How to paint plastic: A short and easy guide

How to paint plastic

Did you know it’s possible to paint plastic? Well, it is. But how to paint plastic? It’s also pretty easy. You can even do an excellent job if you follow these simple instructions. Painting plastic is a great way to give old items a new lease on life. Plastic is often overlooked, but it’s fun to paint, and the finished product has a cool, modern look. The nice thing about painting plastic is that it doesn’t have to be done in just one color.

You can use different spray paint colors to create exciting patterns and textures. But there is a downside: The paint doesn’t stick well, so you have to work quickly. For this reason, I recommend doing the prep work before painting (more on that below).

What You Will Need

There are a few things you need to have before you start painting plastic.

  • pail
  • Rags
  • Nylon scrub brush
  • Spray paint
  • Dish soap
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Mineral spirits

1) Clean the Surface of the Plastic

various cleaning products in a plastic basket

You can do it by scrubbing it with a brush or using a wet sponge moistened with water. Rinse and dry thoroughly. For greasy, glossy surfaces, use a plastic brush dipped in a cleanser or degreaser. For transparent surfaces, use distilled water.

2) Sand Shiny Surfaces

sanding plastic

Sand the plastic with sandpaper until they are smooth and shiny. Sanding will remove the old texture from the surface of the plastic parts and prepare the plastic for the next step.

Note: You can use 180- to 220-grit sandpaper to sand the plastic. Also, you can pretty much do hand sanding for plastic, but if the area is larger, you may use an orbital sander.

3) Wipe Down the Plastic With Mineral Spirits

closeup of a plastic table being wiped down with a cloth prior to painting

Ensure that all areas you want to paint are free of oils, dust, and dirt by wiping them down with Mineral Spirits (also available at hardware stores and online).

That means scrubbing the wallpaper with a paint roller and scrubbing the hardwoods with a clean cloth. It ensures everything gets clean after sanding.

Note: Since mineral spirits are flammable, make sure not to throw them in any standard dustbins. And check the local guides to throw mineral spirit bottles and rugs in the proper place.

4) Spray the First Coat of Paint

closeup of spray paint being used to paint a plastic surface

After you sand and clean the area, it’s time to Spray the First Coat of Paint in plastic.

If you want a true-tone effect:

  1. Spray the varnish in color you’d like the item to have.
  2. For dark shades, try black paint.
  3. For lighter shades, try a light color.
  4. Please wait at least 2 hours after spraying the paint to let it fully dry. You can stain plastic by painting it with a varnish that has been specially formulated to stain plastic.

Note: Avoid using oil or wine-based paint spray, as these products can leach onto the plastic and ruin the effect. Maintain the spray paint within 8 and 12 inches apart from the plastic and turn paint spray at about a 45-degree angle.

5) Paint the plastic with a second coat

After you have let the first coat of paint dry for at least 2 hours, now is the time to paint the plastic with a second coat. When you’re painting a plastic surface, it’s essential to know that the paint tends to wear off. The second coat of paint is critical. If you’re using one coat, you’re likely to run into problems with the paint peeling or cracking.

Now once you paint the plastic for the second time, wait for 2 hours more. After that, paint for the last time, and you are done. Make sure to patiently wait until the paints dry, and sometimes it takes up to 24hrs to fully dry.

Why did I choose to spray paint instead of brushing?

Brushing on the paint can leave scratches and swirls with rough surfaces. Additionally, the color may not adhere to the plastic as well as it should. The more you have to rub the paint in, the more you risk scratching the surface even more. This is why spraying color onto plastics is so much better than brushing it on.

Is it possible to paint plastic receptacle covers?

Receptacle covers are plastic, so it is possible to paint them. Many homeowners take this step to ensure that the cover blends in with its surroundings. When painting a plastic receptacle cover, it’s essential to keep in mind a few factors, such as ease of removal and paint compatibility.

The spray paint is beginning to fall or take off. What did I do wrong?

There are a few reasons why it may not be sticking to the plastic. One of the main reasons might be that you are spraying it too thickly. Put the can far away from the item, as i said above, and spray it in a windmill motion.

Also, sometimes the paint takes off because you are using the wrong type of paint. Make sure to use the one which is suitable for painting the plastic.

Another reason might be the problem with plastic. Some plastics repel the paint, so it does not matter how good your preparation is. The paint will not stick there for a long time.


  • You should always work in a well-ventilated space to avoid breathing poisonous fumes of the paint or mineral spirits.


Everyone knows that painting is a great way to change the look and feel of a place and objects, but many people don’t know how to paint plastic. Painting plastic is very similar to painting wood or any other surface. Your paint will adhere to the surface as long as you prepare it properly. If you follow these simple steps given above, you will achieve a professional finish on your plastic. Now that you know the best way to paint plastic go ahead and start your project!

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