How to Practice Painting Safety in Your Home

A painting project in your home is not just about brushes and rollers, masking tape and spill rags. Take the time to learn about painting safety so that you and all others around you will remain safe during the job. You’re not properly prepared in home safety as a DIY until you do.

Safety rules for safe work practices are in place because employers have learned what can happen from actual occurrences. With the proper information, you can be just as safe working on these projects at home.

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) or Safety Clothing is a Must When Painting

Safety rules on any project aren’t about timely intervention when something goes wrong; they’re about careful prevention to ensure that nothing does. For instance, simple items like disposable latex-free gloves are inexpensive and sensible. Latex allergies aren’t usually detected before they strike and an allergic reaction to latex (or solvent) can be severe. A respirator mask is more costly but it will protect your lungs better than anything else can.

Basic articles of safety clothing are recommended when handling paint products you are unfamiliar with. Safety clothing can consist of:

  • latex-free disposable gloves (to prevent against allergies as previously mentioned)
  • safety goggles (to protect against splashes or spills)
  • disposable coveralls (to keep your clothing free of residue that can later irritate your skin)
  • a filtered respirator mask (for safe air, only when required for the product type)
  • If using spray paint from a can, there is a filtered respirator mask similar to dust masks used when installing the drywall but with meshed charcoal that prevents the user from inhaling the airborne particles.

MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) Are Important Project Material

If you’re using paint products that you are unfamiliar with, regardless of whether or not it is water-based, requires mixing components together or wearing a respirator mask, do not take chances where your health is concerned.

Be sure to request the MSDS from your retailer and keep this information close to when you are working. Retailers should immediately provide these to you; you shouldn’t have to ask but sometimes a little reminder is necessary. MSDS are only valid and lawful for three years from the date of print; be sure you receive up-to-date versions.

Advise a friend or family member about the project you’re going to do before you get started, particularly if you’re doing it on your own. Make this person aware of where the MSDS are in case you are overcome by fumes or have an allergic reaction and are unable to communicate.

Take Precautions for Your Own Safety Whenever You Can

If you can’t advise someone ahead of time, place the MSDS in a clearly labeled plastic bag and hang it in plain sight of where you’re working. Should something unexpected happen, the doctors or emergency personnel will need to know as quickly as possible exactly what you’ve been exposed to.

Take precautions to ensure that children or the elderly aren’t exposed to the fumes or the physical product. This rule follows for anyone in any age group but these two demographics are the most vulnerable and require special attention.

Practice Home Safety Between Painting Projects

It is best not to store any oil-based paints or solvents associated with them inside your home. A shed or garage are much safer places for these; a shed is preferred if the garage is attached to the house. Aside from the flammability, improperly sealed or punctured cans can allow fumes to escape creating a respiratory hazard.

If the paint storage place of choice is unheated, keep in mind that while oil-based paints won’t freeze, they will become extremely thick when exposed to extreme cold. Be sure to let them gradually return to room temperature before putting them back in use.

A Paint Storage Cabinet can Alleviate Paint Storage Concerns

Paint, coatings, solvents and related items should be stored on low shelves where they can be easily reached. High shelves or racking are just asking for accidents. Cans can become stuck or unlevel and, if undetected, reaching for them creates a falling objects hazard, possible spills on skin or in eyes and mouth and unsafe floor surfaces.

Because the containers are being stored on low shelves in readily accessible areas where children or pets can reach, be sure they are closed beyond a possibility of them being touched. Safety caps and metal paint can clips are easy to purchase and go a long way if there is only a small storage space available.

Even with these home safety precautions, a paint storage cabinet in your garage or shed is still the best place for such products. Keep a copy of the MSDS with the paint storage and a second copy in the house.

Practice Safe Paint Disposal or Recycle Old Paint or Chemicals

There are different methods for proper disposal of old or unwanted paint and chemicals. Many local fire departments will offer to take your leftover paint products, usually on a predetermined schedule. If the opportunity comes to properly recycle paint, they will do so in a safe manner. If you still have the MSDS for the recycle paint when donating it, please include them.

You may be able to leave the chemicals at no cost or there may be a small donation requested. Some local painting contractors may be willing to take the product off your hands free of charge if it’s still in useable condition. If they offer this service, it’s usually included in their flyers or Yellow Pages ads.

Please remember that, while taking these home safety precautions with your painting project may seem unnecessary or perhaps even paranoid, this prevention will seem like nothing compared to an injury or illness after the fact. When it comes to painting safety around you and your family, erring on the side of caution is always the best plan.