How to Remove Lead Paint From Furniture

Paint used on furniture prior to the mid-seventies sometimes contained lead.

How to Remove Lead Paint From Furniture

If the paint is chipping or peeling, or you simply want to paint the furniture another color, you may need to strip the paint. In most cases, stripping lead paint from furniture is best done by professionals---exposure to lead dust or fumes can be dangerous. However, if you do choose to do this yourself, there are products and methods that will make the process safer.

Put on painters respirator (this is necessary for using some, but not all, paint strippers---strippers intended for lead paint are low-fume; however, check the label) and rubber gloves, disposable clothing and goggles. Cover other furniture and any other items you want to protect with plastic sheeting.

Open the container of paint stripper. Apply the paint remover with a paint brush. Use long, even strokes when applying so that it goes on evenly. Be sure to cover all surfaces you wish to strip.

Wait the allotted time (indicated on the label) for the stripper to work. This will usually be several hours or even overnight. If you are using Peel Away 1 paint stripper for lead-based paint, you will need to apply the Peel Away laminated paper over the stripper.

Remove the paint stripper with a plastic putty knife (unless you are using Peel Away 1, in which case, peel the paper off and the paint is supposed to come off with it).

Rinse the furniture with clean water (or according to directions on the stripper's label). If you are planning to repaint, it is extra important that all traces of the stripper are removed.

Things You Will Need

  • Plastic sheeting
  • Painters respirator
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Protective clothing (disposable Tyvek)
  • Lead-safe paint stripper (examples include Lead-Out, Peel Away 1 or Soy-It Lead Paint & HD Stripper)
  • Paint brush
  • Plastic putty knife

Tip

  • If the stripped paint does not come off easily, you will need to add more product and wait longer. If you do not have a putty knife available, try an ice scraper.

Warning

  • Never remove lead-based paint with heat guns or in any other way that will release toxic fumes or lead dust into the air (such as by sanding). Always treat lead-based paint as hazardous material and dispose of it properly---some paint strippers are intended to neutralize the lead. However, you still need to check with your local authorities about proper disposal of the paint. Many lead-safe paint strippers give off few fumes and are deemed safe for use by consumers. However, children and pregnant women should be kept away from the work area to minimize possible exposure to lead fumes or dust.