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How Can I Tell If I Have Lead Paint In My House

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  • 25-04-2022
How Can I Tell If I Have Lead Paint In My House

 How can I tell if I have lead paint in my house? Find out more about the risks of lead paint and how to identify lead paint in your home.

Many people are aware of the lead paint hazards and the health risks of too much lead, but are you aware of the potential dangers in your home? In the UK, many houses have high levels of lead-based paint, leading to serious health problems if you're not careful. 

Keep reading this article if you're concerned about lead poisoning or the paint in your home. 


What're the risks with Lead Paint in my home?

Across the UK, many houses were built using lead paint until the late 1960s. Windows, doors and woodwork, along with some metal items, were painted with lead paint, which can present health hazards. This was added to paint to accelerate the drying process and improve durability, giving homeowners a cheaper alternative to decorating their homes. 

If you identify lead paint in your home, it can easily release lead dust into the air. If this is inhaled by yourself or your family, it can cause symptoms of tiredness, headaches, anaemia or stomach pains. You can swallow lead dust and debris when you eat, drink or swallow. This will circulate into your blood and cause severe kidney and brain damage problems. Homeowners currently working on a renovation or decoration project are at additional risk from lead poisoning, as you will disturb the paint layers and release dust into the air. The work area around the possible lead paint poses many risks.

Lead-based paint has been banned in many countries as lead is a toxic metal, with continued lead exposure proving deadly to humans. When small children and pregnant women touch the painted surfaces on window sills, walls and doors, they can quickly develop life-threatening issues. To prioritise the safety of your loved ones, you should conduct a home survey and get rid of all lead paint efficiently and safely. 

While there is no one easy method to identify lead paint, and you can purchase lead test kits, there are some signs to look out for. 

If your property was built before the 1960s, the chances are the household paint is lead-based. Where the paintwork is thick, the lead can be buried into the wall and could be safer unless you plan on redecorating in the future. If your house is newer, you are safer against lead-based paint hazards, but you can get your paint professionally tested if you are concerned. 

You can do some research into the age of your house, the source and condition of all paint to assess whether lead is present. 

Signs of Lead Paint

 How Can I Tell If I Have Lead Paint In My House?


The most common is "Alligatoring", where old paint begins to crack and wrinkle. This happens when your paint contains lead, creating a similar pattern to that of an alligator's scales. 

The cracking can start subtle and grow wider over time. Oil-based paints crack and alligator over time, as they are rigid. Water-based paints are much more elastic, hence why latex and acrylic boom in sales. For this reason, seeing Alligatoring happen at your property can be a result of old oil-based paints and not a direct result of lead. 


If you notice a chalky residue being transferred from the wall or painted surface to your hand or cleaning cloths, this is another sign of lead paint in your home. 

This white and chalky substance results from moisture and UV light hitting the paint components, oxidising lead pigments within the paint. Paint chips and chalking around walls can easily enter the air or be inhaled and swallowed by individuals with this substance on their hands. 

The increased risk created by this chalk is one of the more common lead hazards. You should note that chalking is natural with all paints but is more common with oil-based variants.   

Paint Sub-Layers

The more layers of paint present on a wall, the more likely they are to date back to a lead-based product. Painters will not always strip a wall before applying a new coat, creating layers of paint on the wall. Peeling or chipping paint can signify older paint underneath becoming loosened, allowing lead dust into the air to be inhaled. 

Doorframes and windowsills are more likely to produce this, as they are painted over more frequently than domestic walls. 

Lead Exposure Symptoms

Another obvious sign of lead-based paint being present in your home is the array of symptoms you can begin to develop.

Lead poisoning can take many forms in the initial stages, primarily affecting vulnerable people like small children and pregnant women. If you notice any of these signs, it signifies the amount of lead in the bloodstream has reached a dangerous level and should be treated medically as soon as possible.

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Hearing Loss
  • Seizures
  • Sluggishness 
  • Loss of appetite 
  •  Irritability
  • Difficulty learning

Among adults, you can notice different symptoms

  • Joint pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Mood disorders
  • Fertility problems

How Do You Remove Lead Paint Safely?

Removing lead paint is the next step after identifying it within your home. If you leave the lead paint unattended, you can continue developing serious health and nervous system issues. 

Many painters and decorators will paint over old layers of paint, meaning that the lead layers could be covered by decades of newer paint. 

If your wall paint is in good condition with no chipping and cracking, you may be able to continue safely and paint over the layer. You cannot do this with store-bought paints; you must use encapsulants (special paints preventing lead-containing materials from flaking and leaking lead dust into the air). 

Of course, most households will want to remove lead paint to care for their family's health. To do so, you must follow Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines. The EPA strongly recommends using a certified lead risk assessor to conduct a risk assessment and remove lead paints.   

Risk Assessments

A risk assessment must be conducted on residential buildings where lead paint is believed to be present. This is especially important on older homes built before the 1960s. The certified professional will deliver extra attention to walls that are peeling and cracking or painted surfaces that have been touched, licked or bitten by small children. 

A full inspection will involve a thorough evaluation of your home to determine the extent of the deterioration. Dust samples will be taken from window sills and the floor to be tested further. Laboratory recognised lead samples will indicate the best method for dealing with large amounts and the safest way to remove lead from your property. 

A certified lead inspector or lead risk assessor must be the one to carry out these risk assessments. You can purchase home lead tests that provide chemicals that change colour when lead is present, but you will receive more accuracy with a full inspection and professional help. 

There's a good chance that most homes built before 1960 will have a presence of lead paint inside, which can easily interrupt your renovation project and cause health issues when not evaluated. The first thing you should do is clean up any paint chips and keep all areas around the lead paint clean, minimising time spent in those areas by small children. 

If you are currently going through a larger renovation project, you may decide to remove the entire section entirely. For additional safety, you could decide to replace them completely when removing the lead paint for windows, drywall, and woodwork. Remember, always hire a professional and ensure adequate testing has been done to form an analysis of the quantity of lead paint present.

The previous owner (where applicable) may have informed you of areas where lead paint is more likely to be found. If you rent, be sure to ask the landlord if you decide to remove lead paint, as this can cause developmental problems going forward. 

If you require more information on lead paint in your home, please contact our specialist team for lead removal services.

Are you looking for lead paint removal in London? We offer dust-free blasting for removing lead paint from all surfaces throughout Croydon, Ealing, Wandsworth And London.