As both a painter and someone with lots of kids in my life, I know that painting can be tricky with a family. I’ve seen countless factors, from color and cost to chemicals and ladders, makes a father’s eyebrows furrow when faced with a painting project.
After nearly two decades of experience in the painting industry, I’ve learned a handful of tips and tricks for making sure that a painting project is safely completed (and good-looking to boot). The most important factor, of course, is keeping your family safe. The second? Bringing your kids in on the fun when you can.
Here are the top 5 things that every dad should know about painting with (and around) kids.
1. Protect Your Lungs
Did you know that paint, as well as primers and sealants, emit harmful fumes? That’s one reason why it’s best to keep kids and pets away from a paint site, even if it’s well ventilated. It’s also the reason you should protect your own eyes, nose, and lungs from paint.
First, choose the safest paint possible (see the next tip on low-VOC paint for more on that). Second, be sure to wear safety gear, including safety glasses, respirators, and/or face masks. While masks mostly block non-toxic dust, respirators are a safer bet for blocking chemical vapors.
2. Use Low-VOC Paint
While the paint shop can feel like the cereal aisle (aka so many overwhelming choices), it’s best to limit your paints to earth-friendly formulas, such as low-VOC “green” paints. VOC, or volatile organic compounds, are the gases that chemicals in liquid and solid form release into the atmosphere. They are harmful to both people and the environment. For example, exposure to VOCs can result in headaches, breathing issues, nausea, organ damage, and even cancer.
You or your painter should choose paint brands that carry the Green Seal, which signifies they meet stringent standards for having low-VOC or VOC-free formulas.
3. Have You Heard About Whiteboard Paint?
To help expand your kids’ creativity and boundaries, use whiteboard-style paint to turn any home wall or surface into a collaborative easel. These innovative paints—a great option is IdeaPaint, which is environmentally friendly—creates the same type of surface as a whiteboard so you and your kids can use dry erase markers, but without the confinement of a frame or board.
Now available in clear and white, this paint can turn a kitchen, playroom, bedroom, or any space into an idea board, drawing space, and more. Kids are often thrilled that it’s OK to “draw on the walls” in their dedicated space.
4. How To Clean Up Paint
If you’re stuck with leftover paint, securely close the can and store it in a safe place away from the children and any pets, in case you need to touch up the area later. Remember to always keep paint away from flames and heat. Water-based latex paint will last for years, if kept in a cool, dry spot. If you find a stored can that’s bulging or puffed up, has film on top of the paint, or won’t stay mixed, it’s time to toss it.
If you’ve only got a little paint left, or end up with an empty can, be sure to let the paint dry completely before you throw it away. To clean up brushes and rollers, use turpentine or a similar solvent to remove any traces of paint. There’s no use in wasting a good brush by gluing its bristles together with old dried paint.
5. The Best Kids’ Painting Project
If you’re left with a dry drop cloth after finishing your home painting project, use it as a surface for a DIY splatter painting project. First, choose brightly colored kid-safe, non-toxic paints, such as Crayola, and water it down a bit for a runny consistency. Second, select either white printer paper or paper plates as canvas, and lay them out across the drop cloth. Third, show your kids how to dip their brushes in the paint and hold it above their canvas, tapping each brush so the paint splatters and drips in fun patterns.