Painting Safety 101
Paintbrush poised for your next home improvement project? See our tips to stay safe while you paint.
A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to quickly transform the look of your home, indoors or outside. With the extra time at home you’ve been granted, you might finally be ready to take on that small home reno, and give your space a refresh.
Painting may seem like one of the most straight-forward tasks you could take on – although, it’s not entirely hazard-free. You’re standing on ladders, getting at hard-to-reach places, surrounded by chemicals that you need to work with hands-on. But with a few safety tips and some common sense, you can pull off a paint job that looks like it was done by the pros!
Choose the right ladder
Ladders are essential when painting, especially if you have high ceilings. But they’re also the source of many injuries, so picking the right one for the job is essential.
A stepladder is usually best. It’s designed to stand on a flat surface, relying completely on its own four legs. Never use an extension ladder unless you need it to reach high, vaulted ceilings. Using the wrong ladder or modifying one for unintended use can be extremely dangerous.
Purchase non-toxic products
Look for paints that have reduced amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Compared to traditional latex paints, these products give off fewer toxic fumes. Paint can release VOCs into the air even years later, creating an unhealthy environment for your family.
Low VOC primers and paints are applied the same way, and cost about the same as conventional products. They can also be cleaned and disposed of safely, without using harsh chemicals.
Consider fire retardant paints
According to the National Fire Information Database, there are about 20,000 structural fires in Canada each year resulting in hundreds of deaths; 80% of them occur in residential fires where no safety measures are in place.
Fire retardant paints can vastly improve the safety of your home by reducing the risk of flammability and combustion. They’re a strong addition to kitchensand other areas exposed to heat. Although flame retardant paint won’t prevent a fire, it can help reduce its spread.
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Wear protective gear
Even if you’ve chosen non-toxic paint, you should still protect yourself from splashes and chemical spills. Some protective gear you may want to think about includes:
This may seem like overkill, but research shows even a small amount of chemicals can damage your skin and overall health. There’s no need to buy coveralls that are 100% waterproof – you just need it to be splash-protective. And if you have to do some sanding, keep your lungs clear with a dust mask.
Getting paint thinner on your hands is not only dangerous, but painful. Luckily, you can avoid paint-related injuries by wearing gloves. Choose powder-free versions that won’t irritate your fingers, and remember to stay away from latex if you have an allergy.
Store leftover paint safely
Some paints and thinners contain flammable components, so they must be put away carefully. Once you’re done, be sure to:
Make sure the can is tightly sealed, and stored upright
Keep away from sources of sparks or flames
Keep in a dry, frost-free area away from direct sunlight
Allow enough time for rooms to dry
You may think a few hours is enough, but paint takes much longer to fully dry. Keep the room well-ventilated by opening the windows. In the meantime, small children and pets should stay away from the area.
Although paint will dry in 24 hours, it won’t actually cure for another several days. Curing allows the paint to harden, so it can withstand everyday use. For oil-based products, wait about a week before using the room frequently.
With these safety tips in mind, painting can be a rewarding DIY project that’ll make your home feel fresh and renewed!