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How to paint on polyester fabric

Polyester is a diverse product. Its uses include apparel, home furnishings, water bottles, carpet and more. Polyester fabric dries quickly and is resistant to wrinkles and shrinking.

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Painting on polyester or any kind of fabric is an easy and rewarding craft. Painting with acrylic paint on a tightly woven polyester will produce the best results. Experiment with different types of paint on polyester fabric. Craft acrylic paint, puff paint, fabric spray paint are just a few types of paint available for painting on polyester.

  1. Wash polyester fabric. Polyester manufacturers will sometimes coat fabric with a finish that resists paint. Pre-laundering and drying fabric will remove this finish.

  2. Prepare the work area. Set out paints, fill spray bottle with water, set out containers and cover work area. Cover a large, flat work surface with cling film to protect it from paint splatter. Spread polyester fabric over surface.

  3. Spray fabric with water. The fabric should be damp but not soaking wet. Damp fabric allows the paint to diffuse in the fabric quickly. Pour paint colours in containers, or use sponge and apply paint directly to fabric. If you are looking to create a background colour, sponging a large area will give the fabric a thin coat of paint. Allow to dry or speed the process with a hair dryer before painting on top of the background colour.

  4. Paint designs with a stencil or freehand with paintbrushes. Puff acrylic paint will become raised or "puff out" when dried for a three-dimensional look. Paint acrylic on polyester thickly will take longer than thin coats applied repeatedly. Let dry between coats.

  5. Allow a full 24 hours to dry. Some paints need heat-setting before laundering. Most acrylic paints are ready for washing after the paint dries, but some textile paints require heat setting. Check with the paint manufacturer's instructions before ironing or applying heat to dried paint. Hand wash or machine wash fabric to rinse out unneeded paint.

  6. Tip

    Use toothbrushes, toothpicks or spoons to create different textures on your fabric. Mix different pigments in a container to achieve darker or lighter tones and hues.


    Never put wet painted cloth in a washer, dryer or any appliance using electricity. Acrylic paint is flammable, and can start an electrical fire.

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Things You'll Need

  • Polyester
  • Water
  • Acrylic fabric paint
  • Washer and dryer
  • Cling film
  • Paint brushes
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Spray bottle
  • Plastic containers
  • Sponges

About the Author

Alyssa Ideboen has been writing professionally since 2005. She has contributed to several print and online publications, including "Lexington Woman" and "Global Business" magazines. Ideboen holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management and communication from Judson University.

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