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Buy right amount
Painting projects require about one gallon of paint to cover 400 square feet of smooth surface. Save money and avoid waste by purchasing the right amount for your project.
Choose right type of paint
Water-based (latex) paint will work for most home painting tasks. It's thinned with water instead of toxic solvents. Oil-based paint and thinner contain flammable and toxic solvents.
Choose right color
Paint retailers assist in finding the right shade without wasting paint and money. Retailers may be able to alter just one gallon of paint until it's the preferred shade. Many stores have computers that match paint color to a sample color you provide. Some stores allow you to return paint if it's not the right shade usually they resell it at a discount.
Provide adequate ventilation. Open windows and doors and run fan. Wear rubber gloves to avoid absorbing solvents through skin. Dust masks do not provide protection from exposure to oil-based paints and solvents. If you frequently use oil-based products, a respirator is a good investment.
Many paint-related products contain petroleum distillates - oil-based paint & primer/sealer, spray paint, furniture strippers & refinishers, paint thinners, and some adhesives. Look for these words on the label: ethylene, toluene, xylene, acetone, or methylene chloride.
Some solvents are flammable or corrosive, others explode easily, most are toxic. Most solvent exposure results from breathing vapors. Breathing solvent vapors, even for very short periods, can lead to lung and throat irritation, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, disorientation, even unconsciousness and death. Many symptoms pass quickly when exposure stops. Repeated exposure to some solvents can lead to chronic bronchitis, permanent liver and kidney damage, neurological problems, cancer, or birth defects.
Reduce exposure: Open two windows (or window and door) for cross-ventilation run fan to keep air moving use product outdoors when possible. A dust mask will not protect you from exposure to solvents. If you frequently use oil-based products, a respirator is a good health investment.
Paint removers are among the most toxic products in the home. Most contain flammable and toxic solvents such as toluene, xylene, acetone, and methanol, or they contain methylene chloride, a cancer-causing agent.
Less-hazardous waterborne products have recently become available. However, the EPA has warned that products containing e-methyl pyrrolidone (EMP) may pose a health risk unless gloves are worn. Another alternative for paint removal is a heat gun, but these can cause fires or make hazardous chemicals in the paint airborne.
To clean brushes, brush excess paint onto newspaper or cardboard, let it dry, then put in garbage. Use thinner to finish cleaning brushes. Never put flammable products such as oil-based paint or thinner down any drain or into the garbage! Recycle thinner by storing in closed jar until particles settle. Strain clear liquid through a coffee filter and reuse.
Water-based (latex) paint:
If you're not finished with your project, save time and trouble by wrapping paint-soaked brushes and rollers in airtight aluminum foil or plastic bags and storing in freezer. To use again, let sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes.
When you've finished your project, brush excess paint onto newspaper or cardboard, let newspaper or cardboard dry, and throw in garbage. Wash brushes and rollers in inside drains with soap and water. Never clean them on lawn or street, since paint can end up in groundwater or streams.
When storing paint for future projects, make sure lid is secure, and store paint can upside down. Paint will create tight seal around lid, keeping paint fresh until next project.
If you find you have paint left over, instead of storing or disposing:
If you still have paint you can't use, don't throw it away! Paint poured on ground, into storm drains or put in trash could end up in groundwater and streams.
Small amounts of latex paint:
For one inch or less of leftover latex, dry out by opening can and letting liquid evaporate outdoors, away from children and pets. Dispose of paint can (with lid off) in garbage.
Larger amounts of latex paint:
Take to household hazardous waste collection site (Brown County Landfill).
Do not dry up oil-based paint. Take to household hazardous waste collection site (Brown County Landfill).
Paint purchased before 1980 may contain lead. Take unused lead paint to a household hazardous waste collection site.
Lead exposure can cause serious health problems, especially for children and pregnant women. Follow proper procedures to keep yourself and your family safe when removing lead-based paint. Before beginning, learn about the hazards of lead-based paint and procedures for lead abatement.
» Protect children from lead poisoning:
National Lead Information Center 1-800-LEAD-FYI (1-800-532-3394)
» Other information on lead hazards: 1-800-424-LEAD