How to Paint Rubbermaid Plastic Storage Bins

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Rubbermaid storage bins help provide you with much-needed space for stashing toys, out-of-season clothing, craft supplies and more. If you keep the bins out in the open where you see them day to day, dress them up a bit with fresh paint so they don't seem quite so drab or plain. If you'd rather go beyond a basic solid-color paint finish, dress them up with stripes, stenciled designs or even a chalkboard finish for custom labeling.

Clean Those Bins

No matter how clean the bins look, clean them again to help ensure the paint sticks. Wash the bins inside and out with dish soap and warm water; wash the lids as well. Once they're dry, wipe the plastic down with rubbing alcohol to help remove any greasy residue that may hinder the paint.

Painting the Bins

To Prime or Not to Prime

Generally speaking, painting a plastic bin requires a coat or two of plastic primer, otherwise the paint won't adhere. Paints designed to use on plastic -- no priming required -- offer a simpler option, although the color selection may be more limited. Prime the plastic with a plastic primer if you can't find the desired color in a dedicated plastic spray paint; otherwise, skip the primer and take the easy route with a plastic-specific paint.

Step 1

Select a well-ventilated area -- ideally outside -- to paint the storage bins. Cover the work surface with a plastic tarp, and then place the bins upside down on the tarp. Place the lids so the outside faces up, a few inches away on the tarp.

Step 2

Shake the spray can and spray each bin, starting each spray burst before it reaches the plastic and ending it beyond the plastic.

Step 3

Overlap the paint with each pass, holding the can 10 to 12 inches from the bins or lids as you paint.

Warning

  • If you must paint indoors, open windows and wear a respirator or dust mask to avoid breathing in fumes.

Design Options

If you seek style beyond solid colors for your Rubbermaid bins, dress them up a bit more by adding designs once the base color is completely cured; follow the recommended curing time mentioned on the spray can, as it may vary by brand.

  • Create stripes or chevrons by laying out the design with bits of painter's tape and painting a new color between the tape strips. 
  • Make a chalkboard label area on one side of each bin by taping off a rectangle and painting inside it with chalkboard paint. 
  • Create your own stencils for designs, such as a large unicorn or car silhouette for a toy-storage bin, by first drawing and cutting the shape out of contact paper. Place the contact paper "frame" over the desired area of the bin; paint inside the cutout area, and then peel the contact paper off once the paint dries.  
  • Use premade stencils by securing them to the bins with painter's tape or with a removable spray adhesive, then painting a new color through the stencil holes.

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