Removing paint safely

Nikki Morris provides tips and advice on removing paint from your walls in a safe and healthy way.

Paint stripper
ARTICLE Nikki Morris

Until 1965, many paints on the New Zealand market had high lead levels. This was particularly true of pre-1945 paints. Even if a building has been recently painted, it may have been painted with lead-based paints or have layers of old paint covered by modern paint.
Today only special purpose paints contain lead and these are clearly labelled.
Lead is a health hazard. Small chips of lead containing paint or lead-based paint dust can create health risks. It can also contaminate the environment. Pets and children are particularly vulnerable.
It’s not possible to tell lead-based paints by their appearance, but there is a simple test that can detect whether the paint is a health risk. If a building was built prior to 1970 it is best to presume that it has been painted with lead-based paint.
You can test paint to see if it contains lead. Take a sample into your local Resene ColorShop or purchase a lead based paint test kit and test the paint at home.
If you find the old paint on your project contains lead, it’s best to get a professional decorator used to dealing with lead-based paint to complete the work. They can ensure the lead-based paint chips are contained and do not contaminate your soil.
If you are planning a repaint and your existing interior walls are sound, often all they need is a good clean down before repainting.
If you are painting outside and you want to remove all the paint, there are a number of options. For most DIY projects we recommend Sea to Sky paint stripper, available from Resene.
It’s a waterbased paint stripper that’s easy to use that you apply to the surface and then leave it to work with the coating. Once it has loosened the paint you can scrape it off. It can remove the paint back to the bare surface.
Before you start work always ensure you have protected the ground below where you are working, e.g with dropcloths. Where possible try and work in still weather so that the material coming off the wall is more easily contained.
Ensure you wear appropriate protective clothing and equipment depending on the stripping method you choose to use and follow all instructions on the pack of stripping equipment.
See the Resene ‘putting your safety first’ brochure free online.

You might be interested in reading: Removing mould from paint and wallpaper.

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This article by Nikki Morris featured on page 36 of Issue 012 of Renovate Magazine. Renovate Magazine is an easy to use resource providing fresh inspiration and motivation at every turn of the page.


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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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