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What Precautions Should I Take Painting with Kids and Pets?

calander Jul 13 , 2021 user-icon Nash Painting

Painting your home isn’t merely a matter of splashing some fresh color onto your interior and exterior surfaces. There are many considerations and preparations to make before you can achieve the beautiful results you desire. Not only must you prepare each area and surface for a new coat of paint -- you must also think about how this project will affect your daily life, as well as those you care about. If, for instance, you have children and/or pets, they must remain your top priority before, during, and after the paint job. Home painting projects can pose a threat to those nearby if proper precautions aren’t taken, and both kids and pets are more susceptible to harm in no small part thanks to their natural curiosity. Balancing your kids’ and pets’ safety with a successful and efficient paint job is no small task, but it’s not impossible. With that in mind, let’s explore some key precautions you should take when painting around kids and pets.

How to Keep Kids and Pets Safe from Paint

Keep Kids and Pets Away from Work Areas

Perhaps the best thing you can do to protect your kids, pets, and paint job is to prevent your kids and pets from accessing the area(s) being painted. Paint products and tools can cause injury and illness if mishandled or ingested. Paint fumes can also be harmful to one’s lungs, especially when exposed for long periods of time. Moreover, curious kids and pets can accidentally ruin a paint job by touching wet surfaces, spilling materials, etc. Maintaining this boundary may be easier said than done, of course. If your kids are used to coming and going freely from room to room, you’ll have to explain to them why the area is currently off-limits. Pets and smaller children won’t be able to comprehend this message, however; in these situations, installing physical barriers to cordon off work areas is a good idea.

Inspect Surfaces for Lead Paint

The manufacture and use of lead paint in residential settings has been outlawed for several decades for good reason. Research conducted in the 20th century found a link between proximity to lead paint and the development of brain damage (as well as other problems). As it turns out, children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. While lead is no longer used in modern home painting projects, homes constructed and painted prior to 1980 may still contain lead paint. If you live in such a home and have never had it inspected for traces of lead, it’s crucial to have your surfaces assessed by a lead-certified abatement specialist. Otherwise, you risk releasing lead particles into the air when removing previous coats of paint prior to painting. When traces of lead are present in your home, your lead remediation professional will decide whether to safely remove or seal the lead paint. Either way, eliminating the threat of lead paint is necessary for ensuring the ongoing health and safety of your kids and pets.

Read our previous blog, “How to Remove Old Lead Paint,” for more information on this topic.

Apply Low- and Zero-VOC Paints

While lead paint is by and large the most harmful type of paint for people and pets to be around, other paint products may contain toxic materials such as formaldehyde, acetone, polyurethane, ammonia, biocides, and more. Fortunately, most modern paints are relatively low on the toxicity scale, barely posing a threat to adults, kids, or pets. Still, the more you can do to minimize the presence of these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when painting your home, the better. These concerns primarily apply to interior house paint, since there is less air circulation inside your home (allowing paint fumes to linger). Look for products labeled either “low-VOC” or “zero-VOC,” as these will keep harmful fumes to a minimum and won’t be as threatening if accidentally touched or ingested. Be mindful as you browse these low- or zero-VOC paints, as the amount of VOCs contained in a product can sometimes be misleading (there may be no VOCs in the paint’s base, but the paint may contain VOCs in its pigment, for instance).

Practice Careful Preparation

The paint itself isn’t the only potential threat to you kids and pets in regards to a painting project. Indeed, the steps you or your painters take to prepare your home for the job can also put your loved ones (and yourself) in harm’s way. For example, pressure washing is among the most dangerous tasks to tackle before painting your exterior surfaces. If held poorly, aimed improperly, or configured with the wrong settings, pressure washers can severely injure anyone who happens to be in the stream’s path (hot water power washers can exceed temperatures of 300 degrees Fahrenheit). Before power washing siding, then, make sure your kids and pets are indoors and/or nowhere near the area being blasted.

Minimize Outdoor Playtime During and After Residential Exterior Painting

As mentioned earlier, indoor paint jobs are inherently riskier than exterior paint projects due to less air circulation and closer proximity to materials. That said, exterior paint jobs aren’t risk-free. Many kids and pets enjoy spending time outdoors, after all. Even if they’re not typically near your home’s siding, decking, or fencing when playing outside, they can easily come into contact with any of these outdoor features while the paint or deck stain is still wet and shortly after it has dried. If this should happen, your brand new paint job might end up smudged, nicked, or otherwise ruined. More importantly, though, your kids or pets might end up ingesting the exterior paint that has been recently applied -- paint that is often more toxic than interior products. As such, it’s a good idea to keep your kids and pets away from your recently painted exterior surfaces even after they’re fully dried. At the very least, have someone supervise outdoor activity until it’s deemed safe. Talk to your painting professionals to get their recommendation on when it’s safe to get back out there after the project is complete.

Painting with Your Pets and Kids in Mind

At Nash Painting, we believe that you, your children, and your pets deserve to remain safe and healthy before, during, and after a painting project. After all, we’re family people too. This is why we use high-quality, zero-VOC paints for all our projects, maintain strong communication with our clients at all times, and never take shortcuts during our efficient and safe processes. In doing so, we’ve gained a reputation for both quality results and safe practices across Nashville, Brentwood, and Franklin, TN. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at 615-829-6858 today!