How Old To Buy Spray Paint [Spray Paint Distribution Regulations]

If you want to paint something really fast, spray painting is the way to go. From covering all the nooks and crannies just perfectly to sealing the paint in for a lifetime – there’s no surprise that everyone is going for these paints nowadays.

But can everyone use spray paint? How old to buy spray paint for personal and public usage?

Due to the dangers of inappropriate huffing and vandalism, most states prohibit selling spray paint to anyone who’s not of legal age. Depending on the state and its policy, you have to be at least 16/18+ to buy spray paint from the local vendors.

While the policy varies from state to state, the general idea persists. Juveniles can’t get access to spray paint unless they become an adult in the eyes of the law.

How Old To Buy Spray Paint In Various States?

While the legal age is more or less 18 throughout the USA, the regulations regarding spray paint distribution and possession vary from state to state. Here’s an overview of the spray paint distribution regulations in various states to help you understand the differences –


In California, you have to be 18+ to buy and possess spray paint cans. The dangers of vandalism skyrocketed in California in recent times. Hence, minors can’t carry more than 6 ounces of spray paint i.e. less than the sample size at a time.

According to the Cal. Penal Code § 594.1, possession and inappropriate usage of spray paint is punishable by law. You’ll either have to pay a fine or get charged for imprisonment, or both.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, the stores can’t sell spray paint to juveniles and will be held legally accountable if found otherwise. According to the N.J.S.A §2C:33-25, if it’s a first offense, the state will suspend the driving license of the minor for a year. Consequently, if there’s a second offense, the driving license will be suspended for two entire years.


In Texas, the possession of spray paint is frowned upon due to a surge of spray paint huffing in the state. The guidelines restrict the sale of ‘aerosol paint’ to anyone under 18.

Also, the retail stores will need to apply for a state permit to sell and store spray paint cans.


In Guam, minors can’t possess spray paint or indelible markers i.e. anything that can be used to deface properties. Using spray paint for graffiti works is a crime and the minors will be tried in juvenile court for the offensive activities.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, the regulations are similar to Guam. Juveniles will be held responsible for graffiti works unless it’s on private property owned by the parents or guardians.


In Toppenish, a person must provide proper evidence of identity and age to purchase spray paint in any store. According to Ord. 2006-4 § 1, 2006, you can’t carry more than 6 ounces of spray paint in any public space as a minor.

Read More – Can You Spray Paint Shoes?

Dangers Of Buying Spray Paint Under 18

As kids, it’s not possible to understand the dangers of aerosol products. But in reality, there are both social and psychological dangers of aerosol products like spray paint. Let’s go over a few of the common unfavorable scenarios –

Fire Hazards

Aerosol products are highly flammable and as such, spray painting comes with an insane amount of fire hazards. Depending on the amount of combustible vapor in the air i.e. the intensity of the flammable particles, sudden explosions can occur just as easily anywhere.

As such, it’s not a wise idea to hand over the spray painting kits to juveniles since they might not be aware of the dangers of the hazardous particles. Direct contact with fire is unwittingly prohibited if you’re working with spray paint. Additionally, even a simple electric spark can sometimes result in a huge fire if the intensity of spray paint is too high.

In fact, not just for juveniles, the fire hazards associated with spray paint are large enough to be an OSHA concern even. Since the volatile vapors can be triggered by the simplest sparks, there are multiple must-follow OSHA maritime standard guidelines in place to maintain workplace safety.

For instance – all spray guns and metallic tools must be electrically grounded to avoid static build-up. Additionally, all motors, generators, and other control equipment must be explosion-proof and exhaust fans should be manufactured from non-ferrous material in order to avoid possible sparks.

And most importantly, all chemical agents in the paint and coatings must have a flash point below 80° F to avoid a fire.

While the OSHA guidelines are stricter and more applicable for a fast-paced distribution and shipping environment, similar regulations must be followed inside the house as well. While spray painting, make sure there aren’t any fire sources nearby. And if the gun is metallic, make sure it’s electrically bonded to prevent potential static sparks.

Active Inhalation

Believe it or not, many people ingest aerosol products such as spray paint on purpose to get a sensation of feeling high. While the intoxicating smell is quite enticing, the spray paint particles are highly toxic in addition to being flammable.

Hence, kids who have got the habit of huffing and puffing spray paint, are unknowingly putting themselves in major harm. From nasal passageway irritation to lung cancer – anything can happen due to active inhalation of spray paint.

This sudden surge of spray paint huffing is also one of the main reasons why most states abhor spray paint distribution to anyone under the age of 18.

Passive Inhalation

Just like smoking causes significant harm to non-smokers nearby due to passive inhalation, spray paint imposes similar dangers. Since the particles are airborne, they can travel through the surroundings to affect other people in the area.

That’s why, while spray painting, the first thing you should do is – put on a special filter cartridge full-face mask/respirator. Afterward, you should close off the area so that the spray paint particles can’t escape the workstation. If anyone else absolutely has to come inside the room/area, make sure to arrange proper respirators for them as well.

It’s generally best to avoid spray painting in a house where there are newborn babies or pregnant women. The chemical particles, once ingested, can harm the fetus and the mother. Hence, in addition to active inhalation, proper steps should be taken to avoid passive inhalation at all costs in advance.

Skin Irritation

If the paint gets on the skin or the eyes, the chemical particles can cause significant irritation. The burning sensation can sometimes persist for hours, especially with an open wound.

That’s why, in addition to respirators, adult workers should put on the appropriate PPE sets as well before spray painting. The particles shouldn’t come into contact with the eyes, ears, nose, hand, feet, or any other exposed skin on the body.

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Property Damage

In states like California, New Jersey, etc. the prohibition of spray paint mainly originated to protect city properties against graffiti protests. Protesters, especially young protesters, have a tendency to use spray paint to vandalize historical buildings and establishments as an act of protest.

Hence, in addition to the physical hazards, these kinds of societal hazards are also associated with spray paint. Alternatively, to reduce the instances of damaging movements, the states regulate the sale of spray paint to youngsters. Mere possession is criminally offensive as well.

Selling Spray Paint To Minors: Punishment & Precautions

The punishment for selling spray paint to minors varies from state to state as well. For instance – in Texas, it’s a third-degree felony to sell spray paint to anyone under 18. Additionally, the stores must take the following measures to ensure the safety regarding the distribution procedure –

Direct Line Of Sight 24/7

The spray paint cans must always be stored in a place where the employees can watch over the shelves at all times. Especially if it’s a small store, then they must be within the direct line of sight of the cashier himself. Again, in large stores, the products must be displayed near a workstation where staff members are available 24/7.

Protected Storage

If any retail stores store spray paint cans, they must keep them somewhere only accessible to adult employees. Sometimes, high-school or college kids take up small summer jobs in the local stores for the extra experience and the money. Hence, the storage section should be restricted only to adult workers so that minors can’t access the volatile products there.

Electronic Monitoring

In mega stores, it’s not possible to always watch over the shelves. Under these circumstances, the stores must arrange for 24/7 surveillance near the spray can shelves. That way, even if the cans go missing, the authorities can figure out what happened and take necessary remedial actions.

Public Statement

It is customary law for the stores to put up a public sign that states it’s a crime to purchase or distribute spray paint without authorization. In addition to promoting public awareness, this statement helps to secure the legal bindings of the retail store.

Again, some stores are legally mandated to put up signs stating that it’s a crime to vandalize properties with spray paint. The letters should be at least ⅜ of an inch and the stores need to mention that it’s a punishable public offense.

Read More – Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it illegal to sell spray paint to kids in the United States?

Yes, it’s more or less illegal in a vast majority of the states. For instance – in some states, you can be fined up to $5000 for selling aerosol-based spray paints to juveniles. That’s why, in most cases, you’ll find shopkeepers asking for an ID while buying spray paint cans for house projects.

What’s the first aid for direct exposure to spray paint?

First, run to the nearest basin and wash your face or skin with cold water for as long as you can. This will help to wash away the toxic chemicals from the skin for the time being. Better yet, stand under the shower or aim the showerhead to get the full force of the water to get rid of the paint.

Can you use the driving license as ID to buy spray paint?

Yes, a driving license can act as a proper ID in most states. It’s customary to ask for an ID in order to verify the age of the person buying the spray paint. Since the driving license can offer proof of date of birth, it can work as a valid ID.

Do you have to be 18 to buy spray paint outside of the USA?

Throughout the world, the regulations of the UNCRC generally apply i.e. someone cannot be tried as an adult unless they’re 18 or up. However, in some the countries such as Japan, Scotland, the Philippines, etc. where the legal age is 16 or less, you can legally purchase spray paint easily.

How old to buy spray paint at Walmart?

At Walmart, federal regulations apply i.e. you have to be 18 to purchase spray paint at the retail stores. You have to show your ID to the cashier to purchase the paint.

Before You Go

While spray paint is fun to use and paint with, it’s also highly dangerous in the hands of juveniles. So, if you’re under the age of 18, it’s best to avoid spray painting for the time being.

Similarly, refrain from selling spray paint to youngsters without taking a look at their IDs properly. If needed, you can redirect them to conventional acrylic, oil paint, etc. For more info on in-house paint projects, check out – Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Walls?

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