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

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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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).

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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


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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Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Brushes
  • Paint thinner

About the Author

This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.

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