Encapsulation Step by Step

June 25, 2008

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Encapsulation is a cost-effective way to seal off surfaces treated with lead-based paint. A side by side comparison of encapsulation and standard removal reveals the savings that the technique offers. One factor that strongly influences the potential savings of encapsulation is experience. A painting crew’s familiarity with the application process of encapsulation materials translates into a direct savings for the project.

Encapsulation products are not applied in the same way as a standard coating. With traditional paint, a crew spends considerable time preparing the substrate, the surface to which the paint is supposed to adhere. Most painting prep work involves sanding and scraping, which is absolutely not recommended for surfaces coated with lead paint.

Like a standard painting project, encapsulation begins with a cleaning of the project surface. However, the objective of encapsulation is to avoid releasing paint chips and lead-contaminated dust into the environment, so pre-cleaning a damaged lead-based paint surface requires a light touch. Once the surface has been cleaned, the crew is ready to spray on the prime coat.

Notice that the crew moves straight from cleaning to prime coat. Instead of removing flaking paint to expose the surface, as in a standard painting project, encapsulation products are sprayed or misted on the cleaned surface. The chemical action of the product softens the existing coating just enough so that the flaking paint can be “glued” to the surface by subsequent layers of the encapsulation product. These layers are carefully rolled on to the sprayed surface, so that the loose flakes can solidly re-adhere.

For contractors, knowing the application procedure for the product saves time for the work crew and saves money for the client. From a facility manager’s perspective, understanding the application process can help you decide if your facility is a good candidate for encapsulation. We will look at that subject tomorrow.

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