Tips on Spray Painting Plastic

Written by timdowdall
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Tips on Spray Painting Plastic
Spray paint over plastic can liven up any item. (spray image by Dragana Petrovic from

Spray painting is an effective and efficient way to paint quickly and inexpensively; however, when spray painting a plastic surface, keep a few things in mind to ensure the paint adheres well and lasts a long time. Taking extra precautions makes things easier in the long run.

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Prepare the Area

Because spray paint is more difficult to control than traditional paint, prepare the area to paint. Place drop sheets or newspapers on the floor or ground covering the area to paint to avoid accidentally painting surroundings with the overspray. Ventilate the area well because the fumes from some spray paints can cause health problems. If possible, paint outside; if not, at least leave windows and doors open and wear a respiratory mask.

Prepare the Plastic

Preparing the item to paint is among the most important steps in painting plastic. If the plastic is not properly prepared, the spray paint won't adhere effectively and will quickly peel. Lightly sand plastic, especially new plastic, using fine sandpaper to give it a rougher texture, especially if there is already an old coat of paint on it. Wipe down the plastic and clean it to remove any dust and other foreign substances to give the paint a more consistent surface to adhere to.

Choose the Paint

If possible, use a spray paint specially formulated to adhere to plastic. Other general-use paints can accomplish the job but aren't likely to last as long. The surface of plastic items is different than that of wood or metal, so paints made to adhere to other surfaces may bubble or peel over time. Some plastic spray paints adhere to plastic with no priming or sanding.

Let the Paint Dry

Always make sure the paint has adequate time to dry by following the directions on the can. Most spray paints take from 15 minutes to an hour before they are dry to the touch. Try to avoid touching the surface before it has fully dried, as touching wet paint, or even slightly damp paint, can result in fingerprints or other marks on the surface.

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