Various different types of paints are today used for crafts, experiments, as well as for DIY home projects.
Some of them are safe to use and some are not.
But the question is – are these house paints flammable?
If yes, what varieties can actually catch fire and what others are not so dangerous to use?
In short, paint products such as aerosol paints, oil-based paints, and other solvent based paints (like alkyd, epoxy, varnish, urethane or polyurethane) are considered to be flammable.
While water-based house paints (like latex, acrylic or vinyl paint) are not flammable.
If you want to know more about how flammable your spray paints and its fumes can be, I will try to answer these questions in detail below.
So let’s dive in…
Is Paint Flammable?
No matter it’s your house paint, a fabric paint or an artist’s paint for canvas painting, they can be flammable to some extent.
The flammability will largely depend on the ingredients (solvents, pigments, binders, etc.) used to manufacture them.
Mostly it’s a solvent present in the paint that will determine how flammable is the specific variety of paint is.
Aerosol paints, for example, contain highly flammable butane and propane gases which makes them extremely dangerous.
If not used properly (or used near the fire) these spray paints may even cause explosion and big damage.
Oil-based paints, enamels, and other solvents like varnishes, clear finishes, epoxy, lacquers, paint removers, wood oils, and stains are also highly flammable.
This is due to the solvents present in them like methyl alcohol, acetone, isopropyl alcohol, methanol, ketones, toluene, etc.
Since these toxic solvents can also be hazardous you will need to handle them safely when painting or disposing.
Water-based house paints, emulsions, chalk paints and few glass paints are generally not flammable.
Especially when they are in their liquid form, they won’t catch the fire due to the water content present in them.
With that said, it will not be true to say that all the latex, acrylic or vinyl paint varieties (that are water based) are not flammable at all.
Some of them present in the market can still be dangerous and you will need to be careful while dealing with them.
To be safe, you can check for the flammable binders or solvents present in the paint by looking at the paint can when purchasing.
Most popular brands and paint companies state very clearly if their product is categorized as flammable or non-flammable paint.
This will help you get the idea whether the paint you are buying is flammable or can fuel a fire.
What Makes Spray Paint Flammable?
Spray paints are mostly made from three different materials that are: solvents, pigments, and propellants.
These materials will make the paint flammable and the ratio in which they are present will majorly decide how flammable they are.
The greater the amount of flammable materials present in the paint; the higher will be the flammability.
Particularly it’s the propellants or the gasses (such as hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs) that force the paint out when sprayed.
If not used safely these can be dangerous and highly flammable.
Many house paints also include VOC or Volatile Organic Compounds. These can make the liquid paint to evaporate even under normal atmospheric conditions.
When emitted as fumes, gasses or vapors these can also prove hazardous.
Few precautionary tips you can follow to keep safe while spray painting include:
- Do not ever try to puncture the spray can
- Stay away from heat or fire when using house paints
- Read the instructions, labels, and warnings properly before using the paints
- Store all types of flammable paints in a dry place which is away from heat, and direct sunlight
Is Paint Still Flammable After It Dries?
No, the paints are usually not flammable when dried.
To be more accurate it will depend on the type of paint you are using – whether it’s a water based acrylic paint, solvent based spray paints or the spray paints.
While acrylic paints in liquid form are not flammable, some of the dried acrylic becomes plastic polymer solid which can be considered combustible (but not flammable).
Same stands true with other spray paints and oil-based paints.
When present in its original container, there are solvents present which make these paints flammable.
But, once they are applied on the surface, dried and cured, their solvent evaporates. This makes them combustible, but not flammable.
Note: Combustible means that the product can burn. While the flammable means that the product will burn and can also catch fire much faster and much more violently.
How Long Are Spray Paint Fumes Flammable?
Although spray painting your walls and ceilings is faster and can provide a more uniform application than a conventional paint and brush, the aerosol products used can be dangerous.
Especially the chemical fumes that may linger around (even after the paint) are flammable and should be used with caution.
The fact is, as long as there are spray paint fumes present in the air, the air around remains to be flammable.
It’s for this reason, you should consider spray paints only for painting the surfaces outside your home.
Of if spray painting interiors make sure the area is well-ventilated and safe to work in.
When properly ventilated, the flammable thinner and paint fumes will automatically get removed within a few hours.
The time it takes will however, depend on the size of your room and the type (or brand) of paint you have used.
Does Paint Need to Be Stored in A Flammable Cabinet?
Remember, higher or lower temperature can degrade the quality and consistency of paint you are planning to store.
If you keep them at places with too high temperatures, the cans can also burst.
It’s best to store the house paints at locations that is somewhere between 55-80 °F.
In addition, it’s also important to know what kind of paint you are storing and what are the specific OSHA and NFPA requirements.
Since water-based paints are less hazardous they have fewer restrictions related to storage.
However, if you are storing solvent-based paints they have stricter storage requirements due to the flammable materials they contain.
Flammable paints, if need to be stored safely at professional-level, will require specifically designed cabinets and containers.
The cabinets for storing flammable chemicals and paints are usually required if you are storing a larger volume of liquids – which is more than 25 gallons.
When storing less than this, no storage cabinet is mandatory.
Beside small sized cabinets that are available to store the paints at home and industries safely, there are also large storage buildings and container boxes available.
If you are storing very large amount of flammable paints, chemicals or waste, you can get these custom-designed flammable paint storage buildings built as per your requirements.
The good thing about it is you can keep various smaller cabinets in these storage buildings, while you are still waiting for its safe disposal or future use.
The Bottom Line
Paints are the part of our lives which helps in making our life colorful.
However, when working with flammable paints in your home, its beneficial to know about its materials and the precautions you can take to keep yourself safe.
While oil-based paints and aerosols can be extremely flammable, water-based paints carry very few flammable materials making them safe for use in all conditions.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls. He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.