Do You Have to Seal Paper Mache Before Painting?

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finished paper mache hill painted with acrylic paint

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So you have finished making your first Paper Mache project and now you want to paint it to give it the last finishing touch. But after you have spent so many hours creating it you are not sure how to paint it properly. So do you have to seal Paper Mache before Painting?

It is recommended to seal paper mache before applying paint. Paper mache has a tendency to develop bubbles when exposed to moisture, and sealing it beforehand prevents bubbling and deformation during the painting process. While it is possible to paint paper mache without using a sealer, it is important to ensure that the paint is not too wet to avoid soaking the paper.

How to Seal Paper Mache?

Paper mache can be sealed with white glue, Flexbond, or Gesso. White glue and Flexbond are both flexible and don´t add any significant texture to the surface of the paper mache. Gesso will be rigid once dry and will add some texture to the surface that can be removed by sanding the surface after it has dried.


Gesso is usually used as a base for acrylic paintings but it can also be used to seal surfaces and prepare them for painting.

You can dilute gesso with some water to ensure that it goes into every corner of your paper mache sculpture. Use either a brush, a sponge, or a sponge brush to apply the gesso directly to the surface.

If the first layer didn´t cover properly or if you missed a spot then simply apply a second layer. Just make sure that you let the gesso dry in between layers.

Once the gesso has dried, you can paint the surface directly with acrylic paint.

Gesso will have some texture, once it is dry, which can add a nice effect. If you don´t like the texture then you can simply sand the surface with some fine-grit sandpaper.

You can buy gesso right here on Amazon.


I learned about Flexbond while I was learning to work with EVA Foam. Flexbond is usually used to seal EVA foam.

It can be applied directly to the workpiece or it can be diluted with water. Unlike Gesso, Flexbond won´t create much of a texture on the surface once it has dried.

Flexbond is flexible, which is quite good for Paper Mache, and can be painted directly once it has dried.

Flexbond can be applied with a brush, a sponge, or a sponge brush. Just make sure to clean your brushes very well to ensure that you can continue to use them afterward.

I sealed and painted this paper mache hill with gesso on the sides and Flexbond for the rest. As you can see, I was able to easily paint the hill and the cliff on the side, which was sealed with gesso.

finished paper mache hill painted with acrylic paint

And here is the hill after it was painted and decorated with fake grass and moss.


The paint is scratch-resistant and one layer of paint was needed.

White Crafts Glue

White crafts glue like ModPodge, or white wood glue that dries transparent can also be used to seal Paper Mache. This is another method that I learned from sealing EVA foam.

You can buy ModPodge right here on Amazon.

You need to dilute the glue with some water until it can be applied smoothly. Depending on the type of glue the mixture will usually be 1 to 1 or 0.5 parts water to 1 parts glue.

Apply the mixture with a brush, a sponge brush, or a sponge. The mixture will also be flexible when it is dry, which makes it a great choice for paper mache.

The surface can be painted with acrylic paints once the glue is dry.

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.

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