Safe Paint For Birdhouses: A Starter Guide! (Read First!)

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Birds LOVE their birdhouses, so you probably got a birdhouse too!

However, you may have this question in mind: “What kind of paint is safe for birdhouses?”

No worries!

In this article, I’ll share tips I’ve learned while researching.

Here’s what I found:

Oil-based, latex, acrylic, or watercolor paints are safe for birdhouse painting. Birdhouses are safe to be painted everywhere except at the entrance holes, ventilation holes, and insides of the birdhouse, as birds may accidentally consume the paint. Birdhouses should be painted with camouflage-colored paint.

Well, now you know the summarized answer!

If you’ll allow me to explain more, I’ll cover all you need to know about getting your birdhouse painted.

Make sure you don’t miss the details because they are important! Read on for more:

Should Birdhouses Be Painted?

We want our birdhouse to look aesthetic and, at the same time, make it a cozy, safe home for birds.

However, one of the reasons why birds won’t visit bird feeders is that their birdhouses are painted in the wrong colors.

Similarly, birds won’t visit birdhouses if painted in the wrong colors.

So, should birdhouses be painted?

Birdhouses should be painted as it has multiple benefits. A birdhouse painted with camouflage colors such as grey, brown, or green provides birds with excellent concealment from predators. Additionally, white birdhouses can reflect heat well during the summer, preventing overheating in the birdhouse.

Painting a birdhouse is not just always about the birds! It’s about us, too.

Whether this may be your weekend backyard project or your first time painting for fun, it’s all in the spirit of sprucing up and decorating our home spaces!

Okay, you don’t have to be as extreme as this guy:

But having a beautiful birdhouse or two hanging outside can give you a strong sense of achievement and joy!

So, the question should be: “Why not?”

Before we start painting, we want to make sure you know whether the birdhouses need to be cleaned out.

I’ll get you started now:

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On A Birdhouse?

Alright, enough background information; here’s a summary table of the kinds of paint you’ll want to use on a birdhouse:

Type of PaintDescriptionMaintenanceYou Should Get It If:Links
Oil-BasedYou like mixing paint colors up to create more patterns and designs. You compromise on durability and application to your wooden birdhouse.LowYou like rich colors with a matte/glossy finish. You also want low maintenance and easy application.Spray-paint

Brush-on paint
LatexLess durable than other paint types
Easy application to wooden surfaces (birdhouses!)
– Budget-friendly
– Cleanup is easy with soap and water
 Produces less dangerous fumes
– Requires fewer coats to cover a surface
– Much less resistant to exterior elements
HighYou want a cheap paint option that applies well to your wooden birdhouse. Usually bought in larger quantities, great for multiple birdhouses.Brush-on paint
Acrylic – Greater elasticity allows for good expansion and contraction at different temperatures and prevents flaking
–  Mixes well with other acrylic colors and paint
–  Fast-drying
–  Odorless
– Highest resistance to the sun’s damage
–  Doesn’t adhere as well as other paints to wooden surfaces
MediumYou want a cheap paint option that applies well to your wooden birdhouse—usually bought in larger quantities, great for multiple birdhouses.
Brush-on paint
WatercolorYou are new to paint jobs and need an easy application to your birdhouse. You also value decent maintenanceMedium–  Decently resistant but not as resistant as oil-based paint
–  Easy application
–  Dries faster than other paints
–  Easy post-paint cleanup
–  Works well on different wooden surfaces
–  Waterproof
Brush-on paint

I created this summary table keeping in mind that you will not paint the inside of the birdhouse so the birds are unlikely to have any contact with the paint.

Do take note of that!

Also, the abovementioned paints are ALL okay for painting a birdhouse.

It’s just up to your preference on the type of paint to choose from when painting your wooden birdhouse.

Need more information?

Read on as I elaborate more on the differences and give some recommended products you can use!

1) Oil-Based Paint

Ever heard of Bob Ross? His iconic paintings were mostly painted using this type of paint!

Typically used for really vivid and beautiful paintings, oil-based paint is great for exterior usage due to its high durability.

This means that you won’t need to re-paint the birdhouse often!

Oil-based paint also applies really easily to wooden surfaces (aka our wooden birdhouse!)

If you have any irregularities for an old birdhouse you want to repaint, oil paint will easily handle any chips in the wood.

Oil-based paints are made with either alkyd (synthetic) or linseed (natural) oils. Alkyd paint is more common because it is less expensive and tougher.

The downsides of oil-based paint are that it takes longer to dry, has a really strong smell, and cleanup requires turpentine or paint thinner (mineral spirits).

2) Latex Paint

Latex paint is water-based and similar to acrylic paint, synthesized from acrylic resin.

Latex paint is much easier to work with than oil-based paint because it dries more quickly but is not as durable.

Typically, latex is useful for big painting projects, like walls and ceilings.

However, you can use exterior latex paint for your wooden birdhouse if you have some to spare from painting your porch/house.

What’s really great about latex paint is that it’s really hassle-free.

It’s budget-friendly, easy to apply to wooden surfaces, clean up with soap and water, and even has an odorless scent. Plus, you’ll also require fewer coats to coat a surface.

The main downside of latex paint is this: it is much less resistant to exterior elements than other paint.

This means that if your birdhouse is in a location that would take lots of outdoor wear and tear, this paint won’t hold out for long.

BUT, honestly, with its lower price point and hassle-free application, it’s a great starting option for first-time painters!

No worries; you can always repaint it if it ever wears out.

3) Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is chemical-based and not water-based like latex paint.

Due to this trait, it requires the use of paint thinners for it to be removed.

Acrylic paint has the highest resistance to sun damage, as it is highly elastic and allows for easy expansion and contraction at various temperatures.

Acrylic paint is known for drying quickly and not producing any odor.

The best part of acrylic paint is this: it is great for mixing up with other acrylic paint to achieve a blend of colors.

If you’re the type to like to blend and maybe even make a small painting in your birdhouse, this might be a good option for you.

Major Downside: Acrylic paint doesn’t adhere well to wooden surfaces or other paint types.

It will require more coats of paint to achieve the desired color as advertised in a paint can.

4) Watercolor Paint

When we think of watercolor paint, don’t we all think of messy art lessons while still in school?

See, you already have some experience with this type of paint!

What’s the best thing about watercolor paints?

Their ease of application!

Watercolor paints are easy to apply to wooden surfaces, require minimal post-paint cleanup, and dry much faster than other paints due to their water-based nature.

Despite its water-based nature, it is waterproof.

So, no worries about the paint on your birdhouse getting soaked and damaged by rainwater on rainy days!

The downside of watercolor paint: It is decent at handling exterior elements and cannot match the toughness of oil-based paint.

Okay, if you’re into painting other types of items for birds, you’ll likely need to follow a different set of rules for safe paint.

Is It Okay To Paint The Inside Of A Birdhouse?

Okay, chances are, you already have a particular type of paint you are looking for in your birdhouse.

Now you’re wondering: “is it okay to paint the inside of a birdhouse?”

I understand you’re concerned that painting the insides of a birdhouse may affect the birds’ living conditions.

Here’s the answer to your question:

The insides of a birdhouse should not be painted. Paint inside a birdhouse may start to peel or chip off over time when hatchlings begin to move around and scratch at the paint on the inside. This is an unsafe practice as they may accidentally consume the paint chips from the paint inside.

What Color To Paint A Birdhouse?

So you’ve chosen your paint and envisioned how your birdhouse may look, but then you think to yourself: “What color should you paint a birdhouse?”

That’s exactly a question that I asked myself, and I want to share this very important answer with you:

Birdhouses should be painted with camouflage colors like gray, green, and brown that suit their natural environment and keep the birds safe. Bright-colored paint should not be used as it can attract unwanted attention from predators. Birdhouses should not be painted black as they can get heated up in summer.

Yes, that’s right! DON’T paint your birdhouse with a super bright color like you always see in those color Pinterest birdhouses.

Think of setting up your birdhouse like keeping your pet.

You don’t want the birds that inhabit your birdhouse to get discovered and eaten by a snake, right?

A well-camouflaged birdhouse

Trust me, just go for a more camouflaged color. If you need to, at least pick a dark version of the color you have in mind, like dark purple or dark blue.

Also, don’t pick black if you place your birdhouse in an area with direct sunlight; don’t paint it black.

Cavity-nesting birds are picky about choosing safe-colored birdhouses as their homes, so they may NOT even settle down in birdhouses with poor color choices.

Now you know!

What Paint is Safe for Bird Boxes?

Oil-based, latex, acrylic, or watercolor paints are safe for birdhouse painting. Birdhouses are safe to be painted everywhere except at the entrance holes, ventilation holes, and insides of the birdhouse, as birds may accidentally consume the paint. Birdhouses should be painted with camouflage-colored paint.

Do Birds Like Colorful Houses?

Birds do not like colorful birdhouses because they attract too much attention from predators. Birds like to live in birdhouses that are camouflaged-colored: grey, green, brown. While attractive to humans, colorful birdhouses can cause lethal harm to birds inhabiting them.

What Colors Attract Birds To Birdhouses?

Camouflage colors like gray, green, and brown attract birds to birdhouses. These colors blend into the natural environment, helping birds feel safe inhabiting them. Bright-colored paint should not be used as it can attract predators. Birdhouses should not be painted black as they can get heated up in summer.

What Color Should You Not Paint A Birdhouse?

Birdhouses should not be painted with attention-grabbing or bright colors such as white, red, pink, yellow, or orange. These colors will attract the attention of predators, threatening the safety of the birds staying in the birdhouses. Avoid black as it will trap too much heat during the summer.

Do Birds Like The Color Black?

Birds do not like the color black because it is too dull and unattractive—birds like camouflage colors for birdhouses and bright colors for birdbaths and bird feeders.

What Do You Use To Seal A Birdhouse?

Birdhouses should be sealed with non-toxic linseed oil with a matte, gloss, or satin finish. An example of such oil can be found here.

Simple Birdhouse Painting Ideas

Source: Ted Freeman

Final Thoughts

Okay, now you know what paint you can use to paint a birdhouse, get cracking!

You can always save this page as a bookmark and then return later for reference.

Remember, please avoid painting your birdhouse in bright colors as much as possible!

Okay, thanks for reading this article, and happy birding!

My Recommended Birding Resources:

Hey there, Justin here!

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

My Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars: It’s a great budget pair for beginner birders. Highly valued for its price! Read my review.

Safe Paint for Bird Baths Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting bird baths.

Safe Sealers for Bird Baths Guide: Learn which sealers are safe for bird baths.

Safe Paint for Bird Feeders Guide: Learn what special care needs to be taken to paint bird feeders with the right paint.

Safe Paint for Birdhouses Guide: Learn about non-toxic paint for painting birdhouses. (Not the same as bird baths!)

Bird Identification Apps Guide: 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 for tracking the birds sighted when birding.

Check out my resources page for the full list of resources I recommend!

Justin Chia

Justin is the founder and author of Birding Outdoors. He is a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumnus with a Bachelor of Biological Sciences and a former data analyst.

Now, Justin runs the Birding Outdoors blog full-time, hoping to share his deep love for birds, birding, and nature with others.

To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.

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