How to Find a Contractor for Lead Paint Removal

Amy Pawlukiewicz
Written by Amy Pawlukiewicz
Updated November 15, 2021
Stately Victorian House circa 1940
Cherrypix -

“Get the lead out” isn’t just a phrase used to tell you to hurry up—it’s sage advice if you live in a home built before 1978

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Your historic home is beautiful: It has wavy window glass and original hardwood floors,  but unfortunately, it may also have lead paint. Yep, a whopping 87% of homes built before 1940 had lead-based paint in them, according to the EPA. But don’t start to sweat just yet—this guide will teach you how to find a lead paint removal company to remove your old paint safely.

Risks of Lead Paint

Before we begin, it’s important to understand just how important it is to rid your home of lead paint. There are more than 24 million homes in the U.S. that have “significant lead-based paint hazards,” the EPA says, including lead paint somewhere on the walls. But you shouldn’t watch out for just your walls. Older toys, furniture, and even jewelry potentially contain lead paint.

Lead paint can cause serious health problems to any age group. In adults, lead poisoning can lead to many problems, including reproductive, blood, kidney, and nerve disorders. Children are particularly susceptible because they have a tendency to put their hands or toys in their mouths. They can suffer irreversible brain and nervous system damage.

Pregnant people, because their immune systems are fatigued, are also a high-risk group. Lead poisoning in pregnant people can lead to low birth weight, premature birth, and even miscarriage.

Lead is tricky because you don’t have to ingest it, such as a child chewing on a toy, to contract lead poisoning. You can suffer effects from lead from inhaling and skin absorption as well as ingestion, so it’s important to get every tiny bit removed from your home.

Why Hire a Pro to Remove Lead Paint?

A freshly painted room
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If you suspect that you have lead-based paint in your home, don’t try to remove it yourself or paint over it. Professionals know how to safely remove lead paint without causing damage to your home. They use techniques like chemical stripping, HEPA vacuums, and abrasive blasting to get all of the paint and particles out of your home. If a pro can’t remove all the lead paint, they know which professional compounds to use to cover it. 

Professionals also know the legal way to dispose of lead, since there are usually local ordinances outlining what must be done with it. Removing lead paint yourself can lead to health problems, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get all of the dust and other small pieces out of your home. Seriously, don't try to tackle this on your own.

How to Find a Lead Paint Removal Company

A local lead abatement contractor is your best bet for having lead paint removed from your home. If your home is in an area where a lot of the homes were built around the same time, ask your neighbors for referrals—odds are that someone has hired a lead paint removal company to do their work. Friends and family are also great sources of referrals. Be sure to check a company’s online reviews and ask for references.

Before Hiring Your Lead Paint Removal Company

There are a few steps you can take to prepare for an accurate quote before hiring your pro to remove lead paint.

Plan Your Project for Accurate Quotes

Lead paint removal costs vary widely by region, the size of the project, and the extent of the removal. Projects usually range between $1,500 and $6,000, but can cost upwards of $20,000 depending on the severity of the problem. Removal costs vary based on a few factors:

  • Square footage

  • Materials and equipment needed

  • Accessibility and preparation of the work area

  • Labor

  • Testing, disposal, and storing hazardous waste (lead)

  • Types of affected surfaces and cleaning methods necessary

Keep these things in mind before speaking with a pro so you can save time and give them as clear a picture as possible.

Lead Abatement Methods

Quotes for lead paint removal depend on several factors, including square footage, disposal processes, and type of project. The different types of lead removal methods and associated costs are:

Total Removal

  • Cost: $8–$17 per square foot

  • Pros: Permanent, increases resale value, no maintenance required

  • Cons: Expensive, invasive, risks harmful dust, low ROI, may reveal more projects needed

Demolition and Replacement

  • Cost: $1,000–$15,000 per project

  • Pros: Permanent, increases resale value, no maintenance

  • Cons: Expensive, invasive, risks harmful dust, low ROI, may reveal more projects needed


  • Cost: Around $4 per square foot

  • Pros: Inexpensive, not invasive, effective in sections, keeps toxic dust from spreading

  • Cons: Not permanent, requires periodic maintenance, may harm aesthetics of the home, bad for friction surfaces


  • Cost: Around $10 per square foot

  • Pros: Inexpensive, effective in sections, keeps dust from spreading

  • Cons: Not a permanent fix, must monitor for damage, limited to smooth surfaces

Questions to Ask Your Pro

There are some key questions you can ask to make sure you get the right pro for your lead paint removal.

  • What are your qualifications and experience with lead paint removal?

  • How do you test for the presence of lead?

  • What methods do you use for lead abatement?

  • What do you plan to do with the hazardous waste once it’s removed from the home?

  • Do you do replacement and painting work, or just removal?

Hiring a Lead Paint Removal Pro

Once you’ve narrowed down your research to a few companies, you’re ready to start the process of picking your pro.

Interview Your Pro

Interviewing more than one company is important for any contracting job, and lead paint removal is no different. Since different companies will have different methods for removal and what services they offer, interview at least three pros who use different tactics to get a feel for what you think is best for your home.

Ask for a Background Check

Any time you have someone coming into your home to do work, it’s a good idea to do a background check. This step is especially true with lead paint abatement companies since the EPA has very strict rules. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the government body that oversees lead paint removal and disposal. They have a rule called the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP), which requires anyone working on a facility built before 1978 to have EPA certification. The rules require contractors to perform a cleaning verification after completing a project involving lead paint, including a visual inspection, a wipe test, and a cleanup with a HEPA vacuum.

Contractors who operate without EPA lead paint certification face stiff fines of up to $37,500 per violation. You shouldn’t simply assume that your contractor is certified. When you hire a pro to do lead paint removal, be sure to check their certifications.

Get a Contract and Make Arrangements With Your Pro

Once you’ve decided on a pro, make sure to get a contract that outlines their responsibilities. Make sure you outline a payment structure, process to remove the toxic materials, storage of the waste, and what repair they will be doing to the affected areas.

Keep Records of Your Lead Paint Removal Project

Make sure to keep detailed records of your project, including the hours your pro works, the project’s day-to-day progress, and whether or not they’re on schedule. Keep a record of any payments that go out and record the finishing date. If your pro is disposing of the lead paint, make a note of where it’s going.

After Your Pro Has Finished

Once your pro has finished the project, make sure you are satisfied with the work before making your final payment. If your pro did an exceptional job, you might also offer to leave a review or be a reference for their future potential clients.

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