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How to Paint a Crib

Our gallery is sprinkled with painted cribs lovingly customized by parents-to-be. Have you ever wondered how to paint a crib to get that custom look? We decided we’d call in the experts to answer this question. Our friends at Lullaby Paints spelled it out step-by-step for us. Here are their baby crib painting recommendations.

How to Paint a Crib - Project NurseryMillie’s Teal and Yellow Nursery/Crib Painted by Pickled and Painted

First and foremost, you must use non-toxic, Zero VOC, no odor paint.

Lullaby Paints

1. Make sure that the crib (or other piece) is clean, dry and free of any loose dirt or grime.

2. Scuff sanding is highly recommended to provide an anchor profile for the new paint to bond well. Usually a medium (180#) or fine (220#) grit sandpaper or sanding sponge is sufficient.

3. Remove any sanding dust.

4. Apply at least two coats of the Lullaby paint, waiting 4 hours between coats.

5. When finished, it is not necessary to topcoat with a clear finish. A clear is not going to add any more to the job than another coat of the paint will.

Best results will come from using a good quality 100% nylon bristle brush (many people make the mistake of buying the best grade of paint they can afford and then using a cheap brush to apply it). Once the final coat is dry, the piece can be put into use, and the baby can occupy the crib/room.

Note: Typically a quart will cover about 125 square feet.  That allows for 60 +/- square feet per coat.  We have found that a quart is usually plenty to paint the average crib twice, with enough paint left over for future touch ups.

UPDATE! We had so many follow-up questions in our comments that we reached out to Lullaby Paints to answer some of the most frequently asked. Here are their additional tips:

Do I need to prime?
Priming is only generally necessary if you are painting bare wood or making a drastic color change (black to white, for example).

What finish should I choose for a crib (eggshell, gloss, semi-gloss)?
Most people tend to opt for a Semi-Gloss, but any of those three are functionally ideal. They are all equally durable and hardwearing.

I know some children will “teeth” on the crib when they get old enough. Is Lullaby paint safe for them to be able to do that?
Our paints are all EN71-3 certified, meaning they are certified safe for use on children’s toys (where chewing is almost guaranteed!).

I have already primed my crib. Do I still have to sand it down so the paint will stick?
If you have already primed the crib then no sanding is needed. You would only typically need to scuff sand if the crib has a glossy finish on it. You don’t need to sand it all the way down, just enough to “rough up” the surface, this gives Lullaby Paint something good to “bite” to.

Does this method work on compressed wood?
In most cases yes, you would just need a coat of our Wood Primer prior to painting. Make sure the wood is clean and dry, and not chipping or flaking first.

Lullaby Paints

Thank you, Lullaby Paints, for sharing your expertise with us. We teamed up with Lullaby Paints to offer an exclusive collection of paint colors in The Project Nursery Shop perfect for the nursery, shipped to your doorstop.

Project Nursery Exclusive Paint Colors




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  1. avatar Vickie Kersey says:

    Is it necessary to strip all of the old paint? or can I just Strip and sand the cracked and chipping parts?

  2. […] space as infants, but cribs are one item that they'll each have a separate one of. Use this tutorial from Project Nursery to learn how you can safely paint a crib to make it unique. This way, each baby can have a different colored or patterned crib. Try painting […]

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  5. avatar Jerome Ngugi says:

    Quite an interesting space.
    There are plenty of valid questions in the comments such as what exactly encompasses ‘baby safe’ paint. Is this to mean that regular paint used on other surfaces such as the wall is ideally not safe for the baby.?

  6. avatar jamesd says:

    Could Valspar’s No VOC paint be used as an alternative? How does it compare to this? TIA.

  7. avatar Beth says:

    Hi Jane, The owner of the crib painted it in Teal Zeal by Behr, you can see more of her nursery here. We got so many questions about how to paint a crib, we pulled in the experts from Lullaby Paints to give tips and answer our readers questions. Good luck with your nursery design!

  8. avatar Jane says:

    I’m a bit confused about the crib being painted. In another post you say you use Teal Zeal by Behr but in this post it’s said that Lullabye Paint was used. Can you clarify which is used? Lullabye paint definitely has nothing similar to this colour. Thanks.

  9. avatar Ania says:

    Will a brown crib be able to be painted into a grey color???

  10. avatar Amber says:

    Read the return polic before you purchase these paints!

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  12. avatar Alayna Cole says:

    Hello all,

    We just painted our nursery a lemon chiffon yellow in anticipation of our baby girl , due in November. I have a crib from my son (now 4 yrs old) which is a dark gray, and I need some ideas about what color to paint the crib. Anybody have any ideas? I was thinking either bright white, semi-gloss or maybe pink as an accent? Any advice is appreciated!

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  14. avatar Beth says:

    Hi all! Thank you for your patience with your questions and comments. We were able to get an update from the expert team at Lullaby Paints to answer some of the frequent questions in the comments. Please see above for these responses.

  15. avatar Candice says:

    Why are there no public answers to all these questions? I’m interested to know half of what others have already asked. Thanks.

  16. avatar Mary Jane says:

    This seems like it was meant to be more of an elaborate ad for Lullaby paint rather than a helpful blog post seeing as the author has completely disappeared from the comment section.

  17. avatar Elizabeth says:

    When psinting tge metal parts of the crib what kind of psint is recommended? I was thinking spray paint for metal side rsils but I am not sure?

  18. avatar Maggie says:

    I was looking at the Lullaby Paints, and it looks like they offer wall paints. What paint would be used for the crib?

  19. […] Credits: How to Paint a Crib […]

  20. avatar An says:

    Does this method work on compressed wood?

  21. avatar Shaylee says:

    Do you Have red paint?

  22. avatar Jeanne Cox says:

    I have primed my crib and want to paint it white so the primer is white. Do I have to sand it down so the paint will stick?

  23. avatar Heather says:

    I painted a changing table with spray paint, now realizing that may have been toxic. How can I fix this? Can I just paint over it with safer paint?

  24. avatar Claire says:

    Thanks for that I’m going for rustoleum satin furniture paint no primer needed but is it only LOW in VOC will this be safe crown has a minimal VOC. but needs a primer is a primer toxic? Lol all these questions I just want a lovely clean white tutti bambini cot :)

  25. avatar Adam says:

    “First and foremost, you must use non-toxic, Zero VOC, no odor and baby safe paint.”
    – please define “non-toxic”
    – Zero VOC – this is nothing special. Sherwin-Williams ProMar 200 is “zero VOC”
    – no odor – paints don’t continue to have odor after they are fully cured. this means nothing unless you are painting the crib with the baby in it.
    – please define “baby safe”

    based on the research i have done, “baby paint” is just fancy marketing to sell stuff that already sells as regular paint. Don’t get caught up on the marketing scheme that you have to buy paint specific for a nursery.

  26. avatar Judy White says:

    i guess not…. :(

  27. avatar Michelle says:

    I am reading through all these questions people are asking and I would like to know these answers as well. Do you not reply at all?

  28. avatar Taryn says:

    So I know some children will “teeth” on the crib when they get old enough. Is this paint safe for them to be able to do that?

  29. avatar Beck says:

    Thank you for actually mentioning how much paint you used! I’ve been goggling for awhile to estimate about how much I would need for a standard size crib. I found zero answers. Lullaby Paint’s guide mentioned a formula, but whenever I did that – it came out with an insane answer that I knew couldn’t possibly be accurate. I assumed one quart would be enough, but with almost $12 shipping cost – I wanted to be absolutely positive.

  30. avatar Elizabeth says:

    Do not purchase this paint. The coverage is poor at best and they will not honor their product.

  31. avatar helen says:

    What was the finish type for the Lullaby Paint? Gloss or Semi-Gloss?

  32. avatar Victoria says:

    What about priming? Is that not necessary after sanding??

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  34. avatar Rachel says:

    I was wondering what is the best type of paint to get for a crib. Eggshell, gloss, semi-gloss….?

  35. avatar Scott says:

    I am making a crib for our granddaughter. Do we need to apply a primer to the unpainted wood first??

  36. avatar Beth says:

    The owner of the crib painted it in Teal Zeal by Behr, you can see more of her nursery here.

  37. avatar Lori H says:

    What color did you use on the crib pictured?

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  39. avatar KIRATIVE . says:

    Thank you for this!! My question: no need to use a primer on the wood first??