Ideas for Painting Boxes

Monica J. Miller

Painted boxes are a crafty way to hold photos, tissues, trinkets, jewelry, coupons, gifts or any other items. To decorate the box yourself, start with recycled cardboard boxes from home, craft paper mache boxes, facial tissue boxes or unpainted wood boxes.

Boxes can be painted in many ways

Use these creative painting techniques to paint personalized boxes.

Raised Painting

Use squeezable fabric paint tubes or bottles to make raised designs on any cardboard or wood box. While fabric paint is ideal for fabric, it is also great for painting permanent raised designs on wood or cardboard.

Squeezable fabric paints come in a variety of styles that dry glittery, shiny and pearly. Use glittery fabric paint to make sparkly holiday designs. Or, use pearly fabric paint to create a raised flower petal and leaf design. For a solid background, paint the box with acrylic craft paint before applying fabric paint.


For a unique look, add texture to any cardboard or wood box. The Lowe's Home Improvement website suggests using drywall compound and sponges, brushes and other painting tools for creating texture to walls (but this technique works for other surfaces, such as a box).

Use a putty knife to cover the sides or lids with drywall compound paste, and create textured designs before the material dries. Once dry, paint the textured surface with spray paint or acrylic craft paint.

Sponge Gilding

For an antique look, add golden highlights to a painted box. First, paint your box with any color acrylic craft paint. Then, use gold acrylic paint to create gold highlighting. Sponge gold paint with a damp rag, damp sea sponge or dry paint brush onto a painted box. To apply properly, use a “pouncing” method (dabbing and lifting quickly) to set the gold highlighting.

Simulating Wood

Give any cardboard box the look of simulated wood. Paint a cardboard box with white paint and let dry. Then, apply liquid brown shoe polish to the box—using the built-in sponge applicator—in one-way strokes. Give the box an extra shine by using high gloss spray.