Painting your house involves considering a host of factors, from the color, patterns and designs to the cost involved. One thing that must be kept in mind (since it may sometimes be overlooked) is the safety measures you need to practice when you undertake painting. For your well-being, keep in mind the precautions listed below so your health does not get affected because of painting.
Painting Safety Guidelines
- Choosing the right type of paint is crucial. There are two kinds of paints: water-based or latex paints, and oil-based or alkyd (a type of resin) paints. Most oil-based paints contain thinners, which emit poisonous fumes because they are made of volatile organic compounds (VOC). Look for paints that are labeled 0 VOC. These are environment-friendly but note that such paints tend to dry quickly. If you are painting indoors, use latex paint. Oil-based paints are better suited for exterior painting because they can endure severe climatic conditions.
- If you are using a paint stripper to remove old paint, never get it in your eyes or nose. Wear chemical-resistant gloves, and make sure the room is airy and well-ventilated. Read all instructions on the can carefully before proceeding to remove the paint. Strippers contain solvents, so use the ones where solvents evaporate quickly.
- Ensure that the painting area is well-ventilated. Keep all doors and windows wide open to ensure cross-ventilation. It is better to paint during summer as you can keep doors and windows open throughout the day. Install box fans to get rid of toxic vapors. Odorless paints seem harmless, but they contain toxic vapors which can be dangerous if inhaled. If you are indoors, wear properly fitted painters' masks and gloves. You can use disposable nose masks. These are effective in keeping out dust and odors. Wear protective gear and apply barrier cream (specifically used by painters and applicable to the chemicals constituting the paint you are using) on exposed skin to minimize the harmful effect of paint.
- Do not use the gas while painting. As a safety measure, switch off the gas supply to any gas appliance in the room. Never paint or keep paints and solvents near sources of heat like open flame or water heater. Do not smoke in the painting area. Solvents and strippers are highly combustible and therefore, very dangerous.
- Notify your neighbors before you undertake a painting job. Poisonous vapors can move through spaces in walls and electrical outlets. Make sure they also follow safety rules for ventilation purposes.
- Use canvas drop cloths to protect floors from turning messy. Never use plastic sheets as these are slippery. Furniture and other items can be covered with plastic cloths if you are painting the ceiling.
- Be sure to wear safety goggles when you are drilling, sanding, and spray-painting.
- If the painting equipment you use is too noisy, it is advisable to wear ear protection to protect yourself from the noise.
- Ladder safety is an important aspect when you undertake painting. The ladder should be firmly placed on an even ground. Do not stand right on top of the ladder to try to reach high-off corners. Under such circumstances, get down and move the ladder. If you are working outdoors and using an extension ladder, make sure you do not come in contact with electric cables or tree branches.
- Do not allow children, pregnant women, older persons, asthmatic patients, and pets to enter newly painted rooms for three days.
- As soon as you have finished painting, thoroughly wash your hands. Toxic chemicals from paint can easily get absorbed in to the skin. If you spill any paint, clean up the area immediately. Latex paints can be cleaned with a regular soap solution. For alkyd paints, follow manufacturer's instructions to know what cleaning products are safe and effective.
- When you are done with the job, ascertain that you dispose all cans and rags which contain traces of paints and solvents. Never keep them lying in places with easy access to children and pets. Dry them thoroughly before you throw them away. Do not leave open paint cans lying around. If you have leftover paint, close the lid tight and store the can in a suitable place. Contact your local authorities if there is paint can disposal and recycling options available in your area.
All paints have chemicals in varying consistencies and inhalation of fumes caused by these chemicals can definitely pose a health hazard. Before you begin painting, carefully go through the information printed on the cans for all paints, paint strippers, and solvents that you may be using. Make yourself aware of the potential health risks painting may involve.
Conditions like eye and throat irritation, vision problems, headaches, skin problems, respiratory problems, and negative effects on the nervous and reproductive systems can occur if one is exposed to paints for a very long stretch of time. Do not paint at long hours for stretch, take short breaks for fresh air at regular intervals. If you feel nauseous, dizzy, and have watery eyes while painting, stop the work and head outdoors immediately. Contact your health care provider if your condition worsens.
Following safety measures and taking adequate precautions will minimize the likely dangers painting can pose. So keep them in mind, stay safe, and paint your house using your creativity and imagination.