How To Read a Product Label

Most consumers aren't label or instruction readers by nature. And while many people have become sensitive to reading labels on packaged food, most tend to pass up the information provided on the labels of paint and paint-related products.

The overlooked information - warnings, first aid instructions, tools needed to complete the task, application techniques, warranties and guarantees - could be very important to the safe and proper completion of a painting project.

Many products include a warning as part of its label. "Keep away from heat," "Use with adequate ventilation," "Harmful if swallowed or inhaled," "Do not smoke," or "Caution: Sharp blade" are some common examples.

The government requires warning labels to provide a measure of safety to the end user. While such advice may seem obvious to many, the result can be dangerous, even fatal, if not heeded. In addition to the standard warnings, many labels also will contain important medical instructions in case of accidental consumption. Labels in their entirety, should be read carefully before using any product.

Now that you have established some safety guidelines by reading the label, what tools do you need to complete the task at hand?

For a painting project, the label might recommend proper preparation techniques for a variety of surfaces. The process might include washing the surface with a mild cleanser, sanding, patching or priming. The label also might instruct you as to which type of applicator to use - a brush, roller or spray equipment.

Proper application techniques help ensure end-result satisfaction. For example, following the label instructions when painting, staining or removing paint will save you both time and money.

Finally, be sure to look for warranty or guarantee information. Many companies will replace the product or reimburse its cost if the product fails despite following the label's instructions properly.

Courtesy of the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association -