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How to Safely and Easily Paint a Baby's Crib!

We know first hand that assembling the crib, choosing paint colors, and decorating the nursery can be such an exciting time! Follow these easy steps with our tutorial and your crib can be painted and ready in less than a weekend!

  1. Choose a no odor, certified ultra low VOC paint
  2. Clean it well, let it dry
  3. Do a quick scuff sand (or use a non toxic liquid sandpaper or deglosser)
  4. Paint
  5. Seal and protect

What Do I Need to Paint a Crib?

Ensuring you have the proper tools on hand before you get started will make the process a lot more enjoyable and give you the best end result!

  • Vinegar and water mixed in a 1:1 ratio OR no rinse TSP
  • Ultra fine Scotch Brite style abrasive pads
  • Medium to fine grit sandpaper (or non-toxic liquid sandpaper or deglosser)
  • Mask
  • Lint free cloths
  • Tack cloth
  • Spray bottle with clean water and a fine mist setting
  • No odor, certified ultra low VOC paint
  • Country Chic Paint’s Round Painting Sponge (the secret to painting spindles effortlessly!)
  • High quality synthetic bristle paint brush (or paint sprayer if you prefer)
  • No odor, certified ultra low VOC top coat of choice

grey painted and distressed crib - diy painted crib with ultra low VOC toy safe furniture paint

How Do You Know If Your Paint Is Truly Ultra Low VOC?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask the company for the test results, not the MSDS sheets, but the actual test results they would have received from the lab. Paint companies have their own proprietary formulas of course and understandably won’t disclose those (that’s normal), but they should be happy to show their customers their safety and VOC testing results, including what exactly was tested and what methods were used to get those results.

It is important to feel confident and safe in the products you are using on your baby’s furniture and we are proud to provide you with those products.

Our All-In-One paint is independently tested to ASTM D6886 standards and certified to be truly ultra low VOC (including the pigments). It is also safe to use by those who are pregnant and on baby and children’s furniture because we made sure it fully complies with the European Toy Safety Standards.

Feel free to pop over to our page dedicated to explaining VOCs in further detail and how not all testing methods are created equal (and how some companies will use this to their advantage and the consumer doesn’t even know).

Bottom line, know your products and feel free to ask questions and get those answers!

Do I Have to Sand or Prime My Crib Before I Paint It?

No, you shouldn’t need to sand anything down to the raw wood before painting (unless you want to of course).

Most high quality paints on the market have a primer already mixed in to help with adhesion. But if something has a high gloss finish or is super shiny (think IKEA style laminate furniture) then taking a few minutes to remove that shine/gloss will help boost the adhesive properties of your paint.

It doesn’t take long at all to do this and you have a few different options to choose from: you can use our ultra low VOC Clear Bonding Primer; a non toxic liquid sandpaper/deglosser; or a medium to finer grit sandpaper. Whatever your preference is, any one of those would work just fine!

Can I Use an Oil-Based Stain Blocking Primer When Painting a Baby Crib?

For children’s furniture or toys we prefer to stay away from the oil-based and/or shellac based stain blocking primers. They are very high in VOCs (so definitely not safe for use by those who are pregnant) and as parents, they aren’t something we would feel comfortable using in this situation.

However, if you are choosing a lighter paint color to go over a darker surface (or something with stains or tannins that could seep through the paint), you will need to take some steps to prevent bleedthrough and yellowing.

Keep reading to see how we get around this…

Painting Your Crib or Children’s Furniture...

For great coverage and a soft, smooth finish, start with a slightly damp brush and apply the paint in super thin coats each time. This is important when it comes to painting furniture with chalk paint, clay based paint, mineral paints, etc. For example four super thin coats of paint will give you a much better end result and better, smoother coverage compared to applying two thicker coats.

Also, because you are applying the paint in very light, very thin coats, the water in the paint will evaporate before it can soak into the surface and this is what helps to avoid that dreaded bleedthrough effect.

Once you’ve applied your second coat of paint and it’s had enough time to dry (usually about 90 minutes or less if you are painting thin coats like we recommend), gently go over it with your super fine abrasive Scotch Brite style pad to smooth the surface a little bit. Make sure of course that you wipe away the dust each time before you go back and apply your next coat of paint.

If you do this after each subsequent coat of paint, it gives an amazing, buttery soft finish at the end. You don’t have to do this, it’s completely optional. We love the end result when we do that so we thought we would mention it!

Give the paint 24-48 hours to fully dry before you start waxing or applying your top coat.

Side Note: We strongly recommend investing the money in high quality, synthetic bristle paint brushes - they are absolutely worth it. We don’t recommend natural or pure bristle paint brushes because they absorb water, which causes the bristles to flare or become too soft to paint effectively. We also have ethical concerns with how natural bristles are collected from the animals and manufactured, so we always use, and recommend, good quality synthetic brushes.

What Is the Easiest Way to Paint Spindles?

Whether you are painting chairs or a crib, we have the secret to painting those spindles easily and effortlessly!

These inexpensive, easy to use painting sponges are amazing because you can wrap the sponge around the entire spindle and quickly paint it all at once! They allow you to apply your paint in record time and just by the nature of their design, lay the paint down in a nice, thin even coat like we are always talking about.

painting sponge - round hand-held sponge for applying furniture paint

You can use them to paint your entire crib, or save them just for the spindles, it’s totally up to you.

When using the painting sponge, rinse it well under water and squeeze out the excess with a lint free rag before getting started. Pour a small amount of paint into a shallow, clean container that is wide enough to easily fit the sponge into. Dip the sponge lightly in the paint and apply to your piece.

When you are finished or need to take a break from painting, simply rinse it well with cool water and let it air dry.

What Should I Use as a Top Coat After I Paint a Crib?

natural furniture wax and hemp oil - 100% natural furniture sealants

When you are redoing a crib (or other children’s furniture and toys) you want to ensure that the product you use as a top coat is no odor, non toxic and ultra low VOC as well.

Hemp Oil and Clear Natural Furniture Wax are both great options!

Using Hemp Oil as a Top Coat for a Crib:

Our Hemp Oil is 100% vegan and totally safe for those who are pregnant, and it’s a perfect choice as an all natural sealant or top coat after you’ve painted your children’s furniture.

Using a lint free cloth wipe the Hemp Oil onto your fully dried surface and let it soak in. You can also use a paint brush or a round painting sponge if that is easier.

Once you have finished applying the hemp oil, allow it to “sit” for about 12 hours and then use a clean lint-free cloth to buff away any lingering, excess oil. Try not to let any of the oil ‘pool’ on the surface for longer than a few hours to avoid it possibly starting to cure and get sticky. Cure time to fully harden is about 30 days.

Tip: If you find after a day or so the finish looks patchy, it just means different areas absorbed more of the oil than others. This is quite common. If you wipe on another coat, let it sit on the surface for a few hours, and wipe off and buff again and that will even out the finish.

Tip: If you are wanting to seal your crib or nursery furniture with Hemp Oil, but still want to use some of the tinted waxes for faux effects, just make sure you apply the Hemp Oil first and then apply your wax where you want it after. If you apply the wax first and then Hemp Oil over it, the Hemp Oil just ends up smearing the wax around.

Sealing a Painted Crib With Natural Furniture Wax:

Most “soft waxes” or wax pastes on the market contain solvents to keep them soft. So be sure to choose a wax that is all natural, non toxic and ultra low VOC. It will probably be a hard wax, but you can easily soften it up in the microwave if you want. Just scoop out a tablespoon or so into a microwave safe dish and warm it up for (literally) a second or two at a time.

When your paint has had a chance to dry for at least 24-48 hours, apply a thin layer with a wax brush or a clean lint free cloth, then go back and buff off the wax with a separate, clean, lint free cloth. If you are applying with a lint free cloth instead of a brush just make sure you have a few extras on hand to buff with separately.

For added protection, apply 2-3 times, waiting about 12-24 hours in between each application. Our furniture wax takes approximately 30 days to fully harden and cure, so just be gentle with the waxed surface during this time.

Tip: No matter what you apply the wax to, it will always go last. Wax can not go under water based paints or top coats.

Side note: Country Chic Paint’s natural waxes are eco-friendly and made from 100% beeswax, natural tree nut oils, and carnauba wax. Because they don’t contain any harsh chemicals or solvents to keep them soft they are a popular and safe choice for pregnant people to use and on children’s furniture and toys.

Using a Water Based Top Coat to Seal and Protect Children’s Furniture

If you are opting to use a water based top coat (i.e. not a wax or an oil) to seal your painted crib, again, make sure it is ultra low VOC and safe for use on children’s furniture.

You can apply it with a high quality synthetic bristle paint brush, a round painting sponge, or your paint sprayer - whichever you prefer. If you are using your paint sprayer, just follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

If you are applying with a brush or sponge, make sure it is slightly damp to start off with and apply very lightly going in one direction.

Let it dry thoroughly (about 90 minutes depending on the heat and humidity levels).

Then, go back and do the next coat but this time apply it going in the opposite direction. You should only need 3-4 light coats. When you have the even coverage you want, then you are done.

Tricks to avoid bleedthrough: Our Clear Coat is non yellowing (and we have tested this relentlessly) but because it is water based, if the original surface is a darker wood or has stains/tannins, it could cause a yellowish bleedthrough effect if you apply it too heavily. So if this is the case, make sure you apply it in super thin, light coats.

What you want to do is slowly layer it on with multiple, light applications each time so the water in it has a chance to evaporate before soaking through and bringing those stains/tannins to the surface.

Tip: The first few coats might look a bit patchy or streaky. Don’t panic. This is totally normal at the beginning when you are applying water based top coats. Let each coat dry and it will all even out in the end giving you a beautiful finish with great protection!

Tip: If you try to go back and fix a spot you think you missed while it is still wet or starting to dry, it will mess up the finish (which is super frustrating). If this happens, let it dry, then go over it with a fine grit sandpaper to smooth it out, wipe it down to remove the dust, and go back to applying it like you were before.

grey painted and distressed crib - diy painted crib with ultra low VOC toy safe furniture paint

Questions or Comments About Painting Your Crib?

We’d love to see your projects and what you are working on, so keep us in the loop! You can leave us a comment on Facebook and Instagram, as well as email us or hop on to our live chat. We are total DIY and painting addicts too, so if you have any questions at all, we are always here and happy to help!