Lead Paint Removal Cost

How much does it cost to do lead paint removal?

In the United States it is estimated that around 75% of homes have some sort of lead paint remaining within them or on their exterior surfaces. While there are many instances when the paint can simply be safely "encapsulated", there are also times when it must be completely removed. The sanding and grinding that this requires is a major problem because lead paint dust is incredibly toxic when in the air or the soil.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the average costs for lead paint "abatement" will range from $8 to $15 per square foot, and the average house can require a minimum of $10,000 to treat.

Is this a DIY project? Lead paint cannot be detected with the "naked eye" and testing any surface is the first step. Generally this comes at a cost of around $10 per kit for the DIY option or the hiring of an official inspector, which can require from $350 to $500 (according to RealtyTimes.com). Why hire a formal inspector? If a house or building was constructed prior to the year 1978 it could be completely filled with lead paint remnants, and this is something to take seriously when it will be inhabited on a full-time basis.

For the purpose of this discussion we will consider hiring a professional to handle a lead paint abatement in the average home. Since the United States Census Bureau places the average household square footage at 2250, we will use this measurement to determine a sample set of pricing guidelines.

For example:

  • If the exterior of the home were to be treated, this would come at the higher costs due to the protective screening required for the work. This means that roughly 3000 square feet of paint would need to be removed at a cost of $24k to $45k accordingly; or
  • When it is the interior of the home it will require the work to be conducted strictly on a room by room basis and with proper screening set in place. The average approach is the use of chemical stripping agents rather than the blasting techniques put to use on the exterior projects. This too will come at the same costs of $8 to $15 per square foot, and may also require additional fees for proper disposal of all chemicals and remnants.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Encapsulation - when the home or property owner is unable to leave the building for an extended period of time (which tends to be required with a full lead paint abatement) they might opt for an encapsulation. According to BobVila.com this can cut costs by almost 80% and allow the homeowner the peace of mind without the risks. The only "downside" to this remarkably affordable option (running at only $.50 per square foot) is that it may not be a permanent fix due to the fact that it can often be damaged or worn away through frequent touching or use - as is the case with windowsills and chair rails.