Painting, whether exterior or interior, can be a deceptively unsafe job. Not only are you climbing ladders to gain access to hard-to-reach areas, but paint fumes can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.
Professional painters know all the rules (and, in theory, will be insured), but if you’re heading down the DIY painting path, there are some simple safety tips you should be aware of before, during and after the task.
PAINT SAFETY: THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU START PAINTING
Some things to take note of before starting the painting process include:
– Choose your paint carefully. There are generally two types available; water-based (latex paint) and oil-based (alkyd paint). Latex paint releases fewer chemicals.
– Ensure that you choose appropriate indoors or outdoors paint depending on which area you’ll be painting.
– Read the label of your chosen paint for health and safety instructions.
– If you live in a flat, warn your neighbours before you start a paint job. As walls can be quite thin in apartment blocks, they may need to leave windows open and fans on while you’re painting.
– Try scheduling interior (and obviously, exterior) paint work for dry weather, as it is easier to leave windows open for ventilation.
– Organise box fans in advance if the area you’re painting is not appropriately ventilated.
– If you have to sand walls back before painting, make sure you wear a dust mask and goggles to avoid breathing in particles or getting dust particles in your eyes.
DIY PAINTING: SAFETY ADVICE DURING THE PAINTING PROCESS
The actual painting process is the one where you have to take the most care. Some simple tips that you can follow include:
– If painting indoors, ensure that the area is well ventilated with all windows and doors open.
– If the area has no windows or ventilation is not up to scratch, use box fans to push the paint fumes out.
– If you still can’t get the area well ventilated, wear a respirator mask while painting.
– Triple check that your ladder is secure.
– Use canvas as opposed to plastic drop sheets, as canvas is less likely to slip under a ladder.
– Wear goggles if you’re painting an area where paint could fall in your eyes (e.g. ceilings).
– Do not smoke or have an open flame nearby whilst painting.
– Keep children and pets away from areas where they may be affected by paint fumes.
CLEANING UP AND DISPOSING OF PAINT SAFELY
Once the paint job has been completed, there are still some precautions to follow. These include:
– Make sure that you keep the area ventilated for two to four days, as paint fumes will still be present.
– Wait a few days before sleeping in a freshly painted room.
– Allow any rags or drop sheets with oil-based paint on them to dry thoroughly before disposing of them.
– Store all types of paint in a cool area away from any heat.
– Dispose of all paint at the appropriate waste disposal/collection for your area. Contact you local council for details on where you should dispose of paint.
Also remember to keep the environment safe by avoiding pouring paint down any drains.