Once you are finished building your EVA Foam prop or costume the next logical step is painting it. But before you can do any painting, the surface of the EVA Foam has to be prepared. If you don´t properly Seal your EVA Foam before and after painting, then your Paint job may not last very long. So after reading this article, you will know how to Prepare Foam for painting, how to Seal Foam, what colors to use, and how to Protect your Paint Job permanently.
So how do you paint EVA Foam? The short answer is, the foam has to be Sealed Before you Paint it. There are several ways to seal EVA Foam (depending on the kind of project) but the most reliable way to Seal Foam is using Plasti Dip. Then the Foam can be painted with Acrylics, Spray Paint with an Airbrush, and more. After painting, you can choose to Seal your Project with a Mat Sealer, Epoxy Resin or a Varnish.
So before you start Painting the EVA Foam you have to Seal it. I have another article, that goes more into depth about Sealing EVA Foam including a step by step example, but I will give you the short version here.
There are multiple ways to Seal EVA Foam. You have to choose the right way depending on your project.
Before you apply any Seal you first have to Heat Seal your EVA Foam, and make sure, that everything, including the edges of your foam, are smooth. This isn´t always necessary but especially if you are working with a very low-density Foam it is better to Heat Seal the Foam before Sealing it with Plasi Dip or Crafts Glue.
Heat Sealing is done by simply using a heat gun or Hairdryer to gently heat up the foam. This will “close” the surface of the EVA Foam to prepare it for Sealing and Painting later on.
If your Prop is not moving and does not bend (for example a solid armor) then you can seal your Foam with simple white crafts glue.
But if your Prop can be bend or twisted (for example a shoulder piece, that is thin enough to be bend) then I would recommend Sealing it with Plasti Dip. Plasti Dip will protect your foam from cracks, creases, and other damage, that may occur when Foam is deformed in any way.
If you don´t quite know what the case is for your prop then just use Plasi Dip as it will protect your foam in any case. So when in doubt use Plasti Dip!
You can buy Plasit Dip at your local hardware store or car repair store.
You can move on to painting once you are done with Sealing your EVA Foam.
For painting, I like to start with a basecoat but you can also just start applying paint to the sealed foam right away.
I usually apply a thin colored basecoat with a Spray Paint. The color of the Basecoat depends on the main color of my project. I usually use a matt color acrylic or waterbased color for that.
My favorite Spray Paints are “Professional Spray Paints” from Liquitex. You can buy them from the Blick Art Store right here.
The Link provided above is an affiliate link. If you want to support me, then you can use the link above to buy the materials. It will not cost you anything extra and I will get a small commission for each sale. I only recommend materials, that I also use and that I would recommend to a close friend.
If your project doesn´t have a clear base color, then you can simply use a neutral color as the base color. Something like a light grey or black.
After I applied my Basecoat I then start painting the general forms. I usually do this either with an Airbrush or a Spray Paint can.
I usually mask all the parts, that are not supposed to be painted in that color, with some masking tape. Then I spray paint the unmasked areas and remove the masking tape after the paint coat has dried.
With this method, my painted areas will get an even smooth paint job with sharp edges.
If you don´t want to use any spray paint or airbrush, then you can also simply use a paintbrush and some acrylic paints.
After I painted the bigger shapes I then usually move on to painting the smaller details with a finer paintbrush and some acrylic color.
I sometimes add a little shadow effect with my airbrush but you can achieve similar effects with a brush a little bit of water and some acrylic paint.
I sometimes also add a little bit of weathering but that is completely up to you.
When you are done with painting your EVA Foam Project you can choose to Seal the paint job. I usually seal my paint with a matt clear acrylic sealer. My favorite Sealer is Mod Podge Acrylic Sealer. You can buy it here on the Blick Art supply shop.
A very thin layer of this acrylic Sealer is more than enough to seal your paint and protect it from most things.
And with that you are done, you have successfully prepared, painted, and sealed your EVA Foam!
How Do You Seal EVA Foam Paint?
Sealing EVA Foam paint can be quite important depending on the type of paint, that you used. I usually like to seal all of my paint jobs just to be sure. That being said, you don´t have to Seal your EVA Foam after painting it.
But how do you seal EVA Foam paint? In short, you can seal your paint job with a simple coat of Acrylic Sealer, Varnish, or even Epoxy Resin. Epoxy Resin is the worst method for sealing paint and only makes sense for very specific projects. Acrylic sealer is the easiest and best method for Sealing EVA Foam after painting.
So when it comes to sealing your paint job on your EVA Foam, then I would generally go with the Acrylic Sealer. You generally can´t go wrong with that.
In some cases, if you want your foam to be water-resistant for example, you can also use varnish to seal your paints. But it is a little more work to seal your foam with varnish because you have to apply it with a brush (spray varnish will not create a thick enough layer for perfect protection in some cases).
And the result will be quite hard and not flexible anymore. If your foam piece could be bend or twisted (even if it is only by accident) then the layer of varnish could break and repairing that is quite annoying and in some cases even impossible.
The last option, that I mentioned above, is using Epoxy Resin for Sealing EVA Foam. This is the most difficult method to get right and I would never recommend using this method if you are a beginner at crafting.
Resin is slightly toxic and it is really hard to apply evenly and without any bubbles. But if you want your prob to be almost indestructible and last for probably an eternity, then this is the best way to do so.
Epoxy resin is water-resistant, it will dry very hard, it will be hit and scratch-resistant (if you don´t scratch it with something like metal at least) and it will keep almost everything away from the paint job beneath it.
But for most EVA Foam Projects using Epoxy Resin is a little bit overkill so I would simply use an Acrylic Sealer Spray Paint can for almost all projects.
What Kind of Paint Do You Use On EVA Foam?
The short answer is any waterbased paint out there can be used. The most popular and also one of the best options is acrylic paint. It is not recommended to use any kind of lacquer or oil-based paint as some of these paints could damage the foam underneath.
So generally you can use any kind of waterbased paint, that you like.
Waterbased paints include acrylic paint, some enamels, watercolor (this type of color will probably not stick well and you will need a lot of layers but you can use it for weathering effects), waterbased ink and more.
The biggest problem, that you will be going to have with waterbased paint, is coverage. You sometimes have to apply multiple layers of paint before it completely covers the underlying color.
You can use some oil-paints but try if your EVA Foam likes the paint on a separate scrap piece. Some more aggressive oil paints can damage the foam, dissolving, or bending it. So make sure, that your oil paint isn´t one of them.
If you are using oil paint then you have to Seal the paint after you are done painting your project.
There are a lot of different paints out there but my philosophy is, that the easiest paint to use, that gives good results, is the one, that I go with. And that is, in this case, simply waterbased color. So I usually stick with acrylic or waterbased spray paint, when I am painting my Props.
Does Acrylic Paint Work on EVA Foam?
The short answer is yes, Acrylic paint is probably the best choice for painting EVA Foam. It is recommended, that the EVA Foam is Sealed with Plasti Dip before painting it but Acrylic Paint can also be applied directly on the EVA Foam without bigger issues.
So even though you can paint directly on EVA Foam I would still recommend to Seal it with either white glue or Plasti Dip, simply because the paint will hold much better on Plasti Dip and your EVA Foam will also be way better protected than without any Seal.
If you don’t Seal it with Plasti Dip, then you will also have the issue of wrinkles, cracks building, and paint chipping on the surface of your painted Foam. Plasti Dip will minimize these issues by a lot! So if you want your Prop to have a long life, then just seal it with Plasti Dip.