Hardwood Floor Refinishing Safety Questions

I just purchased an old house (80+ years) and suspect there is lead paint in the house (will be having tests done to know for sure).
Before I move my furniture in I would like to sand and refinish all the hardwood floors. This will require me to remove the baseboards which have many layers of paint on them.
My concerns and questions are as follows:
Is there any dangers of the hardwood floors containing lead (they are not painted and I have not been able to find out if the stain could contain it)?
If the baseboards have lead paint how dangerous is it to remove them and put them back?
What is the best respirator mask to wear for sanding, staining (water based) and sealing the floors?
Thank you in advance.
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Seeing as you are heading that way already. your best bet is to have the finishes sampled and have a professional remediate the lead for you . I would simply remove the round molding, sand the floors and finish to get ahead of the job. Shellac and varnish are more irritating than harmful. A good heat gun, mask and patience will remove all the paint from the woodwork when you find the ambition.
Enjoy your project, Bill

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Floor finishes have no lead , baseboards stay on and if peeling bad scrape it good . Removal of paint could equal the cost of new oak. If you havnt done a floor before get bids you may not like your work and since you will live there its important .
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We've been through this before in our present home.
My wife wanted to remove all of the lead from the home. As it's 90 years old it has it's share of lead paint. She went to seminars and even contacted folks about removing the lead. It's (a) not cheap (it was going to cost us ~US35k) and (b) it's time consuming. They were going to have to seek a permit, notify our neighbors and have it move out for a while. Everything would be removed and replaced. Why? Because she has a fear of lead. The problem was resolved when we tested the paint and it tested negative on the newest coat. If you chipped away at it you could hit areas that had lead in it. She was prepared to spend whatever it took to make this place lead free, I wasn't. Luckily one of the lead abatement folks told her that if she didn't stir it up it was fine - ie no sanding everything down to bare wood to paint. None of the floor finish tested positive for lead. I did abatement in one room, my lead levels were higher than normal once but were ok several months later. After this near divorce the mrs hasn't said anything about it since.
When we redid the floors I removed the quarter round molding, did the floors, then replaced it with new molding. The stuff is cheap. If you want to really clean it up you can mop the floors with TSP or something, which is what we did. As I said I tested the floors and none of them tested positive, just the deep paint chips.
From the folks I talked to only paint had lead in it, not stains and varnishes. If you want more info call 1-800-424-LEAD, the national lead info center. Or you can call your local health department.
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The floor are probably OK, the baseboard are probably lead paint. If you don't sand it, you are in no danger. Don't chew on the paint either. That is where kids often have problems, chewing on a window sill. Chances are, the lead is sealed in under layers of new paint and will not cause any problems.
Sanding the baseboards may stir up lead dust if you get down to the lead paint layers. I'm not sure that paint removal with chemicals is a problem though.
I'm not sure what respirators or dust masks should be worn, but there is plenty of information available from the people that make them. Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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B. McKechnie wrote:

Not trying to be a smart ass but I find it remarkable how worried modern people are over relatively innocuous things. Like lead in paint. Poisonous? Sure. So don't eat it. I know, I know...the kiddies. How did generations of kids survive red and white lead? Not to mention that cool asbestos cloth that was wrapped with plaster to insulate pipes and such...
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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Thank you to everyone who replied. You have eased my nerves over this.
I usually go at things without regard to personal safety. I refinished my grandmother's floors a few years ago and did not even think twice about lead or any other dust issues (I wore a cheap mask and did not have any breathing problems after I was done). I have taken down walls without thinking about the mold or asbestos inside, etc. Looking back these are all pretty stupid things but I really did not see a concern at the time.
It seems like every time I turn around these days someone is saying BE CAREFUL of this or that and it is starting to make me paranoid. I bought this house knowing there was issues with having an older home (lead paint, knob & tube wiring, etc.). Not everything is going to done at first though and it is nice to know that as long as I am not eating my walls (or sanding them) I am most likely going to be safe if there is lead paint there. We are getting it tested professionally just so we know.
A few of you mentioned that I do not need to remove the baseboards before sanding the floors. Almost all the DIY books and Web sites I read mention you do. There is no 1/4 round between the baseboards and the floor and I do not want to install it just because I cannot sand right up to the baseboards. Will an edge sander get close enough or will I need to do the border by hand?
Thanks again.
B. McKechnie

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