June 23, 2008

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Previously we looked the basic practices, tasks, certifications and fees associated with lead abatement in a painting and coating context. Today we are going to examine one of the strategies that can be used to deal with lead contaminated paint: encapsulation.

Encapsulation seals the lead-based paint beneath a layer of specially formulated paint. The lead contaminated painted surfaces are coated with the encapsulation material, which is applied to a manufacturer recommended thickness. Once dry, the encapsulation material prevents the lead-based paint from chipping and peeling, which in turn protects the facility users from exposure to lead.


  • Cheaper than removal. Encapsulation does not require hazardous waste dump fees and extensive removal costs.
  • Faster than removal. Encapsulation does not require the removal of the original lead-based paint and thus reduces the man-hours required to complete the project.
  • Reduces chances of exposure. Since no paint is removed during the process, there is very little risk of accidental exposure to lead contaminants during the encapsulation process.


  • Not recommended for all surfaces. Surfaces that are exposed to daily wear and friction are not good candidates for encapsulation. The friction may eventually burn through the encapsulation layer, which re-exposes the lead-based paint.
  • Does not remove the lead-based paint. Encapsulation seals the problem for the present, but the lead-based paint remains and can still be an issue in future renovations.

Coming up, we will examine the costs of encapsulation.

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