Found lead in reclaimed barn wood

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Forum topic by Steve Diogo posted 11-14-2015 02:31 PM 5605 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steve Diogo

89 posts in 2077 days

11-14-2015 02:31 PM

Topic tags/keywords: reclaimed barn wood safety question tip

I recently helped a friend purchase some reclaimed wood for a dining table project. He chose some gorgeous oak barn wood siding with that perfect weathered red-barn patina. I was concerned that it would be difficult to achieve a suitable table top finish and still keep the character of the wood. What I should have been worried about was the paint. A few hours after we got home, my friend’s wife asked about the potential of lead in the wood. Called the shop and they said “no worries…. there was only lead in the white paint.” As the day wore on, so did the questions. My friend decided to have one of the boards tested at a lab, and the results came back lead: 7,500 parts per million. Just wanted to put this warning out there for others who enjoy working with reclaimed wood. Does anyone have experience with this? Is that level of lead dangerous? Is there any way to mitigate it?



8 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3125 posts in 2657 days

#1 posted 11-14-2015 02:53 PM

any level of lead is dangerous. Once your body ingests it it can’t get rid of it so it just build up. If you are not going to disturb the paint and no kids are going to be chewing on it. You can probably seal it with a clear finish and no problem. Any machining (cutting, sanding anything that disturbs the lead) you have problems. 7,500 pm is a high level of lead. After reading the below articles I wouldn’t mess with it I would take it backk to the shop. It may be illegal to sell it.

All paint prior to 1978 contained lead.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View chrisstef's profile


17955 posts in 3491 days

#2 posted 11-14-2015 05:09 PM

Like bruce said above any level of lead is dangerous especially for children under 5. In construction i see lead measured differently than in ppm and im far from smart enough to convert it but the safe level of lead in soil is 200 ppm. Im pretty sure 7500 ppm is screaming high.

Now if the paint isnt defective it poses little harm unless someone chewed on it. If it is loose and flaking the way we handle it in the field is by scraping the loose paint off, collecting the chips and encapsulatling the paint with what amounts to a heavy primer. Mind you this is done in a full containment under negative pressure with tyvex suits and respirators as well as monitoring blood lead levels. Any sanding or abrading would need to be done in conjunction with a hepa vac attached directly to the tool.

If that wood is the perfect match for what you want to do id be more than happy to scrounge up some info on a clear encapsulant product for you. Just send me a message.

Fwiw – the shop was full of crap saying it was only in white paint. Lead paint comes in all colors. Isnt white the base color of all paints anyway?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View JollyGreen67's profile


1676 posts in 3248 days

#3 posted 11-14-2015 05:40 PM

Didn’t matter what color paint it was back in the “old days”, they were all laced with lead.

-- When I was a kid I wanted to be older . . . . . this CRAP is not what I expected ! RIP 09/08/2018

View Steve Diogo's profile

Steve Diogo

89 posts in 2077 days

#4 posted 11-14-2015 08:05 PM

Thanks guys. The shop took the wood back and refunded my buddy’s money. Need to stop by and see if they pulled that stock or just put the boards back in the stacks.


View TinWhiskers's profile


179 posts in 1437 days

#5 posted 11-14-2015 08:14 PM

Would a pressure washer remove the lead paint? Would some still remain?

View johnstoneb's profile


3125 posts in 2657 days

#6 posted 11-14-2015 11:43 PM

No pressure washer is not the way to remove lead paint.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View MrRon's profile


5670 posts in 3728 days

#7 posted 11-15-2015 06:05 PM

Removal of lead laced paint is done in a negative pressure containment tent. All lead particles are double bagged in plastic bags for disposal at a hazardous waste facility. In the shipbuilding industry, sand blasted paint from ship’s hulls must be collected and bagged; a big task. Before EPA regulations (or was it OSHA?), sand blasted paint went into the waters.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2492 days

#8 posted 11-15-2015 09:49 PM

I live in a VERY SMALL town. The town is currently having the water tower repainted. Because it MIGHT contain lead, the company has to skirt the entire thing while they sandblast. This is what it looks like (about 1/10 of a mile from my house)


-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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