HSfB Blog

Health & safety essentials for DIY painters


Painting is a job that most people have tried at least a couple of times, whether that means a lick of paint on your living room walls or a fresh coat on your garden fence. It is a relatively simple task so many DIYers eschew the cost of a professional and take on the task themselves. 

There is no problem with this, but keen amateurs are often unaware of the best and safest methods to handle and use paints, and there are of course various inherent hazards. 


If you are a home improvement and/or money-saving enthusiast you should feel free to get out the paintbrush, but to make sure all goes smoothly and safely, bear the following advice in mind.

Always wear protection

Your eyes

Paint is easily flicked from the end of your brush or spattered from a roller when painting, so protect your eyes with glasses, goggles or a face mask.

Your skin

For water-based paint it’s wise to wear impermeable gloves which will keep your hands protected, and importantly clean, saving the scrubbing that usually follows painting. For any solvent based paints or products you really need solvent-resistant chemical gloves.

Your lungs 

Your lungs are also at some risk when painting, so keep your airway clean by ensuring the space your working in is well ventilated. Opening a window will usually suffice but a ventilation system could be required if there are no windows or exterior doors to open. 

Stay safe by knowing how to handle different paints

Water-based paints and solvent-based paints - such as everyday gloss or the concrete floor paints sold by Regal Paints and others - are widely used and widely available in the UK. Here’s what you need to know to use them safely:

Water-based paints

Generally speaking water-based paints are safer to use than solvent-based paints, although that doesn’t mean that solvent-based are dangerous. But it’s worth knowing that modern water-based paints perform well, with good durability and the ability to retain colour well. It also dries quicker, has less odour, and brushes can be cleaned with soap and water, rather than white spirit or turps.

Solvent-based paints 

Sometimes solvent-based paints are simply the best for the job in hand, but all solvent-based products carry certain hazards, meaning you need to be extra cautious when using them. 

Such products should be stored in cool, ventilated places, and away from sources of hear and flame as they are highly flammable. Cloths soaked in solvent-based paints or coatings should be disposed of properly for the same reason. 

It’s also important to keep children and animals out of the area you are painting, and for you to wear suitable protective equipment, detailed earlier. More information can be gained from the label on the specific can of paint you use, so read before you paint. Further information still can be gained from paint manufacturers, who are happy to help consumers with any questions. And of course HSE has lots of useful information, such as this list of FAQs related to paints and coatings.

DIY can be a fulfilling way to get jobs done and with this advice, you can do it yourself safely.