Can you seal possible lead paint with shellac?

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I am refinishing this high chair. My daughter is concerned about it having lead paint. My plan is to seal it with a shellac. If it IS lead paint. Will the shellac seal it and make it safe? If not, please steer me in the right direction. I'm trying to get it ready by Christmas.
q sealing lead paint
  30 answers
  • William William on Dec 12, 2016
    No! While "encasement" is a valid means of dealing with lead based paints, I would NOT recommend such a thing for something that is as high traffic as a chair. Every time you touch it, this will put wear on the finish, and you will wear through the finish, which will expose you to the lead paint. You can purchase a lead test kit at Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards to check for lead. If it is lead, what I would do is strip the chair, then repaint it with non-lead based paint.

  • Joy Joy on Dec 12, 2016
    I am sorry that this is not an answer for you, but I just wanted to say that I have a hichair almost identical to this one pictured. Ours is over a 100 years old. Looks like the same steel blue color.

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    • Joy Joy on Dec 12, 2016
      Have been working on ours for about a year on & off. Had to get a new dremmel tool so I can finish it. We have had it for about 30 year. Given to us by my mother in-law who got it from a neighbor many years ago. My mother in-law is 94 years old & they were older than she was at the time.

  • Brittany Brittany on Dec 12, 2016
    Check amazon for the strip test! They're relatively inexpensive if I remember correctly. You press it on the paint and it will show up red if there is lead in the paint and yellow if there isn't. The yellow wipes off very easily afterwards so you don't have to worry about it staining :)

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    • Ann Smitt Ann Smitt on Dec 13, 2016
      Congratulations it's a lovely chair. Post pictures please of your project when it's completed.

  • Miriam Illions Miriam Illions on Dec 12, 2016
    Thank you for asking this important question. I just learned a lot from this post!

  • Lou Lou on Dec 12, 2016
    Test for lead was negative. YAY now to seal it with the shellac.

  • Michael Michael on Dec 12, 2016
    Children tend to chew on things, like window sills, chairs etc. So if you know their is lead in the chair, dispose of it, why take a chance . Many children are exposed to lead, with things like this. Child's Health first !!

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    • Joanie Joanie on Dec 15, 2016
      I have this VERY same high chair, only the tray is missing. I use it to set a palm plant in it, in the corner. I bought a new high chair for my grandson and the kids have it at their house. I told them they could use this one and strap him in with a belt and push him to the table. That's another story. Anyway, when you're done it is going to be beautiful, I"M SURE OF IT!!! Redoing furniture is a beautiful pastime and craft.

  • Liz Liz on Dec 12, 2016
    Something that no one has mentioned is the fact that high chairs now have safety guidelines. High chairs need to have the legs spaced far enough apart so that they won't tip over with the child. They are also required to have safety belts that anchor the child in and keep him from slipping out under the high chair tray. We have an antique high chair that we put a stuffed bear in and let our granddaughter play with that when she was little. But, for meals, she used a safe, modern high chair, and as she got older, she used a safety approved child booster seat. Makes me wonder how we all survived our childhoods before things became 'safety conscious'.

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    • Sam Sam on Dec 15, 2016
      use polyurathane instead. it will last longer and not chip off over time when wet things get spilled on it or food stuffs stick.

      safety issues happen when parents don't pay attention to what is going on around them. interesting how millions grew up with "unsafe" furniture, play ground equipment and no car seats when they were ten years old!
      use the chair and enjoy it!
      if you are concerned about baby sliding in it when younger, just use a belt on it. or a scarf to tie at waist.

      next thing you know, they'll be having cushion padding to go around kids so they don't fall down!
      sorry about getting in to that subject, but it is so silly.


  • Lou Lou on Dec 13, 2016
    I'm waiting for the temperature to get above 50 to spray the shellac on it. I don't have a garage so I need to do it outside...

  • Jpy11082745 Jpy11082745 on Dec 14, 2016
    Use polyurathane, shellac will chip over time,

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    • Sam Sam on Dec 15, 2016
      its safe. the shellac chips for many dif reasons.
      it is more likely that you will have probs more w that than the poly.
      we've had poly on tables in our home for years. no problems.
      and on the high chair that I re did years ago and use for my grandchildren now. its still in good condition!

  • Ohio Sandie Ohio Sandie on Dec 14, 2016
    we used polyurethane on our butcher block countertop, a couple of coats. It hasn't chipped and we prepare food on it. My kitchen aide sits on it. Leave the food tray of the high chair natural wood like it is.

    • Lou Lou on Dec 14, 2016
      Thanks for sharing. Maybe I will use polyurethane.

  • Pat11183342 Pat11183342 on Dec 14, 2016
    Safety regs for design specs A-side.
    Kids due tend to chew on anything when they are getting teeth in. While I imagine the next owner will supervise the child sitting in it, if you want it to stay in the family for generations, save them the stress of figuring out if it's lead safe down the road.
    Get it stripped by a professional furniture refinishing company. One who can dip it in stripper. Than use safe products on it. (Paint on bottom of try when it was stripped and that it's now lead safe.).
    Here's why I suggest this.
    I recently had a lead assessment done on my home, which was built in 1939, I believe lead safety products started in 1970's at least in this country. ( I know McDonald's had to recall drinking glasses made over seas with in the last 20 years. So you never know. )
    Back to my real point.... My cast iron tub had lead in it, so it had to be resurfaced ( new enamel was painted, not the old enmael was removed than resurfaced ) after it passed the lead test even though the lead still lurked underneath. So lead can be covered up with a new product and not detected when tested.
    The minute a kid chews or softens the surface (or it gets knocked over and chipped) they are at risk. Please postpone the gift and have it done right.


    • Ave9736722 Ave9736722 on Dec 16, 2016
      As a real estate attorney my recommendations are as follows: the comment first posted is most important. There are very good reasons why improvements have been made. Stripping lead paint releases the particles into the air creating an exceedingly hazardous condition....do not do yourself. A licensed company will charge accordingly. It is accepted practice for lead paint to be covered to seal it. The urethane recommendation or paint are good suggestions. However teething babies chew, chew, chew. It is similar to the countless issues of toddlers chewing on window sills ingesting lead paint. Why risk it? Refinish the piece and use it solely for decoration.

  • Lou Lou on Dec 14, 2016
    I bought a kit to test it for lead and it tested negative. It will stay here at my house and only be used maybe a couple times a year.

  • Touchedpainter Touchedpainter on Dec 14, 2016
    If it tested negative you're set to go. I an a comm. paint/surface coating Cont. of 40+ yrs. "Bulls-Eye Shelac is a great sealer & stain kill (it is also Isopropyl Alcohol cleanup) The best primer/stain kill is "Gripper" (Home Depot or Glidden store) Not Kills nor Zinzer 123.

    • Anna Anna on Dec 10, 2017
      Will the Bulls-Eye Shelac work to cover over something that tested positive for lead paint? Another website recommended it, but I’m looking for more opinions on the subject. I bought an Old shelf and as I was cleaning it and stripping some of the paint it occurred to me that because of it‘s age it could have lead paint. It tested positive and now I’m wondering what to do. It’s something that would get a lot of use and, so I’m thinking maybe stripping it and repainting would be best, but I’m very concerned about spreading around lead dust. I brought it right in to our living room and cleaned it there with this gunk remover. I hope I haven’t poisoned my whole family!

  • Lou Lou on Dec 14, 2016
    Thanks , I'm planning on spraying it tomorrow. Temp should be above 50, I don't have a garage so I've been waiting for it to warm up some.

  • Kate_tremul Kate_tremul on Dec 15, 2016
    i work with old furniture at home all the time and found a lead testing pen at our local Bunnings Store , Australia , it is very simple to use .. to make sure it works i first tested it on lead painted strip of timber . So they do work and are not expensive .. cheers :)

  • Lou Lou on Dec 15, 2016
    I did test it and it was negative for lead. I sprayed a couple coats of shellac today. Now to make the straps.

  • Connie Connie on Dec 16, 2016
    Liz from Foothill Ranch is correct. Please reconsider using this highchair just as decoration. Yes, it is a wonder that many of us survived. But keep in mind the regulations that are now in place are due to severe injuries. No piece of furniture is worth turning a child into a statistic. I worked in the baby industry for 8 years and it was very frustrating to see and hear what people wanted to use because it was a family heirloom or "cute". Safety first is never a wasted effort. And did you check into the safety of the shellac?

    • Smi15425843 Smi15425843 on Dec 22, 2016
      That is exactly what I think. If there is any chance of lead do not do this. Use it as a display. Babies chew and this would be deadly if it did have lead.

  • Michael Michael on Dec 16, 2016
    Lead painted removal by dipping, will come out with more lead than you started with !

  • Sheila D Sheila D on Dec 17, 2016
    Check to see if there is a remediation company in your area that could safely remove the lead paint.

  • Steve Mumbauer Steve Mumbauer on Dec 17, 2016
    There are inexpensive test kits for lead paint. I believe you can find them at laces like Home Depot. That's the best way to see if the chair is safe or not. If it is not, don't just try sealing it, especially if the paint has chips or loose spots. It will be subject to peeling, chipping if the underlying paint in in poor condition. The best thing if it has lead paint is to take it to a professional paint stripper. We are talking about the safety of a child after all.

  • Lou Lou on Dec 17, 2016
    I have tested it and it tested negative for lead. I have sprayed a couple coats of shellac on it and it looks great.

  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Dec 22, 2016
    Liquid plastic is the best to seal all harmful things in them.If you sanded it off correctly,it should have no lead paint left on it!

  • Lou Lou on Dec 22, 2016
    Project is finished. It tested negative for lead. Here it is with my daughters doll testing it out.

  • Connie Connie on Dec 23, 2016
    Looks like you have a strap for the waist. Is there a strap that goes between the legs to keep the child from sliding forward off of the seat?

  • Lily Schlender Lily Schlender on Jan 05, 2017
    i agree with connie. looks like an accident waiting to happen. also, i think plastic highchairs are easier to clean for feeding babies. a few wipes on that try may wear off the shellac coating.

  • Sue Radkiewicz Sue Radkiewicz on Jan 21, 2017
    Your chair looks great! We have a similar chair and also only use it a couple times per year, usually holidays. We keep an eye on the kids and they do fine. Nice finish!!

    • Lou Lou on Jan 22, 2017
      Sue, I am really pleased how it turned out. We had Brynlee in it for Christmas. She was never alone in the dining room and she not once looked like she might fall out or be in any danger.

  • Jessica Cossin Jessica Cossin on Mar 19, 2017
    You definitely need a strap for the waist, and between the legs. My daughter was never left alone in her high chair either, but if you were too far away, she could "hop" the chair over closer to myself or my husband. The chair was brand new with wheel locks and cushy plastic legs. Please consider getting a new model, they do trade in's for any type of old children's furniture at Toy's R Us several times a year. They give you a discount on a new piece of baby furniture when you trade in any kind of old one! Its really helpful, great Program!

  • Touchedpainter Touchedpainter on Dec 11, 2017
    DO NOT SAND. In NH it is illegal, with a huge thousand $'s fine for sanding lead based paint (I think that is a federal law also) Just strip with a water cleanup stripper. Make sure the stripped paint is contained in a disposable drop cloth, be it plastic, cloth, paper, etc. It can't be thrown in the trash, It has to be disposed in "hazardous waste" ONLY. Call your "town dump" to find out what their rules are for lead paint disposal. Now unless there is a child that will chew on the items with the lead paint, it is actually recommended to use bullseye shellac or a specialty primer such as "Gripper" a Glidden product, found at Home Depot or other hardware stores & Glidden stores. Laws/regulations have been changing on "lead paint" per each state. Your City Hall/Town Clerks office can answer any questions on the laws in your area concerning lead paint removal or seal up.

  • Sharon Sharon on Dec 20, 2017
    You can get a simple lead paint test kit you can do at home from the hardware or home store. If it is lead, I wouldn't use even with shellac as the danger comes from the kid teething and possibly chewing on the wood, and ingest wood. From the picture it looks more like milk paint.

    • Lou Lou on Dec 20, 2017
      Yes, I did get the kit from the hardware, no lead paint. My grand daughter has been using the chair for a year now and she hasn't chewed on it at all.

  • Lou Lou on Dec 27, 2017
    I would post a question instead of replying to my question. I think it will be seen better to get you some answers. Mine tested negative for lead and it only gets used maybe 2 times a year... I hope you find an answer.