Can you Sleep in a Freshly Painted Room?

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sleeping in a room with oil paint

There are many things to consider when painting your home. Here, we will talk about whether or not you need to make arrangements to stay somewhere else after painting your house or room.

Can you sleep in a freshly painted room? Does it matter what kind of product you use? And how long does it take for the danger to clear after painting?

In this article you will learn about:

  • The dangers of sleeping in a freshly painted room
  • Sleeping in a room after painting with oil based paint
  • Sleeping in a room after painting with water based paint
  • Sleeping in a room after painting zero VOC paint
  • How to avoid the dangers of sleeping in a freshly painted room

What are the dangers of sleeping in a freshly painted room?

sleep in a freshly painted room

It is important to note that paint fumes are dangerous for anyone, but how dangerous it is will differ.

So, can you sleep in a freshly painted room?

The dangers of sleeping in a freshly painted room will vary depending on a number of factors. One, what type of paint are you using? We will talk more about that later, but in general, the more VOCs in the paint, the more toxic the product.

Two, it depends on who is sleeping in the room. Is it a healthy adult? A child or pregnant woman?

The VOCs in paint are harmful to anyone, but they are much more harmful to young children and pregnant women. Young children haven’t fully developed their immune system and VOCs could cause complications with pregnancy. 

For healthy adults, the risks are much less. Extended time spent painting or in a freshly painted room can cause minor side effects. These can be dizziness, headaches, lightheadedness, or an irritated throat or nose.

Side effects of long term VOC exposure can be much more severe. These can be respiratory disorders, certain types of cancer, kidney damage, liver damage, and several other problems. 

Sleeping in a Room with Oil Paint 

sleep in a freshly painted room

Oil paint (and other solvent based paints) contain the most VOCs and are the most harmful to people. Manufacturers are moving towards safer and more environmentally friendly options but there is still a fair amount of oil based paint on the market. 

Oil paint is usually used on very high traffic surfaces because it is very durable. You will typically find it on doors, trim, and cabinets. 

When using oil based paint, make sure there is some ventilation and take breaks every so often. I would not stay in the room for at least 24 hours while the paint is curing. It will be dry to the touch in a couple hours, but will still release VOCs until it is fully cured.

It would be best to find another room in the house to sleep that night. 

Sleeping in a Room with Latex Paint

sleeping in a freshly painted room

Most latex paints on the market today are Low VOC. They must contain less than 50 grams per liter to be considered low VOC. 

This makes them less dangerous than oil/solvent based paint and latex paint that is not low VOC. When this type of paint is dry to the touch, I wouldn’t be worried about sleeping in the same room. 

If the latex paint is not low VOC, then it likely has anywhere from 5 to 10 times the amount of VOCs as low VOC paint. It is still not as bad as oil based paint, but not something you want to breathe in for too long.  

Paint that is not low VOC will also have a more intense smell. These products can also cause headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, and irritated nose and throat with extended exposure. If you are painting an enclosed area, I would take a 15 minute break every hour to get some fresh air. 

If possible, I would wait at least 24 hours before sleeping in a freshly painted room. 

Sleeping in a Room With Zero VOC Paint

The safest paint to be in a room with for an extended period of time is Zero Voc Paint. However, there are not many products out there that qualify. Sherwin Williams Promar series, as well as their Harmony series, are good examples. You can also use Behr’s Premium Plus and Benjamin Moore Eco Spec. 

It is important to note quickly that technically there could be ~5 grams of VOCs per liter in Zero VOC Paint. Once tinted, this could reach ~10 grams. 

Zero VOC paint is always water-based and has almost no noticeable smell. You can paint this all day without having to worry about getting dizzy or lightheaded. Zero VOC paints do not release harmful chemicals into the air. 

It is the safest option for someone worried about dangerous chemicals in their home. You can sleep in a room painted with zero VOC paint as soon as it is dry. 

Painting a Room Safely

There are things you can do to stay safe while painting. 

  1. Make sure the room is well ventilated. If there are windows, keep them open. If there are not, keep the doors open. Make sure fresh air can enter the room. 
  2. Take frequent breaks while painting. Most side effects caused by VOCs happen after being exposed for an extended period of time. Try and take a 15 minute break every hour.
  3. Purchase a mask. You can get these anywhere paint is sold. They will block a lot of the fumes from being inhaled. 
  4. Cover paint when not being used. Put a wet rag over paint trays that still have liquid paint in them. 

FAQ

Is it safe to be in the house while painting?

Make sure the house is ventilated, take frequent breaks while painting, and use a low or zero VOC paint when possible.

How long should I ventilate a room after painting?

It depends on what kind of paint you are using, but typically a couple of days will do the trick. However, if using a solvent or oil based paint you should wait longer if possible.

How long are paint fumes harmful?

Paint fumes are harmful as long as they are releasing VOCs into the air. This can be anywhere from a couple of hours after painting to several weeks. It depends on what kind of paint you are using. 

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AUTHOR

I have spent the last ten years working in various positions within the painting industry. I worked as a painter doing residential and commercial work for a couple of years, and then transitioned to working for the largest paint retailer in the world upon graduation from college.

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