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

Birds LOVE their birdhouses! And that’s why 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 doing my own research. Here’s what I found:

Oil-based, latex, acrylic, or watercolor paints are safe paints for painting birdhouses. 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?

Before we dive real deep into painting our birdhouses, let’s learn about whether birdhouses should be painted in the first place.

Of course, when we paint a birdhouse, we want it to look aesthetic and at the same time make it a cozy, safe home for birds.

One of the reasons why birds won’t visit bird feeders: their birdhouses are painted in the wrong colors. If you want to know the details, check out this article I wrote about 29 reasons why!

Okay, if birds won’t visit your birdhouse, there are actually a number of reasons why this happens. You need to reach this other article I wrote here 13 reasons why it happens:

Here’s what I found:

Birdhouses should be painted as it has multiple benefits. A birdhouse painted with the camouflage colors such as grey, brown, or green provides birds with excellent concealment from predators. Additionally, birdhouses painted white 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 really give you a strong sense of achievement and joy!

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

Before we get started painting, we want to maker sure that you know whether birdhouses need to be cleaned out. Check that out in this article I wrote here first:

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-Based – Durable and more resistant to low temperatures
Smooth application on wooden surfaces (no need for a second coat)
Less pre-paint cleanup (can be applied to dirty surfaces)
– Can be difficult to do the post-paint cleanup
–  Has a strong smell
– Great for covering up irregularities and dents
– Looks much richer with a matte/glossy finish
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: 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 like mixing paint colors up to create more patterns and designs. You compromise on durability and application to your wooden birdhouse
Brush-on paint
Watercolor–  Decently resistant but not resistant as oil-based paint
–  Easy application
–  Dries faster than other paints
–  Easy post-paint cleanup
–  Works well on different wooden surfaces
–  Waterproof
MediumYou are new to paint jobs and need an easy application of paint to your birdhouse. You also value decent maintenanceBrush-on paint

I created this summary table keeping in mind that you are not going to 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 own 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 readily available on Amazon!

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 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!)

This means that if you have any irregularities for an old birdhouse you want to repaint: any chips in the wood will be easily handled by oil paint.

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 paint and is similar to acrylic paint, which is synthesized from acrylic resin.

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

Typically, latex is useful for big painting projects, like for 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, easy to clean up with just 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, anyway, you can always paint it again 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 that allows for easy expansion and contraction at a wide range of temperatures. Acrylic paint is also known for drying quickly, doesn’t produce 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 as well to wooden surfaces as well as 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 we were 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 actually waterproof. So no worries about the paint on your birdhouse getting absolutely soaked and damaged by rainwater on rainy days!

The downside of watercolor paint: It is only decent at handling exterior elements, and cannot match up to 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 here. Check out an entire article I wrote on it here.

Is It Okay To Paint The Inside Of A Birdhouse?

Okay, chances are, you already have a particular type of paint that 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 living conditions of the birds. Here’s the answer to your question:

The insides of a birdhouse should not be painted. Paint on the inside of 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, you’ve envisioned how your birdhouse may look like, but then you think to yourself: “what color you should 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 how you always see in those color Pinterest birdhouses.

Think of setting up your birdhouse like keeping your own pet.

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

A well-camouflaged birdhouse

Trust me, just go for a more camouflaged color. If you really 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 are placing 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 paints for painting birdhouses. 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 that can have 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 are the types of paint you can use to paint a birdhouse, get cracking! You can always save this page as a bookmark then come back 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 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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