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followingwords 04-23-2012 01:45 PM

Lead Paint and Wallpaper
My husband and I are in the middle of purchasing an old house, one that was built around 1890. As such, it will almost certainly have lead paint. I've been scouring the internet and looking at message boards, home improvement sites, government websites, etc. But, I haven't come across a problem quite like what we have.

You see, the paint/wallpaper of the hallways in the house (front hallway that goes upstairs and then hallways on second floor) are flaking off. Obviously, with how old this house is, that's a serious problem. However, what makes this worse and something that I haven't quite been able to find an answer for despite my avid googling, is that the previous owner(s) of the house put paint over a previous wallpaper and then, knowingly or unknowingly, put wallpaper over that. So, we have unknown number of paint layers, wallpaper, paint layer(s), and more wallpaper.

I know from reading that two types of removal for just paint is wet sanding and chemical. However, I'm unsure if these will be possible considering the two layers of wallpaper. Does anyone have any thoughts on the best way to do this? And, before anyone says it, yes, we're very aware that you have a very high chance of having to hire someone to do this. However, we'd like to at least have a whack at it ourselves; I don't work and we have another few months left on our current apartment lease so time isn't an issue at all.

Thank you in advance for any help that you can offer.

PS: For anyone else dealing with lead paint, it took me several hours of googling but I found a lot of really good links about this (one of which specifically deals with how to remove lead paint from a historical residence; aka, how to remove paint without having to completely get rid of items like good trim and the like). I'll be posting those links in a comment to this post, so that others like me can use them without having to search for hours. >.<

followingwords 04-23-2012 01:47 PM

Historic housing:

General info (via NY):

EPA's outline of what to do:

Landlord (via

Various ways to deal with lead paint (via

Another general one (via

Normal cleaning precautions:

According to 'This Old House':,00.html

Chemical stripping:

Video about stripping paint:

user1007 04-23-2012 04:02 PM

Well. You are facing lots of challenges! Not the least of which is the ascending stairwell covered in paper. I hope you can get to the walls.

You know firsthand now one reason we in the business suggest never painting over wallpaper. Your situation is made worse because it sounds likes someone did it twice! You may still be able to get under the paper if you score deeply and can get steam or water under it.

I guess one thing I would ask you having worked mainly on old homes? Is there going to be any there, there when you get paint and paper off? If it is lathe and plaster at the base of the paper and paint mess do you know if it is in decent shape and worth all the effort to get to it?

If it is sagging, warping and so forth you might be better off, in this instance, demolishing down to the studs and putting up new drywall. You will have the added advantage of having the walls open for any electrical and plumbing updates you might want to accomplish.

From a cost standpoint, it may be cheaper or at least a wash with what you are going to have to put in getting layers of paint and paper off. You will likely need a demo permit and of course a dumpster. Contents of the dumpster may require special handling if containing lead.

chrisn 04-23-2012 04:53 PM

jskivington 06-09-2013 11:11 PM

Lead Paint Treatment
You will most certainly need to use either wet sanding or chemical removal for all of the layers. It is definitely a good idea to at least consult a professional about the removal of all layers. However, there is one product that treats the lead in lead paint and can make it much safer for the removal process. It's called Ecobond LBP ( It treats and seals up to 99% of lead dust and 95% of overall lead hazards. Since this wallpaper is peeling, it definitely holds a big risk for lead dust which is very hazardous - especially to children. You can purchase it right at Home Depot online and it is very affordable. Good luck!

ToolSeeker 06-10-2013 07:37 AM

I would start in a spot where it is peeling get a pump-up sprayer with hot water and fabric softener and soak around the edges where it is peeling. let it sit about 10 or 15 minutes then soak again and see if it will start to peel. If this works there won't be any sanding till the end so not hardly any dust.

Brushjockey 06-10-2013 08:24 AM

Lead dust is the main concern, and by keeping it wet you will greatly minimize that. By your research I assume you have seen ways to set up containment to catch the debris as it falls and then safely wrap up for disposal.
If it is that old, at least the bottom layer will be a pulp paper ( true paper, not vinyl coated ). I have found a razor scraper made for removing paper the best tool for that, and it will take a bit of muscle.

It is doable- just not easy.

I would not use any stripper type chemicals at all. Won't really help here.

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