Should I Be Concerned About Lead When Refinishing Old Furniture?

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Q: I often buy second hand pieces of furniture to refurbish, which usually involves stripping and sanding off old layers of paint and stain. The last few pieces I have gotten my hands on got me thinking about the possibility of lead in existing layers of paint, due to the older age of the furniture. I have read that some of the DIY lead kits are not always accurate, so now I'm questioning whether I should be sanding away the old layers so freely. I definitely cannot afford to call in a professional each time I buy an old piece of furniture, so I was wondering if any other DIY'ers have any suggestions or tips for me. Thanks!

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.