Cheap and Easy Way to Test for Lead Paint

We’ve heard all about the hazards of lead paint and have covered how to remove it. Sometimes I find myself thinking twice about certain pieces of furniture that I find at thrift shops and have turned down a good find or two since I don’t have the space to strip and repaint a vintage find in case the object in question does have lead on it.
One of my fave DIY couples, the Petersiks, came across this problem on a recent thrifting excursion. They reminded me of the brilliant lead paint testers, available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and most hardware stores, that cost less than $10.
Here’s how they work.
Snap the lead stick two times and shake it a bit (we heard some goo get released, almost like snapping a glow stick) and then rub it for about 30 seconds on an area of the furniture in question.
Rub side to side on a few different chipped areas of the painted piece and a the testing sticks will release a goo that you rub in. Check different spots of the furniture just in case.

According to directions, varying amounts of lead could be detected by this method, so a soft pink hue on the chair or the tip of the lead stick would indicate trace amounts of lead while a brighter pink tip of the stick or mark on the chair would warn us of higher concentrations of lead.
Next time I’m thrifting, I might take a few of these with me, just so I don’t leave with non-buyer’s remorse!
photo: YoungHouseLove

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Timothy Dahl

Timothy Dahl

Founder/EIC at Charles & Hudson
Timothy’s background includes stints at This Old House, ELLE DECOR, Metropolitan Home and Woman’s Day. His work has been published on Wired Design, Bob Vila, DIY Network, The Family Handyman and Popular Mechanics and he has been featured on the Martha Stewart radio show and as a speaker at the ALT Design Summit, K/BIS and the National Hardware Show.
Timothy Dahl

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