If your antique iron bed was purchased prior to 1977, you can pretty much count on it having lead based paint on it. Back in the 1800’s when these beauties were being made, lead based paint was pretty much used on all furniture and practically all iron beds of that period. Lead was also added to paint to help speed drying, increase durability, retain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion.
The United States government’s Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lead paint in 1977 (16 Code of Federal Regulations CFR 1303). So you don’t have to worry about anyone refinishing your bed today with anything other than environmental safe paints. We use water based paint because of their ability to blend better with other colors, yet retain the individual color if allowed to dry first and then rub in a wash of another color.
Bed manufacturers wanted their finishes to be as durable and long lasting as possible and the lead based paints gave them this.Although lead improves paint performance, it is a dangerous substance. It is especially damaging to children under age six whose bodies are still developing. Lead causes nervous system damage, stunted growth, and delayed development. It can cause kidney damage and affects every organ system of the body. It also is dangerous to adults, and can cause reproductive problems for both men and women. Lead paint is particularly dangerous because it tastes sweet therefore encouraging children to put lead chips and toys with lead dust in their mouths
One myth related to lead-based paint is that children must eat leaded paint chips to develop lead poisoning. In fact, childhood lead exposure can occur by way of ingestion of lead dust through normal hand-to-mouth contact during which children swallow lead dust dislodged from deteriorated paint or leaded dust. This is a usual occurrence when remodeling the interior’s of old homes……not beds.
Occasionally we’ll come across a bed with a beautiful old original finish, that has been well cared for and just shows a little age and distressing. In a case like that, we can clean the finish and then spray 2 to 3 coats of a clear lacquer that will seal and preserve the existing finish.
Old lead base paints should never deter you from getting the metal bed you like. Worse case scenario…… the bed has a very distressed “flakie” paint finish that you love. Remember……..any finish can be duplicated with water base paints.