How to paint a suitcase

Updated April 17, 2017

If you've ever found it difficult to locate your luggage amid all the other pieces in the airport during your travels because they all looked similar, you know how frustrating this can be. You can customise and personalise your suitcase to make it noticeable or simply to give it a new attractive look by painting it. Hardier suitcases are best for customisation through painting because they're strong and won't be easily torn, crushed or broken.

Gather the painting supplies and materials you'll need, including your painter's tape, can of primer, paint and brush before you begin your project, and move to a well-ventilated area where you'll perform the paint job.

Clean the suitcase to remove dirt and grime. Use a blow drier to remove dust and then a dump rag, soap or mild dishwashing detergent and water to remove dirt and grime. Paint adheres well and more firmly on a clean surface.

Cover all the areas of the suitcase that you don't want to catch paint with painter's tape. This would include the metal parts on the suitcase, handles and edgings.

Apply the first layer of primer on the entire surface of the suitcase. Allow the paint to dry before applying a second primer layer. Two or three layers of primer coats are enough to achieve good results. Read the manufacturer's instructions found on the primer pack to find out the appropriate time you need to allow each primer layer to dry before applying subsequent layers.

Paint the suitcase with the paint colour of your choice. Use a paint brush to apply the paint, running it in a back-and-forth movement over the entire surface of the suitcase until you achieve a smooth, even paint cover. Repeat the paint job to achieve two or three paint layers and the desired smooth new look and feel.


Paint the inside of the suitcase following steps 1 through 5 as well or reline it with paper or fabric if it's not in good shape. You may apply two to three coats of low sheen, oil-based, enamel paint for a long-lasting, hard-wearing finish. You may also use spray paint to apply an even shade of paint on your suitcase. Use decorative paint pens to finish off your paint job with personalised freestyle art work if you wish.

Things You'll Need

  • Painter's tape
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Brush
  • Blow dryer
  • Rag/cloth
  • Soap/dishwashing detergent
  • Painter's tape
  • Decorative paint pens
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About the Author

David Kiarie has been an independent writer and communications practitioner since 2007. Based in Africa, he has written works that have been published in various platforms, including "Prime Scope Magazine." Kiarie particularly enjoys writing about Africa, including African travel and art. He has a Bachelor of Arts in language and communication and literature from the University of Nairobi.