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QUESTION: Management of paint on old damp walls, 17 Dec 2004, New South Wales Australia


I have had some paint come off a wall in my terrace in Redfern Sydney. The house is over 100 years old and due to a broken gutter there has been moisture on a front corner wall of a downstairs bedroom that I use as an office.

A large area of paint was bubbling so I peeled some of the paint off and a large area peeled away.

The wall is stripped to what looks like a rendered surface. There is a light orange film, kind of dusty (although it is damp in areas as I am awaiting someone who will fix the gutter and moisture is getting in).

I am wondering whether I am exposing myself to lead-risk as the wall is stripped to the original pre-paint surface that would have originally been painted in the 1890s.

Can you offer any comments on required future actions eg repainting, preparing the wall for repainting, how I can clean the wall now while await gutter repairs (I won't repaint until the gutter is repaired). Thanks


ANSWER: 17 Jan 2005

Dear Andrew,

Sorry for the delay in responding but we have had a holiday close-down period for all our volunteer staff.

You will find a lot of the answers to your questions about how to prepare walls for re-painting in the "The Six Step Guide To Painting Your Home" In accordance with the Guide, I would recommend that you sugar soap the walls now so that no lead paint dust can possibly be available to anyone while you're waiting for the gutters to be fixed and the walls to dry out prior to repainting.

As an adult, you are not at any significant risk of ingesting or inhaling lead paint in your office - as long as you are making sure not to actually incorporate any falling paint flakes into your food or drink. Are there any young children in the house? It's a different story for them.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien,

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