Tips for Safely Painting Your Animal Shelter

calander Apr 4 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

Safety should always come first for any residential or commercial painting project. When it comes to painting properties that shelter animals, however, this commitment to safety takes on new meaning. Now, humans aren’t the only ones at risk. Indeed, the same painting hazards that apply to humans (i.e. toxic fumes, physical obstacles, falling objects, etc.) also apply to animals -- moreover, many animals are even more sensitive to these hazards and may be at greater risk of harm if the people in charge aren’t careful. Therefore, it is the joint responsibility between you and your painting provider to keep each and every animal within your shelter happy, healthy, and safe before, during, and after the project.

Here are some key tips for safely painting your animal shelter inside and out.

How to Safely Paint an Animal Shelter

Avoid Using Paint that Contains Toxic Materials

Broadly speaking, paint manufacturers have reduced the number of harmful chemicals inside their products over the years. That said, some paints are more toxic than others, for various reasons. Products containing formaldehyde, acetone, polyurethane, ammonia, and biocides, for instance, can still be found on the market, and it’s imperative that you do not apply them in an animal shelter or similar setting. Simply put, these toxic paints can result in all sorts of health concerns in animals (and humans, for that matter), and animals are more likely to experience these outcomes as a result of their natural curiosity (i.e. licking and sniffing surfaces regularly). To name a few, the harmful fumes given off by these paints can cause irritation to the eyes and skin, nausea, respiratory issues, tremors, diarrhea, loss of coordination, and more. If the whole purpose of an animal shelter is to protect them from various threats and provide them with a safe and comfortable environment, the last thing you want to do is surround them with toxic materials. Your commercial interior painting contractor can help you steer clear of these products.

Prioritize Zero-VOC Paint Products for Interiors

So, what kind of paint should you use in your animal shelter? You’ve got plenty of options in terms of color and composition, but as a general rule, you’ll want to look for products clearly labeled as containing “low” or “zero” volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are non-toxic options that yield minimal fumes and contain far fewer (if any) of those harmful chemicals mentioned earlier. Take your time when selecting a low/zero-VOC paint -- some products may claim to contain no VOCs in their base while still containing VOCs in their pigment. It may be more difficult to find low-VOC paints for your shelter’s exterior, as exterior paints are designed to withstand more pressures, which often requires a more complex composition. As long as your interiors are as VOC-free as possible, this won’t make a difference -- after all, your main concern should be maintaining optimal indoor air quality for the safety of the animals.

Keep Animals Away from the Interior Painting Process

Coordinating a commercial painting project can be challenging, and painting an animal shelter is no exception. Ultimately, you want to keep your animals at a safe distance from the painting process, both to prevent any distractions and issues with the job itself and to ensure the animals’ health and safety. Depending on your shelter’s layout, capacity, and the needs of your animals, you might approach this temporary hiccup in a number of ways. If you have plenty of space and are only painting a limited portion of your shelter, you can place the animals in a different, secure room (one that’s large enough and filled with the proper amenities) for the duration of the project and some time after to allow for proper curing and any fumes to disperse. You might also move your animals off-site to a satellite location (if you have partners or foster homes you can utilize) or another un-affiliated shelter, if possible. Shelters in larger, warmer areas might be able to temporarily accommodate their animals outdoors for extended periods of time as well.

However you decide to separate your animals from the painting project, you’ll want to keep them away from the freshly painted space for 24-48 hours after the fact. It’s a good idea to open up windows and doors and install fans to maximize ventilation during this time, too. The painting area should also be completely clear of equipment, drop cloths, ladders, etc. before animals can re-enter to minimize the risk of tripping or injury. All of this extra work can be difficult to account for. If you’re wondering how to estimate the cost and duration of interior commercial painting, keep these factors in mind.

Keep Animals Away from Recently Painted Exteriors

While your shelter’s interior spaces pose the greatest potential threat to your animals, your painted exterior surfaces can harm your animals, too, especially after a recent paint job. After your commercial exterior painting contractors have completed their work, wait a while before letting your animals outside, as they might be drawn to the paint odors and ingest the toxic material. If and when you do finally take them outdoors, keep them at a safe distance from those exterior surfaces. You might even put up some temporary fencing or other obstacles to prevent the animals from getting closer than they should.

Choose Colors with Animal Eyes in Mind

Proper visibility is essential for safety, and animals don’t see things the same way that we humans do. If you’re not sure of how to select interior paint colors for your shelter, do some research into the range of colors different animals can and cannot see. Dogs, for instance, can generally pick apart various blues and yellows just fine but can’t see greens or reds nearly as well. Cats don’t really see orange, brown, or red but can see greens and blues pretty well. Different types of birds have their own unique view of the world around them, too. As such, the colors you might think work well for your shelter might not suit the needs and wants of your animals. In some cases, the wrong color choices can actually make it more difficult for your animals to navigate their spaces. As a general rule, blues, greens, and purples are strong choices for dogs and cats. The color scheme you choose should ultimately depend on the types of animals you shelter and their visible spectrum.

Work with Adoption in Mind

Whether painting your exterior or interior, you'll want to create a welcoming space for potential adopters. The last thing you want is not to be noticeable, making it difficult for people to find your location, or appear off-putting, sending future pet parents away. Create calm spaces in rooms where future pet parents will meet the animals at your shelter so that you are able to set everyone up for success. Though the color scheme may not be apparent to the dog, cat, or other furry friends, it will be to the people coming to visit, if only subconsciously. If they're at ease, there's a better chance meet and greets will go smoothly.

Lastly, ensuring the safety of your animals during a painting project largely depends on the experience and attitude of the people you hire. A crew that rarely works around animals and/or doesn’t think fondly of them is less likely to put in the effort and care required for this delicate task. Conversely, contractors who love animals will take great pains to make sure no harm befalls any of them during the job. As a nonprofit, working with professionals who know how to work within your budget is essential,.

Nash Painting is filled with animal lovers, and our team always adores getting to know the furry friends of our various clients across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. We prioritize safety in everything that we do, know how to work within a budget, and understand your bigger picture is about forever homes for the very animals we will promise to keep safe during the process. To learn more about us, our hassle free painting services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!