Consumer Reports also ran lab tests on seven kits costing between $8 and $30. Testers added lead to latex paint in varying amounts and then painted it on boards. The kits were tested on the boards to determine whether low levels of contamination could be detected.
"All the kits we tested detected lead down to 2,000 parts per million, and none made any false identifications of lead," said Consumer Reports' Don Mays.
To use most of the kits, you cut through the layers down to the base paint. Then check the painted surface. If lead is present, there will be a color.
"Choose a kit that turns a different color than paint that you're testing, so you can tell if lead has been detected," Mays said.
Consumer Reports says some good choices are the Abotex lead test kit, which turns yellow-to-black, and the LeadCheck kit, which turns pink-to-red.
"If your home tests positive for lead paint, hire a certified inspector to confirm that you have lead. If necessary, hire someone with special training to cover up or remove the lead," Mays said.