I'm starting renovation work on an old bicycle. One of the things I want to do is a new paint job.

I guess before that I'll need to sand the current paint off the frame. So I bought sandpaper. On the back of the sandpaper packaging, they state "beware when sanding lead paint".

Makes sense, I guess, don't really want to be intoxicated with lead. A quick research on Internet showed that somes bikes had lead paint or lead rust inhibitor.

So the question now is: is my bicycle lead-free? Is there any way to identify lead paint? The bike is an old Flandria, probably dates back to... I have no idea really...

full bike frame and fork

The sticker on the seat tube

sticker on the down tube

What if it turns out to be lead paint? Is there a safe way to sand it, and be eco-friendly with the resulting dust? Or should I just paint over it? What about the existing rust patches?

  • You can get a leap paint respirator at Home Depot for $25 – paparazzo Jun 12 '15 at 17:10
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    You can also get a lead paint test kit at Home Depot, single kit typically under $10 – Glenn Gervais Jun 12 '15 at 17:43
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    Lead or not, do you have any idea how long it's going to take to strip that paint using sandpaper? You're going to be sanding for weeks. And the chemical strippers available to consumers probably won't do a good job either. I would take the frame to a local body shop or furniture restorer and have it stripped. – Carey Gregory Jun 12 '15 at 19:09
  • Second Gregory. It is basically impossible to do a good home paint job. On a body shop but you pretty much have to take a paint they have mixed as a batch of paint cost them $200. Not the most pretty finish but sand blast and power coat is ballistic. – paparazzo Jun 12 '15 at 19:22
  • I've seen successful home jobs actually. Anyway I'm still considering professional paint job, but I still need to sand the frame and check it for rust. – Antoine Jun 12 '15 at 19:24

Rough up the paint with sandpaper, and then use Aircraft Remover to get the paint off, if you try to sand it, you'll go crazy. DO NOT use aircraft remover inside, and wear a filter mask, it will make you sick if you don't. It will rip the paint right off.


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  • Welcome to Bicycles @Ryan. In what way would it make one sick? – andy256 Jun 13 '15 at 11:03
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    Thanks for the insights, but you're unfortunately missing the actual question, which is "is my bicycle painted with lead?". – Antoine Jun 15 '15 at 8:47

So I asked the same question on the chemistry forums. They came up with interesting answers.

For those who are curious: https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/32831/how-to-detect-lead-paint-on-a-bicycle

Btw, I've tried scratching a bit of paint off the frame. It works just fine without chemical stripper. Won't take more than a few hours!

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