I live in a upstairs apartment. The downstairs apartment became vacant. Today, at 11:00 am painters came and painted the bottom apartment with a paint sprayer machine. They kept the doors open while they did it. I think it took them about 2 hours. All day I did not smell anything.

I left for the gym at 6:00 pm and got back at 7:00 pm. When I got back, I noticed (heard) the tenant inside her new apartment downstairs. When I got in my apartment, I smelt the paint fumes real strong. I think when she turned on her AC it somehow funnelled the fumes into my apartment.

Do I need to worry about paint overspray being on my furniture and electronics? Since it is possible when the bottom neighbor turned on her ac it funnelled all the fumes into my apartment? Even if it's like 5 hours later?


Not overspray, no.

Overspray will have fallen out of the air in the first minute after painting. It would have fallen to the ground and stuck, still liquid, to the floor surface (a drop cloth, unless they are replacing the carpet).

It would have dried in the normal dry time for that paint. Federal law requires all architectural paint have a very low VOC or solvent percentage. As a result, the only possible paint to use for this kind of project is emulsion paint, incorrectly called "Latex" since it contains none.

Latex overspray would have dried in well under an hour. If any arrived in your apartment, it did so as dry dust, which you will pick up next time you vacuum.

It's possible the smell of the paint "crept up on you", and like the frog in the cookpot, you did not notice as it slowly arrived. Much the way spending a day in a smoker's house will make you stop noticing the smoke smell. However after leaving the site and returning, you were no longer acclimated, and it "hit you in the face".

It's also possible the earlier work was not paint at all, but was preparation, as a good job requires lots of it! Perhaps the "tenant" was actually the painter finally painting. It is extremely unusual for a tenant to move in on paint day. It is better to give the paint a few days to cure (harden).

Architectural paints have extremely low toxicity because they are often painted in residential neighborhoods.

  • The tenant is a young girl with a dog. The people painting were painters with big machine paint sprayer. I thought it was strange too that she we've done the same day. Well technically, she didn't move her furniture yet.
    – dman
    Jul 10 at 1:53

No, overspray is going to be the paint itself. There is little to no chance that the paint will go through cracks or around walls and get into your apartment.

Fumes are much more likely the get in your apartment thanks to shared venting that is common in apartments. Paint particles are much heavier than fumes and will not travel through venting.

This is similar to when a neighbor cooks a very strong odored dish (like fried fish) and you can smell it in the hallway without any fear of the actual food/oil getting out of their apartment.


overspray is where the stream from the spray gun hits the wrong thing, masking tape etc is used to control overspray.

The mist that escapes into the air is touch dry before it lands, if you find any you can clean it up with a vacuum cleaner or a duster.

Fumes into your apartment through the AC? that should not happen. Ever.

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