How to Paint Styrene Sheets

Written by jerry garner
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Polystyrene is a material that is used to make a large number of items, ranging from food containers to foam packaging. The form most recognisable to many people is what is referred to as styrene foam insulation. These are large sheets of foam insulation with a shape similar to drywall, which you can easily apply to walls as insulation. Normally pink in colour, it is possible to paint directly onto these styrene sheets, without applying a drywall layer on top.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Sandpaper
  • Drywall tape
  • Gesso
  • Paint
  • Foam paint rollers
  • Paint tray

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  1. 1

    Sand the edges of the styrene. Any areas where the styrene was cut to fit an area of the wall, there will be rough edges in the foam. Use a 320 grit or higher sandpaper and lightly sand over the edges of the styrene to remove any loose foam particles and to smooth out the area.

  2. 2

    Tape the seams. A seam is created everywhere the two styrene sheets meet. Use drywall tape and taping compound to seal over the seams. Taping the seams creates a smooth, consistent surface, so that once the wall is painted, you will not be able to tell where the seams are located.

  3. 3

    Prime the surface of the styrene sheets. Use gesso as a primer for the styrene. Gesso is a blend of white paint, chalk and gypsum. It is commonly used as a base coat for canvas and can be found in art supply stores. Gesso will adhere to the styrene sheets and provide a solid primer coat to prevent the pink colour from bleeding through your paint.

  4. 4

    Paint the styrene sheets. Use a latex based paint to enhance styrene's use as an insulator. Pour a small amount of your desired paint into a paint tray. Use a foam paint roller to transfer the paint to the surface of the styrene sheets. Cover the entire area with a smooth, even coat and allow the paint to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Applying multiple coats of paint will help you achieve the best colour and will also increase the thickness of the room's moisture barrier.

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