Can you Use Acrylic Paint on Plastic? Detailed Guide

When you’re painting, it’s important to use the right type of paint for the surface you’re working on. Different paints work best on different materials. So can you use acrylic paint on plastic?

The answer is…it depends. You can try using acrylic paint on plastic, but it may not stick well or look good. If you’re looking for a better option, consider spraying paint or primer before painting with acrylics.

Table of Contents

Will Acrylic Paint Stick to Plastic?

Acrylic paint is a type of water-based paint. It’s easy to use and comes in various finishes, from matte to gloss, and it dries quickly. When painting on surfaces like metal or wood, acrylic paint works well because the porous surface absorbs the paint easily.

But when you are trying to paint on plastic, it may not work as well because plastic has a smooth surface that doesn’t absorb the paint well.

How Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Plastic?

You can use acrylic paint on plastic if you are willing to put in the extra time or effort. You will need to prime or prepare the plastic surface before painting with acrylics. If you want a clean, smooth look, spray paint may be your best option because it creates an even layer of paint across the object’s surface without soaking into any porous areas.

Another alternative is to use a coat of primer before applying your acrylic paint. Primer works by creating a more porous surface that absorbs some acrylic paint. This reduces how much colour shows through on the final product, giving you more control over how much colour appears during the final application.

You may also consider using different paints instead of acrylics for different plastic surface effects.

What are the different types of Plastic Can You Paint?

Several types of paints can be used on plastic, so it’s important to consider the type of plastic you are working with. Most paints are either enamel or latex paint.

Enamel Paint

It is a tougher option because it has a smooth, shiny finish and is great for tabletop projects like crafts and household decor. It’s my personal favourite because I like bright colours and sharp lines. But you need to apply two coats to cover completely and make sure the surface has dried between applications. You’ll also need an undercoat if you plan to use acrylics over your enamel coat, as well as some primer for plastics made from polyethene terephthalates (), such as soda bottles and buckets.

Latex Paint

It comes in many different colours and finishes and provides great coverage. It’s easy to use but is not as durable or long-lasting as enamel paint. You may experience the colour fading after a few years with latex paint.

What Kind of Paint Will Work Best on Plastic?

If you’re working with plastic that is smooth, such as a bucket or soda bottle, it’s best to stick with acrylics for your final coat because they stick well if you spray primer over them first.

If you want something more durable, consider using an enamel finish over a coat of primer for your topcoat on plastics made from polyethylene phthalate (). Using a primer can also help give you a better appearance when using acrylic paint for plastic.

What is the Easiest Way to Paint Over Plastic?

Spray painting may be your best bet when painting on plastic because it creates a more even coating without getting too much paint in any one area. Spray painting or enamel paints are your best bet for a smooth appearance.

You should also consider using a primer before applying acrylics if you want better colour control over the final product. Don’t forget that different types of plastics will require different kinds of paints to work best. Understanding what kind of plastic you’re working with and choosing accordingly can help ensure your project turns out exactly how you envisioned it.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Stay on Plastic?

You may want to spray primer over your plastic before using acrylics. That will make it a little less smooth and give you a better grip on the surface for painting. But keep in mind that primer is simply a coat of paint used as a base layer – it won’t stand up to wear and tear or damage from items placed directly on top of the final product if left for several years without another coat of paint underneath it.

If you’re trying to create something sturdier, consider using enamel paints as your final step. They have a satin finish, making them durable enough to handle scratches from being around items such as keys or pens.

Spray-painted plastics can also become scratched easily, so the use of a protective spray such as acrylic lacquer (which comes in gloss, satin and matte finishes) can help ensure your new piece lasts for years in its new form.

If your plastic is in bad shape or you want something more durable, consider doing a coat of primer before applying acrylics. Otherwise, you can also try to use enamel paint over a coat of primer (which will give you better colour control). And remember that different types of plastic should be painted with different kinds of paint for best results.

How to Paint Plastic With Acrylic Paint

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Gather your supplies and find a work surface like an old table or cardboard box outside if you don’t want to make a mess in your house. You’ll need plastic, acrylic paint (in the colour of your choice), a container for water, a paintbrush, masking tape (if desired), latex gloves (optional) and any other desired supplies.

Step 2: Clean your Plastic

Wipe your plastic clean with a rag dipped in the water and soap mix if there is any dirt, dust or residue on it to ensure a good bond between the paint and plastic. You can use a single-edged razor blade or spatula to scrape off tough spots if needed but make sure you only scrape the truly stubborn areas because scraping too much of your plastic could ruin it completely.

Step 3: Choose your colour

Once everything’s dry, measure out an amount of acrylic colour that matches the colour you want to paint onto your plastic into a small container for easier mixing. You can use leftover acrylic paint from other projects as long as they match well enough that you won’t notice any difference in colour applied to your plastic. If you don’t have any old paint lying around, you can purchase small amounts of acrylic at local craft stores instead.

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Step 4: Mixing Colours

Begin mixing your colour into the water with the paintbrush until it’s fully blended and consistent enough that you won’t be able to see streaks or other differences in colouration when you begin painting. If your container is deep enough, try using a stick to stir up the mixture since brushes will tend to retain too much paint on their bristles instead of getting it all mixed. You may also need to do multiple batches if you want to make more than one coat of colour on your plastic surface because there are limits as to how much can be mixed by hand if you’re trying to save time rather than buy more paint.

Step 5: Apply Paint

Apply your paint mixture to the plastic surface with the brush and be sure to cover it thickly so that you won’t have problems later when your paint begins to dry out or chip away. If you’re doing multiple coats, wait several minutes between each for best results since acrylics tend to dry quickly on plastic surfaces (which increases the chances of chipping). Please make sure not to miss any spots because it will be much harder for you to see them after the paint has dried.

Step 6: Apply another layer

Once your first coat of colour has dried (which should only take about 10-20 minutes depending on humidity levels), apply another coat if needed and allow it time to dry as well before moving onto step

You can also apply two or more coats if you want a thicker layer of paint because acrylic tends to bond very well with plastic surfaces.

Step 7: Touch up

Cover your new painted plastic with one or more protective coats after it’s completely dry, and wait until the last coat has dried before you remove any masking tape that you might have used if desired.

After removing the tape, touch up any areas where paint may have seeped under the corners of the tape with your brush or leave them as they are since most people won’t notice slight imperfections in this area unless they know what they’re looking for.

If needed, cover different spots with another protective coat of acrylic lacquer spray to ensure maximum protection from chipping fading scratches over time.

Finished! You can now use your new painted plastic any way you want and enjoy a whole new colour scheme. If you used masking tape, make sure to remove it before letting people handle your object, or they might damage it by brushing up against the tape’s edges.

How to Paint on Plastic Using Acrylic Spray Paint

Step 1: Clean your Plastic

First, you need to make sure that whatever plastic surface you want to paint has been cleaned thoroughly using soap and water while scrubbing it down with a rag until there’s no dirt, dust or another residue on the surface (this will increase the chances of primer and paint sticking well). You can use an old razor blade or spatula to scrape off tough spots if necessary but make sure not to scrape too much because this could ruin your plastic entirely.

Step 1: Mixing Colours

After waiting for everything to dry completely (which shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes depending on humidity levels), begin mixing acrylic colour in small amounts using plenty of water so that it blends easily without leaving any streaks behind when it begins drying out.

Step 3: Apply Paint Mixture

Start applying the paint mixture to your plastic surface with a paintbrush and cover it as evenly as possible while also covering any spots you might have missed earlier (you can use masking tape if necessary to avoid getting paint on certain areas).

Step 4: Mix More Colours

Continue mixing more colour into your water/paint mixture until everything is blended smoothly without visible colouration differences or other problems, then wait for the first coat to dry before doing anything else. Depending on humidity levels in your home or nearby surroundings, this could take anywhere from 10-20 minutes so make sure to make multiple small batches of acrylic paint if you want to save time instead of making one huge batch.

Step 5: Add Water to Mixed Colours

Add another large enough amount of acrylic colour mixed into the water so that the mixture is very easy to spread around without it thickening too soon before you can even apply it. Make sure not to miss any spots and do multiple coats if necessary to avoid problems later, such as paint peeling away or becoming discoloured over time.

Step 6: Add another layer

After waiting for each coat of colour to dry thoroughly (usually about 10-20 minutes depending on humidity levels), add another coat or two of colour if needed and wait again until everything dries completely before moving on to the next step below.

Step 7: Cover with Protective Coats

Cover your new painted plastic with one or more protective coats after it’s fully dry and wait at least an hour in between each application because acrylics tend to bond very well with most types of plastic surfaces and will not chip, fade or peel away easily if protected with a good clear coat.

Step 8: Masking Tape

Mask off any areas you don’t want to paint using masking tape and painter’s tape. Then apply another protective lacquer coating over everything to ensure maximum protection from damage during handling or inclement weather conditions.

Step 9: Removing Masking Material

After the last coat has dried completely (usually about one hour), remove all masking material carefully while making sure to avoid brushing up against your newly painted plastic surface because this could cause scratches or other problems depending on the type of objects handled. If needed, touch up any missed spots by applying small amounts of paint mixed into the water at a time until they’re completely covered, then wait for everything else to dry completely before proceeding to the next step below.

Step 10: Enjoy your craft!

Final step! Now that everything has dried completely, you can use whatever plastic item you’ve just painted as normal without worrying about scratches or other potential damage due to handling. It should look good as new, and it’s now safe to handle or store at your discretion.

Tips for Painting Plastic with Acrylic Paint

  1. It’s usually best to apply thin layers of paint over thick layers instead of multiple thin coats because this will ensure maximum adhesion and prevent peeling, chipping or other issues. However, depending on the project at hand, you might need multiple thin coats if necessary, but try not to do that unless necessary for your sanity.
  2. You can also use foam brushes instead of paintbrushes for some projects, just as long as they’re made with synthetic bristles and aren’t too small for your needs. Some artists prefer foam brushes over regular ones because they offer a little more control when spreading acrylic colour around surfaces, which is very helpful in some cases where even the smallest difference could make a big impact.
  3. When painting small or intricate areas too small for foam brushes, you might want to use an old sock instead of a brush because it’s the same thing but with more flexibility. Just cut off the toe part, so nothing sharp is poking out.

    Then stuff one end inside a plastic sandwich bag before placing your paint inside. Once everything’s secure, all you have to do is hold onto the “sock” while applying colour directly from its open end to whatever surface you’re trying to paint.
  4. There are many different brands and types of acrylic paint available on the market, but unless they’re labelled as water-based or specifically made for plastics, avoid them at all costs because most other types won’t bond well with this type of material which can lead to all sorts of problems down the line.
  5. Paint that’s been made specifically for plastic surfaces usually comes in a variety of colours, sheens and types, so you should be able to find something based on your specific needs without too much trouble if you look around long enough or ask an expert.

    However, most people tend to use oil-based paint over water-based, so we’ll focus on it here because it’s less irritating and downright healthier than the alternatives.
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The Best Primer for Acrylic Paint on Plastic

The best primer for acrylic paint on plastic that can be found in the market are listed below:

Rust-Oleum Plastic Primer Spray

This is one of the best acrylic paint primers for plastic surfaces available right now because it contains at least 95% plastic polymer resin which makes it fairly flexible to use on even the most rigid types.

It also features reduced overspray and excellent adhesion that can be applied directly onto bare or painted plastics without any issues, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your paint job in the process.

Another reason why this is one of the best paints for plastics is because it’s non-toxic, odour-free and completely free from VOCs, which makes it much easier to handle than other types while still providing thicker coverage than most water-based types out there.

And lastly, it also promotes up to two times more rust protection which means that you can use it on metal surfaces or even other types of plastics without worrying about any damage due to corrosive runoff.

Vallejo Grey Primer Acrylic Polyurethane

This primer is a bit thicker than most other types, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because this improves its binding properties while also providing a little more durability to the surface you’re painting over.

It’s also non-yellowing and completely odourless, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with strange smells or unbearable fumes in addition to all your other problems.

One of the main reasons this is such a good acrylic paint primer for plastics is that it’s compatible with almost every type of material, can be sanded multiple times without being damaged, and provides great anti-corrosive properties.

This by itself is already enough for most people to use it as their main source of adhesion, so you can rest assured that using this on your next project won’t leave you wanting more in the long run.

The Best Acrylic Paint Sealer for Plastic

The best acrylic paint sealer for plastic are listed below:

Aleene’s Spray Gloss Acrylic Sealer

This is another one of the best acrylic paint sealers for plastic surfaces because it’s pretty much guaranteed to prevent any form of damage over time, no matter how many times you touch, scratch or otherwise try to get rid of your paint job.

It also provides excellent adhesion even on large areas, so you won’t have to worry about peeling off in the middle of a game night just because some little kid slapped your favourite mini with their fist before you could do anything about it.

Plus, this is probably one of the safest types available right now, which means that you can use it in or directly next to food preparation areas without worrying about contamination in most cases.

Sargent Art Acrylic Gloss and Varnish

This is a good acrylic paint sealer because it dries almost instantly, reduces yellowing from UV exposure and can be used to protect almost any surface around your house.

These include plastic and other materials like metal and even laminate, so you don’t have to worry too much about compatibility issues. Just make sure that whatever you spray this on doesn’t exceed the recommended temperature for using this product, or else it will start losing its effectiveness after a while.

Finally, durability is also increased over time as long as you don’t leave the surface exposed to the elements for very long periods at a time without re-coating first.

The Best Paint for Plastic

Plastic can be painted using acrylic paints and craft paint for plastic. Depending on your project, you can use either of them.

Here are some of the Best Paint for Plastic Surfaces.

Best Craft Paint for Plastic Surfaces

Craft Acrylic paint is identified from its front label. It is written “plastic” or “Multi-use.”

Here are some of the best craft paint for plastic surfaces.

FolkArt Multi-Surface Acrylic Craft Paint

This is a good craft paint for plastic surfaces. It does not require a primer and can be applied on a smooth surface or fabric. Folkart multi-surface acrylic craft paint is an all in one type of paint, which means that you do not need to use another primer before it. This can be used indoors and outdoors. It dries very fast, too, so users will not have to wait long before starting their work. Imagine how much time they will save using this best quality product from folk art.

Individual Acrylic Paint Set

This is another good craft paint for plastic surfaces. It gives amazing results with the help of its unique formula. This fast-drying formula allows you to apply 2-3 thin coats in just 10 minutes, perfect if you’re in a hurry or want to start something new before your previous one dries out. Great for both professional nail techs and beginners. It comes in a set of 3 bottles (1/4 oz each).

Each bottle comes with its fine tip brush, which saves money on buying multiple tools where most beginners can’t tell them apart anyway.

Best Acrylic Spray Paint on Plastic

Rust-Oleum Spray Paint for Plastic

In my opinion, it is the best acrylic spray paint for plastic surfaces.

It works on all types of plastic, including plastic bags and other accessories. It covers all black plastics to make it look shiny again. The cans are large compared with most brands, so you can use them long before getting a new one from the store.

Indoor/Outdoor Satin Metallic Spray Paint by Krylon

This is another best quality product from Krylon. With this spray paint, your old worn-out looking items will be rejuvenated into something that looks like an expensive brand-new item at a fraction of the cost! It makes almost anything metallic appear as though it’s been plated in a real metal, but without any of the hassle!

Must the Primer be the Same Color as the Paint?


You can paint most plastic with any colour, even if that is different from the plastic’s original colour. You can paint it using craft paints for plastic or acrylic paints.

One coat of paint should be enough to improve appearance, but two coats are better for better protection and durability. It will also help cover darker surfaces more evenly.

Just ensure that you have a working surface that is large enough to support your project and workspace.

##How do you permanently paint plastic?

Plastics may appear smooth and shiny once you’ve applied the paint on them, but it’s best to know that most paints will eventually wear off over time.

Epoxy coatings are long-lasting and can be used for porous plastic surfaces like concrete, bricks and wood.

They usually come in two separate components that need to be mixed before applying them to your project. Follow the instructions carefully when mixing these products because they emit harmful fumes and should only be used in well-ventilated areas.

High heat enamels are highly recommended if you want a more cost-effective product. They create a protective layer against bacteria, dust, and moisture once they dry up without yellowing flaking off over time, making them a great choice for plastic surfaces exposed to high heat.

How do you get dried acrylic paint off plastic?

Acrylic paint dries up quickly, so it’s best to wash it off immediately after applying it to the plastic surface.

You can use warm water and dish soap for this task, but make sure to clean in small sections at a time if you want to prevent the paint from wearing off prematurely.

Some paints like high heat enamels or epoxy-based coatings become harder or less effective when exposed to excess moisture, so make sure to cover any areas where you don’t want the paint to appear before washing it off.

If your project calls for multiple coats of paint, allow each coat to dry up completely before applying another one because washing will not affect its quality once applied on plastics.

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Although most paints look glossy when applied to plastics, it’s best to know that they usually wear off over time, depending on the type of paint used.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you Make Acrylic Paints Permanent on Plastic?

No, acrylic paints are permanent on almost everything other than plastics.

It would help if you did not use it on materials like rubber or leather.

What is the Difference between Craft and Acrylic Paint for Plastic?

The difference is in the ingredients. Craft paint for plastic has a thicker consistency and contains high concentrations of pigments. On the other hand, acrylic paint for such surfaces is thinner and has a lower concentration of pigments.

Do I Need to Prime Plastic before Painting it?

The answer is no.

Acrylic paint can be applied directly on the plastic surface without any primer. However, if you want to paint over an old coat or an existing colour, you should use a metal primer.

Primer does not work on plastic surfaces because it will peel off when peeled or scratched.

The paint doesn’t stick to the primers, so you must remove it before painting.

What Type of Paint can be Used on Plastic Bags?

Plastic bags are designed with specific coatings that prevent them from being recycled.

To get rid of the coating, you have to use a paint stripper or heat gun.

After removing the coat, you can now paint them using any paint, provided it is made specifically for plastic surfaces.

How do I Make Plastic Glossy Again?

You make plastic glossy again with paint specially designed for plastic surfaces.

It is very hard to make glossy again plastic by applying other kinds of paint because acrylics are incompatible with plastics.

How do I Refinish Plastic?

Plastic finishes are available in different grades, and it all depends on your preference.

The best way is to contact a local hardware store specializing in paints and ask them about the various options for refinishing plastic. They will tell you which one offers durability and which type of paint does not affect the performance of the plastic item you want to repaint. You can opt for a matte, satin, semi-gloss or gloss finish depending on the appearance you want to achieve.

What’s even better is that you can try testing the paints on a small area to know if they adhere well and ensure that you won’t be wasting time and effort in refinishing your plastic item.

Do I Need to Use a Glossy/Matte Finish for Plastic?

There is no need to use shiny paint for plastic surfaces unless this is what you like or the original appearance of the item.

Glossy paint would be too slippery and can easily get dirty, whereas matte looks dull and unattractive. There are other alternatives apart from glossy or matte finishes, including satin, semi-gloss or eggshell finish depending on your preference.

What Type of Paint to Use on Plastic Jars?

Plastic jars are made of different types of plastic, and it is important to know which paint can be used on each type.

Polypropylene jars are great for storing food, but the surface scratches easily, so you need to use special paints that adhere well to this type of plastic.

The most recommended coat type for these surfaces is high gloss enamel, which is very durable.

Acrylic paint can also work well using a primer first before painting. If you want your jar to look vintage, oil-based paints are the best choice because they give an antique finish.

High-temperature paints are also available, but they are only good up to about 130 degrees Fahrenheit since heat above that damages the coating.

How do I Paint Plastic Bottles?

The first thing to do is clean the plastic bottle for at least 24 hours before applying paint.

You can use warm water with dish soap to remove dirt and oily residues. Wash the bottle one more time by using hot water and dry it with a lint-free cloth or leave them under sunlight for several hours. You can also wipe down the bottle with acetone but make sure not to touch any of the painted areas once you’ve done this.

Acrylic paints are best for painting plastic bottles, depending on the plastic used in creating them. For example, ABS is compatible with acrylic paint, but PVC should be painted using an epoxy or urethane topcoat. If you want a durable finish that will withstand wear and tear, opt for high-temperature paint specially made to be used with plastics.

What Type of Paint can I use on my Plastic Utensils?

Plastic utensils need a finish that is resistant to heat and cold food.

You can paint them using any paint, but you should make sure it will not affect the taste or smell of your dishes like latex and acrylic paints. High heat and chemical dishwasher detergents also affect certain types of paint so check if they are compatible first before applying them on plastic utensils.

If you want sturdy enamel finishes that won’t chip off easily, then epoxy coatings are the best option. They do not emit any harmful gases or fumes, so it is safe to use in the kitchen.

How do I Paint a Plastic Bathtub?

It’s best to clean your plastic bathtub with warm water and dish soap before painting. You can also wipe it down using acetone, but make sure not to touch any painted areas once you’ve done this.

Epoxy paints are beneficial for plastic surfaces, including bathtubs, because they are strong, durable and waterproof once they have dried up.

However, certain types of epoxy emit toxic fumes when drying up, which may be harmful if inhaled or absorbed into the skin, so paint in a well-ventilated area.

You can also opt for high heat enamel coatings, especially if you want your plastic bathtub to withstand heat from a lot of hot water.

How do I paint a Plastic Animal?

Plastic animal toys can be painted using all paints, but you should know that epoxy and enamel paints are the most durable ones. Acrylics dry up quickly, so it is very important to work in small sections. Oil-based paints are also recommended since they give a vintage finish, and the plastic surface needs to undergo a curing process before applying oil-based paint.

You can use high heat paint if you want your toy animal to withstand extremely high temperatures from dishwasher sterilizing or boiling water as well as cold weather conditions.

Does acrylic paint wash off plastic?

Yes, acrylic paints can be easily washed off plastic surfaces using normal dish soap and warm water.

Make sure to remove the paint on any areas you don’t want it on first before applying it on other parts of your project because washing will not affect its quality once applied on plastics.

However, some paints like high heat enamel may become harder to wash off once they have dried up completely, so make sure to use them only if there are no areas where you don’t want the paint to appear.


The best type of paint to use on plastic can be chosen depending on your project.

However, the most important thing is to choose a non-toxic brand when you are doing home painting projects, even if it means buying expensive brands because our health is more important than anything else in the long run.

If you are still not sure about whether certain types of paints can affect your plastic surfaces or not, make sure to do some research online for answers based on specific brands and materials used in creating them.

But hopefully, after reading this article, choosing the right kind of paint for your plastic surface will no longer be a tedious task for you anymore!

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