Lead paint? on walls

9 Sep 2016
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United Kingdom
A DIY frenzy over the BH weekend uncovered a layer of paint (rubberised by the steamer) underneath the paper. I peeled this all off and disposed of it, leaving another layer of yellowish paint with a powdery finish on the wall and a few cracked areas revealing another layer of green paint underneath.

A colleague at work alerted me to the possibility of lead in old paintwork, I did a bit of research and ended up contacting a trade site and was told to assume it did (the house dates from 1900) and take the following action – wash down the walls to remove any dust, hoover with a Dyson or similar and treat the walls with PVA to seal it, prior to either wallpapering or painting over. However, I've read elsewhere that PVA can cause problems if it is effectively a primer – that it can cause the paint to bubble up (which would defeat the object of sealing it in the first place). Any thoughts? I've got a young child which makes it a priority to treat.
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Painting it will seal it.

It would be useful to see some photos.

PVA is not a primer, it is a (water-soluble) glue, so unsuitable if you are going to apply anything watery, such as emulsion paint or wallpaper paste.
Sounds as if the yellow/green powdery paints might be distemper - those are the most common colours.

The fact that you say a 'rubbery' layer peeled off suggests it may just be a vinyl emulsion applied over the distemper. To seal the powdery surface, you either need to use a stabilising solution (generally used externally before masonry paint but many can still be used inside), or a specific sealer like Zinsser Gardz.

As said, avoid PVA.

Agree with Mister, sounds like normal paint over distemper. You can also wash off distemper with plenty of water, mucky job but it does come off. We had it in several rooms in our 1880's house, and as we tried to cut down costs we washed it all off.
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