Can Fabric Paint be Used on Plastic? Read this First!

If you need to paint something onto your fabric, you can’t go wrong with fabric paint.

Fabric paint is different than other types of paint, such as acrylic paint.

The main difference between fabric paint and acrylic paint is that acrylic paint is thicker than fabric paint. This is why if you use acrylic paint on fabric, the paint might flake off, or it can cause an uncomfortable stiffness to your clothing or fabric choice.

Can fabric paint be used on plastic?

Fabric paint can be used on plastic, but it requires a lot of preparation and know-how to get it to stick. Plastic is a very smooth surface, and most materials slide right off of it. This means you may have to use sandpaper to create a tougher surface for the paint to stick.

Once you’ve done that, you want to make sure to keep the paint safe from the elements and let it sit for a long time.

Will Fabric Paint Stick To Plastic?

Plastic is one of the hardest surfaces to paint, regardless of the type of paint you are using.

This is because plastic is not porous like other surfaces such as wood.

When you paint on wood, because it is porous, the paint is able to sink in and stick to the surface instead of only resting on top.

This does not mean that you cannot successfully paint on plastic; it will just require more preparation.

While fabric paint is not the ideal paint when working with plastic, it is not impossible. With the proper amount of preparations and aftercare, you should be able to successfully paint on plastic, even using fabric paint.

How Do you Prep Plastic Before Painting on It?

Prepping your plastic before you paint, it is necessary to get good results with fabric paint or any other type of paint.

The steps that you will need to follow to prep your plastic are as follows:

  1. Wash your plastic item using warm water and mild dish soap.
    • This will help to remove any dirt or other things on the surface that will ruin your project.
    • If you are working with a smooth surface, you will want to use a soft cloth or sponge. If you are working with a textured surface, use a scrubbing brush.
  2. Rinse your object, making sure to get all the soap off, then dry.
  3. Use sandpaper to lightly buff the surface of your object in a circular motion to avoid scratches.
    • Sanding the surface will give the plastic a texture that the paint will stick on.
  4. Wipe the surface down with a tack cloth after you are finished with the sandpaper.
  5. Wipe down the surface with rubbing alcohol.
    • This helps to remove any oils that could prevent the paint from sticking and will help you avoid the paint chipping in the future.
  6. Apply a coat of primer.
    • This also helps the paint stick to the plastic and helps to even out the surface of your object.
    • Spray on primer is the easiest to use, but you can also get the brush-on kind.

Once you have successfully primed your plastic, you are ready to paint!

How Well Will Fabric Paint Dry on Plastic?

Fabric paint takes a long time before it dries completely, no matter what surface you are using it on. Because it can take hours to dry depending on how much you have used, it can be difficult to work with.

You will also likely have to use more than one coat when working with fabric paint because of how much thinner it is than other types of paint.

Make sure your current coat is dry before you add another.

Because of the drying time, and how many coats you will need, even though it is possible, it is incredibly inconvenient to use fabric paint when working with plastic.

How Do You Seal Paint on Plastic?

After you are finished painting on plastic, and it is fully dry, you will want to make sure that you seal it.

This is especially important for objects that are going to be outside and will have to endure the weather conditions. Sealing it can help it last longer from sun fading, rain, or other weather conditions.

Even if you are not keeping your project outside, sealing it is still a good way to preserve your paint job and prevent chipping.

To seal your paint job, you will want to seal it with an acrylic sealer. This can be either spray on or brush on, but spray-on is easier to get an even consistency.

Make sure your paint is completely dry before doing so, or you could mess up your paint job, and the sealer will not work properly. Like painting, if you do more than one coat, you will want to wait for the current coat to completely dry before adding another.

How Do You Remove Fabric Paint from Plastic?

Because it is hard enough to get the fabric paint to stick to plastic in the first place, getting it off should not be too difficult.

If you are trying to remove fabric paint from a smooth surface, scrubbing it with plastic dishwashing, scrubby should aid in getting the paint to chip off.

If you are working with a textured surface, it will be a little more difficult. If you are working with something small, soaking it in water first will help before you start scrubbing.

If this is not an option, try dampening the object by laying wet soapy towels over it. After you do this, you should scrub like suggested for a smooth-surfaced object.

Rubbing alcohol can also help get the paint off any difficult spots.

Does Fabric Paint Work on Other Types of Surfaces?

While fabric paint can be used on other surfaces, it is designed to work on fabric. For this reason, you won’t want to use it for other surfaces whenever it’s possible.

One reason that fabric paint is not ideal for other surfaces is that some require heat to set into the fabric.

You would apply this heat using an iron. This would not be possible on another surface type and would cause problems with the fabric paint setting properly.

Even if heat is not needed, fabric paint is thinner and takes so much longer to dry than other paint types. This means that it is not ideal for anything but fabric.

What is the Best Type of Paint for Plastic?

If you are painting plastic, fabric paint is not your ideal option.

There are many other types of paints that will work much better for you when it comes to painting on plastic.

When searching for paint for your project, you will want to find one that lists that it is specifically made to be used on plastic.

These types of paints are designed with plastic’s specific challenges in mind and are the best option for your project.

Some plastic friendly paint types include:

  • Multi-Surface Acrylic Paints
  • Multi-Surface Spray Paints
  • Plastic-Specific Spray Paints
  • Plastic-Specific Brush On Paints

Just because you are using a plastic specific paint, does not mean you should skip the preparation or sealing steps listed above.

Can you use acrylic paint on plastic?

Acrylic paint is better for use on plastic than fabric paint, but that is not what it is made for.

Acrylic paint is ideally used on wood or ceramic objects, but this does not mean that you cannot use it for glass or even plastic.

When using acrylic paint on plastic, just like all other paints, you will want to make sure that you prepare and prime the surface of your plastic so that it sticks as well as it can.

You will also want to seal your paint when you are done.

When you shop for acrylic paint to use on your plastic project, you will want to make sure that you buy multi-surface acrylic paint. There are some options that are ideal for wood-use only, which will not work as well for your plastic.

Just know that if you do use acrylic paint on an object that you intend to handle often, the paint will not last as long.

This is especially true if it is an item that you intend to wash. A sealer will help delay any wear, but it will not prevent it forever.

Conclusion:

It might seem like painting on plastic is impossible, but it isn’t.

It is, however, a lot of work and very particular.

If you don’t properly prepare and prime your plastic, it can be tough to get the paint to stick to your plastic surface at all, let alone get it to stay there long term.

Also, because the paint is prone to peeling off plastic, you will need to properly seal your project when you are finished with it.

Buying the proper supplies is also a must when you are working with paint and plastic. If you cannot find any plastic specific paint, make sure that whatever you are buying is listed as being multi-surface paint.

Multi-surface paint is the 2nd best thing when it comes to painting on a plastic surface.

Don’t be discouraged!

Painting on plastic can be a great way to give a fresh new look for your items that might be faded due to sun exposure or that are just plain boring, just make sure you do it right, and you will have a great finished project!