Is My Building a Candidate for Encapsulation?

June 26, 2008

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Encapsulation techniques can be a very cost-effective alternative to lead abatement techniques based on removal. However, not all structures will be good candidates for encapsulation. There are two primary factors that determine whether encapsulation techniques are appropriate for a given structure: the overall condition of the paint and the expected usage of the structure.

The condition of the painted surface plays a large role in determining the suitability of encapsulation. Examine the condition of the painted surfaces. Although the encapsulation process is able to smooth the appearance of peeling and chipped lead-based paint, there is a limit to how much encapsulation can re-adhere the paint to the surface.

Large, thick chips of paint are especially problematic for encapsulation. Since the technique relies on the base coat to soften these chips in preparation for follow up coats of product, more than one base coat may need to be applied before the old paint re-adheres to the surface. Very large chips of paint will require proper removal by a certified lead abatement professional before encapsulation can proceed.

The expected usage of the structure can rule out using encapsulation effectively. Although encapsulation products with specialized characteristics are available, there is a limit to their performance. Surfaces subject to significant friction or impact are not good candidates for encapsulation because friction and impact can penetrate the encapsulation layer and expose the lead-based paint contained underneath.

Before making a final decision about encapsulation, facility managers should consult with their painting contractor for more options.

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