If you are preparing to do any interior painting project, whether you’re redoing a ceiling, adding an accent wall color, or adding a protective coat of paint to a garage or basement floor, take care to protect yourself from paint fumes, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Fumes can build up slowly as you paint, and you might not notice them until their effect becomes severe.
Paint fumes can also be a fire hazard, especially if the fumes have the opportunity to collect in an unventilated space. Experts recommend not painting or storing cans of paint in unventilated spaces.
Why Do Paints Produce Toxic Fumes?
Paints are typically in a liquid form when you apply them but need to become solid as they dry so that they adhere to surfaces. A solvent such as turpentine, toluene, or acetone, keeps oil-based paints liquid long enough for you to apply it.
As the paint dries, the solvent escapes into the air. Outside, it will dissipate harmlessly. However, in a closed room, the concentration of the paint will grow over time.
Symptoms of Exposure to Paint Fumes
The symptoms of paint fume exposure can change depending on the type of fumes and their concentration. However, look out for the following symptoms and take a break from painting for a while if they arise.
- Flare-ups or worsening of asthma
- Allergic reactions
- Nausea and vomiting
If you experience these symptoms, leave the room and go outside. Seek medical attention if the symptoms persist.
Pregnant women should be cautious when painting or spending time in freshly painted rooms. The symptoms of exposure to paint fumes can be more severe for anyone who is pregnant. In high concentrations, the paint fumes could increase the risk of birth defects.
Ventilation Techniques for Interior Painting
Choose a day with mild temperatures and good weather for your paint project so you can leave the windows open while you paint. Box fans and ceiling fans can help circulate air, especially in parts of the house that do not naturally get adequate ventilation, such as basements and garages.
Organic paint solvents are heavier molecules that build up at floor level, which has implications for ventilation.
- Ceiling fans are less effective at dispersing paint fumes.
- Children and pets might receive more exposure to paint fumes if they are at ground level.
- Solvents tend to collect more in basements.
Use your home ventilation system. The range hood above your stove can direct paint fumes out of your home. If you have an attic fan, it can boost whole-house air, as an adjunct to ventilation at lower levels.
Safety Tips for Interior Painting
Pay attention to the manufacturer’s guidelines, search the internet, and consult an interior paint specialist to learn more about the type of paint that you decide to use. Be sure to have any safety gear, including gloves, protective clothing, and a mask or respirator if needed. Investigate the different types of respirator masks to be sure that they will be effective against the type of paint fumes your paint will produce.
To avoid experiencing symptoms, plan to stop painting every hour or so to walk outside and breathe fresh air.
When you finish painting, close all paint lids tightly and clean any rollers, brushes, and trays that have paint on them. Unused paint will release fumes into the air just like paint on the walls.
The drying paint continues to give off fumes long after it becomes dry to the touch. Homeowners should make sure to give their homes adequate fresh air for days and sometimes months after they paint interior rooms.
If the smell of fresh paint bothers you, you can leave out cups of liquid such as water or vinegar to absorb the chemicals.
Choosing the Right Type of Paint
Quality paint and paint supplies from trusted manufacturers like Sherwin Williams can reduce or eliminate your exposure to unpleasant or toxic paint fumes. Look for paints with a “Low VOC,” or “Zero VOC” label. Paint manufacturers often promote these paints as eco-friendly in addition to their safety benefits.
While oil-based paints have some advantages over water-based paints, a clear benefit of water-based paints is the low levels of VOCs. Water-based paints use water as their solvent rather than the solvents mentioned earlier, so they do not produce fumes in high concentrations.
Choosing a Professional for Interior Painting Jobs
The best way to protect yourself and your family from risks associated with paint fumes is to hire a trustworthy contractor with a good reputation for safe, ecologically friendly interior painting practices.
If you have a vacation coming up or can visit friends or relatives for a few days, you can let the professionals provide safety equipment and take responsibility for maintaining airflow during the job. Interior painting specialists might be able to bring in larger fans to clear out the fumes as much as possible before you return.
For Safe, Attractive Interior Painting in Mullica Hill, Call GLS Painters
GLS Painters are the top choice for professional interior painting in Mullica Hill, NJ. We are proud to conduct business in a historic neighborhood, and we take the utmost care to ensure the safety of our customers and their environment. Call (856) 238-1288 to speak with a member of the GLS Painters team about paint options, decor options, pricing, and paint safety tips.