Safe Paint For Bird Baths: A Helpful Starter Guide + Table

Birdbaths can be decorated with paint to attract birds, but using the right type of safe paint ensures that birds are not harmed in the process. In desperation, I searched online only to get frustrated with the lack of information, and so I did my own research for the answers. Here’s what I found:

Oil-based, latex or acrylic exterior paint is safe for painting birdbaths. Latex and acrylic paints are safe for use on the insides of the basin, but not oil-based paint. Oil-based paint is suitable for use on other parts of the birdbath. The paint must be sealed with a non-toxic waterproof sealant and fully dried.

While these are safe paints to paint your birdbath, there are more details that need to be taken note of and other caveats and tips that will play an important role in painting your birdbath. Read on for more details!

The Importance of Choosing Safe Paints For Bird Baths

Boring-looking concrete birdbaths can be a thing of the past with a simple fresh coat of paint! Plus, it can really lighten up the mood and attract more birds to your birdbath! However, we should ensure the paint we use for birdbaths is safe for birds’ to use. Here are 2 reasons why this is important.

1. Birdbaths Are Subjected To Outdoor Elements

Birdbaths are also constantly subjected to outdoor elements as they are kept outdoors. Outdoor elements can wear out on the wrong type of paint chosen, producing toxic chemicals that will be unsafe for birds’ usage and accidental consumption.

2. Repeated Avian Usage

Repeated avian usage contaminates birdbaths with droppings, feathers, and other contaminants, causing inappropriate paint to be damaged, requiring additional maintenance or potential harm to birds themselves.

Choosing The Safe and Right Type Of Paint

If you’re looking to paint your birdbath, I’m going to be assuming you will be painting on concrete to freshen up its look from that drab-looking grey, right? Having said that, we would also want our birds to be safe using the birdbaths we set up. Oh, speaking of colors, I wrote another useful article on the best colors to paint birdbaths. Do check it out!

Please keep in mind that when choosing your preferred paint, try not to scrimp on the cost because durable paint can save more effort for maintenance in the long term. As such, so your value overall will be higher!

To make things simple for your reference, I summarized the different safe paints you can use for your bird bath in the table below:

Type Of PaintPropertiesCostMaintenanceWhy You Should Choose It
Oil-Based– Durable and more resistant to low temperatures than latex paint
– Smooth application (no need for a second coat of paint)
– Requires less pre-paint cleanup: can be applied to dirty surfaces
– Great for covering up imperfections
– Looks much richer than latex paint
CANNOT be used for inside water basin of birdbath
MediumMediumYou like rich colors and you want to paint uneven, dirty surfaces. You just want to paint the non-basin area of the bird bath.
Latex– Easy application
Cheaper than acrylic paint
Cleanup is fast with soap and water
Produces fewer dangerous fumes
Requires fewer coats to cover a surface
CAN be used for inside water basin of bird bath
LowHighYou want a cheap paint option and easy application. You compromise on durability.
AcrylicGreater elasticity allows for good expansion and contraction at different temperatures that prevent flaking
Expensive but durable
Highest resistance to the sun’s damage compared to latex and oil-based paints
CAN be used for inside water basin of bird bath
HighLowYou don’t mind spending more money for better value and durability.

Oh, but if you’re looking to paint your birdhouse too and not just your bird bath, the paints you can use are a little different. I wrote another article on safe paint for birdhouses here. Check it out!

As suggested earlier, there are 3 categories of external grade paints that are safe for birds and robust against the outdoors. Here are more details:

1) Oil-based Paint

Oil-based paint like its name, oil-based. Oil-based paint is more durable than latex paint but requires a longer period of time to fully dry off and its cleanup requires turpentine or paint thinner use.

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.

Do keep in mind that the oil-based paint that you purchase should NOT be used on the inside of the basin of the birdbath, as it is not safe for bird consumption when it is worn down by nature over time. However, feel free to use oil-based paint for painting other parts of the birdbath.

Now if you are ready to pick oil-based paint and be like Bob Ross, then you can go on ahead to paint the OUTSIDE surfaces of the bird bath. If you have some oil-based paint of your own, then go ahead and use it! However, for those of you who need some guidance to find oil-based paint, here are some recommendations on Amazon:

Recommendation #1 : Castle Art Supplies Oil Paint Set (24 tubes of 0.4oz/12ml)

This oil paint set contains 24 premium colors of oil paint in 12ml tubes. The tubes are resealable and can be kept for future use again. What’s great is that it has a Money Back Plus Guarantee so if you aren’t happy, you can get a refund and keep the paints.

If you want to paint a small little painting of your own on the outside of your bird bath, then this is the perfect choice for you. It gives you a wide selection of different colors in small amounts so you don’t break the bank. What’s best is that they conveniently sell it on Amazon. You can check out the price of this paint on Amazon here.

Recommended #2: RUST-OLEUM’s Oil-Based Gloss Tuscan Sun Yellow Spray-On Paint (72oz)

If you’re looking to simply paint the entire exterior of the birdbath with just one color, I suggest going for this product. It has enough volume to cover the entirety of the exterior of your birdbath.

Typically, a birdbath paint job only requires a few ounces, so you’ll have plenty of this paint to spare after. You’ll still have some remaining if you want to use it for another paint job.

This product also comes in colors other than Gloss Sunburst Yellow so check out their store for other colors if you like! You can get your hands on this exact paint on Amazon right here. Do take note that it’s for spraying onto metal or wood surfaces only!

Oh, and if you’re wondering what colors to paint your birdbath, check out another article I wrote on how to select the right colors here!

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 for walls and ceilings. You can use latex paint for your birdbath if you have some to spare from painting your house. (Just make sure it can be used for exterior purposes!)

Latex paint is suitable for use on the insides of the water basin of your bird bath, as well as the other exterior surfaces.

Recommended Latex Paint: RUST-OLEUM’s 1938730 Painter’s Touch Latex Paint, Gloss Hunter Green (8 Oz/236ml)

If you would like to choose latex paint, here’s an example of a product you can purchase. Do note that this color is Gloss Hunter Green, but you can purchase this in other colors, also available on amazon. You can check out its price on Amazon here.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what colors to paint your birdbath, check out another article I wrote on how to select the right colors here!

3) Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is chemical-based and not water-based like latex paint. Due to this trait, it requires paint thinners to be removed.

An important note when using acrylic paints: it requires careful handling when in use because there needs to be sufficient ventilation in your area due to the dangerous chemical fumes it produces.

Be careful! I suggest that you do this outdoors so you won’t inhale any nasty vapors, especially if you are spray-painting.

Acrylic paint is suitable and safe for use on the insides of the water basin on your bird bath, as well as the other parts of the bird bath.

Recommended Acrylic Paint: Magicfly Outdoor Acrylic Paint (set of 30 bottles of 2oz)

If you already have some acrylic paint on hand, then please do use that if you don’t want to waste some old paint. However, if you choose to use your own acrylic paint, that may not be suitable for outdoor use where the paint is exposed to UV rays and other weather conditions.

I have found that the Magicfly Outdoor Acrylic Paint holds up well as it has great UV protection and weather resistance. They come in a set of 30 bottles of about 2oz (60ml) each with lots of bright colors. Great if you want a colorful birdbath! Also, it’s conveniently sold on Amazon here at a price that’s decent for its color variety.

Bird Bath Paint For Different Materials

I’m sure you’re now almost an expert on bird bath paints! However, you’ll also need to consider what kind of paint to use for different bird bath materials. Metal birdbaths, concrete birdbaths, and ceramic birdbaths have different surfaces so you’ll need different types of paint for them.

Here’s are some products with their respective bird bath materials they work well with:

Bird Bath MaterialType of PaintRecommended Paint
Wood, metal, plaster, masonry (concrete), and ceramicLatex/AcrylicRust-Oleum: Painters Touch Latex, Gloss Navy Blue, 32 Fl Oz
Wood, metal, masonry (concrete)Oil and EnamelRust-Oleum: Stops Rust Brush On Paint, Satin Hunter Green, 32 Fl Oz
Wood, plastic, metal, fiberglass, concrete, wicker, vinylOil and EnamelRust-Oleum: Universal Enamel Spray Paint, Gloss Canary Yellow, 12 oz

Great! Now you know that the type of paint that works for your birdbath. Now let’s talk about preparations needed before your painting project.

How To Paint Your Bird Bath: 3 Simple Steps

1) Cleanup

If your birdbath has been around for a while and you’ve not spent some time cleaning it up and dust it off, make sure you do so before you paint. In order for the paint to stay on well, it is important that you do a proper clean-up before we even get on to any other steps.

You’ll first need to prepare some soapy water and a stiff-bristled brush. Place a drop cloth on the bottom of the basin to collect all the debris. Then you’ll need to try your best to remove all dirt and debris that has probably built up on your birdbath basin.

It is important to be thorough at this step because it can heavily compromise the quality of your paint job later on. You can also choose to add some trisodium phosphate solution to the soapy water to remove any old oils, grime, and mold. Then rinse off all the residue. Then allow it to fully dry before continuing to other steps.

2) How To Apply Concrete Sealers, Primers, and Paint

(a) Applying a concrete sealer

Recommended first sealer: MasonryDefender All-Purpose Concrete, Brick & Stone Sealer, (2.5 Gallon/5ml) Sealer

Concrete sealers are coats that are applied to the birdbath before even setting a primer. As concrete is porous and absorbs paint, it makes it difficult to apply paint. They serve the purpose of sealing the concrete to prevent it from absorbing too much of the paint. You can get the above sealer from Amazon at a link here.

(b) Applying a primer

A primer can then be applied using either a brush with bristles or a spray paint can.

The primer should be brushed on with even and slow strokes for even application and the best coverage. Then it should be allowed to be fully dry before adding a topcoat, then it is ready for a coat of paint.

Recommended primer: Rust-Oleum 7582838 Professional Primer Spray Paint, 15 oz, Gray Primer

In choosing primers, make sure to use a primer that is appropriate for the type of paint you are using. If you are using latex paint, use a latex-based primer. If you are using oil-based paints, use an oil-based primer. You can find an example of an oil-based primer on Amazon at a link here.

(c) Applying the paint

Once the primer is fully dry, you can add your desired paint. I would suggest that you use a clean brush and thoroughly clean the insides of the sprayer if needed, before starting.

If you already have paintbrushes at home that aren’t too dirty, use them! If not, here’s a link to get some no-frills paintbrushes on Amazon.

As most paints will take at least two rounds of coats of paint to finish, allow the first coat to dry completely before starting on the topcoat.

3) Post-Paintjob Considerations

Once you’re done with the painting, you’ll want to consider some aspects before you start filling the birdbath up and getting started. Here are some of them:

(a) Apply Final Sealant

This sealant is different from the concrete sealant as mentioned earlier. Here are 3 reasons why you need to apply sealant after the paint job.

  1. It provides UV protection to the paint, allowing it to last longer.
  2. It acts as a waterproof layer on top of the paint.
  3. It prevents the buildup of dirt on the paint

Think of it as an invisible layer to seal it all up!

When dirt falls onto the birdbath, the sealant protects the paint from it and is easily cleaned off. I would also suggest using a clear and non-yellowing sealer to avoid an unwanted yellow/white tint on your paint job.

As sealants need to be the same type as their paints, I gathered some links to some recommended ones in the table below:

Gorilla Waterproof Clear Patch & Seal Spray (12 oz.)Krylon K01305 Aerosol UV-Resistant Clear Gloss Sealer (11 oz.)

(b) Make sure it dries completely

Not giving your birdbath ample time to dry completely can be a big mistake in this paint job. Make sure to give it plenty of time to dry completely BEFORE you move it to its intended location in your backyard.

Make sure the drop cloth, paint brushes, paint, and primer cans are sealed or disposed of accordingly. Remember that some of the paints have dangerous chemical fumes if inhaled in excess.

(c) Keep Your Bird Bath Clean

Now you’ll want to maintain and keep your birdbath clean as it will naturally start to build up with dirt over time. I wrote another article in detail on this so check it out here!

Additional Ideas For Your Painted Bird Bath

I suggest going for a single-color paint coat, then pair it with other decorations and ornaments. Or you can also go for a more colorful look with brightly colored paint to make it stand out from the green vegetation in your backyard or garden. I would suggest going for red, orange, or yellow as these provide a really nice contrast from green.

I actually wrote another article on the best colors for painting birdbaths here. I included a handy chart that details which color attracts what bird species. You’re gonna find it useful!

One way to get really creative with painting your birdbath would be to squeeze down a diluted paint from a sponge from the edges to the center. Here’s an example I found on Pinterest. Pinterest has many examples so go have a look!

Hand painted bird bath

If you’re more artistic and want to go for a real painting, you can consider painting flowers on the top to make it look like a flower. I found an example of this on Pinterest.

If you want to see more examples, I wrote another article focusing on the colors and design of birdbaths. Check it out here!

Should You Paint A Bird Bath?

Bird baths should be painted. Painting a bird bath in colorful colors can attract more birds, liven up the mood in the garden, and prevent direct environmental damage if a non-toxic sealant is applied over it. Bird baths can either be spray-painted or brush-painted.

Will Painting A Bird Bath Hurt The Birds?

Painting a bird bath will definitely not cause harm to the birds if the right type of safe paint is used with a non-toxic waterproof sealant. Examples of safe paint for bird baths include oil-based, latex, and acrylic paints which will not hurt the birds.

What Are The Best Colors For Bird Baths To Attract Birds?

Any bright or primary colors are the best colors to paint bird baths. These colors include red and pink to attract hummingbirds, orange to attract orioles, blue to attract bluejays, and yellow to attract goldfinches. Drab camouflage colors like green can attract skittish birds. However, white scares birds away.

If you need more information on colored paint, check out the full article I wrote on the best colors for painting bird baths here.

What Kind of Paint is Safe for Metal Bird Baths?

Oil-based, latex, or acrylic is safe for painting metal bird baths. However, only latex and acrylic paint should be sprayed on the insides of the basin, not oil-based paint. Oil-based paint can be sprayed onto the other parts of the bird bath. The paint must have an anti-rust formula.

What Spray Paint Is Safe For Bird Baths?

Spray paint that is oil-based, latex, or acrylic is safe for painting bird baths. However, only latex and acrylic paint should be sprayed on the insides of the basin, not oil-based paint. Oil-based paint can be sprayed onto the other parts of the bird bath. A non-toxic sealer must be applied after.

Is It Safe To Use Spray Paint On A Bird Bath?

Spray paints are safe for painting bird baths. Bird baths should only be spray painted with oil-based, acrylic, or latex paints, and oil-based paint should not be used on the basins of bird baths. Rustoleum spray paint can be used for bird baths.

Here’s an example:

This RUST-OLEUM Gloss Orange spray paint is a mix of oil and enamel-based paint that’s great and safe for painting bird baths. You should also check out this video on how you can set up to spray paint your bird bath!

Is Polyurethane Safe For Bird Baths?

Polyurethane is safe for bird baths as a waterproof sealant. Polyurethane is non-toxic and eco-friendly in nature that is not harmful to birds, plants, and other animals. Polyurethane is safe to be applied as a sealant after a double-coated paint job on a bird bath.

Polyurethane is actually one of the best choices to seal a bird bath after you’re done with your paint job! That’s because it’s non-toxic in nature, can withstand the outdoors, and is water-resistant. Great for birds to bathe in!

Recommended Polyurethane Sealant: SEAL-ONCE Nano+Poly Concrete & Masonry Penetrating Sealer & Waterproofer (1 Gallon/5L)

I found this really perfect polyurethane sealer from SEAL-ONCE and it ticks off all the requirements on my list. It’s water-resistant, UV-stable, and maintains the original color of the paint underneath. Do check out its availability on Amazon here.

Final Thoughts

Using bird-safe paints is extremely important for decorating and revamping your birdbath. So don’t delay if you’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time; it’s time to revamp your old concrete birdbath and start attracting birds to your backyard!

Happy painting!


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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