Acrylic Paint On Plastic – Tips & Tricks To Make It Stick

Acrylic paint is a popular paint made of pigment that has been suspended in acrylic emulation. As a result, acrylic paint is exceptionally versatile, and not only is it water-soluble, but it's also fast-drying. It can be used on a wide range of materials like canvas, glass, plastic, leather, metal, and even fabric 

If you’ve always wanted to know if acrylic paint on plastic can be used, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about whether acrylic paint will stick on plastics and if you’re able to use it.  

As plastic is a non-porous material with a smooth surface, it can be challenging to paint on plastic. If you would like acrylic paint to stick on plastic, it's necessary to prepare the surface.

If you decide to paint on plastic without doing the necessary preparation, you run the risk of your paint both peeling and chipping. It’s also important to note that acrylic paint works better on some plastic than others. For example, acrylic paint would not stick at all to polypropylene along with polyethylene.  

If you would like your acrylic paint to stick on plastic, you would need to prepare the surface by lightly sanding the plastic surface before applying a base coat or primer. If you want even more durability, you can also apply a clear sealant to ensure more permanent results.  

Acrylic Paint In Plastic Cups

How To Use Acrylic Paint On Plastic (Guide For Different Surfaces) 

Whether you’re planning on using acrylic paint for plastic models or acrylic paint on plastic, here's how to get started:  

1. Prepare the plastic surface  

To start, you would want to clean and degrease the plastic surface before applying a primer. In most instances, just soap and water should do the job. After your plastic surface has dried, you’ll then go ahead and lightly sand the surface to remove any coatings.  

When sanding to prepare for acrylic paint, 180-220 grit sandpaper should do the trick. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe any dust away before using rubbing alcohol to wipe the surface and allow the item to dry.  

2. Applying primer 

When using acrylic paint, it's important that you apply one or two coats of acrylic paint primer for plastic. When applying your primer, make sure that you've got gloves, protective eyewear, and a mask for protection. Cover the entire plastic surface before allowing it to dry for several hours.  

Applying primer on the plastic will help ensure that the paint has a solid foundation. While you can choose to use a brush-on or spray primer, the latter is typically the better option. With brush-on primers, you would need to make sure that you’re not leaving any brush marks or bubbles.  

If you would like additional durability, you can consider applying a clear sealant to your plastic to ensure that you've got more permanent results.  

3. Paint  

Once the primer or sealant has dried, go ahead with painting plastic flower pots with acrylic. Go with a geometric design or freehand with a permanent white marker, whatever suits your needs best.

Similarly, if you’re thinking of using acrylic paint for plastic toys, you can even consider using a stencil if you’d like to be a bit more intricate with the design.  

brush and paint after use

How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Plastic 

Here’s how you’ll go about sealing acrylic paint on plastic:  

  • 1
    Using polyacrylic  
    While mainly used for indoor projects, this is a great water-based protective paint sealer.
  • 2
    Apply polyurethane   
    Polyurethane is more durable than polyacrylic, but it can give off a yellowish tinge that may not look great.  
  • 3
    Use acrylic polymer varnish   
    Available in matte, gloss, and even satin, acrylic polymer varnish is great at sealing acrylic paint. It even comes formulated with UV protection.  
  • 4
    Acrylic resin varnish   
    Exceptionally strong and durable, you can’t go wrong with mixing acrylic resin varnish if you’re working on detailed crafts. Sealing acrylic paint on plastic is great. Not only does it provide protection to the paint, but it also prevents it from getting any scratches or dirt build-up.  

How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Plastic

Looking to remove acrylic paint from plastic? Here’s how you’ll go about doing so:  

Start by gathering the following ingredients: 

  • An old toothbrush
  • Rubbing alcohol 
  • A plastic bag 
  • Soap and warm water  
  • 1
    Place the painted plastic item into the plastic bag before pouring about half a cup of rubbing alcohol into the bag. Seal the bag and shake it for at least a minute. Then, allow the bag to sit for about 10 minutes.  
  • 2
    Take out the plastic painted item and rub it with a toothbrush to get rid of the old paint. Do this until the paint comes off entirely.  
  • 3
    Place the plastic painted item in a tub of warm water and soap before allowing it to dry. If there’s still some paint left, go ahead and repeat step two.  

Generally, however, acrylic paint is easy to remove, so you should be able to do so in no time at all.  

Acrylic Paint On Plastic FAQs

How long does it take for acrylic paint to dry on plastic? 

It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for acrylic paint to dry on plastic. However, after it dries, you should consider using some sort of varnish to assist with sealing the paint to the surface - this helps prevent flaking or peeling later.  

What kind of paint works best on plastic? 

There are many different types of paint out there, and some are specially formulated to adhere to plastic. Some examples include plastic spray paint and specialty paint for plastic materials.  

Does acrylic paint wash off? 

As acrylic paint is water-based and quick-drying, it can be cleaned up with simple soap and water when wet. When acrylic paint is dry, however, it is permanent and can be difficult to remove.  

Can you use hairspray to seal acrylic paint on plastic? 

You cannot seal acrylic paint with hairspray. Paint and hairspray don't react well to each other and, in some instances, can even cause your paint to melt and have a gooey texture.  


If you’re someone that enjoys using acrylic paint, it’s important to note that if you’d like to use acrylic paint on plastic, you’d need to prepare the surface and apply a base coat or primer. It’s crucial to follow the necessary steps or run the risk of your paint chipping or peeling.