Answers to questions about painting and repainting bird cages are usually incorrect because of the myths created by the media. Overly concerned parrot owners have accidentally and dramatically reinforced these myths.
Almost all paints sold in the United States since the 1970’s are edible when dry. The government has gone to great lengths to assure all paints available to residential home owners do not contain lead, zinc or other toxins that could hurt children if ingested. So, any paint sold, at any retail paint store, for home use should be safe to use. Just in case read the instructions carefully.
While the dried paint is non-toxic this in not always true of the chemicals that ‘flash’ off of the paint as it dries. Flashing is a painters’ term that describes the process of all of the volatile chemicals leaving the paint and evaporating into the air. There are approximately 100 volatile solvents, also known as VOC’s. Ammonia is the most common dangerous solvent in paint today and is continually being replaced with newer safer chemicals. Even the safe paints that say ventilation is not necessary should be used with caution. While they are safe for adults they may not be safe for children or pets. The reason is that the adult is usually moving in and out of the area where the paint is being applied and drying, and usually gets a good deal of fresh air during a painting process. A child or bird who may be in a cage or crib is not moving and may remain in the same area and be continuously exposed for the duration of the painting and drying process. The common myth that birds and children are more susceptible because they are smaller is misleading. Smaller animals inhale less air, so pound for pound they get a similar exposure.
Which is the Best Paint to Use?
Powder-coated baked on finishes are usually the best. This is the process used on most new cages. In a factory setting this is a very economical way to apply a quality finish. A dry powder is sprayed onto the surface. The overspray falls or is sucked into a collection unit and can be reused. Sometimes an electrostatic process is used where an electric current between the paint sprayer and the cage pulls the paint to the cage creating a very tight and even finish. When heated the paint melts, shrinks and dries into a very high quality finish.
Power-coating is done by many paint shops around the country, but for small jobs is expensive and usually overkill for most repainting situations. Once you include your time and labor preparing the cage you will have more invested than if you purchased a new cage. If you have an expensive cage that you plan on keeping for a long time you may want to look into this process.
The Next Best Paint to Use.
High quality, high gloss spray paint will provide the best finish. Always ask for the highest quality. You will not be using much so the extra few dollars will be well spent.
High quality paint will usually cover better with a thinner film. A thin paint film is harder to scratch and harder for a bird beak to chew off. The reason is that it is more difficult for a tool or beak to get through the surface and under the paint to scrape it off. If the film is thick a beak can more easily push into the center of the film and get started. Sort of like a snow plow, as soon as the blade gets into the surface it quickly is drawn all the way to the bottom.
Never use more paint than necessary. You will want to spray a couple of thin even coats, just enough to get a nice smooth gloss finish that covers well.
High gloss will have a tighter finish and usually has a very nice hard resin film on the surface to aid reflectance. This finish will go on more even, dry harder, be the most dirt resistant, chip resistant and last longer.
Consider choosing a color that will not show off the inevitable chips will allow your job to look better longer.
Preparation is More Important than Paint.