Whether you are a professional house painter, or a DIY enthusiast who enjoys the work, safety precautions must be taken to protect both property and person. If you are just getting started though, be extra careful in trying to avoid the common mistakes that rookies make. This post will help you level that steep learning curve quite a bit with three safety tips from experienced professionals.
Test Old Paint for Lead First
Unfortunately, lead paint remained in active circulation across the United Kingdom until 1992. That means it isn’t uncommon at all to end up being exposed to the toxic metal while trying to scrape old paint off the walls before putting on a new coat.
Note that any home built before the mid-90s may still have remains of lead paint from its first coat, even if it’s been painted over several times since then. Avoid exposing yourself or anyone else to the permanent damaging effects of lead poisoning by getting the paint tested for lead first.
Cover All Surfaces with Dust Sheets
Use professional-grade cotton dust sheets to cover all surfaces before scraping. These sheets will prevent chipped paint, dust particles, and paint drops from ruining the furniture and the floor. Use multiple sheets (if needed) to protect vulnerable surfaces from accidentally spilled paint.
These sheets are not just for protection either, because once you are done, cleaning the place will feel like a breeze, especially compared to how it would be without them. Debris and dust cling to dust sheets, making the process as easy as simply removing them from the room. The only point to keep in mind is that industrial-grade dust sheets come in a wide range of sizes, weaves, materials, and thickness ratings, so look through your options and pick the right product for the job.
Wear a Respirator Throughout the Job
If you’re decorating a relatively new house, or the lead test came back as negative on the paint in an old home, you might be tempted to avoid the hassle of wearing a respirator while scraping or painting. Resist the temptation and wear a VOC and heavy metal respirator when working. Some new paints contain several volatile organic compounds (VOC) which can cause a range of short-term and long-term respiratory problems which range from asthma to cancer, and it’s not worth taking the risk.
Wearing goggles is a must. You should do so for the same reasons as you should wear a respirator while painting. There are some additional reasons as well though. Our eyes are highly absorbent, permeable, and sensitive surfaces that need to be protected against projectiles, dust, dirt, paint, and accidental pokes while working in a hazardous environment.
As a final tip, it is highly recommended to never paint inside an enclosed room without significant ventilation. Even if you are wearing a respirator, facilitating ventilation is advisable. It keeps the paint fumes from constantly circulating within the household and reaching other rooms. Open a window if possible, or use a ventilation system if one is present.