Painting and Ventilation: Effects on Air Quality

Painting and Ventilation: Effects on Air QualityWhile painting upgrades home aesthetics, its effects on air quality can be less beneficial. House paint is typically formulated with solvents that may present health issues while you’re painting, as well as afterwards.

The chief culprits are VOCs—volatile organic compounds. These paint additives are associated with both short-term and long-term health concerns. While consumers can now select low-VOC paint formulas and certain varieties—especially water-based paint such as latex—naturally contain lesser amounts, some VOC content is still present in most brands.

To minimize effects on air quality while painting, adequate ventilation is key. This means two things: exhausting indoor paint fumes while introducing a high volume of fresh outdoor air. The good news is that fall, a transitional season with moderate temperatures, presents a good opportunity to adequately ventilate the house without compromising indoor comfort.

Here are some tips for maintaining proper ventilation while painting:

  • Cross-ventilation utilizing common box fans is the best way to eliminate paint fumes. Open as many windows as possible inside the house to admit fresh air. In the room you’re painting, place one or more box fans in open windows, directing fan airflow outside. This induces a slightly negative air pressure, drawing a continuous flow of fresh outdoor air into the house while exhausting paint vapors.
  • Running the air conditioner or furnace while painting does not provide effective ventilation. A standard HVAC system simply recirculates indoor air, thus spreading paint fumes throughout the entire house as the system ductwork disseminates air to all rooms.
  • Before utilizing exhaust fans installed in bathrooms and kitchens, verify that these units vent to the exterior of the house. Some fans only push vented air into the attic, which could create a zone of concentrated paint fumes that would infiltrate living spaces below.
  • Because release of VOC fumes continues after paint is dry to the touch, maintaining fresh air ventilation inside the house for two to three days after painting is recommended.

For more about ventilation options to minimize effects on air quality while painting, contact Paitson Bros., the Wabash Valley’s preferred HVAC provider since 1922.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about indoor air quality and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 812-645-6859. 

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    Jeff Paitson Jeff Paitson is a third generation business owner who continues to run the business with the same values that have been passed down from previous generations since 1922.

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