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How to paint on plastic with craft paint

Updated April 17, 2017

Plastic is found in a variety of items that can be used to decorate your home. Perhaps you found an inexpensive set of tableware at a garage sale or a flea market. Or maybe you want to decorate a plain plastic vase or flower pot. Painting plastic can pose some challenges because it's so smooth that craft paint has difficulty adhering to it. However, you can get around this problem and easily transform a plain object into something spectacular.

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Prep the surface of the object to remove any residue that can prevent paint from adhering properly. Wash away any dirt or dust residue with a sponge, warm water and soap. Allow the object to dry for a few hours. Don plastic gloves and apply rubbing alcohol to the object with a lint-free cloth. Allow the object to dry for a few hours.

Get rid of the shine that you see on the plastic surface. The shinier the surface, the less chance that paint will adhere to it. Use a fine-grit sandpaper to rub the object until most of the shine is gone. Avoid rubbing too hard, though, because this can leave scratches on the object. If you will only be painting a small area of an object, remove the shine only from that area while leaving the rest of the object shiny. Remove sanding residue with a lint-free cloth.

Apply a primer that is specifically designed for plastic. Ask your local craft store or hardware store which primer they recommend for your project.

Spray paint the object with a base coat. Hold the spray paint can 12 to 15 inches away from the object and spray the object using even, sweeping motions. Allow the object to dry for an hour or so. Apply another coat of spray paint for a smooth, even finish. Allow the object to dry.

Use a flat paintbrush to paint the large shapes of your design with craft paint. Allow these base shapes to dry so the shapes don't smear.

Use a round paintbrush to outline the design on the object. Add smaller details in the design using this brush.

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Things You'll Need

  • Plastic gloves
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sandpaper
  • Cloth
  • Primer
  • Spray paint
  • Craft paint
  • Paintbrushes

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