How to Spray Paint Plastic

Because plastic is a smooth, slick surface, it is ill-suited for standard paintbrushes and rollers, which may leave subtle flaws in the final finish. You can generate a smooth, professional-looking finish on a plastic surface by spray painting. Before you rush into the paint application process, understand an important point -- nonporous plastic will reject new finishes unless you abrade it prior to painting. Know the proper preparation and application strategies to employ, or you will end up with an unattractive finish that will eventually chip and flake.

Step 1

Using a sponge, clean the plastic with a water-based degreasing cleanser. Rinse the plastic with wet rags, and dry it with towels.

Step 2

Abrade the plastic to promote surface adhesion. Scour the plastic with a palm sander stocked with 220-grit sandpaper. Sand until the plastic has a slight grit.

Step 3

Protect areas you do not want painted with painter's tape and dropcloths.

Step 4

Coat the abraded plastic with acrylic spray primer. Spray in a sweeping, side-to-side motion. Maintain a distance of 8 inches between the plastic and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait three hours for the primer to dry.

Step 5

Coat the primed plastic with acrylic spray paint. Again, spray in a sweeping, side-to-side motion, maintaining a distance of 8 inches between the plastic and the spray nozzle as you apply. Wait three hours before handling the plastic.


  • Don't use ordinary oil or latex paint on plastic, as they lack the elasticity to move with pliable surfaces.

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.