Lead Out! How to Safely Remove Lead Paint

Most of our renovations will be done by professionals because a) we have full time jobs, and b) we don’t have the skills or know-how to do much of the work.

While it would be nice to hire people to do all of the work, we want to try to reduce some of our costs by completing some tasks ourselves, like some of the demolition work.  One of the projects we have decided to tackle is stripping some of the old doors.  There are two sets of double doors:  one set leads into our daughter’s room and the other into what will be our living room.  They look like they are original to the house and therefore over 100 years old.  They have nicks and dents and show some signs of decay and years of minor repairs. We are not sure whether they are worth stripping and re-painting but we are going to give it a try and see what happens.

Since the doors have obvious signs that there are multiple layers of paint, we suspect that the early layers may be lead paint so we researched paint removal products specifically for lead paint and found Franmar’s Lead Out.

Lead Out renders lead paint non-hazardous for safe removal and inexpensive disposal.  According to the company’s website, a special patented Molecular Bonding System is used where the product reacts with lead at the molecular level to alter the lead compounds to a non-hazardous compound making it easy to remove and safe to dispose of. The product is made from American grown soy beans and is biodegradable.

Step By Step:  How to Use Lead Out to Strip Lead Paint From Door

Step 1:  Gather the supplies you will need.

Lead Out comes with the gel, activating powder, plastic gloves, mask and a stir stick.  We started with a gallon container and a package of powder that says it should be enough to cover 250sqft.  If you are only planning on stripping a small area at a time like we were, then you need a small plastic container and a measuring cup to mix a smaller amount.   You will also need a paint brush to spread it around and scrapers to remove it.  I recommend plastic scrapers for wood as the metal ones dig into the softened wood.   I also recommend a number of rags and a bucket of water and extra gloves.

Step 2:  Mix appropriate quantities.

You must wear the mask for this stage.  To mix a smaller amount, you want to mix equal percentages of each container. We mixed ¼ of the gel and ¼ of the powder together until it formed a thick paste.  This was more than enough to cover two doors and then some.  I’d recommend staring with less, probably a 1/16th of each would have been perfect for the 6′ x 2.5′ door we stripped. Also, you must use all of the product in one shot as it can’t be saved for another day.

Step 3:  Preparing the work area.

We were working in an empty house so for us it was easy.  We just put down a plastic sheet and then we used two work benches to support the door so we could lay the door flat stand while we applied the paste.  Since there was several coats of paint on the door handle, we did not remove its hardware before applying the product.

Step 4:  Applying the product.

We applied the paste with a paint brush.  The directions say to apply it liberally in one direction, as opposed to painting where you go over it back and forth.  In retrospect, I wish we had poured it on like they do in the video and then used the brush to spread it around.

Step 5:  Waiting

The directions say to wait several hours (at least 5) before removing it with a scraper.   See photo on the left, this was only after an hour.

We waited overnight before removing it and either that was a little too long and it dried out or we did not apply it thickly enough because in some areas it was a little dried and harder to get off.

Step 6:  Scraping

Lead Out removed several coats of paint.  There were at least three colors and you figure they may have repainted those a few times.  We definitely were able to see right down to the wood after the first scrape.  There were still some areas where it was difficult to get the paint out like crevices and grooves in the wood design.  We might try an old toothbrush next time.  We will also try another light coat of the product and let it sit for only a few hours to get the last remaining bits.  This is where the rags and the water come in.  When you scrape off the paint it is very sticky and thick and adheres to the scraper.  It helps to have a wet rag to wipe it off after every few scrapes and we’d recommend rubber gloves for that reason as well.

All in all we were happy with this product for stripping wood and we will be trying it on some other surfaces as well.  The next step will involve sanding the door once it is dried.  Stay tuned for that.

Warning:  the following video is our first attempt and is, to say the least, amateur.   Hey, we’re not actors.  It is shot with an iphone and edited with the mobile app, ReelDirector.

Franmar generously provided us with a complimentary gallon sample of the Lead Out to get our project started.

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3 thoughts on “Lead Out! How to Safely Remove Lead Paint

  1. Pingback: Stripping Paint Off a Fireplace Mantel | Brownstone Cyclone

  2. Looks like quite a project! Do you know if it works vertically as well? We need to remove the paint from our stairs. Does it smell? Could you stand to do it in the house when you live there? Nicely done on the video – the editing app seems like it works really well.

  3. Thanks. It is a little painful to see yourself on video. The Lead Out does work vertically. We tried some on a hanging door. Only drawback is you can’t coat it as thickly since it will drip down. You could definitely use it on stairs. When we left it overnight and came back there was a strong odor in the room but we only had the windows open a crack. If you can well ventilate the area it is much better and I wore a mask since I was going to be near it for a while. It is no worse than paint odor. If you plan on stripping the banister and it is detailed, I recommend getting some nylon scraping brushes from the hardware store to get in the grooves and then using lots of wet rags to wipe them out once you’ve scraped out what paint you can and it is still wet. Scraping is messy but I am a bit of a klutz.

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