Can you paint over Lead Paint?

Painting over Lead Paint- A guide by Painters in Austin

Yes, you can paint over lead-based paint, but not with just any type of paint. Painting over lead-based paint, also known as encapsulation, is an effective lead paint remediation technique. Encapsulation is less expensive than lead paint removal and it’s actually safer since it doesn’t release lead dust or debris into the air. First, we need to remind you that lead-based paint is dangerous. Always take precaution when working with lead paint, whether it’s in good or bad condition, by wearing a respirator, gloves, eye protection and coveralls. We at Painters in Austin are here to help you go through the process, talk you through the do’s and don’ts and to help make the job easier for you. Keep reading to find out more!

When Not to Encapsulate:

If the lead paint you want to encapsulate is peeling, or flaking off, encapsulation is not a good remediation technique because the encapsulation paint will flake and peel off the wall along with the lead paint. Consult with a professional if you’re ever uncertain. Lead paint encapsulation does not work for surfaces that are:

  • Walked on
  • Rubbed together
  • Badly deteriorated

If this is the case, it’s important to hire an EPA Certified Renovator. Some Five Star Painting franchisees are properly trained in safe RRP rules for renovation, repair, and painting.

Painting over lead paint, or encapsulation, is only effective if the old finish of the lead paint is still in excellent condition – that is, not peeling or chipped. In addition, the encapsulated area must be monitored over time to prevent exposure to lead paint chips and dust. Encapsulation should last upwards of 10 years if done correctly. If it starts to peel, take action immediately.

What Paint Should I Use to Encapsulate Lead? If conditions are appropriate for painting over the layer of lead paint, there are three types of encapsulants:

  • epoxy
  • polymer
  • cement-type materials

For a DIY project, we recommend an epoxy-based or polymer encapsulation product since they do not require mixing. These should be applied according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Usually they are applied with a brush, roller, or airless spray gun.


A well-done paint job can last up to 15 years, provided you do the job well, using the best materials on the market. A good paint job has multiple plus points- starting from keeping your house in top notch condition, to protecting the investment that is your home, shielding it from the various elements of nature like sun, wind and rain showers. If this is your first time repainting your home and are looking for pointers on how to go about with the process- then we’ve got you covered. Here’s a comprehensive list on the A- Z’s on how to finish up the perfect paint job for the exterior of your house.

Step 1: Preparing your house for painting

  • Start off with an exterior wash of your house: Washing the dirt and grime off your house is of prime importance. Now, you may be tempted to dive right into the painting process, but its easy to forget that painting of any kind requires a pristine canvas. If the exterior surface of your house is free of soil and grit, the primer and paint will adhere better, making the paint last longer. Most of the time, a simple wash with a hose, a pump sprayer and a scrub brush is sufficient, but if you decide that you would prefer a professional to help you, a pressure pump or power washer in the hands of a professional can provide a superior clean.
  • Inspect your house: Make sure your exterior walls are free of chipping, peeling, mildew and any such imperfections. Kill off mildew by applying a chlorine bleach solution with a garden sprayer. For cleaning, most of the time, a simple wash with a hose, a pump sprayer and a scrub brush is sufficient, but if you decide that you would prefer a professional to help you, a pressure pump or power washer in the hands of a professional can provide a superior clean.
  • Remove chipped and flaking paint from the exterior walls Before you paint the exterior of your house, scrape off any bubbling, flaking or blistering paint. Painting over this could cause future problems for your new house painting project. Strip these parts right back so that they no longer present a problem.
  • If your paint does contain lead, you will need to take special precautions during the scraping and sanding phases to protect yourself, your family, and the environment from toxic dust. If the paint is lead-free, you need only don a dust mask and lay down tarps to catch debris before tackling the most crucial part of the project.

Step 2: Sanding, caulking and patching

  • Sand the area you are painting: The goal when painting the exterior of your house is to have the cleanest and most beautiful exterior you can. Sanding will help by smoothing out any bumps or lumps that can look strange under a fresh coat of paint.
  • Patch and fill holes in the house: The goal here is to repair any damage that could worsen over time, which may require a future painting of your home. Be sure that you repair any rotten wood, fix any dents and replace damaged pieces of your home that might get worse in the future.
  • Caulk and seal any windows or openings to prevent air and water from leaking in: This may be the most important part of the prepping process. It’s important to have a well-maintained, beautified, non-rotting wood house, but it’s just as important to make sure that the windows, cracks and openings aren’t leaking air or letting in water, which can ruin the interior of your house.

Step 3: Priming

  • Primers are formulated to penetrate, seal, and provide a good surface for the topcoats to stick to. Use them over bare wood, Spackle, and epoxy, or over paint with a chalky, deteriorated surface. If you are repainting walls that have become chalky or dusty, select a chalky wall sealer. Paint will not stick to a dusty surface.
  • Acrylic primers can be used on most surfaces, but on cedar or redwood, oil-based coatings are a must because they lock in these woods’ reddish-brown “extractives,” which will leach out and leave behind rusty stains if the wood is primed with a water-based product.
  • As for new construction, latex primer works well for vinyl and most wood siding. If you are working with stucco that is not fully cured, you can apply a hot stucco primer.
  • Pro tip: Spray exposed nail heads with a metal primer to prevent rust from bleeding through the paint.

These tools keep things simple and only require some sweat equity and patience. They’re perfect for removing peeling paint in small and easy-to-access areas.

  1. Putty Knife: Just like the knife you use to repair drywall. However, putty knives have different blade thicknesses, flexibility and materials. Look for a metal putty knife with a stout and rigid blade that can handle scraping paint.
  2. Paint Scraper: These are perfect for house siding with lots of peeling or flaking paint. With so many different styles, we recommend you visit your local hardware store to find what fits best in your hand and suits your needs. A pull scraper is more ergonomic and comes with replaceable blades.
  3. Wire Brush: A wire hand brush is best used in combination with a paint scraper to remove fine bits of paint and woody debris.
  4. When you need to remove a serious amount of peeling paint or all the paint, nothing gets the job done like a power tool. You can buy attachments for power tools you may already have on hand, such as a power drill. A word of warning: these tools are very effective at removing paint, wood and skin! Always be careful when using these tools to prevent marring your home’s siding or yourself. Wire wheels, sandpaper, abrasive flap discs and carbide discs – all of these and more will make quick work of paint removal. These attachments can be purchased for cordless drills and angle grinders.
  5. Chemical Paint Removal: Sometimes peeling paint needs a helping hand. Chemical paint strippers used in combination with scraping and sanding will help remove old existing paint and give you a great surface to prep for paint. However, this convenience comes at a cost, and using chemical paint removers on an entire house can get expensive. Paint strippers or removers are typically applied on the surface, allowed to work their magic and then removed with a paint scraper or power tool.
  6. Removing Paint with Heat: You can also use heat to remove exterior house paint. A heat gun or an infrared paint remover will heat up the paint so it peels effortlessly away from the wood. This is a great technique if you want to avoid sanding after scraping paint or you don’t want to use chemicals. However, caution should be taken when using a heat gun. Two concerns are heating old lead paint and releasing this into the air. Also, overheating the wood can form embers under the surface and ignite hours later.
  7. Power Washing to Remove Paint: Power washing is a great way to prepare your house for paint, but it should not be the sole means of prepping the siding. It may blast away loose and flaking paint, but many times this comes at a cost of marring the wood. Use a pressure washer before you begin scraping to remove very loose chips and flakes and resist the temptation to inch the nozzle closer to the wood to blast off that stubborn paint. Power washing is best saved for last to wash away dust and debris left from scraping.

Call Painters at Austin today to get started with finding the perfect paint finish for the exterior and interior of your home. Get a free quote for any of our services- and sit back to watch the magic happen