What Kind of Paint Is Safe for Bird Cages? 4 Options!

It isn’t hard to find safe paint for bird cages, bird houses, bird feeders, and bird baths.

But it is very important to use paints that are non-toxic to birds and that stand up to pecking and biting in cages, as well as UV light and the weather outdoors.

Four Safe Paints to Use Around Birds (or for Bird Feeders)

Acrylic, latex, oil-based, and water-based paints are safe to use around birds.

They are non-toxic to birds, other pets, and people. They are widely available and not especially expensive.

Here is a closer look at each common kind of safe paint.

Acrylic Paint for Bird Cages, Bird Houses, Bird Baths, and Bird Feeders

Acrylic paint is waterproof. Of all of the kinds of paint we mention in this article, it is the most resistant to damage from sunlight.

Acrylic paint is elastic, so it can expand when it gets hot and contract when it gets cold. This reduces chips, flakes, and peels.

Acrylic paint costs more when you buy it at the store, but it lasts longer than other kinds of paint, so the long-term cost of acrylic is lower than other paints.

Aside from the cost, the major downside of acrylic paint is cleaning up as you are putting it on the bird cage, bird house, bird bath, or bird feeder.

Latex Paint for Bird Cages, Bird Houses, Bird Baths, and Bird Feeders

Latex paint is inexpensive. You can do the clean-up while you are painting with soap and water.

It produces fewer fumes that could be dangerous to sensitive small birds like parakeets (although it is always a good idea to house sensitive birds somewhere else while you are painting).

It is waterproof, so the metal underneath it is less likely to rust. It only takes one or two coats to get coverage.

The problem with latex paint is that birds peck at it, and it peels, flakes, and chips. You may need to repaint structures you keep for your birds outdoors as often as once a year.

Oil-Based Paints for Bird Cages, Bird Houses, Bird Baths, and Bird Feeders

When you don’t have time for prep work, oil-based paint is your best choice for painting bird cages, bird houses, bird baths, and bird feeders.

You can apply oil-based paint directly to rusty and dirty surfaces.

Oil-based paint goes on smoothly, so there is no need for a second coat. Oil-based paints on bird houses, bird baths, and bird feeders stand up to cold weather.

Oil paint covers imperfections. It looks richer and more lustrous than latex paint. It is more durable than latex paint and less durable than acrylic.

The only real problem with oil-based paint is needing to clean up with turpentine or other solvents as you work.

Water-Based Paints for Bird Cages, Bird Houses, Bird Baths, and Bird Feeders

When you need paint that dries fast, water-based paint is your best choice.

Water-based paints work well on wooden surfaces. Clean-up is a snap.

The problem with water-based paints is that they are not very durable, and you will have to repaint them on a regular basis.

However, there is no better choice than water-based ECOS paints for birds that are extremely sensitive to paint fumes.

ECOS paints, stains, and varnishes are certified free of volatile compounds that could trigger breathing problems in birds, sensitive human members of the family, and other pets.

They conform to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard D4236, which specifies safety standards for avoiding allergies and irritation.

They can be applied over existing paint, with no scraping required. They can be custom-made at the factory for any color you want.

And ECOS paints are not especially expensive. They also last longer than other water-based paints. Their main limitation is that they are not appropriate for use on surfaces that are constantly damp.

Veterinarians warn that parakeets and canaries are especially sensitive to paint fumes. If you want to paint their cages, use ECOS paints.

How to Make Sure a Brand of Paint is 100-Percent Safe for Painting Bird Cages

The paint in bird cages is very sensitive to wear and tear from the claws and beaks of the birds that live inside them.

The least toxic option for bird cages is always water-based paint. ECOS paints are safe, but other brands of paint must be:

  • Free of lead, zinc, and chromates.
  • Free from fumes (no volatile compounds, this will be noted on the label).
  • Completely bonded to the wireframe of the cage, no large blobs of paint that can peel off later.
  • Allowed to dry for a week before you put birds inside the cage.

The founder of ECOS paint ate his own paint to prove it was safe.

We don’t recommend that you try this at home, but it does show that the company is very confident that its products will not harm birds.

How to Paint a Bird Cage?

Once you have chosen the right paint for your bird’s cage, which will almost always be water-based paint, you can paint the cage in five easy steps after you make sure no birds are in the room where you are painting their cage.

Every step of the painting process is potentially toxic to birds.

Clean The Surfaces You Intend To Paint

Remove any dirt, debris, loose metal, or fecal matter you can see. This is so the paint will stick to the metal frame of the cage, not to the dirt on top of it. Wash any dirt, debris, or poop away and allow the metal to dry thoroughly.

Patch any holes, cracks, or cavities with a non-toxic putty. Allow the putty to cure for at least a day. Then sand down any sharp edges with sandpaper.

Dissolve Rust with Rustoleum

Next, if there is any rust on the frame of the cage, dissolve it with Rustoleum.

You will need gloves, a mask, and goggles to protect yourself from the toxic chemicals in the rust remover. Long sleeves and long pants are a must, too.

Don’t apply rust remover when the room temperature is below 50° F (about 10° C). It won’t dissolve all the rust.

Let the rust remover dry for about an hour and proceed to the third step.

Protect Floors, Walls, and Furniture from Paint

The third step is protecting floors, walls, and furniture from splashes and sprays of paint.

Move furniture away from the cage you will be painting, and place the cage on cardboard to catch spills.

Step four is to apply a primer. Make sure it is intended for metal. Enamel paint works well for this purpose.

Let your primer dry thoroughly, for up to a day.

Apply Three Coats of Paint

Finally, apply three coats of paint (unless you are using oil-based paint, which only requires one coat).

The first two coats cover every edge of the bird cage, every surface of every wire. Let the paint dry for two or three hours between the first and second coats.

Then let the second coat dry for two or three hours before you apply the third and final coat, to bring out colors and make the finish smooth.

Let the third coat dry for a week before putting your birds back into the cage. This step is critically important if you have used aerosol paint.

How to Make Paint Last Longer

There are several things you can do to reduce the wear and tear on your newly painted bird cage:

  • Make sure every bird has at least two or three perches inside the cage, so they won’t feel the need to hang from the side of the cage.
  • Give your birds foraging toys so they don’t nibble on paint.
  • Give your birds chew toys to give them safe, fun things to do.

Why Use Bird-Safe Paints?

Below are some of the reasons why it makes such a big difference to use paints that are safe for birds:

  • Birds can easily scratch off and eat dry paint. Frequently climbing and perching on painted metal or wire bars chips off the paint that can get into your pet bird’s food.
  • Your choice of paints for birdhouses, bird baths, and bird feeders makes a difference, too. The paint on outdoor structures that birds frequent can chip and peel in the weather, or after prolonged exposure to the UV rays of the sun.
  • Birds can wear out the paint. You should apply a sealant to any surface on a bird cage, birdhouse, bird feeder, or bird bath that you paint. This protects the birds and keeps you from having to repaint them as often.

Have fun painting!

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