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How to Paint on Cereal Boxes

Updated April 08, 2017

Teachers and parents know that providing children with arts and craft supplies can be challenging, especially when you have limited funds. Cereal boxes can be used to create an endless number of crafts including greeting cards, place mats and holiday-specific decorations. Using recycled cereal boxes cuts the cost of creating useful crafts and allows you to spend extra money on paint colours and craft embellishments such as stickers and ribbons.

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  1. Remove cereal box contents and cut open one long edge of the cereal box, so that it can lay flat. Whether you are painting the outside or inside of cereal boxes, laying the cereal box cardboard flat allows the paint to dry without running. Draw an outline of the design you plan to paint with a pencil.

  2. Squeeze ample amounts of acrylic paint and acrylic medium onto a plastic palette. To paint the inside of the cereal box---which consists of an unfinished, absorbent surface similar to paper---thin your paint with medium as desired and paint your cereal box. Paint layers of colour on the box inside to cover up the grey cardboard and to get vibrant results. To paint on the cereal box's existing design---which is coated with a water-resistant finish---dab your brush with acrylic paint without mixing it in thinning medium, and paint on top of the existing design.

  3. Place painted cereal boxes on a clean surface free of dust and debris. Let your painted cereal boxes dry for at least three hours, depending on the thickness of your paint. If paint does not dry after three hours, let your painted cereal boxes dry overnight.

  4. Lay the dry, painted cereal boxes on a flat surface and coat them with a layer of acrylic varnish for a shiny, finished look. Prepare acrylic varnish by mixing it with water according the manufacturer's directions. Use a very clean or new brush. Leftover colour in a used brush could activate when moistened and ruin your design. Apply a thin coat of varnish and let your cereal box dry for at least three hours or overnight.

  5. Tip

    Save money by using water instead of acrylic medium, as acrylic paints are water soluble.

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Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic paint set
  • Acrylic medium
  • Acrylic varnish
  • Assorted acrylic paint brushes
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors

About the Author

Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.

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