Learn How To Paint Plastic For Amazing DIY Projects

Sometimes things aren’t as simple as grabbing a paint sprayer and getting the project done! And even if you know how to paint a ceiling, your stairs or kitchen cabinets, there are always new things to learn! Want to spruce up the plain flower pots in the garden or the plastic patio chairs? Whatever the reason, you can easily paint plastic materials in your home and make them sparkle once more.

Three brushes and three colours

When it comes to painting, it has always been thought that plastic is a tricky and difficult material to paint. The paint drips, pools, blotches, etc. while you are painting it and once the paint dries, it peels off quickly. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t paint your plastic objects – it means that you need proper guidance and instructions and we are here to give you exactly that. Excited? Let’s get started!

Things made of plastic that you can easily paint

When it comes to painting plastic, most of us have no idea what we can and can’t do. No need to worry! Here are a few things made of plastic that you can paint easily. 

  • Outdoor garden furniture
  • Jars and bottles
  • Closet organizers
  • Storage containers
  • Décor accents
  • Plastic flowers and foliage
  • Figurines
  • Mirrors and frames
  • Flowerpots
  • Trash cans
  • Toys

Things to consider before starting your project

Even if you know what your target is, you can’t just grab a brush and a can of paint and go for it. You have to consider a few things before starting your DIY painting project. Let’s see what factors you have to keep in mind.

A woman ready to paint

1. Condition of the plastic

Thinking of painting that plastic chair or your plastic plant pots? Do a ‘health check’ first. Check whether there are any cracks in the patio furniture, whether the legs are wobbly or broken, etc. If you find any malfunction, replace or repair it before you start to paint the object. There’s no fun in painting something only for it to break down in a short period of time. 

2. Choose your paint correctly

Conventional paints don’t work well with plastic. Choosing the right type of paint is important if you want your home improvement project to be a success. If you are dyeing plastic objects, you will need to get paint that is meant to be used on them. The best paint is a specifically-made one that doesn’t simply stick on the object. It fuses with the surface and forms a super-strong bond.

3. Use light coats to prevent runs

A most common complaint that people have when dyeing plastic, especially with spray paint, is that the paint keeps running. A sure way to avoid runs, especially when painting vertical surfaces, is to apply a light coat the first time and let it dry before applying the next coat.

We know that this takes time, but the result will be worth the wait, trust us. Also, try to elevate and prop up the object you are painting instead of setting it directly on a newspaper or workbench. 

4. Don’t forget to wear a respirator

When you are painting – particularly with spray paint cans – the air is filled with solvents and fine mist. The most effective way of avoiding inhaling these aerosol fumes is to work outside.

However, if a wind is blowing, it is very likely to blow away the paint even before it reaches the surface. Plus, falling leaves, bugs, etc. are very likely to wreck the finish. So, it is a good idea to work indoors and leave your doors and windows open.

Most importantly, whether you are working indoors or outdoors, always wear an organic vapour respirator. It will keep you safe from toxic fumes and you will not even be able to smell the paint at all.

Spray paint or brush?

Many of you might be wondering whether to spray dye the plastic objects or use a brush? Well, you can use both spray paint and brush to give old, dull plastic items a makeover with a new, refreshing look and improve their durability.

Spray machine

Spray paint

You can use spray paint specifically meant for use on plastic for the sake of convenience. You can also use general-purpose spray dye as well since you are more likely to get a broad range of colours. 

Even though the general-purpose paints are not labelled prominently as ‘for plastic’, their manufacturer specifications do state that they can be used that way.

Brush paint

You can use simple box paint and brush it onto plastics as well. Similar to spray paints, you can get a plastic option as well as a general option. The only difference between these two is the delivery mechanism.

Most people prefer to use plastic spray dye as paintbrushes tend to leave brush marks and the paint can smear as well. On the other hand, spray paint gives a smoother finish and a drip-free surface. Plus, there is no risk of paintbrush marks and you get full coverage.

Before you paint any surface, you have to prepare it. The same goes for plastic. Here are a few things you need to do.

1. Clean the surface

If you clean the plastic beforehand, the paint will be smooth without any bumps or bubbling. Take warm water and add some liquid soap to create a soapy cleaning mixture. Dip a sponge in it and scrub the surface clean with it. Use clean water to get rid of soap and let the object dry before you move on to the next step.

2. Rough up the surface

The next thing you have to do is to rough up the surface so that the paint has more texture to cling on. However, you don’t have to create gouges in the plastic or damage it permanently. Therefore, use fine-grit sandpaper and use it gently on the surface. After sanding, clean the plastic object again to get rid of any dust. Don’t forget that you can always use a detail sander or a belt sander as well.

3. Prepare the area

If you are only painting part of the plastic item, or if you are painting a different section with different colours, you should create lines with painter’s tape. Plus, you should place a drop cloth on the ground to protect the surrounding area from paint and primer. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated space before you start painting. Remove any items in the surrounding area, if possible.

Painting plastic surfaces the right way

Now is the time for the great game: dyeing plastic surfaces the right way. Let’s see how you will do that.

A woman with gloves ready to paint

Priming the Plastic

  1. Depending on the paint, you may not have to prime the plastic object. Buy a plastic primer that is specifically designed for your surfaces.
  2. Apply the spray evenly all around the plastic object.
  3. Make sure that the spray primer is at the same distance from the plastic object at all times.
  4. Keep the spray can moving to avoid the primer from pooling in a single spot.
  5. Let the primer dry completely.

Painting the Plastic

  1. After the primer dries, you can start painting the plastic object. If you are using a spray can keep the nozzle almost 30 to 45cm away from the surface at all times. 
  2. To get consistent coverage, keep the nozzle at the same distance all around and keep the bottle moving in a smooth, continuous motion.
  3. Keep the first coat thin and let it dry completely before you apply the next coat of paint.
  4. Keep the second coat on the surface of the plastic thin so that you can get a smooth surface, high-quality, and even finish.

Sealing the Paint

  1. Want to give your newly painted plastic an additional layer of security? You can do that with the help of a clear acrylic sealer. This is an optional step but is very useful, especially if you are painting outdoor plastic objects.
  2. Let the paint dry completely before you apply the sealer.
  3. Spray the clear coat the same way as you sprayed the primer and paint, keeping the distance stable and the motions smooth to get a great gloss finish.
  4. Usually, one coat of the sealer works fine but you can add more coats if the object you just painted is going to be subjected to harsh conditions.
  5. Make sure that each layer of the sealer dries completely before you apply the next.

It is a common perception that plastic objects can’t be painted. However, this is wrong and with the right paint and preparation, you can paint your favourite plastic items to give them a new, fresh, alluring look. This tutorial provides you with all the important information and instructions that you’re going to need on your next DIY painting project.

Happy Painting, Folks!

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