I had a painter round my one bedroom flat where I live with my cat, he say's he will use paint spray as it is quicker, is it safe, the fumes? on google it says not safe to breathe in, but others say its okay? now I am needing some advice as I know nothing about painting, he will be using dulux magnolia on all rooms, any advice would be appreciated thanks.

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    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. What kind of paint is this? Is it a latex paint? If so, and it's designed for interior painting (which some Googling confirms) then you probably won't have a problem unless you huff serious amounts of the fumes, and don't ventilate at all. Commented Feb 19, 2017 at 21:06
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    Welcome indeed. I think you answered your own question with the first words of your question. Given the choice, would you decide to breathe toxic fumes or not?
    – SDsolar
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 3:17

4 Answers 4


Spraying paint is a common technique and can be safe if done properly.

You should not be present while the spraying is going on.

The paint fumes may or may not be a problem depending on the type of paint. Low VOC (volatile organic compounds) give off very little fumes, are now generally preferred, and are mandated in some locales. They have less solvents and are much less toxic. Note that some painters still prefer older style paints with higher VOCs, claiming better application and durability.

Once modern paint designed for residential use dries, it gives off little in the way of fumes, although some odors may linger for a few days (or even weeks). Some people are more sensitive than others. But aside from the day of application, the level of fumes from paint is fairly similar regardless of whether it was sprayed or applied by brush and roller.

  • Thanks for that info, really like the idea of using organic or very low VOC as I have a cat in the flat also with no garden, so this will be better, thanks again.
    – jan
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 17:27

Fumes aren't the problem with spraying

Whether you brush or spray, the fumes are exactly the same. These are the volatile parts of the paint that evaporate.

This is the part affected by VOC ratings of paint. That is to say, VOC rating helps when you are brushing, but does nothing to protect you from overspray. In fact, VOC rating is about regional smog, not health; low-VOC paints use volatiles which won't add much to smog. That's a big deal in L.A.

The problem is atomized resin

Resin is the liquid part of the paint which eventually turns solid as it dries and cures. When brushing or rolling, this stuff stays on the brush. However, when spraying, all of it is atomized into a fine mist, and 30-60% of it misses the intended surface and drifts away into the surrounding air. It is that stuff that you are huffing into your lungs while you are around spray paint without protective gear.

Drying is like a ketchup spill, nothing special. But curing is a peculiar alchemy where the resin molecules "join hands" into longer molecules that make the paint tough. That chemical reaction is no friend to the human body, particularly the immune system. So staying away from spray operations is a good idea.

The worst are the Imron type urethanes and epoxies, which can make you rather sick in one go. Interestingly, the toxic parts of Imron and epoxies are fully consumed in the curing process, leaving material so safe they can use it on the inside of food cans. And they do.

Inside a house you are certainly using latex paint, which is the least toxic in pretty much all respects, but still, the resin is not for lungs.

The stuff found in rattle cans of spray paint is alkyd/oil paint, single-part.

All single-part paints are less toxic for public safety. They cure in relation to air or moisture, and this takes months, and so the public would be exposed to uncured resin. Yes, this affects paint performance.


I'm a carpenter but am often called upon to refinish/paint cabinets (labor intensive but not supply intensive so good $). Many of my clients prefer spraying for the clean look but choose to roll (in their 'finished' properties) because I have to charge double or triple because of the extended prep times--one or two days depending on size--and the fact that ventilation and spray travel must be accounted for.

I advise all my clients, especially those whom are human, and whom choose to spray, to not be in the house for 36hrs minimum before and after. I'm not a scientist but I do know that just because it's not known or accepted as a health hazard doesn't mean it isn't deadly.


First I am going to assuming he will be spraying paint, not using traditional spray paint - which is rather toxic indoors but hell we all use it.

Second as others said the toxicity is based on the paint not the method, given you aren't in the room while painting it.

Third and most importantly I have painted a lot of houses. I cannot imagine how spraying can be faster in an already finished space. When you use a sprayer indoors the paint molecules get everywhere and they travel. Your painter would have to seal off every single area that he was not painting. An example is if he were painting the walls he would have to seal (completely) the ceiling, floors, windows, closets, doors, whatever. If not those areas will have specks of paint on them.

My point is I would make sure he is doing it right. If you don't want toxicity there are tons of low/no VOC latex paints he could use. If your apartment is in a finished state (assume it is) he should be using brushes and rollers - period.

  • Thankyou so much for your reply, definately not going ahead with spray painting, brushes it is.
    – jan
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 17:17

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