What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Paper Mache?

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So you have finished your first paper mache project, or you are looking for all the right materials for your first paper mache project and now you are asking yourself what kind of paint is best for painting on paper mache. Well, the answer is simple and complex at the same time but don´t worry, in this article I will tell you everything, that you need to know about painting your paper mache project!

So what kind of paint do you use on paper mache? The short answer is, you can use a lot of different paints and you will get very good results. I would recommend using either Acrylic Paint or Poster Paints, however as they are easy to use and quite cheap.

What is the Best Paint For Paper Mache and Why?

In most cases, it is hard to just straight out say what the best paint is but not so in this case.

When it comes to Paper Mache I highly recommend either Acrylic Paint or Poster Paint.

Both of these paints are waterbased, non-toxic (unless they have some special additive in them that lets them dry faster, for example) and easy to use.

They dry mat and they keep flexible when they are dried completely, which avoids nasty cracks.

Generally, Acrylic Paints are easier to come by than Poster Paint and they are usually cheaper too. For Paper Mache you won´t really need expensive colors either. Here is a great starter set of non-toxic acrylic paint on Amazon. You can get Poster Paints on Amazon as well if you want to try them instead.

Poster Paint needs fewer layers than Acrylic Paint but it is also more expensive and a little harder to come by.

That is mainly the reason why I always recommend Acrylic Paint over any other color.

Acrylic Paint can also be mixed and diluted by water if necessary.

Do I Have to Prepare the Surface Before Painting Paper Mache?

You don´t need to prepare the surface if your Paper Mache Project is made well enough and doesn´t have any wrinkles or any other uneven parts.

Normally you can simply paint your Paper Mache straight away without the need of preparing the surface beforehand. But, as I mentioned above, if you have any uneven parts on the surface of the project then they will be visible even after painting.

If you want to prepare your Paper Mache before painting it then I would recommend using gesso.

Gesso is perfect for preparing almost any surface before painting it with Acrylic Paint.

Pretty much any gesso will be just fine. You can get really good gesso, that is quite cheap as well right here on Amazon.

Apply the Gesso on every surface, that you plant to paint. After applying it you can leave it dry for about 12 hours. Make sure, that the surface of the gesso is as smooth as possible before you paint it.

You could also add some texture to the Gesso before letting it dry, to further add some more detail to your project, if you want to.

After it is completely dry, you can simply paint on top of it with the Acrylic Paints.

What is the Best Paint For Kids To Use?

If you are planning to do a Paper Mache Project with Kids then you might wanna use non-toxic paint.

As before, I would recommend using Acrylic Paint, however, look closely on the kind of acrylic paint, before buying it. You can buy non-toxic Acrylic Paint from Amazon.

Some Acrylic Paints have some additives in them, that makes the color dry faster or make it stick better to some surfaces. So before you buy the color look at the tube very carefully, normally there is a sign on it, that advertises it as non-toxic.

But sometimes you can find a small hint or sign on the backside of the tube, that will tell you if the color is safe or not.

Can You Spray Paint on Paper Mache?

Yes, if you want to, you could spray paint your paper mache however there are some things, that you need to keep in mind before doing so.

First things first, you may have to prime the surface of your Paper Mache Project before you are able to properly paint it. Depending on what kind of color you are using.

Don´t use varnish color, because it will be hard when it is completely dry. This will lead to potential cracks later on.

You can use Acrylic Based Spray Paint, which I would recommend. It will work best for Paper Mache and it won´t dry hard, allowing the material to work later on without any problems.

You can also use an airbrush for painting your Paper Mache. I usually use one for painting details.

How Do I Seal Paper Mache After Painting It?

I would strongly recommend sealing your paint job after you are done. It doesn´t matter what kind of paint you used to color your project, you should seal it afterward.

If you don´t seal your paint job then it will eventually dull after some time or the paint can change color. To avoid that you should seal your paints after you are done painting.

I would suggest using varnish or acrylic sealer to seal the paint.

Varnish is a clear coat, that will dry hard. It is usually used for sealing wood but it can be used for a lot of different materials as well.

Varnish will protect your Project really well but it has one big downside, it will make the surface of your project very shiny and it will make your colors look very bright. For some projects this can be an advantage but for most projects, you want a mat finish.

Acrylic Sealer is great for almost any project, that has been painted with acrylic paints. Unlike Varnish it drys matt and it does not dry hard. So your project is not going to end up shiny and it is now changing the hue of the color in any major way.

So I would highly recommend using Acrylic Sealer for your Paper Mache Projects. You can get Acrylic Sealer in a Spray can on Amazon or at your local crafts store.

How Do I Use Acrylic Sealer?

You can either use a spray for applying the Sealer or you can paint it on with a brush.

The downside to using a brush is that you might see the brushmarks after the sealer has dried. Most of the time the marks are so hard to see, that it doesn´t really matter.

But If you want to avoid the brushmarks then you should use a spray sealer.

Make sure to clean your project of any dust or other particles before you start sealing it. If you are using a regular sealer then simply apply a thin layer of the sealer on your project. If you feel, that it wasn´t enough then you can add another layer after the first layer has dried.

If you are using a spray sealer, then you should dust the surface carefully until it is covered completely with the sealer. After the first layer is dried you can check for any spots, that you may have missed and simply add another layer on top of the first one.

If you have any questions regarding coloring paper mache or sealing paper mache then leave a comment down below and I will try and answer your question as soon as possible.

12 thoughts on “What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Paper Mache?”

  1. I think this is among the most significant info for me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The website style is wonderful, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers|

  2. Hi there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I’ll send this post to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Wonderful site! I’m not a crafts/artsy person but i want to do this with my granddaughters as I still have my paper mache giraffe since 3rd grade! Thanks for all the info!

  4. I have a very detailed collection of individual papier mache figures which I want to cluster together. Hot glue has been recommended to hold figures.
    Once clustered, I plan to paint group overall with white acrylic. Do you know of any reason why the dots of hot glue, once cool and dry, or the papier mache which is paper towel and 50% Elmers diluted with 50% water will conflict with acrylic coat???
    Thanks for your expert help!

    • Hi Jeanette,
      I would recommend doing it like this: first glue the figures together with hot glue. Then apply a primer to the whole thing. I recommend using a primer that adheres well to plastic and wood just to be sure. Then you can paint the whole thing however you want with acrylic paint. If you don´t apply a primer to the hot glue then you might have a difficult time getting acrylic paint to stick to hot glue properly. It is possible but it will always be visible as the paint will look different on the hot glue then on the paper figures and the paint might come off if you don´t primer the whole thing first.


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