How to Paint in Enclosed Spaces

How do you safely paint in enclosed spaces? It’s a question commonly asked by everyone from DIY home improvers to professional home renovators. The answer is, yes, it is doable. But it’s important to consider these 4 key points:

  • Choose a low-VOC or VOC-free paint, if possible.
  • Use a fan to draw fumes away from the work area, and toward an open door or window.
  • A dusk mask alone won’t cut it. Use a respirator specifically designed to remove VOCs.
  • Look for a way to open up your enclosed space. Consider adding a window and/or exhaust fan.

How to paint in enclosed or small spaces, such as closets.

If you’ve been considering a project to upgrade your home, painting a room or wall has likely come to mind. And if you’ve begun the planning process for interior painting, you’ve likely been wondering how to paint in enclosed spaces safely. We’ve fleshed out the 4 key points we recommend you consider when planning your project.


1) Choose a Low-VOC or VOC-Free Paint

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals that are used in some paints. They evaporate quickly at room temperature, and their compounds contain carbon, which reacts with air to create ozone. Because of this, VOC emissions are a potential health and environment risk factor. VOCs help paint adhere to surfaces like walls, but there are other options for paint that help limit this risk factor. CLICK HERE to learn more about low-VOC or VOC-free paint options.

2) Use a Fan to Draw Fumes Away from the Work Area

how to paint in enclosed spaces, painting closetsUsing a portable fan to move paint fumes away from the area you are painting can help reduce health risks. A fan that has options for adjusting both height and air direction is best. It’s also a good idea to have an open door or window. The fan can be used to direct paint fumes toward this outlet to help preserve air quality.

3) Use a Ventilator

Another great way to reduce your VOC exposure is by using a ventilator to help filter out VOCs emitted by a paint project. Using a dust mask alone is not an effective way to keep from inhaling harmful paint fumes in an enclosed space. Five Star Painting recommends a ventilator specifically designed to target VOC removal to improve air quality. Talk with an experienced employee at your local hardware store for specific product recommendations, and price comparisons on models and brands. There are also many online product listings and articles available with further information on the topic.

4) Open Up Your Enclosed Space

how to paint in enclosed spaces, painting closetsIs there a way to open up your enclosed space? Painting in closets may not offer options that open up a space. However, if it’s an exterior room, maybe you’ve thought of adding a window as a part of renovation anyway? Doing this before painting is an easy way to help reduce risks associated with painting in an enclosed space. In addition, maybe you could consider an exhaust fan for your space. Our fellow Neighborly® brand, Mr. Electric®, can offer expertise on whether you may need an exhaust fan in the room you’re updating.

Considering the level of VOCs contained in the paint you choose is not the only safety risk associated with a painting project. Ensuring you have the proper protective gear for your eyes, face and skin is important as well. When evaluating the updates you have planned, you may decide it makes the most sense to hire a team of professional painters to bring your vision to life. Five Star Painting offers free estimates and allows you to book appointments online or by phone that easily fit into your busy schedule. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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