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How to Paint Plastic

By Jim Dugan
Professional Contractor & DIY Expert

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  • Most do-it-yourselfers donít know how to paint plastic surfaces, and their makeshift efforts tend to generate an ugly finish that rapidly peels. You cannot paint plastic unless it is thoroughly prepared. Learn the proper prep techniques that will encourage adequate adhesion, or finish failure will occur.


    Successful plastic painting depends heavily on your ability to generate adequate adhesion prior to application. Before you try to paint plastic, roughen the surface by sanding it with fine-grit sandpaper. Once the plastic is coarse, it will take on a primer base.

    Prime the Plastic

    To ensure a lasting finish, add a primer base coat before you paint plastic. A latex primer is fine for most types of plastic. If you need to paint plastic which is subject to a lot of duress, add an acrylic primer.

    Paint on Plastic

    Painting plastic is not difficult as long as the surface is properly prepared. Abraded, primed plastic is well-suited for paint. Use a soft-bristled polyester paintbrush to apply latex paint to the plastic item. Paint plastic subject to a lot of duress with acrylic enamel.

    Spray Paint Plastic

    Polyester paintbrushes tend to encourage relatively smooth results; however, the only way to generate a flawless, professional-looking finish is to spray paint plastic. Prevent runs and sags by holding your can of spray paint eight inches from the plastic as you apply.

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