Want to spruce up your plastic patio chairs or those plain flower pots? Maybe your kids have outgrown some of their plastic play animals and you’d like to repurpose them. Whatever the case, just because it’s plastic does not mean it’s a lost cause. Here are the basics of painting on plastic.
What Can I Paint?
- Outdoor furniture
- Bottles and jars
- Storage containers
- Closet organizers
- Easter eggs
- Trash cans
- Light switch covers
- Mirrors and frames
- Plastic foliage and flowers
- Décor accents
Tip: Check your storage shed for those outdoor items you no longer use. Visit a local thrift store for outdated plastic items such as wall hanging, frames, and figurines. Turn that trash into treasure with a fresh coat of paint.
- Drop cloth, old sheet or newspapers
- Fine grit sandpaper
- Dish soap
- Rubbing alcohol
- Clean towel
- Painter’s tape
- Spray paint designed for plastic
- Craft paint designed for plastic
How to Paint Plastic
Prep your item:
Clean your item thoroughly with warm water and mild dish soap. Be sure to remove any grime or greasy residue. Rinse with clean water and dry with a soft cloth or towel. Wipe down the entire surface with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry.
Spread out a drop cloth or old sheet in a well-ventilated area, and set your item in the center.
Use a fine grit sandpaper to remove any and all shiny surfaces from your item. Be careful not to press too hard so as not to scratch the surface. Plastic is nonporous and removing its shiny surface will help your paint to adhere. Use a soft, clean brush or cloth to remove all dust from the sanding process.
Paint your item:
- Once your object’s surface is completely clean and dry, block off areas you don’t want painted with painter’s tape.
- Before painting, read the directions on your can of spray paint. Generally, you’ll need to thoroughly shake the can before starting, and in-between applications.
- To ensure you have a good can of paint, or even that it’s the right color, do a test spray on a piece of cardboard, newspaper or your drop cloth.
- To apply, position the nozzle toward your object, and spray a light, thin layer of paint. With this first layer, your object should not be fully covered. Give each layer a few minutes to dry before adding the next one. It should take multiple thin, even layers to refresh your item’s color without over-painting.
- Allow your item to dry completely before displaying or using.
- As an alternative to sandpaper, you can purchase a product called liquid sander. Home Depot carries one called Klean-Strip. It cleans and removed shiny surfaces at the same time, helping to create a suitable surface for new paint. This product can be used indoors. There’s also one called Krud Kutter Prepaint Cleaner which cleans the surface and can be painted over after just ten minutes
- Use paints that are specifically formulated to adhere to plastics. There are several available on the market such as Krylon Fusion for Plastic®, Valspar® Plastic Spray Paint, and Rust-Oleum Specialty Paint For Plastic Spray.
- If using regular spray paint then your item will need to be primed. Use a specially formulated primer such as Rust-Oleum Specialty Plastic Primer Spray, Krylon CoverMaxx Primer, or XIM Plastic Bonding Primer.
- If you are painting smaller objects or need to add small details, you may find it easier to brush on your paint. Folk Art Multi Surface Acrylic Paint and Americana Multi Surface Acrylic Paint can be used on plastic making them ideal for recycled plastic bottles, clear cake stands and other small plastic items. Keep in mind that any tableware that you paint should not come in contact with a person’s lips. So if you are going to paint a plastic cup, keep paint 1-inch from the rim.
Need some project ideas?
Here are a few creative painted plastic projects you might like:
- Plastic Spoon Garden Markers
- Faux Stained Glass Luminary
- Painted Resin Patio Chairs
- Plastic Spoon Mirror
- Outdoor Child Table Makeover
- Painted plastic pots
Here are some awesome tips for using glass paint and how to choose which one you need.