First, the wire should be scrubbed with a wire brush to remove any loose zinc flakes, and then sanded smooth by hand.
In general, look for paints which:
- do not contain lead, zinc or chromate
- are “high adhesion”, formulated to bond with the metal surface
- are hard-wearing
- are fast drying
We recommend ECOS Gloss paint for painting bird cages. It requires a suitable primer on bare metal – their Stainblock being a good choice. The biggest problem is the time required for the paint/finish to fully cure. We recommend 24 hours for the primer to dry, then three thin coats of gloss, allowing 24 hours between each. The gloss then needs between six and ten days to fully cure. This requires alternative accommodation for the bird during renovation.
While painting, be sure to:
- move bird to a separate room
- work in a well-ventilated area
- apply paint in a thin coat
- if you’re using a spray paint, be sure to hold a large piece of paper or cardboard behind the cage, moving it as you go, to act as a backdrop which catches the excess paint.
When the job is done...
WAIT. If possible, give your freshly painted cage a week or longer before using. Solvent-based paints take time after initial drying to release the solvent vapours. NEVER cover a bird in a freshly painted cage.
This tip to help minimize paint chewing by birds:
Birds love to climb, and paint damage often occurs from birds’ gripping the cage with their beak to assist them in climbing up the cage. Aviculturist Eb Cravens also once reported that, by wiring perches or appropriately-sized tree branches onto the inner sides of the wire enclosures, the birds will be encouraged to climb from place to place by gripping these with their beaks, so that they do not even touch the wire when climbing.
A recommendation from Palace Cages:
“Much of the cage industry today uses a “Powder Coat” system. They advertise it is easy to clean and super hard. It may be easier to clean but I don’t use powder coat on my cages. The chip problem gets much worse with a very hard material. Powder coat is not paint. It is a thermoplastic. Chips will not break up and and be more likely to cause intestinal blockages. It is also difficult to repair. It is melted on to the cage at aprox. 300 degrees. Powder Coat can be less of a threat with some birds, but I don’t recommend it for hook bills.”