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Can You Spray Paint Plastic? [And How To]

When people think of spray paint, they don't think of spray painting home projects, despite it being a time-saving technique. Since it works on walls and furniture, you might wonder if it works on plastic too. We've researched if you can spray paint plastic and here are our findings.

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Yes, you can use spray paint on plastic. However, there are steps to follow so that your spray paint can last:

  1. Protect your space and yourself
  2. Do a trial run
  3. Clean the plastic
  4. Prepare the plastic surface
  5. Determine the right distance and spray
  6. Be patient
  7. Even out the surface
  8. Cure the item

By following these steps, you can make the best out of your spray painting and have it stick longer on your plastic. Keep reading our guide as we go through each step and more on how you can spray paint plastic.

Painting car bumper in paint booth, Can You Spray Paint Plastic? [And How To]

How To Apply Spray Paint On Plastic

The technique of spraying paint was initially made to cover a large area in a minimum amount of time. While it's true that you can save time spraying paint, it requires following a certain procedure.

Used aerosol spray paint in cans in carton

This is especially the case when painting plastic because it has a different reaction to spray paint.

1. Protect Your Space And Yourself

Old grunge newpaper

First, you want to do is to cover your space with cardboard or newspaper to protect it from the paint that you're about to spray onto your project. Even if the floor you're working on is that of your workshop, you'd want to avoid any unnecessary paint on your floor.

If you don't have a specific work area to do your project, you can take it outside if the weather isn't too hot or humid. Plus, there's shade for you and your project to avoid direct sunlight.

Also, don't forget to protect yourself while doing a project. When spraying your paint onto your plastic item, remember to wear a mask for spray painting to avoid inhaling any harmful chemicals.

If you're working inside, don't turn on your electric fan. Instead, open your windows and exhaust fans to keep your space well-ventilated.

Take a look at Kischers' reusable safety goggle set on Amazon.

2. Do A Trial Run

This step is recommended for those who aren't ready to jump right into their project. There's always that possibility that it won't go your way during your first try.

By doing a test run, you can lessen the chances of making mistakes on your project. You can grab an extra plastic similar to what you will be working on and try it out.

3. Clean The Plastic

The next thing you want to do is clean the plastic that you want to work with. Clean the surface of your plastic item to keep it clear of debris, like dust or even a loose strand of hair when you start spray painting.

Scrub it with soap, hose it down with clean water, and dry it off for good measure before moving on to the next phase.

4. Prepare The Plastic Surface

After the preliminary cleaning of the item or surface that you will be spray painting, you will need to sand it down. This will make your plastic have a rough surface, allowing the spray paint to stick better instead of sliding off.

If the plastic you're working with was previously painted, you'll have to sand it until you've removed as much paint as possible. Don't forget to wipe the surface from any debris that remains from the sanding.

If you're using spray paint that's not specific for plastic surfaces, you may want to apply a primer to your item after sanding it. Then, let it dry completely before spraying your paint on it.

The primer will help in making sure that your spray paint sticks. If you're using spray paint for plastics, then you can move on to the next step after sanding.

Try these sanding sponges on Amazon.

5. Determine The Right Distance And Spray

Once you've dusted off the surface of your plastic, you can start spraying. Ideally, the spray paint should be 12-18 inches away from the item to get an even light spray of paint on the surface of your plastic.

Another thing to remember is to not start spraying directly on the item. Instead, start pressing the nozzle while pointing at a blank space right before the item and sweep your spray paint across the item while maintaining the distance until you get to the other side.

The point is to not begin and end the spray painting process on the item itself. This will prevent any uneven patches of paint to form on the surface of the plastic.

6. Be Patient

This part might be an obvious step, but it is still worth mentioning as you spray paint your plastic item. Spray painting saves you time and effort, but it will still require patience.

You'll need to apply at least two light coats on the item. You can't rush the job either by immediately applying a heavy coat, as this can cause uneven patches of paint.

Not only do you need to be patient in keeping that distance while spraying, but you'll also need to wait in between applying coats when doing your project.

While there's a possibility to speed up the drying process by putting it under the sun, this will also cause the paint to peel off.

To dry off the paint, let it rest for 30 minutes or check your spray paint's manual. After drying, you can repeat the previous step for the second coat of spray paint.

7. Even Out The Surface

Once your plastic item has properly dried after the last coat of paint, check for any unevenness with the paint finish or if it has an orange peel look to it.

This can happen due to several reasons, including an uneven coat of paint while spraying, the drying speed, or the distance when applying the spray paint to the item.

Doing a trial run first can lessen the likelihood of orange peel happening as you can practice your spraying technique. Whether you've done a test run or not, if your plastic item has orange peel on the paint, you'll need to even the surface by sanding it.

After that, wipe off any dust from the item and repeat the previous step for a final coat of spray paint.

8. Cure The Item

Once you've dried your final coat of paint on your plastic item and there are no parts with orange peels, you're almost done.

Before you can use your item, you will need to leave your item for at least three hours or check the recommended curing time on your spray paint's manual. During the curing process, the paint will harden and settle into your plastic item.

Is It Better To Spray Paint Than Brush Paint On Plastic?

Woman hand holding a brush or paintbrush and painting a decorative plastic pot or flowerpot

While you can opt to use a brush to paint your plastic, it's recommended to use spray paint for plastics. Not only does it save you time, but it also doesn't leave any marks on the surface.

Brushes can leave brush marks while painting, which isn't a good look for plastic surfaces that are supposed to have a glossy finish.

Spray painting plastic won't give you the problem of having leftover marks from the paint. Remember that you risk having orange peel or uneven marks if it's not done properly.

Apart from the orange peel problem, there's also the possibility that your spray paint will leave marks like bubbling or cracking on your plastic surface.

To avoid all of that, sanding and priming your plastic before spray painting is important. The best option is to use a spray paint that is specifically made for plastic surfaces.

Check out this Krylon plastic spray paint on Amazon.

In Conclusion

Painting car bumper in paint booth

Spray painting is the best option when you're painting plastics. For the paint to last longer and prevent imperfections like orange peels or cracks, it's important to follow the correct procedure when applying spraying paint.

If you think that was helpful, here are some more recommended reads for you:

Can You Spray Paint A Lampshade? [And How To]

How To Touch Up Paint That Was Sprayed On