How to select non-toxic paints to use on wooden toys

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How to select non-toxic paints to use on wooden toys
Non-toxic paints come in a wide range of colours. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Painting wooden toys can be a fun and exciting way to personalize a car or update worn toys. For the safety of the child and the painter, it's important that only non-toxic paints are used.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Paint thinner

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  1. 1

    Understand there are three categories of non toxic paints. Since "non-toxic" is a broad term referring to paints and finishes, these categories include natural paints, zero and low VOC (volatile organic compounds).

  2. 2

    Recognise that paints and finishes release emissions into the air for years. The levels of VOC have recently come under environmental regulations requiring paint manufacturers to develop low-VOC or non-VOC paints and finishes.

  3. 3

    Select paint to use with VOC ranges at 5 g per litre (0.88 oz per gallon) or less. The addition of a colour tint usually adds to the VOC level, so choose tints carefully.

  4. 4

    Stick with the highest quality paint from any manufacturer. The lower the quality, the higher the chances are for peeling and for increased VOC levels.

  5. 5

    Note that latex paints are generally low in VOCs and oil-based paints have higher VOCs. Read the label carefully since some oil-based paints have been modified to fit the criteria for low VOC content.

    Painting toys

  1. 1

    Select toys made from a solid natural wood such as white pine, hard maple or birch. Apply non-toxic paint on the wooden toy in thin layers and allow total drying between applications.

  2. 2

    Spend time with your child personalising the design on a wooden pull toy with peg passengers. Use a different colour of non toxic paint on each passenger.

  3. 3

    Select a non-toxic sealant. It will make it easier to wipe wooden toys clean.

  4. 4

    Find paint to highlight the colours of furnishings and wall decor. Make your child's play area a fun place with lots of colour.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep area well ventilated during paint application.
  • Buy paint in as small of an amount as possible to avoid storage of leftover paint.
  • Use non-toxic solvents for cleanup. Latex-based paint can be cleaned up with water only.
  • Avoid paint with formaldehyde, which may be listed as Formol, Methanol, Formalin, dimethyloldimethylhydantoin, Methylene oxide or Methyl aldehyde.

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