How to Paint Baby Furniture Safely

Lullaby 03/21/2013

Want to give an old piece of furniture a new life for your baby nursery? It’s a great way to save money AND it’s better for the planet since you’re re-using something instead of buying new. Make it safer and healthier for your baby, too, by choosing non-toxic*, zero-VOC** paint like Lullaby Paints! Our paints aren’t just for walls, they’re an ideal paint for baby furniture and an awesome paint for baby cribs, too!

*Conforms to ASTMD-4236, specifically concerning oral toxicity, skin irritation and respiratory effects.

**Conforms to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at 11, 12, & 14 days for classroom and office use). Learn more about VOCs and our commitment to healthier paints here.

Here’s how to tackle your design project:

First things first, consider these safety issues:

  • The US Consumer Product Safety Commission advises against using cribs more than 10 years old. Visit their website to learn about crib recalls and regulations to ensure your crib is up to code.
  • Test for lead in paint. You shouldn’t have to worry about this with furniture less than 10 years old, unless someone else has painted the piece using a very old paint. But, we always like to err on the side of caution (especially when it comes to our babies!), so we recommend picking up a test kit at your local hardware store and doing a quick swipe test. (While you’re at it, if you live in a home built before 1978, test painted walls, window sills, and door jambs, too.)
  • Give it a good shake. If it rattles or wiggles too much, you may need to tighten things up a bit (or find a sturdier piece of furniture).

Once you’ve identified you have a solid piece, here’s how to paint baby furniture safely:

Step 1: Place a drop cloth on the ground outside or in a garage and secure each corner with a heavy object.

Step 2: Wipe down the furniture to remove dust and grime. If it’s a dresser, you may want to vacuum out the drawers using a hose attachment.

Step 3: Disassemble the piece and lightly sand all surfaces. For cribs, you’ll need to take the entire thing apart, but for dressers, just remove the drawers. Wear a mask to avoid inhaling the dust. You shouldn’t need to remove the existing surface, just roughen it up so the new coat of paint adheres properly. If there are any scratches or divots, you may need to use some wood putty to smooth out the surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how long you need to wait for the putty to dry before painting.

Step 4: Wipe the piece down using a tack cloth or damp rag and allow it to dry completely.

Step 5: Using a brush or small roller, apply a coat of non-toxic* paint. Choose a formulation specifically manufactured as a trim paint as they have more hardeners and are more effective for furniture applications.  (If you’re covering bare wood or puttied surfaces, you’ll need to prime first.) If you’d like to really customize the piece, consider painting your child’s name on it, a nursery rhyme or quote, stars, or any other design you’d like. Allow to dry at least over night (and preferably twenty four hours) between coats.

Step 6: Let the piece dry for 48 hours and re-assemble.

Think you’ll tackle this DIY? Order your super-safe Lullaby Paints today! And, when you're done, we’d love to see pictures of your projects! Share them with us on Facebook or Pinterest! (And, visit us there to find inspiration from others!)

(Note: If the piece of furniture you’re looking to revive has laminate on it, it takes a different type of treatment. We’ll share a tutorial for that in the future!)