How Much Does Lead Paint Removal Cost?
With a home built before 1978, there’s a good chance it contains lead paint. Lead paint removal cost ranges from $1,445 to $5,412, with the national average at $3,428.
- Lead paint removal typically costs between $1,445 and $5,412, with homeowners paying an average of $3,428 nationally.
- The main factors affecting the total lead paint removal cost include the size of the affected area, the removal method used, the location of the paint, and any preparation work required.
- Homeowners will want to have their home inspected for lead paint if it was built before 1978, if there are young children living in the home, if they notice flaking paint, or if they are remodeling.
- Lead paint removal is not a DIY job—because of the toxicity of lead, it’s important that a professional perform the removal and have state or EPA certification to prevent lead contamination.
Many homes built before 1978 are apt to contain lead, which has been added to paint over the years to create bright and vibrant colors. Since it also helps paint dry quickly and create a durable moisture-resistant surface, lead was a preferred additive until it was recognized as a toxic substance that has detrimental health effects. To safely remove lead paint from a home, homeowners will want to hire a licensed and trained professional. How much does it cost to remove lead paint? According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, lead-based paint removal cost ranges from $1,445 to $5,412, with many homeowners spending $3,428 on average. The overall cost of removal depends on the amount of interior and exterior lead paint and the extent of the removal project.
In 1971, Congress banned the use of lead paint in residential homes, and in 1978 the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced regulations surrounding its use. That year the United States government also banned the use of lead paint by consumers. In the years since, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed additional regulations regarding lead abatement methods and testing. Lead paint can’t be identified just by its appearance, but when lead paint ages, it takes on a visual characteristic that resembles scales. This “alligatoring,” as it’s called by lead abatement professionals, is often seen in areas that don’t get a lot of daily use, such as in closets or the basement. To know for sure if a home contains lead paint, testing must be done.
A professional can assist homeowners in choosing the right lead abatement process for their home. The most common type is removal, but chemical stripping, enclosure, encapsulation, and replacement are other ways to deal with a lead paint problem within a home. Many contractors include the price of labor within their quote, but it’s always a good idea for a homeowner to double-check to be sure. Depending on the extent of the problem, homeowners can pay as little as $100 or as much as $20,000 or more for lead paint removal. While many homeowners may know how to remove paint from wood, when lead paint is involved, a different process is required. This guide will examine the important factors that influence lead paint removal cost, additional cost considerations that can change the project total from the national average, the different methods of lead paint abatement, and important questions for homeowners to ask about lead paint removal regulations.
Factors in Calculating Lead Paint Removal Cost
Many homeowners spend between $1,445 and $5,412 to remove lead paint, but the total amount can differ from the national average of $3,428 due to a few important factors. These can include the square footage of the removal area, removal method, location of the paint within the home, and preparation work.
Professional lead paint removal cost per square foot ranges from $8 to $17, depending on the removal method. Below are the average price ranges based on the square footage of the area where the lead paint needs to be removed.
|Square Footage||Lead Paint Removal Cost Range|
|50||$400 to $850|
|200||$800 to $3,400|
|500||$200 to $2,850|
|1,000||$4,000 to $17,000|
|1,500||$6,000 to $25,000|
|2,000||$8,000 to $34,000|
|2,500||$10,000 to $42,500|
The most common method of getting rid of lead paint is removal, but there are other ways to deal with lead paint in a home. Depending on each unique situation, homeowners can discuss with a professional which method will work the best. The average cost of lead paint removal varies according to the abatement method. Some ways to get rid of lead paint are use of the best paint strippers, demolition and replacement, encapsulation, enclosure, and complete removal. Each of these lead abatement methods is discussed in a section below.
Lead paint can be found in the interior and on the exterior of a home. The same abatement methods are used inside and outside, and the price remains consistent between $4 and $17 per square foot, depending on the method of treatment. An important part of removing lead paint from the exterior of the home is protection of the ground to prevent the lead from getting into the soil.
It’s common to find lead paint on the windows and the trim surrounding the windows. Stripping the paint from the area is the most common way to remove the lead paint, which runs from $8 to $17 per square foot. Many homeowners prefer to replace the windows and the trim, which can cost from $1,000 to $15,000, depending on the size and number of windows.
There are some tasks that a homeowner can do to help prepare for professional lead paint removal. Before the lead paint abatement team comes to the house, it’s helpful for homeowners to remove artwork from the walls as well as drapery, light fixtures, rugs, and all furnishings from the room. Items that are too heavy to remove will need to be covered in thick plastic and secured with tape. Homeowners will want to keep children and pets away from the removal area to protect their health. For exterior lead paint removal, professionals will use tarps to cover the ground to prevent the toxic material from entering the soil.
Additional Costs and Considerations
When budgeting for the cost of removing lead paint from a house, homeowners will find that there are additional price factors and important considerations that can change the project total. These can include price differences between interior and exterior removal, lead inspection and risk assessment fees, disposal fees, and the cost of any needed additional carpentry work.
Interior vs. Exterior
Removing lead paint from the interior of a home costs from $8 to $17 per square foot, depending on the abatement method. When removing lead paint from the inside of a home, professionals will take care to seal the area to prevent toxic lead dust from entering the HVAC system and getting outside and contaminating the soil. Once the paint is removed from the walls and windows, repainting can begin and will cost from $2 to $6 per square foot.
Exterior lead paint removal cost ranges from $8 to $17 per square foot. It’s common for older homes to have many layers of paint on the siding and trim, and some layers can contain lead paint. Stripping the paint, removing the debris, and repainting the entire home can cost over $20,000. More budget-friendly abatement methods are enclosure or encapsulation, but those methods will not permanently remove the risk of lead paint.
Lead inspections can cost from $200 to $400. For an inspection, a professional will test the exterior and interior of the home by using an X-ray fluorescence analyzer, which scans painted surfaces for lead paint. Potential home buyers can request a lead inspection to determine the potential risk of lead exposure.
For a more thorough lead paint investigation, a risk assessor will not only detect the presence of lead paint but also determine the severity, type, and exact location of the lead paint danger. Performed by a certified risk assessor, a lead assessment can include lead found in the dust around the house and in the outside soil. The assessment also determines various solutions to control the lead in the house. A lead risk assessment is commonly performed if someone in the house was tested and revealed high levels of lead in their system or is experiencing illness from lead exposure. Homeowners can expect to pay between $800 and $2,000 for a lead risk assessment.
Lead paint disposal cost ranges from $3 to $5 per square foot. Since lead is a heavy metal that can cause various health issues, such as delayed learning in children, hearing problems, anemia, impaired brain function, infertility, coma, convulsions, kidney malfunctions, blood cell disorders, and more, the proper disposal of lead debris is very important. Lead removal professionals can properly dispose of lead paint detritus so it will not harm others or the environment.
Additional Carpentry Work
For very old homes, additional carpentry work or repairs may be needed after the removal of lead paint. A professional carpenter can charge from $70 to $95 per hour, and the price of the materials, such as paint, primer, and lumber, will increase the overall cost. During lead removal abatement, it’s common for a professional to discover asbestos, water damage, insect infestations, and radon gas. The cost to remove asbestos by the best asbestos removal companies will add to the overall bill.
Types of Lead Paint Removal
Homeowners can pay as little as $100 to over $20,000 to remove lead paint from their home. The final cost hinges on the extent of the removal and the difficulty of the removal process. Certain types of abatement methods work better in certain situations than others. A professional can recommend the best way to go about dealing with lead paint hazards. Some of the most common abatement methods are chemical stripping, demolition and replacement, encapsulation, enclosure, and removal. The average cost for each method is listed in the table below.
|Lead Paint Removal Method||Average Cost|
|Chemical stripping||$10 to $17 per square foot|
|Demolition and replacement||$1,000 to $15,000 per project|
|Encapsulation||$4 to $8 per square foot|
|Enclosure||$9 to $10 per square foot|
|Removal||$8 to $17 per square foot|
Chemical stripping can cost from $10 to $17 per square foot. Professionals use a chemical stripper to remove the lead paint and then use a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove the lead particles. Stripping is a permanent solution for removing lead paint, but it’s the most invasive process. Homeowners will want to consider whether they want chemical stripping, which can release fumes into the air.
Demolition and Replacement
Demolition and replacement involve dismantling the areas covered in lead paint and replacing them with new materials. Demolishing walls, floors, ceilings, doors, and windows can cost from $1,000 to $15,000 per project. If the lead contamination is significant, the demolition debris might need to be disposed of in a specific landfill reserved for toxic materials. After the surfaces covered with lead paint are removed, new construction to replace them with safe, lead-free materials and paint can begin. Full demolition and replacement are expensive, but they remove all traces of lead and will boost the home’s value.
Lead paint encapsulation cost ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot. This abatement method involves placing a thick coating of a lead paint encapsulation formula on top of the contaminated areas. There are three types of encapsulation substances: polyurethane/epoxy, chemical compounds/polymers, and a cement type of material with added polymers. The most expensive option is the cement form of encapsulation, since it requires troweling on the material and takes more time and effort than other methods. The polyurethane/epoxy and chemical compounds/polymers can be applied with brushes, rollers, or a spray gun. The chemical layer seals in the lead paint with a waterproof mixture, but it’s not a permanent solution and requires occasional maintenance. This method is typically less expensive than others, although the encapsulation compound can cost from $55 to $75 per gallon, depending on the manufacturer.
Lead enclosure costs between $9 and $10 per square foot. This process covers smooth areas with lead paint with new drywall, siding, or panels to prevent the spread of lead-contaminated dust. Enclosure is most commonly used for small sections of the home that have lead paint, instead of an entire house or room. This abatement method is a good way to prevent toxic dust from spreading into different areas of the home, but it’s not a permanent solution and needs to be monitored for damage.
Lead paint removal cost runs from $8 to $17 per square foot. Professionals can use various techniques to remove lead paint, which can include using a low-temperature heat gun, hand scraping, or wet sanding using an electric sander. Utilizing a HEPA filter vacuum to capture the dust is important in preventing contamination of the surrounding areas. Power-washing without any measures to trap the water and paint chips, using a flame torch, and machine-sanding without the use of a certified HEPA filtered vacuum are all prohibited methods of lead paint removal. Some methods of removal work better than others in specific situations, and the professional should explain their removal choice before beginning the process.
Do I Need Lead Paint Removal?
If testing reveals that there is lead in a home, it will need to be removed. If a house was built before 1978, there is a strong possibility that lead paint is present. If the old paint is chipping and there are young children in the house, it’s all the more imperative to test for lead paint and remove it from the premises to protect them.
Since lead has been added to paint for hundreds of years, the age of the home is a good indicator of the potential for lead paint in the interior or exterior finish. Lead paint is most commonly found in older houses and homes built between 1950 and 1978 that are located in an urban area. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 87 percent of homes built before 1940 have lead paint.
Young Children Living In the Home
If a homeowner has a limited budget, it’s wise to prioritize children’s bedrooms and areas where they play. Since young children have a tendency to put items in their mouths, they are at high risk of lead poisoning, although homeowners should keep in mind that lead can enter the body through inhalation and skin absorption as well. Children can experience irreversible damage to their nervous system and brain when exposed to lead.
Peeling, Chipping, or Flaking Paint
If a homeowner suspects that the peeling, chipping, or flaking paint in their home contains lead, it’s important to contact a professional for testing. Paint chips can be ground underfoot and create toxic dust that can enter the lungs and create a host of dangerous health issues.
Remodeling an older home can put the residents of the house at risk, as well as the neighbors. Taking on a DIY renovation without first testing for lead or failing to take the proper precautions can result in spreading toxic lead particles throughout the area. To find out if the home or surrounding soil is contaminated with lead, a homeowner will need to consult a professional.
Lead Paint Removal: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Every homeowner wants to save money when tackling a home improvement project, but hiring a professional is strongly advised when there are concerns about lead paint. To prevent lead contamination, the United States EPA passed a regulation beginning in 2010 mandating that any firm or contractor—including residents and property owners—performing any type of repair, renovation, or painting project that will disturb lead-based paint in homes, kindergartens, or child-care facilities have state or EPA certification. It’s crucial to avoid cutting corners when removing lead paint from a home. Saving some money by making lead paint removal a DIY project could cause irreparable harm to the homeowner and their family. Not only will lead abatement professionals know how to safely remove lead paint from the home using the appropriate methods, but they will also know how to dispose of it properly.
How to Save Money on Lead Paint Removal Cost
When the time comes to remove lead paint from your home, it’s recommended not to skimp on any abatement method just to find the cheapest solution. Below are a few money-saving tips to consider when budgeting for lead paint removal cost.
- Get multiple estimates. Get at least three estimates from reputable lead abatement professionals in your area to find a price that works for you and your budget.
- Consider the different treatment options. Some lead abatement methods are cheaper, but they’re not permanent solutions and may require regular maintenance or monitoring.
- Think about the little ones. Since children are at a high risk for lead poisoning, prioritize their bedrooms and other areas where they spend the most time.
- Do some of the prep work yourself. Before the lead abatement professionals arrive, remove all the furnishings, drapery, rugs, artwork, and lighting from the room. If there are items that are too large and heavy to move, cover them in thick plastic and wrap them tightly with tape.
- Ask about combining projects. Some lead paint removal companies also remove other hazardous materials, such as asbestos. If asbestos is discovered in the home during the lead paint removal process, ask whether you can combine projects to save some money.
Questions to Ask About Lead Paint Removal
Asking a lead removal professional the right questions can help a homeowner avoid miscommunication and save money. Below are some questions to ask about lead removal and the different lead abatement methods.
- How long have you been in the lead paint removal business?
- Are you certified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a lead-safe certified contractor?
- How do you protect soil and landscaping when removing lead paint from the exterior of a home?
- What other qualifications do you have?
- What training does your staff have?
- What is your experience with lead paint abatement?
- Can you provide referrals?
- How will you test for levels of lead within my home?
- How much will the lead paint abatement cost, and what does the cost include?
- What type of lead paint abatement methods do you use?
- What lead removal methods do you recommend for my home?
- What will you do to keep my home and family safe from lead dust particles?
- How do you dispose of hazardous material?
- Is it safe to stay in my home until the lead paint is removed?
- How long does lead paint removal take?
- What should I expect during the lead paint removal process?
- Do you offer payment plans, and if so, what are they?
- Do you guarantee your lead paint removal?
- How can I leave a review of your work?
Before homeowners hire a lead paint abatement professional, it’s important for them to know about lead paint and the removal process. Below are some frequently asked questions about lead paint and lead paint removal.
Q. Do I have to remove lead-based paint?
If the lead paint is in an area of the house that is not frequently used and there is little risk of it chipping and flaking, technically it doesn’t have to be removed. Homeowners are advised to call in a professional to assess the lead paint and confirm the risk level.
Q. How bad is lead paint really?
Lead paint is very dangerous. According to the EPA, this toxic heavy metal can cause serious health issues, since lead is not processed out of the body but builds up over time. Health problems can include poisoning, kidney malfunction, convulsions, coma, impaired brain and nervous system function, hearing problems, blood cell disorders, infertility, and even death. In children, lead poisoning can cause delayed learning as well as issues with physical health and development.
Q. Can I just paint over lead-based paint?
Yes, but the paint needs to be an encapsulant. One of the EPA-approved methods of lead paint abatement is encapsulation, which involves painting over the lead paint with a specialized chemical solution that seals the lead.
Q. How do I remove lead paint from windows?
The painted surface of the windows can be moistened and scraped off or heated with a low-temperature heat gun and vacuumed with a device that has a HEPA filter. Chemical strippers can also be used with the proper disposal.
Q. Does homeowners insurance cover lead paint removal?
Many homeowners insurance policies have clauses that exclude the coverage of lead paint removal, but others may cover the process. It’s always recommended that a homeowner double-check with their insurance provider to make sure.
Q. Do home inspectors check for lead paint?
Some home inspectors will check for lead paint, and others will not. It’s always a good idea for a buyer to ask the home inspector to check for lead paint before the purchase of a new home.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr, Thumbtack