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“It’s All In the Prep”

The preparation work before painting a house is 90% of the job. Without the proper amount of preparation the final coat of paint will fail sooner than its given manufacturer’s expectation.

Homes built prior to 1978 typically have lead paint present. When lead paint has been identified there is an enhanced set-up/clean-up and prepping procedure. Here is how Painting Oregon paints your lead paint home.

How We Prep a Lead Home

Typically, homes built prior to 1978 will have some traces of lead paint on their surfaces and the EPA has set a standard set of regulations that we must abide by in order to properly prepare your surfaces to receive paint. Throughout this article I will reference a home that contains lead paint as a “lead prep”.

Because prepping your home is the most important part of your paint project we take extra care to assure that the paint we apply lasts as long as possible. A typical lead prep has a fairly standard order of events that occur prior to primer or caulking being applied. The following sections outline these steps.

Preparing the areas for scraping and sanding

Before any scrapers, wire brushes or sanders are brought out we first need to create our containment area. We use clear six-mil plastic to do this and attach it to your foundation or lowest siding board of the wall. The ground is covered a minimum of 10 ft from the area we will be prepping. We will cut around bushes, trees and any other obstacles to assure that the ground and your vegetation is covered to assure no paint chips land in the soil around your home. If you have any plants or vegetation around your home that we should be extra careful of please let us know prior to starting so we can create a plan to protect them from our containment. We have been able to create special framed/breathable protection booths for our past customers special plants. If the vegetation sits right next to your foundation it could be best to dig the item out and re- plant elsewhere while the prep work is happening. If you have a seasonal bloomer it would be best to coordinate the paint and prep work around the blooming season to assure as little disturbance as possible.

After our containment area is set up we will have to set up our “Danger” tape around the perimeter of your home. Because lead paint chips can travel by foot, air, and on our clothes we need to assure that all lead and lead paint activities are confined to our working area. We ask that you make arrangements to enter or exit through sides of the home that we are not prepping on that particular day. The prep crew lead will inform you of the schedule that we are on after each day or you will be able to access this plan through our instant messaging app.

How will the Prep Crew Look

Because lead paint travels by foot, air, and on our clothing the crew will be outfitted with Tyvek suits, gloves, respirators, and safety glasses. We understand that this is a difficult sight to see but want to assure you that we are taking every precaution necessary to prevent any lead exposure to you or our employees.

Cleaning the Surfaces

We will typically start our prep with a power wash of your home. We only wash to clean the surfaces of your home. If your home is peeling heavily this wash will be very light as we are not trying to remove any paint just clean dirt, mold, and mildew from the surfaces. We use a “earth friendly” foaming wash that we spray on all surfaces prior to washing it off that helps do a lot of the cleaning for us.

Scraping Peeling lead Paint

Once our containment area is created we need to remove the failing paint from the surfaces. This is done using carbide steel scrapers. We will dry scrape any loose paint from your home. In extreme conditions of paint failure we will use a Hudson (pump ) sprayer to apply a TSP and water solution to the areas to keep a wet surface. We ask that all windows stay remain shut during our prepping process to assure no lead containment enters your home.

Power Sanding

EPA regulations state that power sanders hooked up to certified HEPA vacuums are the only legal means to sand a lead paint surface. Painting Oregon uses Festool double HEPA vacuums and sanders on all lead prep projects. We use the power sanders to feather down the edges of your failed paint surfaces. This will assure the longest lasting paint project possible. We will vacuum the surfaces or in the worst case give a lite rinse to clean the wall of dust and debris.


After prep work is completed we remove the six-mil plastic. We will roll it up and create “burritos” to remove all lead chips from your property and dispose of according to federal regulations. The ground is visually inspected and vacuumed to assure that no paint chips remain and now your home is ready for primer and caulking.

Below we have listed just some of the tasks added to our enhanced prep service when lead paint is present at your house

  • 1.) Six (6) Mil plastic will be laid below the working area to keep paint chips and dust off the ground.
  • 2.) Pre-wash using a TSP (Tri-Sodium Phosphate) and bleach solution to kill mold and/or mildew.
  • 3.) We will wet-scrape and wet-sand any peeling or failing paint.
  • 4.) Failed caulking will be removed.
  • 5.) Wooden window glazing that has failed is removed.
  • 6.) Scraped areas will be power sanded with a HEPA attached vacuum to collect fine dust particles.
  • 7.) A final rinse using our TSP solution cleans and prepares the areas to accept primer and paint.
  • 8.) Six mil plastic is rolled up, bagged, and disposed according to EPA regulations.
  • 9.) The ground is HEPA vacuumed at the end of each workday.