How to Paint a Depron Airplane

Written by larry simmons
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How to Paint a Depron Airplane
Give your foam planes a good paint job with water-based spray paints. (David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Depron is a type of foam that's popular with remote controlled aeroplane pilots because of its easy workability and light weight. Airplanes made of Depron are capable of amazing acrobatic flight, or of soaring on thermal updrafts for hours at a time. Once you've built your model, there's often a desire to personalise it with paint. However, the solvents in some paint can melt Depron, ruining your hard modelling work; so part of the painting process is choosing and testing a water-based paint that won't destroy your aeroplane in the process of covering it. Once you've found your paint, though, it's just a matter of applying your imagination to the foam with a few thin layers of spray.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Sandpaper
  • Lightweight spackle
  • Putty knife
  • Cloth
  • Water-based spray paint
  • Scrap foam
  • Painter's tape and paper

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  1. 1

    Cover your work area with a layer of newspaper to prevent getting paint where you don't want it. Place the separate parts of your Depron foam aeroplane on the work surface with a piece of scrap foam for testing the paint on.

  2. 2

    Sand the surface of the foam using 220-grit sandpaper. Fill any holes in the foam with lightweight spackle using a small putty knife. Allow the spackle to dry for an hour, then sand smooth and level with the plane's surface. Wipe the surface with a clean cloth.

  3. 3

    Shake a can of water-based spray paint vigorously to mix the contents. Aim the nozzle of the can towards the scrap foam, about 12-inches from the foam surface. Lightly press down on the spray paint can's nozzle to start the flow of paint. Cover the scrap foam in a light layer of paint moving the flow of paint over the surface of the foam using a back and forth motion. Release the nozzle when finished.

  4. 4

    Allow the paint on the foam scrap to dry for two hours, checking it occasionally for any signs of decomposition from any chemicals contained in the spray paint. If the foam appears as though it's melting, try a different brand of paint on a separate foam scrap. If the paint appears normal, then continue with painting your aeroplane.

  5. 5

    Draw out the design you want on your aeroplane on a piece of paper. Use a base colour for your design that will cover most of the plane's surface, with secondary colours where desired. For detailed symbols, or lettering, plan for the use of decals instead of paint.

  6. 6

    Cover any areas of the plane slated for secondary colours with painter's tape and paper to avoid painting them with the primary plane colour.

  7. 7

    Apply the primary colour to the plane, using the same back and forth motion to get an even covering you used on the scrap foam. Keep the layers light to avoid pooling or sags in the paint. Use two light layers to build up the paint coating for more translucent colours, rather than a single heavy paint layer.

  8. 8

    Allow the primary paint colour time to dry. Overnight is usually a sufficient drying time.

  9. 9

    Remove the tape from the secondary areas. Apply new strips of tape and paper over the primary colour. Paint the secondary areas the chosen colour with the same painting process. Allow this secondary paint colour time to dry completely as well before removing tape from the plane surface.

  10. 10

    Reassemble your painted plane.

Tips and warnings

  • Use an airbrush if available rather than spray paint for more control over your painting.
  • Open windows and doors leading to your work area to provide increased ventilation.

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