Blog Series: LeadCheck® Swabs vs. XRF Gun

xrf gunAs fun as it is to pretend that you're Dirty Harry while checking for lead, it may not be the most realistic method. Remember: the goal of this blog series is to identify the testing method that best meets the needs of the common residential contractor.

As a contractor, there are certain factors that you must take into account when choosing the best lead testing method for you. For one, there is a set time table for most renovations. This means that you have a schedule to keep; every minute counts. You can’t spend the whole day testing for lead.

Both the LeadCheck® Swab and the XRF Analyzer are relatively quick and can be considered rapid detection tests. The drawback to the XRF Analyzer in this case is that it will most likely be used by a lead abatement professional or risk assessor, not you. This can be an inconvenience—especially if you’re waiting to start work and the risk assessor doesn’t show up on time. And let’s face it, there’s no guarantee that he or she will. These things are out of your control and can be a major inconvenience; whereas, the LeadCheck® Swab is in your tool box and can be used at your leisure.

Secondly, what about your budget? If you’re looking to turn a profit then you have to keep your supply costs low. You need something that is affordable.

This is a no-brainer. XRF Analyzers cost upwards of $5,000 and run as high as $25,000. LeadCheck® Swabs are $2.15 a pop and can be purchased in bulk.

Here are a few reasons, it’s more cost-efficient and easier for the average contractor to use a LeadCheck® Swab:


  • The XRF cost for the equipment, radiation licensing and inspector certification, generally puts this technology out of the hands of the average contractor.
  • Most contractors would have to hire a certified (or licensed) inspector to evaluate the lead paint that would be disturbed. The cost of the RRP evaluation varies greatly by region with costs ranging from $100 to $600.
  • It also means that there is a coordination detail that could easily delay getting a timely cost estimate to the customer which is an added inconvenience.
  • It is an excellent method when large numbers of surfaces require testing as in a gut rehab. Or when a non-destructive test is required.


LeadCheck® Swabs:

  • Although a destructive test, the surfaces tested are usually going to be discarded so in many cases this is not a problem.
  • While each component requires a test (an average window requires at least five spots), a swab can do multiple test unless it finds lead (so why go any further)!
  • For the average job, contractors are reporting that only 10 swabs are required which keep the cost of the lead determination down to under $25.
  • The results are quick; and the test is easy to use. Many times while testing, the customer and contractor are talking about making this a “Lead Safe Renovation” and keeping everyone safe from leads health effects. Can’t do this with the radiation of an XRF close by.
  • LeadCheck® Swabs never go bad and can travel anywhere with you, no licensing is required!