How to Paint Molded Plastic

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Things You'll Need

  • Drop cloth or old newspapers

  • Rags

  • Gentle detergent

  • Spray paint created for plastic

  • Latex gloves (optional)

  • Painter's tape (optional)

Spray paint is the paint of choice for molded plastics since there are no brushstrokes to worry about.

Even just a few years ago, painting molded plastic was a waste of time and energy. Even with cleaning and sanding, the paint would not tightly adhere to the plastic, and it would peel and flake away within a short time. Through new technology, however, paints have been created that not only adhere permanently to plastic, but actually bond with the plastic, and color the plastic deeper than the surface level.


Step 1

Prepare your work area. Before painting, gather everything you will need in one spot. Choose your work area carefully, away from buildings, fences or other objects that could be damaged if droplets of paint drift from the work space. Also, make sure the area is well-ventilated and that there is no wind. Spread out the drop cloth or old newspapers, remove the lids from the cans of spray paint, dampen one or two of the rags in case you need to do some quick clean-up work, and change into old clothes.


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Step 2

Prep the molded plastic. With the special paints made for plastic, sanding is not necessary, and could create visible marks instead of a smooth finish. However, a clean surface is essential. Use a mild detergent, such as dish washing liquid, thoroughly clean the molded plastic. Rinse well and dry with a rag. Make sure the plastic is completely dry before painting. If you are not painting the entire piece, use painter's tape to mask off any areas that are not being painted.


Step 3

Paint the plastic. Shake the can of spray paint very well. Using long, even strokes, about 18 inches away from the plastic, spray the paint onto the piece you are painting. Only lightly coat the plastic.

Step 4

Allow the paint to dry for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours. If needed, apply a second coat of paint in the same manner, making sure to paint all corners and crevices. Watch for any drips, and wipe them away with a wet rag immediately. You may want to wear latex gloves to prevent paint from getting on your fingers. Let the plastic dry completely before using.


Use only paints designed for painting plastic, such as Krylon Fusion for Plastic spray paint.


Do not touch or move the plastic while the paint is drying. You could end up with fingerprints on the paint.


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