Should I Buy a House with Lead Paint in It? San Francisco Home-buyer Tips
There are so many great vintage homes here in the San Francisco area, in all kinds of styles and conditions. So let's say you find that perfect gem, but there's one problem: lead paint. Should you buy it? Does it matter? Will it make you sick? Can it be dealt with? What do you do? Is it a good idea to buy a San Francisco home if it has lead paint in it?
Maybe! (That's the cheater's answer! Don't worry... I won't stop there) Let's examine a couple of factors that can help you to decide about whether or not to buy the house.
Is Lead Paint Hazardous?
If you have lived in San Francisco (or anywhere in California) for any time at all, you've seen the warning: "This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause..." If we got worried every time we saw those words, we'd have to live in the wilderness to avoid them! But the issues are real, and lead paint really can cause serious harm, if you are exposed to it by certain means.
That "if" is an important one. If you have lead paint simply clinging to the walls and you leave it alone, the risk is extremely low. Many San Francisco homeowners have lived with lead paint on their walls for decades and suffered no problems. The issues begin when you disturb that paint by sanding, scraping, or otherwise disrupting the integrity of the coating. At that point, lead dust can get into the air, posing a health threat.
How Do You Know If Your Home Has Lead Paint?
The year your house was built is one of the best indicators. Almost all homes built before the early 80's have lead paint in them. For the San Francisco area, that means that the majority of our homes have lead paint. Chances are, however, it has already been painted over with other non-lead-based paint... possibly many times.
What Can You Do About Lead Paint?
Some San Francisco painting companies are trained and certified to deal safely with lead-based paint. They have all of the skills and equipment needed to neutralize the risks associated with lead paint, so that you can enjoy your home redecoration with peace of mind.
The process that the painting contractors use depends on the scope of the work being done, but it will definitely involve premium dust collection equipment, breathing protection for the workers, and thorough containment of all contaminated paint that is disturbed in your home.
If you think you have lead paint in your San Francisco home, you can still be a do-it-yourself painter, but only if you can simply add a coating on top of what is already there. If you have scraping, sanding or any other demolition to do, hire a lead-safe certified painting contractor.
So, Should I Buy a House with Lead Paint in It?
There is no reason to avoid a home just because of lead paint. The thing you need to be aware of, though, is that any disturbance to old paint layers could be hazardous. If you buy an older home that is in very good shape, you may never have to worry about lead. If it is properly painted over ("encapsulated") then you are fine!
However, if you know the home will need renovations or repairs that will expose those old layers of paint, you will want to plan on hiring lead-safe certified contractors and paying for lead paint abatement. Also, if there is old paint that is peeling or flaking off anywhere, you will definitely want to have a lead paint remediation expert evaluate the home for you.
Lead-safe Certified Painting Contractors in San Francisco
If you would like to consult with a lead-safe certified painting contractor, or if you know you would like to hire the services of one, we at MB JESSEE would be delighted to serve you! Our certification comes from the EPA, giving us the ability to safely work on your San Francisco home without exposing you to any risky or harmful materials.
MB JESSEE is proud to be one of San Francisco's most trusted house painting companies, serving homeowners in Contra Costa, Oakland Hills, Marin, Berkeley, Hillsborough and Alamo. Call us for a free estimate or to find out more!