The first stages of the Capitol Dome Restoration kicked off in January 2014. The goals for repairs include preventing the Dome’s cast iron from deteriorating, as well as ensuring the protection of the interior of the Dome and the Rotunda. While removing lead paint wasn’t the main motivator behind the restoration, it will certainly play a large role in the process. The Capitol Dome Restoration Project might be the country’s most well-known lead paint removal project, considering the Dome’s status as one of America’s most famous landmarks.  

We asked the Architect of the Capitol for details on the project. Here’s what we learned from Joseph Abriatis, construction manager:

By the Numbers

  • Over 150 years: How old the Dome is.
  • 1959-60: When the last significant exterior renovation of the Dome was performed, and most of the lead paint was added.
  • $59.6 million: The project’s overall budget. Lead paint removal and repainting represents a major portion.
  • 12: Approximately how many layers of paint will be removed.
  • 1 year: About long it will take to remove all the lead paint from the Dome’s exterior.
  • 1,215 gallons: Amount of paint it will take to cover the Dome in three layers. The final topcoat will be "Dome White."

About the Process

  • Containments built around the Dome are maintained at negative air during paint removal.
  • The licensed and trained workers use supplied air respirators and protective equipment. 
  • Paint is stripped using abrasive blasting.
  • The spent blast media and removed paint is vacuumed inside the negative air containment, and sent through large hoses to collection equipment within the laydown area on the ground where it is placed in containers for transportation.
  • Steel barrels, approved by the District Department of Transportation to contain the waste, will be transported off site and the material will be shipped by a licensed waste transporter to licensed disposal sites. 

Scroll through the slideshow to see photos of the restoration process, courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.