Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Plastic Materials?

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Acrylic paint is an awesome medium that has a lot of potentials and uses in a lot of art-related projects. I love Acrylic paints and they can stick to a lot of different surfaces, like wood, fabric and even glass.

But can you use acrylic paint on plastic materials? Yes, but you need to properly prepare the surface before painting it with acrylic paints and you have to seal the paint after painting as well. Acrylic paint is not meant for painting plastic so even if you use sealers and primers the paint will come off eventually.

Acrylic paint works better on wood or ceramic pieces. It can be used on plastic items though if you add the proper sealers.

The paint will come off the more the item is touched or handled. There are sealers and base coats that will help to give a better result when using acrylic paint on plastic items.

How Do You Make Acrylic Paint Stick to Plastic Materials?

Acrylic paint will strip off of a plastic item if it doesn’t adhere properly. The reason is that acrylic paint is not made for use on plastic materials.

You will need to paint your plastic item with a base coat of paint that is made for plastic material such as enamels or oil paint. You can also use a special primer to prepare the plastic surface for painting.

I highly recommend the spray primer from Krylon for preparing plastic surfaces for painting.

For oil paints, I like to use Williamsburg oil paints. They are of high quality and in my experience, they are perfect for painting plastics.

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Once you have painted a base coat on your item, then you can paint a coat of acrylic paint over it.

How Do You Prepare Items That Will be Touched Often?

Plastic items that will be handled often will need a different process than those that do not get touched at all.

Paint a coat of acrylic onto your plastic item, and then be sure to add a sealer over it. There are plenty of spray sealers that give you different types of finishes such as a matte or a glossy finish. My favorite one to use is Plaid Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer it is not that expensive and it seals your paint with a clear coat, that protects the color.

Are There Cleaners and Sanitizers That can Help?

A contaminated surface is the main reason for paint coating failures.

There are many cleaners, degreasers, and sanitizers that are made to prepare an item for painting.

The cleaners will remove all dust particles, plasticizers, dirt particles, films, greases, different oils, and even fingerprints from the plastic item that you are preparing to paint with acrylics.

They will even remove mold-releasing agents from the product. Some plastics once painted with a coat of acrylic paint, will release these plasticizers to flow to the surface, leaving you with a sticky surface.

These types of plastics are materials such as flexible types of vinyl. The cleaners and degreasers range from 100 percent solvents to a very low VOC. It is always best to thoroughly wash the item in warm soapy water and dry the item off with a cloth towel.

Be sure to do this if you do not get any cleaners to help in cleaning the item before you paint it.

What Types of Plastic Materials can I Paint With Acrylic Paint?

• Garbage cans.

There are many different sizes of garbage cans that are used for many different things. You can even purchase old plastic garbage cans from a thrift store and paint them to give them a whole new life. You can change the way a room feels by upgrading small items such as garbage cans to make things look nicer and feel more welcomed.

• Flower Pots.

Flower pots can be used on the inside of your home and for the outdoors. You can paint your old flower pots to give them a brand new look. They will brighten any yard or home area with a warm welcoming. This is a cheap way to enhance your outdoor living space.

• Bottles and Jars.

You can use bottles and jars to lighten and brighten an area. They can be used to decorate an area only or be useful in ways like holding makeup brushes, paint brushes, pens and pencils, markers, buttons, flowers, cooking utensils, or any items you choose.

• Storage containers.

Storage bins and totes come in many different shapes and sizes. You can use them to store just about anything. They can also be made into compost bins, worm beds, potato growing pots, or anything you may need them for. You can paint them to make them fit your style and make them your designs.

• Baskets.

Baskets can be used for many things like laundry, toys, storing items, decorations, or for whatever you choose to use them for You can upgrade a basket by painting it and making it look new all over again.

• Light Switch Covers.

Change the feel of your whole room by painting the light switch cover. Children always love this idea to make their area a little more fun and personal.

• Closet Organizers.

Let’s face it. You can’t buy everything in the exact style or color you may need it in. Using your imagination and a few tips, you could design and paint your plastic closet organizer to give it your personal touch and style.

• Toys.

Give those old toys new life by painting them. It will seem like an upgrade with little to no money spent.

• Easter Eggs.

You can paint more than just Easter eggs with this theory. You can find all kinds of holiday items to reface and refurbish with a little paint. If you love to entertain, this can be a great way to save money while using items you already have.

• Any Type of Home Decor.

You can buy things cheap from thrift stores or yard sales. You can give them a new look by painting them. Choose to design your items or just paint them to give them the desired effect. You could have new decor every few months if you wanted to.

• Furniture.

Painting your furniture can enhance a room or space. This is a great idea for those kids tables and chairs after a year or two and they look like they have seen better days. When cleaning isn’t enough anymore, then painting the furniture may be a better way to refurbish an item. Even outdoor furniture can be painted to give you better curb appeal and enhance your outdoor living space.

Here are Some Tips for Maximized Results

♦ Use tape to create clean lines. It is best to use good quality painter’s tape for making any areas on your products that you see fit. It will not be cheap for good quality tape.

The cheaper the product means your results will not be as great as it would be with a better quality tape. The tape will create a boundary that will protect the rest of the surface.

You can tape a newspaper or a paper bag to the rest of the product that you do not want to be painted.

♦ Remove the tape as soon as you are finished.

Do not wait until your paint dries completely to remove your painter’s tape.

The tape will peel off your fresh coat of paint if you leave it on there to dry. That is why it is best to only use one coat of primer before you paint your coat of acrylic.

♦ Check your shed and storage for items you no longer use.

What better way is there to save money, than by spending little to no money at all for new items? Find old items that you haven’t used in a while or that do not look so great anymore.

These items are great to paint. They can be brought back to their former glory with a little elbow grease and some paint.

♦ There are alternative options for sandpaper.

Some products are considered to be liquid sanders. People use them instead of using traditional sandpaper. They help to clean and remove any shiny surfaces from your plastics to ensure the paint adheres better.

They can be bought at home improvement stores. They even have some that can be painted over in about ten minutes after applying.

You can improve the looks of an item by changing the way it appears. It can be as simple as painting over an old item to make it look brand new.

Sometimes these old items can look better than they did when you first bought or came into contact with them. You can make an entire room feel lighter and more welcoming by just simply painting it.

You can paint it a solid color or multiple solid colors. You can also draw a design and paint designs on the items to give them a more personal touch of style.

Small changes such as painting can have an item feeling and looking as if it is worth more than it is just by the way it appears. There is no more wasting money on new products when you can save money, and enjoy an old product just as much.

Painting is a great way to make memories with your kids, friends, family members, or even your partner.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

5 thoughts on “Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Plastic Materials?”

  1. Hi,
    I have a plant in a gray textured plastic pot. I want to do something quick and easy to decorate this pot. I have acrylic paints. I also have acrylic varnish. Can I just use those to decorate the planter without priming it first? Thanks.

    • I would not recommend painting directly on plastic without priming or at least sanding it first or the paint won´t stick to the plastic surface for long and is easily scratched off. So I highly recommend priming the plastic surface first!

  2. Hi there! I want to figure out if I can use acrylic paint to paint on clear plastic vinyl – the piece I want to paint would remain untouched and indoors…

    • Hi Hanna,
      your best bet is to apply a primer that adheres to plastic and then paint on top of the primer. If it is only indoors and won´t be touched then you can leave it there and you don´t really have to seal the paint.


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