So I went to a lovely local antique store a few weeks back for a fun day out of the house. I had been eyeing these amazing vintage windows she had displayed on the side of her store for literally over a year, and I finally decided to go for it. While they weren’t a complete steal (I usually only get things if they are dirt cheap!), I walked away with my gorgeous chippy windows for $45, dreaming of where I would hang them in my house.
I brought them home, and my husband suggested we put them in the back yard instead of the garage, as they needed a lot of clean up. I am so glad I didn’t bring them into the house like I wanted (I did sneak one it too see what it would look like briefly though.)
I waited a few days to work on them, and then it dawned on me… “Wait, I should do a lead paint test.” (insert DUH!!!) “I REALLY hope they don’t have lead paint, but I should check anyways.”
So I got into our truck and drove my three year old and 6 month old to Ace Hardware. On the way there, my daughter kept asking, “Mommy, why you driving Daddy’s truck?” Apparently my husband is the only one allowed to drive the truck… LOL!
I came home with a $3 lead paint test, and prayerfully went into the back yard to test my windows.
The kit said the swab would turn pink for mild lead, and red for strong lead… sure enough, my swab was blood red. Waaaah.
My heart broke. I got a lot of great reader information on instagram and facebook about dealing with lead paint safely, so I decided to try my hand at restoring, and covering them to make them safe for decor.
I spent hours wearing a gas mask, while I sprayed down the paint on top of a tarp, and scraped the lose parts off with a paint scraper. The idea is to work wet to avoid dust and get all the loose chips off so you can seal it. If it is in good (non cracked/chipped) condition, it is recommended you leave it alone and just encapsulate lead paint.
Above you can see what I ended up with. Gorgeous, distressed, shabby chic goodness. I wanted to make this work so bad, but these windows were SO beat up. I mean, look at how chippy they look AFTER I scraped them!
I went to bed and prayed that God would give me peace on what to do, because THIS little guy and girl mean SO much more to me than a piece of furniture.
I don’t believe in being afraid of every little thing that could go wrong in life, but I want to make smart decisions for my family. My husband is the kind of person who believes in rubbing dirt in your cuts (okay, not really, right babe?) So I tend to be the one who gets on the web to look things up which isn’t always a good thing for my protective mommy mind (google a symptom and yahoo answers will probably tell you you have something fatal! lol!) He told me he was supportive of whatever I decided, and honestly I should have listened to him in the first place (he thought I was being silly for buying the windows.
Today I researched some more, and what I found sealed the deal. A few facts:
-A piece of lead the size of a grain of sand is enough to poison a child (source)
-A small fistful of lead dust is enough to poison 11 houses. (source)
-Lead paint is especially dangerous for children under the age of 6 (I have two under the age of 3) (source)
-Our bodies aren’t designed to tolerate ANY lead.
-Lead paint dust can be poisonous even when it is naked to the eye. And even if your children seem healthy, they may have been contaminated and have high levels of lead in their blood. (source)
-It is absorbed into your bones, and can be passed through breast-milk (I nurse), cause fertility issues (we want more kids), permanently damage the brains of children, cause mental retardation, hurt organs, and even be fatal. (source)
And all this bad stuff is totally preventable if you avoid lead paint.
There are many other things it does too, but you can research them for yourself if you want to know more. Also, if you suspect you have had exposure, you can always get a blood test from a doctor. I will probably have myself and my kids tested just to be safe.
I do not believe in living life in fear. And I am sure there are many safe ways to deal with it (heck, some people’s houses are COVERED in lead paint!) But for me, my precious children are worth much more than those lovely windows. If they weren’t literally flaking chips off, I would probably try to seal them. But in their current state, and with the knowledge I now have, the peace of mind from not having them in my house is worth far more to me.
Since I didn’t know they were lead paint, some of it flaked off in my yard. So I literally went and dug up the area & threw it in a garbage bag. My husband probably had himself a good chuckle seeing my pick through the grass and use tape on the driveway to get every single paint chip up. Oh, and you bet I tested other roadside picks that looked suspicious (and I have had in my house for months). Thankfully, they ended up being safe.
If you are local, expect to see two windows out for trash collection tomorrow with a big “lead paint” sign on them! I’ll probably just have to grab a cheap pair from my habitat for humanity, frame them with new wood, and distress them manually. So no tears lost on these beauties (okay, almost no tears!)
So learn from me everyone, bring a lead paint test kit around with you if you are antiquing. It will save you lots of money, and give you peace of mind.