Will Acrylic Paint Stick to Plastic?

Will acrylic paint stick to plastic? One of the most regularly asked queries you’ll get about acrylic paint is whether or not it will stick to plastic surfaces.

Unfortunately, it is somehow difficult to answer because maybe you have been hit with the rude awakening that acrylic paint does not stick after trying it on your plastic home decors. Acrylic paints make for vibrant colors and give you thick and smooth layers – all of which make them excellent paint. Therefore, it would be a big shame if they could not stick to plastics.

This guide will highlight what you should know before painting plastic with acrylic paint to avoid problems with adhesion. It will also provide you with some valuable tips on how to apply numerous layers of protection for added strength.

So, Will Acrylic Paint Stick to Plastic?  

Indeed, acrylic paint will stick to plastic though this relies upon how you apply the paint. First, choose the right paint, sand the plastic with fine-grit sandpaper, and then prime and apply the paint. Finally, remember to seal the paint to enhance durability.

As the acrylic paint dries, it cures to the consistency of plastic, making it difficult for acrylic paint to stick to a plastic surface, thereby calling for the preparation.

The way acrylics cling to solid plastic may be affected by various elements, which can help or hinder the bonding process. You can, however, get acrylic paint to stick under the appropriate conditions.

What is Acrylic Paint and Some of Its Uses

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint made of coloring pigments disseminated in an acrylic polymer blend. It has three main components, namely pigment, vehicle, and binder.

Pigment refers to the particle-sized substances that provide color to paint. These substances are ground into fine particles, remaining insoluble and suspended in the paint. Pigment exists in natural, synthetic, organic, or inorganic forms and may have a minimal or nonexistent affinity to the surface.

A binder holds pigment in place when the paint dries and acrylic paint’s binder, acrylic polymer, produces a film once the water evaporates.

Paint’s “vehicle” refers to the pigment and binder-carrying section, usually water. The vehicle forms a polymer emulsion when mixed with the binder. The paint cures after the water evaporates, leaving behind a polymer film with lively pigment particles.

You may use acrylic paint to decorate plastics and other non-porous surfaces. It dries faster and is available in various colors. In addition, it’s a lot less expensive than other forms of paint.

Acrylic Paint and Plastic

To apply acrylic paint to the plastic, you will need various tools and equipment. Consider the number of supplies you’ll need, the plastic surface size, and the amount of time you’ll have to finish the project before you begin working.

The best plastic paint is one that is suited for a plastic surface. Acrylic paints aren’t supposed to stick to plastic, so they peel and chip. However, its flexible composition makes it ideal for large surfaces.

Paint in bottles and tubes adheres poorly to plastics. Acrylic paints in bottles are ideal for coloring little plastic items or polystyrene details. In addition, it is easier to add finer details to a plastic item with bottled acrylic paint and a paintbrush.

Ensure to read the guidelines on the label of acrylic paint. For example, some guidelines recommend priming and sealing acrylic paint, while others do not.

What You Should Know Before Painting Plastic with Acrylic Paint

Painting plastic with acrylic paint is quite straightforward. Follow these simple tips to make your craft attractive.

Use masking tape to get clean lines. Mask the unintended surfaces with masking tape to avoid mixing paint over the lines and touchups after painting.

Take away the tape immediately after you have finished painting. Be gentle, so you don’t interfere with the paint.

You can use primer substitutes such as an oil-based base coat. But always remember, a primer designed for plastic gives the best results as it enhances paint adhesion.

Instead of the regular sandpaper, you can use a liquid sander. The liquid sander cleans and removes the glossy surface of the plastic, making it easier to paint in just around 10 minutes. You can acquire the liquid sander from the hardware store near you.

How to Paint Plastic with Acrylic Paint

From experience, it is difficult to paint plastic as it is non-porous hence poor paint adhesion. However, you can get it right if you put in the effort and employ the right tools and techniques.

The Supplies You Will Need
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Masking tape
  • Mild dish soap and water
  • Newspaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Painter’s rags
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Sealer
  • Acrylic paint
  • Tack cloth
The Steps
Prepare the Surface and Tools

Make sure you’re prepared with the proper equipment and tools.

Ensure your workstation is well ventilated. You can choose to work outdoors or indoors. If you have opted to work indoors, ensure enough openings to allow sufficient air circulation. Some acrylic paints contain harmful components that, if inhaled, may cause health complications.

It’s now time to prepare the surface. Grab your fine-grit sandpaper and sand the surface gently. Be careful not to damage the surface by pressing down too hard. Scrapping off the shiny areas enhances paint adhesion because plastic is non-porous.

Wipe the object’s surface again with a clean, soft cloth after sanding. Any remaining dust should be vacuumed up and disposed of immediately. You may wash the surface using clean water and dish soap. Then use rubbing alcohol or mineral spirits to clean the plastic surface to remove any residue that might hinder the paint from sticking.

Tape off any areas that you don’t want to paint. It helps you create a neat, accurate line between painted and unpainted areas of your project.

Apply primer

Apply a transparent, high-gloss acrylic primer first if the plastic is shiny. The primer to give your paint some traction while you’re painting. To get the finest results, use a safe primer for plastic. Many DIYers prefer using spray cans, though.

Apply the primer in thin, even coats over the whole surface, then let it dry.

Paint the Plastic

Pick an appropriate acrylic paint for plastic. Read the label to be sure.

Whereas you can use some paints right from the bottle, some will need minimal prepping. So, before you begin working on the project, check the label for necessary information.

Dilute the paint with paint thinner or water to make it creamy, then use a soft bristle brush to apply the first coat of paint over the surface. Let the first coat dry for at least 2 hours before applying another coat.

Add more paint layers until you are pleased with the final result. The colors will irregularly blend if you don’t let each layer dry fully before applying the next. Most of the time, a second or third coat is all that is needed.

If you opt for spray paint, hold the nozzle an inch above the surface and spray back and forth, side to side, to dodge paint runs.

After doing the painting, let the surface dry for at least 4 hours.

Apply The Sealant

Sealing helps prolong the life of the paint by protecting it from wear and tear.

Even though acrylic paint is durable, frequent use of the painted surface subjects the paint to scratches and damage. So, there is a need for a sealant.

You can use either a brush or a spray can to apply the sealant. Before you begin, choose the finish you want; matte, satin or glossy, then apply a thin coat of your preferred sealant.

Let it dry for 30 minutes before applying two or three subsequent coats.

Keep in mind that several thin sealer coatings are better than one thick layer. So, avoid getting it sticky by applying thinner coats.

Let the sealant dry

Before leaving the paint to dry, you may opt to make it more attractive by adding finer details, especially if it’s a craft.

Use paint marker or acrylic paint to add finer details to the paint. If you want a rough finish, lightly sand the paint. There’s no wrong way to do this as long as the end product is attractive.

The manufacturer often indicates the drying time on the label of your preferred sealer. So read the label and follow the guidelines.

Please do not use or touch the painted surface or item until it has dried completely.

Step By Step Instructions to Make Acrylic Paint Stay on The Plastic

Acrylic paint will only stay if you prepare the plastic surface. Start by cleaning the surface, then sand, and prime the surface.

After preparing the surface, apply the paint followed by a sealant to make the paint waterproof and enhance durability.

Cleaning removes contaminants that force the peeling off of acrylic paint. Use clean, warm water and dish soap to wash the surface. When dealing with grimy or oily surfaces, I recommend a cleaner or a degreaser such as pure solvents or cleaners with low volatile organic compounds.

Because plastic is non-porous, paint adhesion is quite low. Therefore, roughening the plastic surface will make the acrylic paint bond properly. Use fine-grit sandpaper and wipe off any residue particles before applying the paint.

Priming the surface further enhances adhesion. Grab a plastic compatible primer, then apply with a bristle brush or a spray bottle. The primer type determines the number of layers you should apply and the drying time needed. However, most DIYers prefer applying thinner coats.

Sealing Acrylic Paint on Plastic: The Ultimate Guide

Sealing the plastic after painting enhances durability by making the surface waterproof. You can use liquid or spray sealant. Spray sealers offer various finishes, such as matte and glossy. You have various alternatives to choose from, but whichever the choice, ensure it gives you clear coats and finishes.

Some of the various types of sealants you can use on acrylic paint are;


Polyurethane is considerably durable; however, water-based polyurethane can alter the desired color of your plastic surface because it produces a yellowish tone once dry. You can apply this sealant using a brush or a roller.

Most painters use polyurethane on large plastic surfaces such as flower pots, lawn chairs, and other home decors.


Polycrylic is a water-based paint sealer formed by combining polyacrylate and polyurethane and produces a crystal-clear finishing as the end result.

You can opt for a semi-gloss, gloss, matte, or ultra-flat shine. First, apply a thin coat of the sealant using a brush or a roller, then allow it to air dry for 2 hours before applying the 2 or 3 subsequent coats.

The sealant dries faster and produces clear coats. However, it is less durable, so most DIYers use it on their indoor projects.

Acrylic Polymer Varnish 

With Acrylic Polymer Varnish, you have a wide range of finishing choices: matte, satin, and gloss. Satin is a finish between matte and gloss and is specifically designed for sealing acrylic paint, hence the fame among DIYers.

Acrylic Polymer Varnish contains UV protection elements, making it suitable for outdoor crafts and furniture.

Acrylic Resin Varnish

Many DIYers use acrylic resin varnish to provide a glossy finish to detailed plastic crafts. It is sturdy and tolerates frequent abuse making it a good choice for frequently used items such as beads.

Mod Podge

Mod podge refers to mild white glue that is quite strong and often used as the top coat after applying acrylic paint to your plastic crafts.

It produces both matte and glossy finishes, so it depends on the kind of finish you want for your craft.

How To Use Mod Podge

Check the below procedure if you want to get that desired mod podge finish

Step 1: Paint the plastic

To use a sealant, you must first paint the plastic. So, apply three or more even coatings of paint with a soft-bristled brush, then let it air dry for some time.

Step 2: Coat the plastic

Apply the sealing coat using a brush specifically designed for glue application. If you opt for a regular brush, ensure you don’t intend to use the brush in the future. This is because mod podge is a mild glue.

An unrecommended brush will result in uneven layers that leave a rough texture after drying.

Again, ensure the paint has completely dried before applying mod podge because if the paint is somehow wet, the glue will smear it, leaving you with an undesirable finish.

A heavy coating does not dry very fast. So, apply two or more light coatings to hasten the drying process.

Step 3: Let it dry

Mod podge takes 15 to 20 minutes to dry to touch. Apply subsequent coats once the first coat has dried, allowing the same drying time after each coat. Two or more coats enhance durability.

It prevents scratches, chipping off, and the darkening of the paint over time.

Do not use the painted and coated item until it has dried for 72 hours.

Use mod podge on plastics such as flower pots, toys, bottles, and plastic furniture.

The Best Acrylic Paint Primers for Plastic

Primer enhances the adhesion of acrylic paint on plastic surfaces, so it’s an essential need if you want to paint your plastic crafts.

Here are some options you can use.

Vallejo Grey Primer

Vallejo Grey Primer is suitable for small plastic or metal surfaces. Apply the primer in thin coats to avoid peeling off in the long run.

Clean the surface with water before priming. Do not use mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol since they do not mix with Vallejo Grey Primer since you may end up with a messed-up finish.

Rust-Oleum Plastic Spray

This is the most famous acrylic paint primer among enthusiasts because of its unique qualities. It is made of fine mist that doesn’t clog the nozzle of the spray paint gun.

The primer fits soundly to the plastic, offering you the desired smooth finish. Let the surface dry for 24 hours after applying this primer before painting or using the plastic.

You can also use this primer on other types of paint too.

The Best Acrylic Paint for Plastic

FolkArt Multi-Surface Acrylic Craft Paint

FolkArt Multi-Surface is best used on simple plastic surfaces as it adheres to various surfaces, including plastics.

FolkArt Multi-Surface gives you a wide range of colors, finishes, and textures. Many DIYers use it outdoors because it’s fade-proof and chip-resistant.

Individuall Acrylic Paint Set

Individuall Acrylic Paint Set comes in a wide range of colors and finishes suitable for almost all surfaces, including plastic.

They dry faster, and you may not need to prime the surface if you are working on smaller plastic surfaces such as flower pots.

It has high pigment levels making it famous among many enthusiasts as the colors are less prone to fade when exposed to sunshine. However, use a sealant for longevity.

The Best Acrylic Spray Paint for Plastic

You can also use acrylic spray paint on plastic. Again, ensure you prepare and prime the surface before applying the paint.

Some of the best acrylic spray paints for plastic are;

Krylon Fusion Spray Paint

The best spray paint plastic available in the market is Krylon Fusion Spray Paint. It adheres and provides a wide range of finishes on almost all surfaces.

You don’t need to prime or sand the surface before applying this paint.

Rust-Oleum Spray Paint for Plastic

Another nice option is Rust-Oleum spray paint, which you can use on a variety of materials besides plastic.

It’s effortless to spray and dries fast, leaving you with a glossy or matte finish.

You can use it indoors or outdoors because it is an oil-based formula with strong adhesion that prevents chipping, fading, and rusting.

The Best Acrylic Paint Sealers

Applying a paint sealer prevents the paint from peeling or chipping off plastic surfaces. Some of the sealants you can use are;

Sargent Art Acrylic sealer

Sargent Art Acrylic sealer is a clear sealant made for various light surfaces. It dries fast and can be used on any paint.

Before applying the sealant, ensure the final coat of the paint has dried completely to avoid blemishing your craft.

Aleene’s Spray Acrylic sealer

Aleene’s Spray Acrylic sealer produces a glossy finish that protects the surface from wear and tear after drying. However, I recommend this sealant for products you rarely use as it may not endure frequent abuse.

It is best for indoor and outdoor projects.

Plastic Items You Can Paint Using Acrylic Paint

  • Furniture
  • Home Décor
  • Easter Eggs
  • Children’s toys
  • Light switch covers
  • Storage baskets and containers
  • Garbage cans
  • Bottles and jars
  • Flower pots

You now know how to paint plastic with acrylic paint and the best acrylic paints to apply. But what happens if you spill acrylic paint on unintended plastic surfaces? How do you remove it? Well, here is a simple guide.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Plastic

If you work quickly, you may be able to remove acrylic paint spills off the plastic and other surfaces by yourself.

The first step in removing acrylic paint is to clean off the excess wet paint build-up. At this stage, you may either use warm, sudsy water or nail clean remover, denatured alcohol, or a scrubber depending on the surface.

The Supplies You Will Need
  • Paper towels
  • Rags
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Vegetable oil
  • Plastic scraper
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Dishwashing liquid or a bar soap
The Steps

Step 1: Wipe away whatever amount of wet paint as much as you can.

Use paper towels or a rag to eliminate any wet acrylic paint. If you are using a rag, try to flush it with water and wash it when you are done to make an effort not to smear the surface.

Step 2: Spread a far layer of vegetable oil over the paint.

Pour a modest quantity of vegetable oil onto a paper towel. Wipe it over the spots of dry acrylic paint.

The vegetable oil will assist with relaxing the paint before you scratch it away.

Step 3: Use a plastic scraper to remove any paint that has dried on the plastic surface.

Begin from the edges of the stain, and work your direction towards the middle. You can apply more oil if necessary.

You can buy plastic scrapers from the hardware stores near you.

Step 4: Clean the tenacious acrylic paint stains on plastic surfaces with denatured alcohol.

Dampen a cotton ball or a fabric with denatured alcohol, then rub at the paint stain to weaken and eventually lift off.

Test the denatured alcohol on a subtle region of the plastic first to ensure that the material is not harmed. For example, pick a small region on the underside or back of the plastic, then apply a limited quantity of denatured alcohol. Allow the denatured alcohol to dry prior to making sure that the wood or plastic isn’t harmed.

Step 5: Add soap to a bucket of warm water

Fill the bucket almost to the brim with a soapy water solution. You can use a dishwashing liquid or a bar cleanser.

Ensure that the bucket or holder you are utilizing is sufficiently huge to dunk a fabric into.

Step 6: Remove any traces of denatured alcohol with a rag and warm soapy water.

Wipe the area with a rag dipped in the warm, soapy water, then dry the area with a paper towel.

Wet but not saturated fabric is sufficient.

If you can’t get rid of the acrylic paint on your own, get in touch with a professional cleaner as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of paint will stick to plastic?

Paints that are designed for plastic

They include Rust-Oleum Specialty Paint for Plastic Spray, Krylon Fusion for Plastic, and Valspar Plastic Spray Paint. Before you use these paints, check the guidelines on the labels to determine if you should prime the surface first.

How do you apply acrylic paint to plastic?
  1. Clean the surface with soapy water and a sponge, then let it dry completely
  2. Sand the plastic surface with fine-grit sandpaper to enhance adhesion, then wipe off residue particles with a rag
  3. Apply a primer or a base coat after sanding. Ensure the primer is plastic compatible
  4. Apply a thinner coat of acrylic paint. Usually, two or three coats are enough. After every coat, allow a sufficient amount of drying time.
How do you keep acrylic paint from peeling off plastic?

Use a sealer to prevent acrylic paint from peeling off plastic. It makes the painted surface endure frequent abuse and harsh weather conditions, especially the outdoor items. The sealer also produces the desired finish, matte or glossy.

How do you prepare plastic for painting?
  1. Clean the surface with water and mild soap
  2. Let the plastic dry for about 20 minutes
  3. Wipe the surface down with rubbing alcohol. If you are using acrylic paint, lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper before priming.
  4. Line up the surface with either newspaper, tarp, or cardboard
  5. Cover the surfaces you don’t want to paint with painters’ tape
Can you use hairspray to seal paint on plastic?

No, you cannot. Paint and hairspray aren’t compatible. Under extreme conditions, the paint may become gooey or melt if you use hairspray as a sealant. So, I recommend you avoid using hairspray as a sealant after painting your plastic crafts.

The Bottom Line

Acrylic paint will stick to plastic if you prepare the surface properly by cleaning, sanding, and priming. Therefore, you can use acrylic paint to breathe new life into your old plastic items.

However, ensure the paint, primer, and sealant you intend to use are specifically designed for plastic surfaces and materials.

Also, If you spill off acrylic paint on unintended plastic surfaces, use vegetable oil and denatured alcohol to clean off the surface.

If you cannot perform any of the tasks highlighted above, seek professional help.

Did you find this information valuable? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Happy painting!