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Managing lead-based paint

Posted by Wall Treats on August 29, 2018

Homes built in New Zealand before the 1970s can have a charm and character that makes them a real treat to work with. Using a colour scheme designed to bring out the best in these homes is very satisfying.

However, doing up your home shouldn’t come at the expense of your health. If the existing paint coatings have never been removed then there is a high probability that at least one of those coatings contains lead-based paint. You need to understand how this can be safely managed.

What is so dangerous about lead-based paint?

Untreated lead poisoning may cause brain damage and can be fatal. The biggest cause of non-occupational exposure to lead is lead-based paint, and children are particularly at risk.

Lead from paint is mainly taken into the body by inhaling dust or fumes, or by eating paint fragments or contaminated materials. Lead is a highly toxic and accumulative poison, which means it can have toxic effects that may be acute (after intense exposure) or chronic (from ongoing low exposure).

If left undisturbed there is limited risk of lead-based paint causing any health issues. However, painting new coats over degrading paint will be detrimental to the longevity and finish of the paintwork.

How do I know if my home has lead-based paint?

You can’t identify lead-based paints by their appearance, but if a building was built in the 1970s or earlier, it is best to presume that it has been painted with lead-based paint.

When the paint starts cracking and taking on the appearance of an alligator’s skin (known as ‘alligatoring’ or ‘crazy cracking’) it is a sure sign that the previous coats of lead-based paint are deteriorating. The only way to ensure the longevity of a new finish is to get right back to bare timber and start fresh.

So how do I deal with the lead-based paint?

Because the previous coats of lead-based paint will be disturbed in the process of removal precautions must be taken, and it is essential that you engage a painting contractor with:

  • Lead-based paint management training; and,
  • Experience with removing lead-based paint.

Wall Treats lead-based paint management procedure

Our preventative measures focus on limiting exposure and are in line with Resene’s specifications on lead-based paint. We also keep up to date with any recommended changes in best practice.

  • Mask windows and doors (from inside the house) with masking film
  • Cover plants and vegetable gardens with plastic masking film
  • Remove existing paint coatings using a paint stripping agent. This may leave paint residue, which we remove with a sander, with a vacuum attached to minimise sanding dust. Alternatively, we may wet sand.
  • Sand the exterior faces of the timber joinery with the windows and doors closed
  • To properly prepare the areas where the interior and exterior faces meet, the joinery needs to be open. Vacuum the interior floor area around the timber joinery immediately after sanding
  • We lay down tarpaulin, then canvas dropsheets to capture paint debris. Throughout each working day, the paint debris are tipped into heavy duty black rubbish bags, which we dispose of at council approved locations
  • To prevent paint debris entering the house, the team remove footwear should they need to enter


If you have concerns about lead-based paint on your home get in touch  with Wall Treats today and we can talk you through your next steps.


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We are very happy with the quality of the paint result we have received from Wall Treats and also with the level of service we received. The team from Wall Treats produced an excellent paint finish and nothing was too much trouble.
Wall Treats’ work was of the highest quality, showing particular attention to detail in all areas. This small business represents both itself and the association very well by being meticulous in all areas from documentation to finished work. They have laid down a challenge for others to follow.
I had dealt with Wall Treats on a professional basis and was impressed with their level of finishing. I engaged Wall Treats for this project because I trusted that they would do a good job. My instincts were right. The Wall Treats team is a delight to deal with and I received efficient service from friendly professionals.
They are totally efficient and they are my number one … they would be my higher end, reliable painters … to refer on, absolutely, I’d think of them first! They’re going to be a little bit more expensive but I think you get what you pay for…
Many thanks for the work you've done on our house. You've done a very good quality job and we also appreciated your reliability, sticking to schedule and the fact you've been totally upfront about the costs.
We received excellent communication from the very moment we contacted Ashley for a quote to the final invoice being paid. Their processes were excellent and ensured that our job was managed in a professional way. We feel that Ashley and Daniel went out of their way to ensure everything went smoothly. Anyone who values ‘peace of mind’ the way we do should ring Wall Treats.
(Wall Treats) stand out by themselves… They’re the only ones who bother to communicate back about how things are going, how the quote’s going … all those sort of things. They’re the only ones who actually go that extra mile.
I was most impressed with the attention to detail and the communication throughout the whole process. The workmen were very considerate throughout the whole time they were at my property. What impressed me the most was that Ashley made sure every single detail was covered and checked in with me regularly. She also came and personally inspected all the work with me... Her standards are very high (as are mine!) and I highly recommend Wall Treats to anyone.