Can You Spray Paint Plastic?

Plastic has become an integral part of our lives, serving a multitude of purposes due to its versatility, durability, and affordability. From household items to automotive parts, plastic is found in numerous objects around us. However, there may come a time when you want to change the color or appearance of a plastic item, and this leads to a common question: Can you spray paint plastic?

Can You Spray Paint Plastic?

Yes, it is generally possible to spray paint plastic. However, achieving long-lasting and durable results depends on proper preparation and the type of paint used. The key lies in selecting a paint specifically designed for plastic surfaces, as it adheres well and provides optimal coverage. Additionally, thorough cleaning and priming of the plastic surface are essential to promote paint adhesion. Sanding the surface lightly can also improve the paint’s grip. Applying multiple thin coats, allowing proper drying time between each layer, ensures a smooth finish. Finally, using a clear protective topcoat can enhance the paint’s longevity and resistance to scratches.

Read also: Will Spray Paint Stick to Plastic?

What is a Spray Paint?

Spray paint is a type of paint that is packaged in a pressurized container or aerosol can. It is designed to be sprayed onto surfaces using a nozzle or valve system, allowing for easy and even application. Spray paint is commonly used for various purposes, including painting cars, furniture, walls, and artwork.

The main components of spray paint include pigments (which provide color), binders (which help the paint adhere to surfaces), solvents (which keep the paint in a liquid form), and propellants (which create the pressure necessary for spraying). These ingredients are combined in specific ratios to create a paint formula that is suitable for aerosol application.

Spray paint offers several advantages over traditional brush-on paints. It allows for quick and efficient coverage, creating a smooth and uniform finish. It is also suitable for painting intricate or hard-to-reach areas. Additionally, spray paint dries relatively quickly, reducing the time required for a project.

What to Consider Before Buying Spray Paint for Plastic

When buying spray paint for plastic, there are several important factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice. Here are some key points to keep in mind:


Not all spray paints are designed for use on plastic surfaces. It’s crucial to select a spray paint explicitly formulated for plastics. Look for products that clearly state their compatibility with plastic materials.


Plastic surfaces can be smooth and nonporous, making them challenging for paint to adhere to. Check if the spray paint you’re considering offers good adhesion specifically for plastic. Some paints may require a primer or special surface preparation for optimal adhesion.


Determine the type of finish you desire for your project. Spray paints for plastic typically come in various finishes such as matte, satin, gloss, or metallic. Consider the look and feel you want to achieve and select the appropriate finish accordingly.


Assess the durability requirements of your project. If the plastic item will be exposed to frequent handling, outdoor elements, or heavy use, you’ll need a spray paint that provides enhanced durability and resistance to chipping, fading, or peeling.

Color selection

Choose a spray paint that offers a wide range of color options to suit your project’s needs. Consider the existing color of the plastic surface and whether you’ll need a primer or multiple coats for the desired color intensity.

Application method

Evaluate the ease of use and application method of the spray paint. Look for paints with user-friendly nozzles that provide even coverage and minimize drips or clogs. Consider whether you prefer a spray can or if you have access to a spray gun for larger projects.

Drying time

Check the drying time mentioned on the spray paint can. Quick-drying paints can be more convenient, especially if you need to apply multiple coats or work on time-sensitive projects.

Safety and ventilation

Ensure you have proper ventilation when using spray paint. Consider the product’s safety precautions, such as toxicity, flammability, and any necessary protective measures like masks or gloves.

Reviews and recommendations

Read customer reviews and seek recommendations from experienced individuals or online forums. Feedback from others who have used the spray paint can provide valuable insights into its performance and reliability.

Price and brand reputation

Compare prices and consider the reputation of the brand you’re considering. While quality should be a priority, a well-established brand often indicates a certain level of reliability and customer satisfaction.

How to Spray Paint Plastic?

You can give your plastic things a new lease of life by spray painting them in vibrant colors and flawless finishes.

The Supplies You Will Need

  • Plastic item
  • Spray paint for plastic (Krylon Fusion for Plastic)
  • Plastic primer (Rust-Oleum Specialty Plastic Primer Spray)
  • Mild detergent or plastic cleaner
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Masking tape or plastic sheeting
  • Drop cloth or newspaper
  • Safety goggles
  • Mask
  • Gloves

The Steps

Surface Preparation

Proper surface preparation is crucial for achieving a good paint finish on plastic. The plastic should be clean and free from any dust, dirt, or grease. Use a mild detergent or plastic cleaner to wash the surface, and then rinse it thoroughly. Once dry, lightly sand the plastic with fine-grit sandpaper to create a rough texture that will help the paint adhere better. Be careful not to sand too aggressively, as excessive sanding can damage the plastic.

Type of Paint

Not all spray paints are suitable for plastic surfaces. Look for paints specifically formulated for plastic, as they contain additives that promote adhesion and flexibility. These paints can be found in most hardware stores and come in a wide range of colors and finishes. Avoid using regular spray paints designed for other materials, as they may not adhere properly to plastic and can easily peel or chip. It’s always a good idea to read the label or consult with a paint specialist to ensure you’re using the right paint for your project.


Applying a primer before the actual paint can enhance adhesion and improve the durability of the finish. Look for a plastic primer that is compatible with your chosen spray paint. The primer should be applied in thin, even coats, allowing each layer to dry completely before applying the next. This step is especially important when painting smooth or glossy plastic surfaces. The primer acts as a bonding agent between the plastic and the paint, increasing the longevity of the finish.

Application Technique

When spray painting plastic, it’s best to apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat. Start with a light misting coat to create a base, and then follow up with additional coats to achieve the desired color and coverage. Keep the can about 6-8 inches away from the surface and move it in a smooth, sweeping motion. This helps prevent drips, runs, and uneven application. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next, and remember to shake the spray paint can periodically to ensure the even distribution of the paint.

Drying and Curing

After the final coat of paint has been applied, allow the plastic item to dry completely according to the instructions provided by the paint manufacturer. Keep in mind that drying time can vary depending on the type of paint and environmental conditions. Once dry, the paint may still feel tacky to the touch. To ensure proper curing, let the painted plastic item sit undisturbed for at least 24-48 hours before handling or using it. Rushing the curing process can result in a less durable finish.

Maintenance and Longevity

While spray paint can give your plastic items a fresh new look, it’s important to understand that the finish may not be as durable as the original plastic surface. The painted plastic may be prone to scratches, chipping, or fading over time, especially if exposed to harsh conditions or frequent use. To prolong the life of the paint job, handle the item with care and avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbing brushes. Regularly inspect the painted surface for any signs of damage and touch up as needed to maintain its appearance.

Advantages of Spray Painting

Any DIYer knows that spray paint gives the best finish to various painting projects. Spray painting is an efficient and cost-effective method for applying high-quality paint coats to various surfaces. Here are some advantages of using spray paint:

Smooth and Even Finish

Spray painting produces a smooth and even finish on various surfaces, including walls, furniture, cars, and more. The paint particles are atomized and distributed evenly, resulting in a consistent and professional-looking coat.

Time Efficiency

Spray painting is generally faster compared to traditional brush or roller painting methods. The wide spray pattern covers a larger area quickly, reducing the overall painting time. This is particularly beneficial when painting large surfaces or multiple objects.


Spray painting can be used on a wide range of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, glass, and more. It allows you to achieve a seamless finish on different surfaces, making it a versatile option for various painting projects.

Uniform Coverage

With spray painting, it’s easier to achieve uniform coverage, especially on intricate or irregular surfaces. The fine mist of paint particles can reach corners, crevices, and other hard-to-reach areas more effectively than brushes or rollers.

Reduced Paint Waste

Spray painting tends to be more efficient in terms of paint usage compared to other methods. The controlled application and fine atomization of paint particles result in less overspray and waste. This can save both time and money, especially when working with expensive or limited quantities of paint.

Enhanced Finishing Options

Spray painting allows for a wide range of finishing effects, such as metallic finishes, gradients, or textured coatings. Additionally, various nozzle attachments can be used to modify the spray pattern, providing flexibility in achieving different textures or patterns.

Seamless Repairs and Touch-ups

Spray painting is particularly useful for repairing or touching up surfaces. It allows for seamless blending with the existing paint, ensuring a consistent appearance without visible brush strokes or texture differences.

Ease of Application

Spray painting is generally easy to learn and apply, even for beginners. While it may require some practice to achieve optimal results, the basic technique involves holding the spray gun at the correct distance and moving it in a smooth, controlled manner.

Will Spray Paint Stick to Plastic? 

Spray paint can stick to plastic due to the chemical composition of both the paint and the plastic surface. Most spray paints contain solvents that help the paint particles bond with the plastic. When the paint is sprayed onto the plastic, these solvents evaporate, allowing the paint to dry and form a strong bond with the plastic surface. Additionally, some spray paints formulated for plastic contain special additives that further enhance adhesion. Preparing the plastic surface by cleaning and roughening it helps create a textured surface for the paint to adhere to. Overall, the combination of solvents, additives, and surface preparation enables spray paint to stick effectively to plastic.

What Kind of Paint Will Stick to Plastic?

Paint designed for plastic surfaces will stick to plastics.

  1. Acrylic Paint:
    • Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint
    • DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paint
    • FolkArt Acrylic Paint
  2. Enamel Paint:
    • Testors Model Master Enamel Paint
    • Rust-Oleum Specialty Enamel Paint
    • Humbrol Enamel Paint
  3. Spray Paint:
    • Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint
    • Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover Spray Paint
    • Montana GOLD Acrylic Professional Spray Paint
  4. Epoxy Paint:
    • Rust-Oleum EpoxyShield Premium Clear Coating
    • KILZ L377611 1-Part Epoxy Acrylic Interior/Exterior Concrete and Garage Floor Paint
    • J-B Weld 8277 WaterWeld Epoxy Putty Stick
  5. Vinyl Dye:
    • SEM Color Coat Flexible Coating
    • Dupli-Color Vinyl and Fabric Coating
    • VHT Vinyl Dye Spray Paint

Can I Spray Paint without Primer?

Using spray paint without a primer is possible in certain situations, but it’s important to understand the science behind it.

Primers serve as a preparatory layer that promotes adhesion, seals porous surfaces, and enhances paint durability. When applied, primers create a surface with optimal characteristics for the paint to bond to, resulting in a smoother and longer-lasting finish.

However, some surfaces and paint types may not require a primer. Non-porous materials such as metal or certain plastics have smooth surfaces that can promote paint adhesion without the need for a primer. Additionally, some spray paints are formulated with built-in priming properties, allowing them to adhere directly to the surface. These paints often contain additives that improve adhesion and coverage.

The science behind spray painting without a primer involves understanding the properties of the surface and the paint. Surfaces with existing finishes or suitable textures can provide enough surface roughness for the paint to grip onto. Paint formulations may also include ingredients that enhance adhesion to specific surfaces.

However, it’s essential to note that skipping a primer may compromise the paint job’s durability, coverage, and overall finish. The absence of a primer can increase the risk of peeling, cracking, or paint failure over time. For optimal results, it is generally recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consider using a primer when necessary.

How Do You Seal Spray Paint on Plastic?

Sealing spray paint on plastic can give your project a professional finish and increase its durability. Here’s a simple step-by-step process:

  1. Clean the Plastic: Remove any dirt, grease, or grime from the plastic surface. You can use a mild detergent solution or rubbing alcohol for this. Dry the plastic thoroughly.
  2. Prime the Surface: Applying a plastic-specific primer can help the paint adhere better. Use short, sweeping motions for a uniform layer. Let it dry as per instructions on the can.
  3. Apply Spray Paint: Shake the can well before use. Hold it 6-8 inches away from the surface and apply the paint in multiple light coats for even coverage. Let it dry between coats.
  4. Apply Sealer: Choose a clear spray sealer compatible with both the paint and the plastic. This adds a protective layer, enhancing the durability and glossiness of the painted surface. Apply in light, even coats.
  5. Dry and Cure: Let the sealer dry for at least 24 hours or as directed.
  6. Test the Surface: Lightly touch the surface to ensure it’s completely dry.

Always work in a well-ventilated area, wear protective gear like gloves and masks, and protect nearby surfaces from overspray.

The Bottom Line

Spray painting plastic is indeed possible and can be a great way to revamp or personalize your plastic items. With proper surface preparation, the right type of paint, and careful application, you can achieve a beautiful and long-lasting finish. However, remember that the durability of the paint may not match that of the original plastic, so it’s advisable to use caution and consider the item’s purpose before embarking on a spray painting project.

Always read and follow the instructions provided by the paint manufacturer, as they may provide specific guidelines for painting plastic surfaces. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can transform your plastic items into customized pieces that reflect your personal style and breathe new life into your surroundings. So go ahead, unleash your creativity, and explore the possibilities of spray painting plastic!