How to Safely Paint Wooden Toys
So you found some old wooden toys at a yard sale or you received some hand-me-down blocks from a friend. For whatever reason, you’ve found yourself wanting to freshen up a wooden toy with a nice, new coat of paint. But is it safe to paint your child’s toys? Especially toys for babies or toddlers that get sucked and chewed on? You’re wise to ask because the answer is sometimes “no.” Today we’re sharing tips for how to safely paint wooden toys.
Before you start the project -
Check for lead
Examine the toy and try to assess whether the toy is antique (pre-1978)? Being that the toy would be over forty years old at this point it shouldn't be too hard to see if it's possibly unsafe. If yes, then you need to be very careful. If there’s an existing coat of paint, it’s highly likely to be lead paint and completely unsafe for your child. If you’re unsure, get a lead test kit from your local hardware store. While lead paint in your home is best either professionally removed or covered, lead paint on a toy is an unsolvable problem (if you were hoping your child could play with it).
Have the right supplies
How to safely paint wooden toys:
Every time you paint there's always some prep work -
- Protect your work surface (by putting down old newsprint or some other covering).
- Lightly sand the toy just to rough the finish and scuff it up. This helps the paint adhere to the toy.
- Clean off the dust with a tack cloth or damp rag.
- Make sure the wood is completely dry before applying any paint. If you're unsure, let it sit overnight.
Now for the fun part -
- Apply a thin (but ample – don’t scrimp) coat of paint. You can also purchase them in 2-ounce sample sizes that are perfect for small projects like this. Choose one of our designer colors or we can color match to any of competitor’s colors, too! For an easy-to-clean surface, use a semi-gloss or gloss finish. For a more translucent look that will allow the wood grain to show through you can dilute the paint with water so it acts more like a stain.
- After allowing it to dry fully, apply a second coat.
- The paint will take 7-10 days to fully cure and harden, so have patience before letting your little one start playing!
For some inspiration, we're sharing this short video about a small wooden toy company from Croatia called Margareta toys. These simple designs with fun bright colors are just what we envision you could do to give a new life to some old wooden blocks!
Still have questions? Let us know in the comments and we'd be happy to help.