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10 Tips for Safe Wood Staining with Small Children Around

10 Tips for Safe Wood Staining with Small Children Around

Applying a wood stain to a piece of furniture, toy, cabinet or other home item can be a fun and inexpensive way to give it a sleek new look. But as any parent knows, having kids around during a DIY home improvement project can cause concerns about their safety, and boost the potential for big messes. Here we offer some helpful tips for safe, stress-free staining.

Choose “Non-toxic”

With so many harmful chemicals lurking in everyday products, choosing a non-toxic stain and finish can help reduce risks in your home. Standard commercial wood stains are oil-based and are known to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs)* as they are applied and cured, with nasty side effects like headache, nausea and respiratory issues. Opting for a safe, water-based stain that meets EPA standards for low or no-VOC, like PureColor’s Clean Chemistry™ formula, can give you peace of mind before you begin a project.



Set Up a Safe Workspace

Pick a shady spot outdoors, or in the garage, to begin your DIY staining. Put down a drop cloth or newsprint, wear old clothes and clear the area to make sure toys, snacks and personal items are out of the way to prevent stain transfer. (If the product does get on clothes, soak in water immediately.) Arrange to have someone watch your child while you work, or make sure they are supervised at all times while in the room. Though PureColor stains aren’t toxic like chemical-based formulas, you still don’t want it in your child’s mouth or all over their skin.

Cut Wood Wisely

If you plan to cut your wood items before staining, take note that they may contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen, and take precautions to minimize risk of exposure. Make sure kids are far from the blade, wear a face mask, work outdoors or in a well-ventilated space to prevent inhalation, and, if indoors, turn on the A/C to inhibit the release of formaldehyde.

Be Gentle

With a liquid product like wood stains and finishes, there is a high potential for spills or other messes. Set cans up off the floor and out of reach of little hands. Resist the urge to shake before you apply, since it can cause splatter upon opening and bubbles during staining. Finally, apply your stain in thin coats to prevent drips.

Make Less of a Mess

Foam brushes are a great alternative to traditional paint brushes, since they minimize chances of stain splatter. Be sure to wipe off excess stain with a cloth or paper towel to prevent dripping and smudging on clothing or skin. Keep your workspace clear by cleaning up as you go along, and disposing of any stain or finish in a sealed trash bag to prevent children and pets from getting into the discards.

Recruit Little Helpers

If you have kids that are old enough to participate in your DIY staining project, get them a pair of gloves and a foam brush and include them in the fun! Instruct your small assistants to paint in the direction of the grain, with smooth, slow motions. If you are staining an item with no room for error, ask for help applying the clear finish instead.

Before you start, have fun choosing a wood stain color together! PureColor’s 30 Brilliant Colors.

Protect The Eyes

Since PureColor’s vaporless stains and finishes aren’t toxic, you don’t need to worry about wearing a mask when you apply the products. However, as with any big DIY project, don’t forget your eye protection. An eye safety mask for you and any helpers is always a good idea to prevent it from getting into eyes. Everyone should be wearing gloves, too, to keep the skin clean.

Clean With Care

Low-VOC stains should come off of brushes, clothing and skin with just soap and water. Since they are considered non-hazardous waste, you don’t have to worry about any special disposal requirements. Still, you’ll want to put any disposable items with excess stain or finish, and the product containers, in a sealed bag before tossing. Walk them out to your outdoor trash receptacle to keep them free of animal or child disturbance.

Wait for Best Results

Stain and finish can take days to completely harden, so you’ll want to set your newly stained item in a spot that’s safe from kids and pets. Water-based stains tend to dry much faster than oil-based ones, but if you’d like to speed the process along, dry your items under a fan or in the sun.  

Ready to start your DIY stain project? Choose PureColor for a safe wood stain that’s better for your family and the environment.

*Learn more about VOC standards.