Saturday, June 18, 2005

Repainting Old Bird Cages

We get a lot of phone calls and emails asking about repainting
bird cages. Some birds are tough on the cages, especially if
the cage is a less expensive one. Using those beaks to climb
around the cage can cause paint chipping and wear on a lot of
cages, especially the large parrot cages. Owners often worry
whether their bird may be ingesting those paint chips as well.
Although we have found very few cages that can be successfully
repainted and hold up well afterward, which is why we usually
recommend buying a new good quality cage instead, we can give
you a few pointers if you are determined to try repainting your
bird’s cage yourself.

Before you are ready to begin you will need a temporary cage
for your bird to live in for several weeks while you redo the
original cage.

First thing is to thoroughly clean that old cage removing any
and all food, feces, and dirt from every nook and cranny.
You will need to take the cage outside and use a power washer
or plain old fashioned hand scrubbing using lots of soap and
water. After thoroughly drying the cage, next, using a good
wire brush comes a good scrubbing to remove any loose paint
chips. Then comes a good sanding of all surfaces to finish
off removing any loose old paint particles as well as preparing
the cage surfaces to better accept the new paint. Now if you
haven’t totally exhausted yourself preparing the cage, and have
already decided to just by a new better one, you are ready to
begin repainting your bird cage. (If you cage has rust spots
see our note below.)

So you are now off to purchase the right paint but what do you
look for? We have had a couple of cage manufacturers suggest
a non-toxic appliance paint used on kitchen appliances as this
type of paint dries very hard and is easy to clean. You are
looking for several things listed on the paint can. It should
say that the paint is safe for baby furniture and preferably
also baby toys. Since babies put everything in their mouth,
these paints must meet certain safety standards that not all
paints meet. Of course, the paint cannot contain lead, zinc
or chromate. To our knowledge all paints now sold in the
United States are lead free. For the paint to hold up, it
should also state that it is formulated to bond with metal
surfaces and is hard-wearing. You also want a paint that is
fast drying.

Now you have the safest paint you can find and you are ready
to begin. Painting should be done outdoors on a warm sunny
day, and away from any animals or ponds. No matter how safe
the paint says it is, never paint anywhere near where your
bird is. Paint fumes are toxic to birds not to mention not
too good for the painter either. There are newer paints on
the market that claim to have no smell and thus no fumes to
be unsafe. Maybe, maybe not, however I doubt many of these
paints manufacturers have done testing to be 100%sure their
great new products are totally non-toxic for our birds. So
best to keep Polly far away from any painting going on.

When you have finished painting the cage now you wait. We
recommend you wait a minimum of two (yes 2) weeks before you
put your bird inside this newly painted cage. It takes at
least that long for the paint to do it’s thing and be safe
for your bird. And, very important, do not cover your bird
for at least 30 days after the cage has been painted so there
is no danger any still existing vapors can get caught inside
a covered cage with your bird.

We have known some owners who take their clean, stripped down
cages and have them powder coated instead of repainting them.
Before doing this we recommend you do a search on powder
coating and determine for yourself whether this process is
safe for your bird. Power coating is not the same process as
simply repainting.

RUSTY CAGES: As a rule, if your cage has rust spots,
throw it out and buy a new one. Do not use paint products
which inhibit the return of rust, cover it up, or try to hide
the rust. There are a couple of name brands for these, and
they are very toxic to our birds. Some people think that
once these products are totally dry, they become safe.
However, I don’t want to find out the hard way with one of my
birds and neither should you.