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Renovation, Repair and Painting Program: Do-It-Yourselfers

The Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule does not apply to homeowners performing renovations in their own homes.

Whether you are renovating, repairing, or painting, you should follow these safeguards to prevent lead dust from spreading throughout your home:

Learn more about how to make your home lead-safe.

Work Safely

  • Cover floors with plastic sheeting
  • If working on a larger job, construct an airlock at the entry to the work area.
    • The airlock consists of two sheets of thick plastic. One sheet is completely taped along all four edges.
    • The plastic sheet is then cut down the middle.
    • The second sheet is only taped along the top and acts as a flap covering the slit in the first sheet of plastic.
  • Remove all furniture, area rugs, curtains, food, clothing, and other household items until cleanup is complete.
  • Items that cannot be removed from the work area should be tightly wrapped with plastic sheeting and sealed with tape.
  • Turn off forced-air heating and air conditioning systems. Cover vents with plastic sheeting and tape the sheeting in place with tape.
  • Close all windows in the work area.
  • If disturbing paint, when using a hand tool, spray water on lead-painted surfaces to keep dust from spreading.

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Get the Right Equipment

It is important to get the right equipment to protect you and your family from lead exposure.

  • NIOSH-certified respirator with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter.
  • HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner. Regular household vacuums will not work; their exhaust systems release the lead particles into the air.
  • Wet-sanding equipment, wet/dry abrasive paper, and wetsanding sponges for "wet-methods".
  • All-purpose cleaner. Use one bucket for the cleaning solution and one bucket for rinsing. Change the rinse water frequently and replace rags, sponges, and mops often.
  • Heavy duty plastic sheeting. The label should say that the plastic is made of polyethylene and is 6 mils thick.
  • Tape. You will need tape to completely seal the plastic in place.
  • Protective clothing. To keep lead dust from being tracked throughout your home, wear clothes such as coveralls, shoe covers, hats, goggles, face shields, and gloves or clean work clothes and launder separately.

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Perform Minor Repairs

Performing minor repairs on lead-painted surfaces can expose you to lead hazards. If you plan to make minor repairs, follow these steps:

  • Cover the floor under the work area with thick, plastic sheeting to catch any paint chips or dust.
  • Spray the work area surface with water to reduce the amount of dust generated.
  • After making the repair, use a HEPA-filter equipped vacuum cleaner to vacuum all surfaces within two feet of the work area.

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Prepare Surfaces for New Paint or Wallpaper

Preparing walls and other surfaces for painting, staining, or papering can create lead exposure risks. Follow these good work practices to reduce your risk of exposure to lead:

  • Cover the floor and furniture with heavy duty, plastic sheeting.
  • Avoid sanding lead-painted surfaces whenever possible.
  • If you must sand, use a sander with a vacuum attachment connected to a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner or use a wet-sanding sponge.
  • Wipe the area you are sanding often and rinse the sponge in a bucket of water. Strain out any paint chips and dispose of them in heavy-duty plastic bags.
  • Wash the walls with a solution of water and an all-purpose cleaner. Let them dry before painting or papering.
  • Heat guns may be used to remove paint, but do not use those that operate above 1100° F.

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Remove or Replace Carpeting

If you plan to remove or replace your carpet as part of a remodeling job, take the following steps to avoid spreading lead dust:

  • Mist the entire surface of the carpet with water to keep dust down.
  • Roll the carpet inward to avoid spreading dust to other areas.
  • Wrap carpet and pad in thick, plastic sheeting. Tape seams closed with tape.
  • Vacuum floor with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner after the carpet is wrapped but before you remove it.
  • HEPA vacuum the floor again after you remove the carpet.

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Certified Lead Abatement Contractors

You can reduce the risk of lead exposure in your home by having a contractor perform an abatement. An abatement is a way to permanently contain or remove lead hazards. Merely painting or papering over lead-painted surfaces is not abatement.

  • Call your state or regional lead contact for a list of contractors who perform lead activities in your area.
  • Call the National Lead Information Center at (800) 424-LEAD if you have a tip or complaint about a lead service provider who may have done work incorrectly.

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