After you have just painted a room, you want to start using it as soon as possible. However, you are also probably very well aware of the fact that you need to wait before you move the furniture back in, and especially before you spend the night in a freshly painted room.
How long is enough though? Do you need to wait until the smell is completely gone, or is it okay to sleep in a freshly painted room with a lingering whiff of paint? And most importantly, what will happen if you do sleep in a room where the paint hasn’t completely cured?
Can You Sleep In a Freshly Painted Room?
Yes – but only if you have used a zero- or very low-VOC paint. If you have used a regular latex- or oil-based paint, you shouldn’t sleep in a freshly painted room.
The main reason you shouldn’t sleep in a freshly painted room is that the paint on your walls may be emitting VOCs (short for volatile organic compounds), which can have an adverse effect on your health.
If your chosen paint does not contain these chemicals, you can safely sleep in the room you have just painted.
Do note that even zero-VOC paints will still smell like paint, albeit not as strongly, so you may want to sleep in a different room anyway, at least until you can air out the smell.
How Long Should You Wait to Sleep in a Painted Room?
If you have used a low- or zero-VOC paint, you can sleep in a freshly painted room that same evening. However, if you have used regular paint, you should wait at least two weeks before sleeping in it again.
In order to cut down on the time you need to wait until you move back into a freshly painted room, make sure to air it as much as possible, ideally keeping the windows open all day (and night, if they don’t pose a risk).
You can also help your paint dry faster by using a dehumidifier in the room, or by turning a fan on to help move the air around and expel the fumes and odours.
Can You Sleep Next to a Painted Room?
Yes, as long as the fumes and smells from the adjacent room have not penetrated it, in which case you should find another place to sleep for a couple of nights.
When painting a room, you want to keep the doors firmly closed and the windows open. That way, the smell of paint won’t permeate the rest of the house, and you will still be able to live in your home.
If you are doing a larger painting job and painting more than one room, perhaps the simplest and safest course of action will be to be someone’s houseguest for a couple of nights, so you can both rest well, and give the paint plenty of time to dry.
Is It OK For a Toddler to Sleep In a Freshly Painted Room?
No, toddlers shouldn’t sleep in a freshly painted room, even if you have used a zero-VOC paint, as they are much more sensitive to the fumes, and can experience a range of health problems.
Wait at least 2 to 3 nights before you move your toddler back into a room that has been freshly painted. Even then, make sure to carefully monitor them, and take them out of the room if you notice they are behaving differently than usual.
Make sure to always use the best quality paint you can get when painting a room in which a baby, toddler or child will sleep, and air it well before you let them sleep in it again.
Can Sleeping In a Freshly Painted Room Kill You?
While sleeping in a freshly painted room won’t necessarily kill you, the chemicals you inhale can cause both short- and long-term damage to your health.
The VOCs found in certain paints are especially harmful for babies, children, the elderly and pregnant women, which is why they should be kept well away from any freshly painted rooms.
The longer you are exposed to the harmful chemicals that can be found in certain kinds of paint, the worse you will feel. Dizziness, difficulty breathing and coordination problems are some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for.
How Long Does Paint Smell Last In a Room?
Low- or zero-VOC paint will smell for 36 to 48 hours. With standard paints however, it can take up to 24 weeks for the smell to completely disappear.
Oil-based paints will smell for much longer than latex-based ones, so bear that fact in mind as well when choosing your paint.
The better quality a paint, the less it will smell, and the sooner you will be able to move back into that room and sleep in it.
How Long are Paint Fumes Harmful?
Paint fumes are considered to be harmful for around 3 days, or until the smell is very faint or non-existent.
This will of course vary from paint to paint, and can be significantly shorter, or even longer.
Paints that don’t contain VOCs are considered safe right after painting, while oil-based paints come with an odour that will linger for a long time, and can cause dizziness and irritate the throat and eyes even a week after painting.
Are Paint Fumes Toxic?
Most modern paints are safe and non-toxic, especially if they don’t contain any VOCs. However, the fumes of certain paints may still adversely impact your health.
To be perfectly safe, always choose the best quality paint you can, air the room you’re painting well, and limit your exposure to the fumes to only the amount of time it takes to paint a room.
If you notice any symptoms associated with paint toxicity, leave the room immediately, and depending on their severity, contact the emergency services.
How Do I Get Rid of Paint Smell Fast?
The best way to get rid of paint smell is to keep the room well ventilated. You can also bring a fan into the room to keep the air moving.
If some of the smell continues to linger, you can also place some baking soda or activated charcoal in a dish (or several dishes) and place it in the room. Both are excellent at absorbing smells, and can quickly minimise the odour of paint.
If all else fails, you can also light a scented candle in the room, but bear in mind that this will merely mask the smell.
How Long Should I Ventilate a Room After Painting?
You should aim to ventilate a room for 2 to 3 days after painting. This will ensure the air in it is as fresh as it can be, and that the majority (if not all) of the unpleasant paint smell is eliminated.
You should also keep airing the room regularly even when you can barely smell the paint anymore. The fresh air will help the paint cure and set properly, and you will be much more satisfied with the long-term results.
How Can Paint Fumes Affect You?
Exposure to paint fumes can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, eye watering and breathing issues. The long-term effect of the toxic fumes found in certain types of paint can cause cancer, affect the nervous system and internal organs.
The longer you are exposed to paint fumes, the higher the chance they will negatively affect your health. When painting a room, make sure it is well ventilated, and always choose paints specifically designed for indoor use, that contain as little VOCs as possible.
How to Treat Exposure to Paint Fumes
If you get paint on your skin, wash it off with soap and warm water. Watch out for signs of irritation, and call your doctor if you notice any redness, swelling or itching.
If you get paint in your eyes, rinse it out for 15 to 20 with running water. Afterwards, keep your eyes closed for the same amount of time. If you notice any changes to your vision or exhibit any other symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
If you have swallowed any paint, drink a bit of milk or water, and watch out for any symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. If you experience any of them or otherwise feel unwell, seek immediate medical attention.
If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded after being exposed to paint, get some fresh air immediately, and call your doctor or the emergency services for further assistance.
Wrapping It Up
Sleeping in a freshly painted room is never advised, even if the paint contains no VOCs and is considered perfectly safe. Give it a couple of days to dry and air the space well before moving right back in.