How to Paint a Poly Tarp

Written by sharideth smith
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How to Paint a Poly Tarp
Spray paint is the most common medium used in painting tarps. (spray image by Dragana Petrovic from

Getting paint to stick to poly tarp is not the easiest thing to do. Polypropylene is designed to repel just about everything. Without proper preparation with the correct materials, there is no paint that will adhere to a poly tarp. During dry weather it will flake and during wet weather it will run or clump up. This is primarily due to a mould-repellent coating that will not allow bonding of any kind to the poly tarp. Stripping the coating with the correct chemicals and making sure the tarp is free of any pollutants or debris should allow the paint to stick.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Grease-cutting liquid detergent
  • Hot water
  • Clean bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Transtar 1004 Cleaner or similar product
  • Adhesion promoter
  • Adhesive spray paint
  • Clean, dry, lint-free shop towels
  • Masking tape

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  1. 1

    Put on the rubber gloves and combine a mild solution of grease-cutting, liquid detergent and hot water in the bucket.

  2. 2

    Wash the poly tarp thoroughly with a clean, lint-free shop towel.

  3. 3

    Rinse the tarp and allow to dry completely.

  4. 4

    Wash the entire area to be painted with Transtar 1004 Pre-Wash Cleaner or similar adhesion aid cleaner designed specifically for plastics.

  5. 5

    Rinse the tarp and allow to dry completely.

  1. 1

    If necessary, use the masking tape to tape off the area to be painted.

  2. 2

    Prime the entire area to be painted with an adhesion promoter spray and allow to dry completely according to the manufacturer's time line.

  3. 3

    Use adhesive paint designed for plastics and paint as desired.

  4. 4

    Allow to dry for at least three days before exposing to the elements.

Tips and warnings

  • There are kits for preparing polypropylene products for painting. They include the products needed and detailed instructions for success.
  • Make sure all preparation and painting are done in a well-ventilated area to protect yourself from fumes.

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