A Guide for Homeowners Who Want to Stay Home Safely During a Painting Project

When was the last time your home was painted? Painting is an essential home renovation project. It maintains and enhances a home’s aesthetic appeal and value. Painting can also address safety concerns, improve energy efficiency, and make living spaces more functional and enjoyable for Danville, CA, homeowners.

Safety is essential when staying at home during a paint project. You should ensure good ventilation to avoid inhaling fumes. Use non-toxic paints, especially in enclosed spaces. Keep areas well-organized to prevent accidents. Don’t forget to wear protective gear like masks and gloves. And keep tools and materials away from children and pets to ensure everyone’s safety. 

Planning your painting project

Planning your painting project

Choosing the right time

When planning painting projects, both indoor and outdoor, consider the weather, family schedules, and health concerns:

  • Outdoor painting – Ideal times are late spring through early fall when temperatures are mild and humidity is low. It ensures that the paint dries evenly and adheres well. Avoid rainy days and extreme temperatures.
  • Indoor painting – You can paint indoors year-round. However, it’s best to ventilate the space by opening windows and doors. This is easier in milder weather. Avoid painting indoors in freezing, wet, or scorching weather when homes are typically sealed off, as the fumes can be a health hazard.
  • Family schedules – Consider times when the family’s schedule is least disrupted. It can include during school hours for families with children or holidays.
  • Health concerns – For family members with allergies or respiratory issues, ventilate your space sufficiently. You can schedule painting when your family can be away from home. Low-VOC or no-VOC paints are advisable to minimize fumes and health risks.

Selecting safe paints

When choosing paint, consider its type and safety level, particularly concerning volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is crucial for both health and environmental reasons. Here’s an overview of common paint types and their safety levels:

1. Water-based paints (latex)

  • Safety level: Generally low in VOCs compared to oil-based paints.
  • Characteristics: Easy cleanup with water, quick drying, and less odor.
  • Recommendations: Look for “low-VOC” or “no-VOC” labels. Brands like Behr Premium Plus, Benjamin Moore Aura, and Sherwin Williams Harmony are known for their low VOC levels.

2. Oil-based paints (alkyd)

  • Safety level: They are typically high in VOCs, which can cause more indoor air pollution and have a stronger odor.
  • Characteristics: Durable finish, ideal for high-moisture areas. However, they require mineral spirits for cleanup.
  • Recommendations: Use in well-ventilated areas. Alternatives like water-based alkyd paints offer similar durability with lower VOCs. Brands like Benjamin Moore Advance offer low-VOC oil-based options.

3. Acrylic paints

  • Safety level: Usually low-VOC, especially those labeled as “acrylic latex.”
  • Characteristics: Durable and versatile, suitable for both interior and exterior applications.
  • Recommendations: Brands like Valspar Ultra and Behr Marquee are known for their low-VOC formulations.

4. Natural paints

  • Safety level: Natural ingredients like water, plant oils, resins, and natural dyes often have zero VOCs.
  • Characteristics: Non-toxic and eco-friendly, though sometimes less durable than synthetic paints.
  • Recommendations: Brands like Earthpaint, BioShield, and Old-Fashioned Milk Paint offer natural, non-toxic options.

5. Zero-VOC paints

  • Safety level: Minimal to no VOCs, making them the safest choice for indoor use.
  • Characteristics: Similar performance to low-VOC paints but with the least environmental impact.
  • Recommendations: Brands like ECOS Paints, Benjamin Moore Natura, and YOLO Colorhouse are well-regarded for their zero-VOC products.

Preparing your home

Securing the workplace

To isolate a work area from the rest of the house, especially during renovations or repairs, you can follow these steps:

  • Close doors – Keep doors to the work area closed. If there are no doors, hang plastic sheeting across openings.
  • Seal openings – Use plastic sheeting and painter’s tape to seal off doorways, air vents, and other openings. This will prevent dust and debris from spreading.
  • Use dust barriers – Install dust barrier systems or use heavy-duty plastic to create a containment area. These systems often come with zippers or doors for easy access.
  • Cover floors – Lay down protective sheeting or drop cloths on the floors to catch debris and make cleanup easier.

Here are some tips for sealing off air vents, doorways, and other openings:

  • Air management – If possible, use a negative air machine or air scrubber that exhausts outside. Doing so helps manage dust and keep the air clean.
  • Regular cleaning – Clean the work area regularly. This prevents dust and debris buildup that might escape the containment.

Protecting furniture and belongings

Here are tips for protecting furniture, floors, and immovable fixtures during painting or renovations:

1. Furniture

  • Covering – Use drop cloths, plastic sheeting, or old bedsheets to cover furniture. Secure the covers with tape or weights to keep them in place.
  • Removing – If possible, remove furniture from the room entirely to avoid any risk of damage.

2. Floors

  • Protection – Lay down the heavy-duty floor protection sheets that are available at hardware stores. You can also use cardboard, old carpets, or drop cloths. Tape down the edges to prevent slips and trips.
  • Cleanliness Keep a shoe cleaning station at the entrance to prevent dirt from spreading. Consider using shoe covers.

3. Immovable fixtures

  • Wrapping – Wrap fixtures like chandeliers and built-in cabinets. Do the same to faucets with plastic wrap or bubble wrap. Secure with painter’s tape, which is less likely to leave a residue.
  • Shielding – Use cardboard or specialized protector films. Doing so will shield appliances and built-in features from dust and debris.

Safety measures during the painting process

Ventilation strategies

To ensure proper air circulation when painting:

  • Open windows and doors – This allows fresh air to enter and helps to disperse paint fumes.
  • Use fans – Position fans to create a cross breeze, directing the airflow from inside to outside. Doing so helps to carry fumes away from the space.
  • Use an exhaust fan – If available, use an exhaust fan to pull fumes out of the room.
  • Air conditioning and vents – Adjust air conditioning or heating vents for optimal air movement. Ensure they do not recycle indoor air.
  • Temporary vents – Use ducts or flexible tubing to create temporary ventilation paths if natural or mechanical options are limited.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

For homeowners who are nearby but not directly involved in house painting, they should have the following personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Masks – A basic dust mask or a respirator can help protect against inhalation of paint fumes and dust. It is especially applicable if the painting involves sanding or using spray paints.
  • Gloves – Plastic gloves protect hands from paint and cleaning solvents, which can cause skin irritation or chemical burns.
  • Protective eyewear – Safety glasses or goggles can protect the eyes from splashes of paint, solvents, or dust particles.

Living arrangements while painting

Staying or relocating temporarily

While your house is being painted, you may need to move within or temporarily relocate for the following reasons:

  • Strong fumes – Paints, oil-based ones, can emit strong fumes. They can be uncomfortable or harmful to inhale.
  • Extended crying times – Some paints take longer to dry, prolonging exposure to fumes.
  • Large-scale projects – These can cause disruption, making staying elsewhere more practical.
  • Safety and accessibility – Areas being painted might be unsafe or inaccessible. It could pose risks, especially for children and the elderly.

Decide whether it is safe to stay home during a paint project. It applies to households with pregnant or lactating women, children, the elderly, or someone with health sensitivities. Consider the following:

  • Type of paint – Water-based paints generally emit fewer fumes than oil-based ones. Check the paint’s volatile organic compound (VOC) levels. Lower VOCs mean fewer fumes.
  • Ventilation – Ensure the house is well-ventilated during painting to reduce inhalation risks.
  • Health conditions – Paint fumes might be more harmful to individuals with respiratory conditions, allergies, or chemical sensitivities. Consult a doctor if you are unsure.
  • Precautions – Use air purifiers and maintain distance from freshly painted areas. They can help reduce exposure risks.

Daily routines

Here are some strategies to manage daily life and minimize disruption during house painting. 

  • Prioritize rooms – Start with less frequently used rooms. Doing so will make essential areas like kitchens and bathrooms remain available for as long as possible.
  • Schedule wisely—Plan the painting around your schedule. For instance, have bathrooms painted when you’re less likely to need them. Your work hours or day off are the best times to have your home painted.
  • Protect your belongings – Move and cover furniture and electronics to protect them from drips and spills. Use plastic sheets or old bed linens.
  • Ventilation – Keep your space well-ventilated to speed up the drying process and minimize paint fumes. Open windows and use fans if possible.
  • Access essentials – Set up a temporary kitchen or bathroom if necessary. A microwave, a small refrigerator, and disposable utensils can suffice for a temporary kitchen. If you have more than one bathroom, coordinate their use so one is always available.
  • Communication – Keep communication open with your painters. Know their schedule and inform them of your needs to keep essential areas accessible.

Post-painting: cleanup and returning to normal

Post-painting: cleanup and returning to normal

Cleaning up safely

  • Remove excess paint — Use a scraper or putty knife to remove excess paint from tools before washing.
  • Clean brushes and rollers – For water-based paints, rinse brushes and rollers under running water. Use soap if necessary. For oil-based paints, use a solvent like mineral spirits or paint thinner. Then rinse with soap and warm water.
  • Wipe surfaces – Wipe down all surfaces to remove any paint splatters. Use a damp cloth for water-based paints or a solvent-dampened cloth for oil-based paints.
  • Clean the floors – Cover spills with an absorbent material like sawdust or cat litter, then sweep it up. Clean the floor with an appropriate cleaner, depending on the paint type.
  • Ventilate – Open windows and doors to air out paint fumes, especially when using strong solvents or chemicals.

Proper disposal of painting materials

  • Do not pour paint down the drain and gutters. 
  • Reuse or donate leftover paint.
  • Go to recycling and disposal programs in your community.
  • Dispose of solid waste (including dried and solidified leftover paints) properly. 
  • Clean empty paint cans. You can recycle them with other metals. 
  • Clean and recycle empty plastic paint buckets according to local recycling guidelines.

Health tips post-painting

When painting indoors, proper ventilation is crucial. It avoids potential health hazards associated with paint fumes. Here are some signs of ventilation failure or excessive exposure to paint fumes:

Signs of ventilation failure or exposure to paint fumes

  • Strong, persistent odor – Strong and persistent paint odors indicate inadequate ventilation.
  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation Look for symptoms like watering eyes, runny nose, or a sore throat. These can occur due to exposure to VOCs in paint.
  • Headache and dizziness These are common symptoms that may develop if you breathe in too many paint fumes.
  • Nausea or vomiting – Exposure to toxic fumes can upset your stomach, leading to nausea or vomiting.
  • Breathing difficulties – Shortness of breath or a tight feeling in the chest can be serious. It indicates excessive chemical inhalation.
  • Allergic skin reaction—Some people might experience a rash or skin irritation after exposure to certain paint chemicals.

When to seek medical advice

  • Persistent symptoms – If symptoms like headaches, dizziness, or nausea persist, even after leaving the painted area, consult a doctor.
  • Respiratory issues Difficulty breathing, wheezing, or chest tightness requires immediate medical attention.
  • Severe allergic reactions – Swelling, severe rashes, or difficulty breathing are signs of requiring urgent care.
  • High-risk individuals – Pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions (like asthma or chemical sensitivities) should consult a doctor if exposed to paint fumes.


Prioritize safety to avoid accidents during house painting. It will protect you from exposure to harmful fumes and improper handling of tools and materials. Proper ventilation, protective gear, and adherence to safety guidelines can prevent health risks and injuries.

Homeowners should consider professional help if the project’s scope exceeds safe DIY limits. Custom Painting, Inc. has what it takes to handle complex tasks and ensure a quality finish. Our team also complies with safety standards, ultimately protecting you and your home. Call Custom Painting, Inc. today at 925-294-8062 or complete our request form for a free estimate.