 hours, but you will probably get a return call the same day, depending upon when you call. Looks like they also have a web-site: www.mbjessee.com.
We are searching for a high-quality painter who follows strict guidelines from HUD on lead-safe practices. We just fired our painter mid-job for contaminating our house with lead dust from heavily sanding the exterior without proper precautions (resulting in professional cleanup, much angst, etc.). We are also looking for an incredibly high-quality result. Any recommendations? nancy
Call Hans Stahlschmidt for lead safe painting. He is certified in lead safe paint removal. He and his crew are prompt, neat and professional. They did a great job on our house, showed up early, cleaned up every day, and completed the job a day ahead of schedule. They were very careful around our plants close to the house as well, which is not always the case with contractors. Very high quality work. S Au
We are looking for a good and experienced painter who also is certified to do lead abatement. We have some outside window sills and possible inside windows which need painting and contain lead. We have a 3 year old and don't want lead dust everywhere. We also have a 2 story house and a tile roof so we need someone who can deal difficult to access windows. We'd appreciate a recommendation for a reasonably priced good house painter who is lead certified or at least has taken the class in Alameda County.
Try Stahlschmidt Painting and Restoration. He was recommended by our general contractor, since we, too, wanted someone certified in working with old lead paint. We were very happy with the outcome. He did a GREAT job finding just the colors we wanted, and his crew was very professional. They prepped well, painted, and cleaned up afterwards. Where one minor spot did not take well, they came back and fixed it without any questions. It's been a couple of years now, and it still looks like new. I don't know what they charge, since we just paid our general contractor for a large project; he subbed out the exterior painting. Satisfied customer
Hans Stahlschmidt is a Berkeley painter (510-848-4040) who really does know about the safe way to remove paint. Others may claim to but I've yet to see any painter take the care Hans did. Here's what Hans did for our house: machine sanders had HEPA filters, hand sanding was done with TSP spray (binds with lead and keeps dust down), plastic put on ground each day during prep work and carefully rolled up and disposed of, plastic curtains put between us and neighbors, windows sealed with plastic OUTSIDE AND INSIDE and vacuums with HEPA filters used to clean windows after removing plastic. His workers also wore the right kind of filters, etc. He's got a great sense of color, is very professional, clean & thorough. Two years later he did touch up work for free. He's very expensive but it was worth every penny to not have our property contaminated with lead paint chips or lead paint dust. -- Brenda
(AND he also has sponsored a softball team in the Albany-Berkeley Girls Softball League! - Nancy)
Another approach to removing porch paint is to rent a high pressure washer and blast it off. I was going to do that, but found thru a free visit from the Alameda County Lead Abatement Program (567-8280) that it would be hard to contain the lead. I painted over the ugly paint. The lead abatement program is a great resource, for measuring lead in homes, and supplying information and equipment to take care of -Shirley
Does anyone know of an agency that will come to your home and assess it for the presence of lead? I live in Albany in a home built in the 1940's and am concerned about the possibility that old coats of paint containing lead may leech into soil or eventually become exposed in areas like window sills that are subject to lots of abrasion. Apparently Berkeley's Health and Human services used to provide this service but now only provides it to low income families. I'm not sure where to look now. Alisa
Alameda County has an excellent lead program. Their number is 510/567-8282.
Lead Paint Evualation: If you are a home owner you can have your home (in and out) and yard tested for lead paint for FREE. We just had it done it this very week was very informative. Call Alameda County Lead Poisioning Prevention Program at 567-8282 for more information. The woman that you want to speak to Josephina Cornejo...she'll let you know if you qualify.
If you own your own a house that was built before 1978 and you live in Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland or Emeryville, you are in luck. Your taxes will pay for a full inspection of your home--inside and out, through the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in Oakland. If they find lead during the inspection, they will provide a plan to help you deal with it. This service, if you paid for it yourself, would run around $900. Upon your request, they will send you an application for their services as well as a packet of information. A friend of mine is now dealing with lead poisoning in her 3 year-old. It has had a devastating impact on her child's development, as his hearing, and thus his speech, have been impacted, and she is now dealing with this along with other long-term health issues. The worst effects are in children under the age of six, but lead is a threat to adults as well. The Lead Poisoning Prevention Program can be reached by calling 567-8282. Good luck! Sarah