How to Change Colors or Dyes With Neoprene

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Wetsuits are often made from neoprene.
Wetsuits are often made from neoprene. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Neoprene is a form of rubber often used for wetsuits and other water products. The neoprene blocks water from touching anything under the fabric and acts as a waterproof barrier. Neoprene typically comes in few colors, including black or dark blue. Typically, the color is added to the fabric during production, but it's possible to paint a new color over the rubber using a rubber-based flexible paint. Protect the paint with a waterproof gel coating to prevent it from rubbing off when the fabric is used in the water.

Things You'll Need

  • Urethane cure accelerator
  • Paintbrush
  • Rubber paint or neoprene cement
  • Clear waterproofing gel

Apply a thin coating of urethane cure accelerator to the neoprene with a paintbrush. This cleans the surface of the rubber and also helps the paint and dye stick to the surface better without peeling or flaking. Allow the neoprene to dry completely before proceeding.

Brush the paint or cement onto the neoprene fabric. Make sure that the neoprene fabric is completely flat with no wrinkles. This is especially important when using neoprene cement, because if the neoprene touches the cement while it's still wet, it will bond to the surface quickly, just like a fast-drying glue. It's difficult to unstick the neoprene once it's stuck together.

Allow the neoprene to dry for 24 to 48 hours. This will give the paint enough time to soak into the neoprene and cure completely.

Mix 1 part cure accelerator with 2 parts waterproof gel. Paint the gel over the paint on the neoprene to protect the surface and add an additional layer of protection that will prevent the color from coming off the fabric. Allow the gel to cure overnight before touching the fabric or using it for any reason.

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