Springtime has a way of motivating many of us to tackle those home improvement projects. Like the fresh new flowers of spring, a fresh coat of paint can liven us up. If you have a painting project on your plate, here are some tips that can help you.
1. Choose low VOC paint, ideally less than 50 grams per liter (gpl). VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. VOCs give paint its consistency and evaporate as it dries. Short-term health effects of VOC exposure can include eye irritation, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. Long-term exposure can lead to damage of the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys. Pregnant women, children, and people with respiratory problems have higher health risks. Ask your local paint vendor for low VOC paint options before you make your purchasing decision. Be aware that adding color to paint can add VOCs.
2. Buy the right amount of paint for the job. To estimate how much paint you need by calculating one gallon of paint for every 400 square feet. Purchasing the right amount of paint will reduce the amount of paint you have leftover to store or dispose of.
3. Ventilate properly. Ventilating the area well helps lower exposure to VOCs. Keep windows open and use an exhaust fan to draw fumes from the home. Regular air conditioners do not filter indoor air. Read the paint label carefully and follow the recommended safety precautions, such as wearing gloves, goggles, and a respirator. Dust masks do not protect against VOCs. If you are using oil-based paint, the health risks are greater and there is an added risk of fire. Take extra care to keep oil-based paints and materials stained with oil-based paints away from sources of flames or sparks.
4. Store leftover paint safely. Hopefully you don’t have a lot of paint leftover to store. Store it in the original container and check to see if you can still read the label. If paint has dripped down the sides, make a new label that includes the contents and the date. Cover the opening with plastic wrap and then tightly secure the lid over it. Be sure to keep all paint and paint products completely out of reach of children.
5. Dispose of paint properly. Latex paints are not considered hazardous. They can be solidified and put in the regular trash with the lid off. To solidify latex paint, mix in shredded paper, kitty litter, dried grass clippings, or a commercially available paint drying gel. When the paint is an oatmeal-like consistency and will not spill out, it can be placed in the regular trash with the lid off. When the lid is off, a garbage collector can see that there is no longer liquid paint in the container and process the garbage as needed. When liquids are placed in the trash, they can cause damage throughout the garbage collection process.
Oil-based paints are hazardous materials. Take oil-based paints to HazoHouse for free and safe disposal. You can also donate leftover paint to local theatre groups, schools, or other groups in need. You can also list unwanted items at www.2good2toss.com.
Have fun with your spring projects!