How to Paint Inside Safely

painting walls

One of the fastest and most affordable ways to create a fresh look at home is to give the interior a new coat of paint. However, it is often essential to follow specific safety measures and precautions to ensure you and your family remain protected when you’re painting inside.

If you’re getting ready for a big project, here are the steps to follow so that you can have a positive and safe experience.

Prepare for a Safe Painting Experience

Most stripper, stain, and paint fumes are harmful to inhale. However, they can also be highly flammable. That means you need to work in well-ventilated areas. You can start that process by opening windows and doors.

If you have an exhaust fan available, use it to remove fumes from your working areas.

You use paint, solvents, strippers, and similar products near an open flame. That includes avoiding your water heater and furnace. If you smoke, take a break instead of lighting up while working.

When you must use solvents, it’s often best to wear a respirator while working. If you need to do sanding work, a dust mask is helpful. 

After you’ve painted the room, try to avoid sleeping in it for at least 48 hours. 

Think About Your Electrical Outlets

When painting inside, it helps to review when you are working around or near electrical outlets in each room. A good practice to follow is to cover all exposed receptacles with painter’s tape before proceeding.

If you must remove a switch cover or an outlet before painting, don’t rely on the switch being off to keep you safe. Instead, flip the breaker at the panel to avoid having an unexpected shock coming your way.

Invest in Safer Paint Products

When priming and painting inside, choose products that come with a low-VOC formula for the best results. These items are still manufactured to the highest quality, but they keep the levels of volatile organic compounds low. That means they’ll release fewer fumes when compared to traditional latex paint. 

Low-VOC products apply the same way as conventional products. Of course, you’ll pay a little more than some other choices, but the cost is comparable to what you’d pay for a top-of-the-line color. 

The added benefit of using safe paint products is that they can be cleaned or disposed of without solid solvents.

Test for Existing Lead Paint

painting wood

Lead paint in NYC homes is a significant cause of lead poisoning in children. It’s also harmful to adults with consistent exposure. Therefore, any home or building built before 1978 should have its window frames, doorjambs, and other surfaces tested before new paint.

If you have lead paint, an entirely new set of safety precautions requires implementation. You’ll need to avoid using heat or scraping activities to remove the unwanted material. Spray it with water instead while gently removing it to avoid having the dust enter the space.

It helps to wear an appropriately rated respirator to complete this work. 

All lead paint chips should be discarded immediately, followed by a thorough cleaning with a HEPA vacuum. It’s often better in this situation to hire a professional contractor to ensure the work is completed correctly.

Dispose of the Remaining Paint

Leftover latex paint must dry before it is disposable. Even if the remaining product is gone from the can, you must let the empty container be exposed to the air to harden the last materials.

When you leave paint out to dry, you’ll want to keep it in a space away from pets, kids, and open flames.

Your rollers and brushes can get cleaned with citrus-based cleaners or turpentine. The latter is an environmentally preferred solvent that comes from tree resin.

Store the Excess Paint Safely 

If you have more than a quarter of the paint remaining, it is more effective to store the product than to dispose of it. You’ll want to keep the leftovers in a dry location where the temperatures stay above freezing.

Replace the lid firmly, ensuring snug against the container’s edge. Then flip the can upside-down to prevent any air from getting into the can. If you have young kids or mischievous dogs, it’s a good idea to use a lockable storage cabinet for your solvents, chemicals, and paints to keep everyone safe.

When you follow these steps, it’s much easier to finish a painting job safely while updating the look and feel of your new space. If you need any help with your interior remodeling, please feel free to reach out to our team at your convenience. 


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