Safe Paint for Bird Cages: 7 CRUCIAL Facts (Read First!)

Painting your old and rusty bird cage can be really fun and brighten up the mood! But what exactly are the safe paints that you can use for painting your bird cage?

I too was really curious about this, so I did a LOT of research on this and came up with a definite answer.

Here are the safe paints you can use for painting bird cages:

Water-based paints that do not contain lead, zinc, chromate, or VOCs are safe for painting bird cages. Paint used for bird cages should also bond well to metal and dry fast. Non-toxic spray paint can be used for painting bird cages but must be allowed to dry for about 1 week after 3 coats of paint.

But simply knowing what type of paint to use is not enough, because there are lots of important pointers you need to know before you get started. There’s lots to talk about, so let’s start right now!

Read on for more:

1) Importance of Using Bird-safe Paint for Bird Cages

It’s extremely important to use non-toxic paint that is safe for birds when painting your bird cages!

Inappropriate paint may contain harmful materials like:

  • Lead
  • Zinc
  • Chromate
  • VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

Here are 2 quick reasons why you need to use bird-safe paint when painting bird cages:

(a) Pet Birds Love To Chew, Scratch, Climb All Over The Cage

If you’re an experienced pet bird owner (bird mom/dad), then you would know that pet birds love to chew on stuff, scratch surfaces, and climb all over the cage!

If the wrong type of paint is used, paint can start to chip off over time and get ingested by the birds into their stomachs.

Anyway, this is really random, but if you’re wondering if birds can burp, check out the interesting answer I wrote in another article here!

This is really really harmful to the health of birds and you don’t want it to happen.

If you’re curious about why birds get so restless and bite your mouth, check out another cool article I wrote here!

(b) Inappropriate Paint Used May Not Adhere Well To Metal Cages

Using the wrong type of paint that doesn’t adhere well to the metal surfaces of your cage can lead to disaster.

If the paint doesn’t cure well and isn’t really waterproof, when birds accidentally lick the surfaces of the cage, the paint may come off easily and harm the bird’s health.

Ideally, you’ll want to look for an appropriate primer, then apply a few layers of bird-safe paint. Brush-on paints are less messy, but spray-on paints are easier to use to cover all surfaces!)

If you’re looking for some examples of bird-safe paint you can use, not to worry, as I’ll touch on that later on in this post! Read on for more.

2) Should I Paint Bird Cages?

The next thought in your mind will most probably be this: “Should I even paint a bird cage?” or maybe you’re just wondering if it’s an appropriate thing that people do.

Here’s the quick answer:

Bird cages should be painted because it is a quick and easy way to remodel an old and worn-out cage. Bird cages that are painted can also provide extra protection from the metal inside from wearing out too quickly. However, only bird-safe paint should be used to paint bird cages.

In my personal opinion, if you’re on the fence on whether you should paint your bird cage, I strongly suggest that you do so, for the sake of giving it a makeover for a fresh new look!

Chances are, you are probably thinking of painting it because it looks old and gaudy anyway!

Now that you’re over the fence on painting your bird cage for the very first time, let me show you which types of paint you can use for bird cages:

3) Safe Paint for Bird Cages (FULL Detailed Table)

So now that you know the importance of selecting the right paint for bird cages, which exactly are safe?

Here’s the answer:

Water-based paints that do not contain lead, zinc, chromate, or VOCs are safe for painting bird cages. Paint used for bird cages should also bond well to metal and dry fast. Non-toxic spray paint can be used for painting bird cages but must be allowed to dry for about 1 week after 3 coats of paint.

As a general rule, you can look out for paint that specifically mentions that it’s “non-toxic” and “does not contain any VOCs”.

As a side note, if you’re just wondering what kind of paints are safe for birds in a general sense, you’ll definitely need to check out this summarized article I wrote where I unpack all you need to know about non-toxic paints for birds!

Here are some really good products that I recommend that you use:

Non-toxic Primer for Bird CagesNon-toxic Paint for Bird Cages
Pet Dwellings Primer by ECOS Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint by ECOS

Recommended Primer: Pet Dwellings Primer by ECOS

The Pet Dwellings Primer is a primer that has a white color and is created specifically to prime for paint that will be used on pet items.

The reason why you should use a primer before you actually start to paint is that it sets a good foundation for the actual paint to adhere on top off. Primers help the subsequent paint coats on top of it to last longer, so don’t skip it!

Also, if you’d like the recommended non-toxic Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint mentioned below, you’ll need to start with a primer because it requires it.

Why do I recommend this primer specifically? That’s because it’s non-toxic and has a VOC-free formula that doesn’t release any harmful odors.

If you notice how some primers have a really nasty smell, then those paints are most likely latex paint or oil-based paints. But rest assured, because this primer is water-based, so it’s organic and doesn’t have a nasty smell that remains.

You can find the link to purchase the Pet Dwellings Primer by ECOS here!

Recommended Paint: Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint by ECOS

Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint

The Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint by ECOS was also designed specifically for pets’ use. According to ECOS, they can be used for painting other items for your other pets like cats, dogs, and reptiles, not just birds!

Isn’t it just great that companies like these really understand our needs and make a product like these that we can use with peace of mind?

I recommend using the Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint simply because they are water-based, which means they are organic and don’t contain any harmful chemicals. More specifically, they are non-toxic and do not contain any VOCs.

Heck, they even conform to the industry standard tests such as:

This means that they are perfectly safe for you to use, so you can rest assured your bird won’t be harmed when they come into contact with it.

Okay, now I know this might sound crazy, but take a look at this video of Ian West, the inventor of ECOS Paints taking an ENTIRE TABLESPOONFUL of his paint!

If this doesn’t prove a point, nothing will. Rest assured, your birds will be fine!

What’s also great about it is that you have such a HUGE range of different color hues you can pick from when you have a look at their color selector. Trust me on this when I saw HUGE!

Here’s how a finished product on their website looks like! Cool right? Of course, you can pick a more colorful color too.

Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint

However, one thing to note is that you first need to get yourself a primer if you want the paint to adhere well and stay on for the long term. You can refer to the Pet Dwellings Primer I mention above and use them together.

If you want to get another type of paint, make sure that it dries fast.

You wouldn’t want any remaining fumes (harmful or not), to be still lingering on the cage when you put your bird inside. You wouldn’t want your birds to be unintentionally exposed to more fumes than they should for the long term.

That’s also why I recommend keeping your birds aside and out of the cage for a week (separate accommodation) for the smell to leave the cage first!

Also, when you apply this paint, make sure to apply 3 layers while allowing for it to cure for 1 day in between each. Once your finish off with the topcoat, allow it to sit for 1 whole week to cure.

NOTE: Before you start on your painting project, don’t forget to prepare an interim accomodation for your birds. Don’t simply expect the drying process to be done in one afternoon!

I noticed that they mention that it’s not suitable for areas that are permanently wet. This means would not use this for painting furniture in the toilet or kitchen. For our bird cages, that’s fine!

Okay, if you’re wondering how to paint your bird cage, I’ll go through it with you next!

Also, if you’re curious about why your bird loves to throw things around, check out this full article I wrote all about it!

4) How To Paint a Bird Cage (Step-by-step)

If you’re willing to follow along with this guide, you’ll need to order these 3 items, so order them together and you’ll have all you need. I didn’t include other things like your own gloves, mask, cardboard paper etc.

  1. ECOS All-In-One Painters Kit
  2. ECOS Pet Dwellings Primer
  3. ECOS Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint

Okay, let’s now get into painting our very own bird cage! Here’s a video that you can refer to on how easy painting your own bird cage can be!

Step 1: Clean The Bird Cage

Good pre-paint cleanup is extremely vital to a nice smooth finish, so don’t skip this step!

First off, you need to begin with cleaning off excess, loose hanging parts of the bird cage. Clean off any debris, poop, dirt, or loose metal pieces that you can physically observe. Then, any cracks and holes should be first repaired.

To sidetrack a bit, here’s a weird article on how often birds poop. Check it out if you’re keen!

If you can, take some time to file off any irregularities so that the paint can adhere well later on. You should then get some sandpaper and give it a good sand down.

The reason why we want to remove as much dirt as possible is that we don’t want the paint to stick to the dust instead of directly to the metal itself. Paint will adhere will to the metal poles directly, so keep that in mind.

Next, we need to wash off the dirt with water and allow it to dry fully.

I recommend that you use a high-pressure washer for this! It makes it SO much easier.

You can also apply mild detergent to areas with stubborn stains and scrub that out first.

Step 2: Dissolve Rusted Metal Parts

If your bird cage has hardly any rust, then that’s fine, you can skip to the next step.

Next up, we need to dissolve any rusted metal parts. If you’re using an old bird cage that has lots of rusted parts, you can’t skip this step.

If you want to remove rust on your bird cage, you need to use a rust dissolver.

I will link a recommended rust dissolver from Rust-Oleum that you can use here. The purpose of the rust dissolver is to chemically remove the rust that has developed over time due to the moisture in the air.

NOTE: If you’re doing this step, you MUST have these protective gear ready:

  1. Gloves (any thick ones from hockey or those used in garages will work)
  2. A mask (to protect your face from accidental splashes/contact with skin)
  3. Safety goggles (if you have glasses, then that’s fine too)
  4. Long sleeves and long pants (to protect your face from accidental splashes/contact with skin)

All of the gear listed above is for your safety because the liquid that dissolves rust can be really corrosive and really damage your skin.

Also, one more thing to note is that you shouldn’t try to do this when the temperature is below 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). The spray may not come out well.

Once you have sprayed the rust dissolver at areas with rust, make sure to leave it out for about 1 hour to do its work. Then proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Prepare Painting Area

If you’re going to be painting, make sure you are doing it outside because it can get really messy. You’ll need to have collected some cardboard pieces or a sheet that you can lay below the cage to catch the paint drips.

If you chose to spray paint your bird cage, you’ll need more of those large cardboard pieces because the spray paint can get everywhere!

Also, make sure your birds are not in the vicinity. Move any other furniture away too!

Step 4: Apply Primer

Next, you’ll need to apply a primer. As recommended in this article above, you should use the Pet Dwelling Primer by ECOS as it is non-toxic and works well for pets.

Once you’ve completed a layer of primer, make sure that it covers all the small corners. Don’t leave any area unpainted. You should cover everything such that it looks fully white.

You should leave it to cure for about a day, depending on your country’s humidity level.

If you’d like to use a separate primer, make sure that it’s meant to be used for metal so that it sticks well. I find that enamel paint goes well onto metal surfaces.

Step 5: Apply 3 Coats of Paint

Next, you can start applying your 3 coats of paint. The first two initial coats will be to cover all the edges of the bird cage, and the final topcoat will seal the deal in making the paint look great and vivid!

Remember to make sure that you have about 2-3 hours drying interval between each coat of paint so as to allow it to cure fully.

NOTE: When you finish applying your last topcoat of paint, you need to allow for it to sit for about 1 week to really ensure that the paint job is done.

If you’re using other paint than what I recommended, such as spray paint, take extra care to really observe the 1 week drying time.

This time is to allow the paint to lose aerosol properties so that your birds won’t inhale it 24/7 while in the cage. That will be a complete disaster!

Here’s how you can apply your paint according to their website:

The ECOS Gloss Pet Dwellings Paint can be applied using a high quality synthetic brush, rolled using a shed-resistant 3/8” to 1/2” roller cover, or sprayed using an airless sprayer with 0.015” to 0.017” tip at 1600 to 1800 psi.

5) Is Rustoleum Paint Safe for Bird Cages?

Rustoleum paint is safe for bird cages. However, Rustoleum paint needs to be non-toxic in nature, not contain VOCs water-based and allow to dry completely for it to be safe for painting bird cages.

A recommended Rustoleum paint that is safe for bird cages would be the Rust-Oleum 327909 American Accents Spray Paint.

Check it out if you are more inclined towards using spray paint instead!

6) Can You Spray Paint a Bird Cage?

Bird cages can be spray painted but they need to be given enough time to cure and dry for 1 week before allowing birds to inhabit them. The Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover Paint + Primer Spray is safe and suitable for spraying on bird cages. Bird cages must be spray painted outdoors and not indoors due to its fumes.

A few things to take note of if you choose to spray paint your bird cage:

  • You’ll need lots of outdoors space (enough ventilation for aerosol to disperse)
  • You’ll need lots of cardboard boxes to protect the surround furniture from the paint
  • Your fingers will experience some finger fatigue from squeezing the nozzle too much
  • You’ll need to wear a mask so you don’t inhale too much fumes
  • You probably need to purchase more cans because they finish really fast (buy more cans just in case)

Here’s the video again from above, if you want something to follow along when you spray paint your bird cage!

7) Extra Tips To Minimise Damage To Bird Cage Paint

Okay, so you’ve finished painting your bird cage, and are absolutely dead-tired from all that work. What’s on your mind next? I would definitely be thinking about making it as last as long as possible!

Keeping that in mind, I’ve compiled some tips from various people who have been here and done that when it maintaining bird cage paint.

Tip 1: Set up sufficient novel perches for your bird to climb all over

By setting up novel perches for your bird to climb around, they won’t damage the paint as much by gripping onto the bars of the bird cages.

Mitch Rezman from Medium recommends that we have at least 3 different perches for birds: soft wood, hardwood, and rope. These help birds cope with their fidgetiness in the cage, hopefully keeping their sharp beaks and claws off the painted bars.

So set up some wooden platforms for birds to switch perches!

Tip 2: Add Foraging Toys To The Cage

As bird owners, we all know our birds love to nibble at stuff, bite things, and sometimes even us. This is all normal and part of their foraging behavior and method to keep their boredom at bay.

I also wrote another article on why birds like to pick at teeth, read all about it here!

In fact, some birds like love birds attack each other often, so toys are really needed. I wrote an article with the reasons why they do so, you can check it out here!

By including some foraging toys to the mix, birds will be less restless and less likely to nibble away at paint, potentially even ingesting small bits of them into their stomachs.

If you’re wondering what kinds of bird toys are great for birds, you can check out this simple Deloky Large Bird Parrot Chewing Toy, that birds will absolutely love.

Here’s how it looks:

Of course, these toys wear out over time, but they help to distract your bird from destroying the paint on your cages!

If you’re not really into buying toys for your birds, then consider giving them some paper to shred. In another article I write all about whether birds eat paper and what type of paper is safe for birds.

Check them out below:

Final Thoughts

Alright! Now I hope you’re fully equipped with all that you need to know about bird-safe paint for bird cages! Remember that it’s very important to pick out the right type of paint so we don’t harm our feathered friends in the process.

And with that, I wish you all the best in your little painting project. You may wish to bookmark this page, and come back when you need to refer to it as a guide again.

Thanks for reading all the way and have fun painting!

My Recommended Birding Resources:

Hey there, Justin here!

Here’s a list of all my favorite resources, products, and all brands I trust and love.

Although some may be affiliate links, I will only recommend those that I think are of great value. Simply purchasing using the links helps to keep this blog running!

  • My Binoculars: The pair of binoculars that I personally use is the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars. It’s a great budget pair for beginner birders. Highly valued for its price! Read my review here.
  • Safe Paint for Bird Baths: Not any paint can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all safe paint for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Safe Sealers for Bird Baths: Not all sealers can be used to paint bird baths. Links to all sealers for bird baths are in this article I wrote!
  • Safe Paint for Bird Feeders: Special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint. Read more in the article here!
  • Safe Paint for Birdhouses: Not any paint can be used to paint birdhouses. Links to all safe paint for birdhouses are in this article I wrote!
  • Birding Apps: 2 of my favorite birding apps are Merlin Bird ID, and eBird Mobile! Merlin is great for tracking and identifying birds, and eBird Mobile is great to track the birds sighted when birding. Read a post about them here.
  • Birding Websites: I’ve compiled a list of links to my top 10 recommended birding websites in a blog post. Find the links here!
  • Birding Podcasts: Birding podcasts are a great way to learn about birds. Links to the top 8 that I recommend can be found here!

Alternatively, you can check out my resources page here where I’ve compiled all the links to the above!


Justin is a hobbyist birder that hopes to share his birding knowledge with the world. His favorite bird is the Large-tailed Nightjar and he really loves potato chips!

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