What Kind of Paint to Use on an Umbrella

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Rain, sleet, hail and even bright sunlight can be quite damaging to outdoor furniture and patio umbrellas. Even hand-held umbrellas can begin to fade and look less attractive when exposed to the elements for long periods. To spruce up your umbrella, consider painting it. The type of fabric from which the umbrella was made will determine what type of paint should be used in this project.

Textile Paints

  • As suggested by the name, textile or "fabric paints" are designed specifically to use when painting fabric. This makes them a good choice for use on outdoor patio umbrellas, which traditionally are made from canvas. While fabric paints can be applied with a paintbrush, applicator-tipped products can help create a three-dimensional look. Fabric paint can be found at most arts and crafts stores and may also be available through home improvement retailers.

Lumiere Metallic Paints

  • Lumiere metallic paints are fabric paints that offer a shimmery, iridescent look when dry. Like traditional fabric paints, lumiere metallic paints are easily applied to canvas umbrellas through the use of a paintbrush or an applicator tip. The extra "glitz" associated with lumiere metallic paints means they may be significantly more expensive than traditional products. This may make them inappropriate for use when large surfaces need to be covered. Instead, they are recommended for use in highlighting or defining specific areas on the umbrella.

Acrylic Paints

  • Acrylic paints are often recommended for painting hand-held umbrellas, which are often made from nylon or other types of synthetic fabric. Acrylic paints stick well to synthetic fabrics and also last a long time. Typically, these paints feel stiff when dry; this may be acceptable for some individuals, but others might prefer a more natural look. Adding a small amount of water or textile paint to the acrylic base will result in a product that is durable yet has a softer, more natural feel.

Tips for Painting Umbrellas

  • Some umbrellas may require "prep work" before they can be painted. This is especially true for canvas umbrellas, which should be coated with two layers of gesso before any type of paint is applied. Gesso is a special type of primer that will aid in the application of the paint and prevent it from appearing blotchy or uneven upon drying. While gesso once came only in white, it is available today in a variety of colors.

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