House painting is one of the most popular DIY projects and for good reason. A quick splash of color is an easy way to give your entire home a facelift. But when painting indoors, steps should be taken to keep you and your family safe. Harmful fumes and dangerous chemicals are known to be in many paints, and can put both humans and animals at risk for illness and injury if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Follow these steps for a fun and safe DIY experience:
Choose Healthier Products
If possible, always choose low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and primers for your DIY pursuits. These products have less harmful fumes than traditional latex paints, and they’re similar in cost to most premium brands.
Test for Lead
If you live in a home built before 1978, there’s a fair chance you have lead-based paint in the house. Buy a test kit at the local hardware store and test a sample before you start sanding. If you find that you have lead paint on your walls, consult with a professional – it can be dangerous to remove it on your own.
Prepare Your Workspace
A well-thought-out workspace can make the difference between a great experience and a terrible one.
- Keep your work area well ventilated. Fumes can be harmful to inhale, so open the windows and use an exhaust fan.
- Never use paint, solvents, or strippers near an open flame or other heat sources. Certain chemicals can be highly flammable, so don’t smoke cigarettes, and avoid placing your materials near a working oven or water heater.
- Use the proper safety equipment – when painting or sanding, use a respirator to stop from inhaling harmful fumes or dust particles.
- Use a cloth drop cloth rather than plastic – plastic slips more easily and can lead to falls.
- Cover electrical outlets with painter’s tape, or turn off the power if you need to remove an outlet or switch covers.
Practice Ladder Safety
If your project requires you to climb a ladder, use the following tips to stay safe:
- Make sure your ladder is in good shape. You should inspect it before every use, no matter how long since you used it last.
- Don’t try to carry anything up with you. Have someone else hand you your paints and rollers once you’re up on the ladder.
- Never stand on the top step. If your knees are above the top, you’re too high.
- Don’t overreach. It may require a little more effort, but get down and move the ladder if you find yourself leaning too far.
Clean up and dispose of paint properly
- When cleaning up, check your work area for spills, dust, or other debris that could be a falling hazard.
- Let latex paint dry out completely before disposing of it – one easy trick to speed up the process is to mix a handful of sand or dirt into the can, then let it sit for a week or so with the lid off.
- While drying your paint, keep the cans in a safe, secure place, away from children and animals.
- Clean brushes and rollers with a non-toxic solvent. There are plenty of citrus-based or otherwise natural products on the market.
- If possible, don’t sleep in a freshly painted room for two days. It will help keep you away from harmful odors.
Painting is a fun project – keep it fun by eliminating any chance of accidents or injury! A little effort before setting out can make all the difference.