Best Way to Keep Tempera Paint on Plastic


Also, referred to as poster color, tempera paint is a permanent, quick-drying coating, consisting of pigment and a glutinous binding agent, like egg yolk. When Tempera peels from plastic, the culprit is almost always improper surface preparation. Because plastic is nonporous, it is ill-suited for any type of paint adhesion. Plastic surfaces should be abraded with sandpaper to provide a tooth for the tempera to adhere to. Properly conditioned plastic will maintain its tempera finish. However, for extra durability, you may want to apply a paint sealer.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Coarse sponge
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloth
  • Acrylic latex primer
  • 2- to 4-inch latex paintbrush
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint sealer
  • Clean the plastic surface with dish soap using a coarse sponge. Rinse the soap from the plastic with wet rags. Dry the plastic with towels.

  • Stimulate surface adhesion by abrading the plastic with 220-grit sandpaper. Scour the surface until it feels gritty.

  • Wipe down the abraded plastic with a sticky tack cloth.

  • Place a fabric drop cloth beneath the plastic.

  • Coat the abraded plastic with an acrylic latex primer, using a 2- to 4-inch paintbrush, manufactured specifically for use with water-based latex paints. Wait two hours for the primed plastic to dry.

  • Wash the brush with water.

  • Coat the primed plastic with tempera paint using the cleaned paintbrush. Wait four hours for the finished plastic to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the tempera-coated plastic is located outdoors, apply a coat of protective paint sealer, using the latex paintbrush, to provide extra durability in varying weather conditions.
  • Never apply primer over non-abraded plastic, or the finish will peel.
  • Do not apply tempura paint over unprimed plastic, or it will eventually flake off.

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  • Photo Credit sandpapier image by Thomas Aumann from
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