How To Keep Paint on Plastic Surfaces

Many people are afraid of painting plastic surfaces. Painting slick surfaces, especially plastic, can be tricky. If the paint is not properly adhered, peeling and scratching will result. However, painting plastic should be only slightly more intimidating than painting anything else. The most important thing to remember is that prep work makes all the difference in keeping paint on plastic.

Thoroughly clean the plastic with a de-greasing cleaner. Any oils from skin or other particles will interfere with the primer and ultimately cause a paint job to peel and flake.

Use medium grit sandpaper to sand the surface of the plastic. Make sure to create some good texture on the plastic. The primer will need some rough spots to sink into in order to properly adhere to plastic.

Use a damp rag to wipe away all sanding dust from the surface of the plastic.

Choose a primer formulated for slick surfaces. Apply a thin coat of primer and allow it to dry completely before applying another thin coat. Continue applying thin coats of primer until you can no longer see the plastic through the primer.

Use a smooth foam roller to apply paint to the surface of the plastic. Use multiple thin coats for the most durable results.

Paint on a coat of polyurethane to help prevent scratching. Polyurethane can take up to a week to cure. For best results, wait five to seven days before heavy use.


Some brand-name speciality paints for plastic are available in spray form.

Things You'll Need

  • De-greasing cleaner
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Polyurethane
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About the Author

Lisa East Hunter is a consultant and freelance writer in Phoenix. Her background in marketing and technology led her to explore all avenues of writing. She is currently dividing her time between freelance writing and her consulting business. Hunter has a Bachelor of Science in management information systems and marketing.