How Long Does It Take for Paint Fumes to Go Away

Updated on July 16, 2008
D.K. asks from Surprise, AZ
5 answers

Hi Everyone. My husband recently built a bookshelf for my daughter and painted it with two coats of primer and 2 coats of paint. He installed it the next day after the paint was dry. I did not let my daughter sleep in there for over a week because of the fumes. Do you think it is safe for her to sleep in there now? I don't smell the paint in the room but when I get up close to the bookshelf I can still smell it. How long should it take for the paint to stop giving off fumes? Ususally when I paint a wall or room with one coat of paint, I stop smelling it after two days so I don't know why this is so bad, unless it is the primer. By the way, the next time he does this, it is going to sit outside for at least two weeks before we bring it in the house.

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answers from Albuquerque on

Hi D.,
Any time you can smell an odor off of something, it's your "olfactory" nerve-endings reacting to actual molecules of what you smell going up your nose - which makes it gross when you think about getting a whiff of poo (yikes! - TMI).

You have to make a personal decision about whether or not being able to smell paint, but only of your put your nose right up to it, is still too much for your sweetie.

Maybe if you don't get a "paint" smell when you first walk in the room, and the room is well-ventilated, you may consider this safe enough for your little one.

Otherwise, you may have a very looong wait.



answers from Phoenix on

HI D.- I have had experience with this and found it harmful for a child to sleep in the room even after you dont smell it - it still keeping giving off the toxins. That is why we have recently switched or non toxic clay based paints that work the exact same way but no smells.
If you have time do a google search on the negative effects the fumes have on your family since it is in the home. It is the same with typical cleaning supplies, the effects are there on the surfaces even after you cannot smell them. It was interesting reasearch and I have found that the non toxic paint is not that much more expensive.
I am excited to hear you are teaching your daugher sign language- my daughter loved it and never had a temper tantrum and I believe it was because she could communicate at an early age and be understood.
Best wishes,



answers from Phoenix on

The next time he does this, he needs to use a low- or no-voc paint. It has been very humid lately, which is why the paint is not drying quickly. Can you take the shelves back out into the sun to off-gas?

It sounds like your gut is telling you not to put your little girl back in the room yet. Follow your intuition.



answers from Phoenix on

i think the smell is "in your nose" if it was toxic then the paint would have a warning and it would be well publicised. now a days paint doesnt have lead and the fumes are not toxic.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi D.,

I had the same problem when I painted two of my homes, the paint fumes just would not go away. I couldn't figure it out, I hired professional painters and they used Dunn Edwards paint. I asked the painter (whom also happen to be a friend), she said it's not harmful. They don't make paint with lead anymore and it's much safer in many other ways. She has two children and painted full time during both pregnancies, and her doctor's said it was okay other than to avoid standing on the ladder to paint.
Considering it was just a bookshelf, I think it's definetly okay to put her back in the room now.
Just to be on the safe side, why don't you drop a call to your pediatrician and leave a message? Someone will call you back by the end of the day and let you know. I am sure they will tell you it's okay. Best of luck to you! Take Care.

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