Can You Paint Foam Board? (How To Guide)

Always wondered about whether you can paint foam boards but aren’t sure where to start? No worries, we’re here to help.

Here, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know if you're wondering can you paint foam boards, from the types of foam boards to how to paint a foam board and more.

Can You Paint Directly On A Foam Board?

Foam Board Projects

Foam boards are popular as they are an exceptionally versatile material. Not only can they be used by artists and crafters, but you can also use them for mounting photographs, creating architectural models, and more [1]. In addition, you can easily cut and shape it to your desired preference.

If you're looking to paint directly on a foam board, you can most certainly do so. Painting on a foam board will also both hide its white outer layers while enhancing its appearance. When it comes to deciding what paint to use, you need to take a foam board's softer center into consideration.

Avoid using lacquers and solvents as they could erode the center of the foam board. Instead, out of all of the paints, acrylic paint is the best paint to use on foam board. Not only does it not need to be mixed with solvents, but it's also reliable, dries quickly, and holds up well.

If you're using acrylic paint or even spray paint on your foam boards, it can most definitely stick on the foam board with no problems at all. Just be aware that using too much paint could saturate the outer layer and cause the edges to curl up [2].

When it comes to painting foam boards, here are the different paints that you can paint foam boards with:

  • Chalkboard paint
    If you're using chalkboard paint, make sure that you're using a foam brush instead of a regular brush to ensure that you're painting an even, smooth coat.
  • Acrylic paint
    As mentioned earlier, acrylic paint is ideal for foam boards as you don’t need to use solvents. It is also durable, adheres to most surfaces with ease, and does not require a base coat.
  • Crayola paint
    You should not use Crayola paint on foam boards as it won't stick to the surface.
  • Oil paint
    You should also not be using oil paint on a foam board as it takes a while to dry and may slide off the slick surface of the foam board. If you would like to use oil paint, however, you would need to make sure that you’re painting the foam board when it’s flat. 

Types Of Foam Boards And Which Paint To Use On Them

No matter which foam board you choose, acrylic paint is the best option. Alternatively, you can also use water-based, or H2O paint. While you might be tempted to use spray paint, it is a little trickier to apply than other paint.

You should not use normal spray paint as it contains enamel which would dissolve and eat styrofoam. Instead, it would be best if you used a brush and latex paint. 

Here’s what you should do when painting various types of foam boards:

Rigid Foam Board Insulation

If you paint on rigid foam board insulation, you should use water-based acrylic paint or latex paint. As rigid foam board is also porous, you would need to apply multiple coats of paint evenly.

XPS Foam Board

If you are painting an XPS foamboard, you would need to apply a solid layer of primer or a mixture of PVA glue and paint. Avoid using solvent-based or oil-based paints as these paints can damage foam board insulation. 

Foam Core Boards

Acrylic paint is great on foam core boards as you won’t need to use solvents. Not only is it durable, but it adheres to most surfaces and does not need a base coat.

Polystyrene Foam Board Insulation

You can use a water-based paint for polystyrene foam board insulation to protect it from any solvent attack.

Pink Foam Board

When it comes to painting a pink foam board, you can do so with latex paint.

Painting Over Foam Boards

How To Paint A Foam Board? (Detailed Guide)

Here’s how you would go about painting a foam board:

1. Priming

You would need to start by priming your foam board to prevent warping. To do so, simply soak your flat paintbrush in the primer before applying the first layer on the foam board. You will need to do multiple thin layers and in a long and vertical stroke.

After the first stroke has dried, go ahead with the second coat but make sure that you’re doing so in the opposite direction.

2. Sand the Surface

It's up to you, but you could go ahead and sand the surface – especially if you feel that it's too harsh. To do so, you would need to use 500-grit sandpaper to form a smooth surface by gently rubbing back and forth on the foam board.

3. Painting

Go ahead and prepare your paintbrush, roller, or sponge. Then, go ahead and dip your paintbrush, roller or sponge into the paint before applying the first coat. Next, go ahead and use the roller to flatten the paint evenly.

Once the first coat has dried, you will then proceed to administer a second coat. The more layers you apply, the more vibrant your paint job will be. Allow it to dry once you're satisfied, and you're good to go.

4. Others

Painting Foam Board To Look Like Wood

If you're looking to paint your foam board to look like wood, you would follow the same steps as per the above, but instead, you would be adding wood grain details at the end to achieve that desired appearance.

Painting PVC Foam Board

Here’s how you would go about painting PVC foam board:

  • 1
    Wipe down the surface of the PVC with a rag that has been soaked in a mixture of hot water and mild dish detergent to remove dirt and oil.
  • 2
    Sand the board with 220 grit sandpaper.
  • 3
    Apply a thin layer of primer or sealer before applying a second coat and allowing it to dry.
  • 4
    Go ahead and apply a coat of acrylic latex paint in your preferred color with a foam brush, roller, or paint sprayer. You would need to apply multiple coats.

Important Tips & Safety Measures When Painting A Foam Board

While painting a foam board isn’t difficult, there are some safety measures to take into consideration. If you are using a lot of spray paint or acrylic paint especially, too much can cause the edges to curl up.

Here are a few things to consider when painting a foam board:

  • You should have gloves to protect your hands. Either leather or cloth gloves would work just fine for sanding. Solvent-resistant gloves, on the other hand, should be used if you’re handling paint thinner and other solvents.
  • Protective eyeglasses, goggles, or a face shield are also required whenever you're handling paint.
  • If you’d like, you can also use a dust mask when sanding or a paint mask when painting your foam board.
  • Shoe covers are important to protect both your clothing along with exposed skin that has the potential of becoming irritated by paint.

As mentioned, when it comes to painting a foam board, it is important that you use acrylic paint as it's durable and fast drying. Avoid using spray paint as it could seep through the foam board.

Paint Tools for Foam Boards

Frequently Asked Painting Foam Board Questions

What can I use to seal paint on foam board?

You can use a sealer like Mod Podge or even Plaster of Paris for a smoother and more even layer to paint on. It's also easier to apply paint on the sealer – which is always a nice bonus.

How long does it take for paint to dry on foam board?

It takes about 10 to 20 minutes for the first layer of paint to dry on the foam board before you go ahead and apply the next layer. Make sure you’re doing so both carefully and evenly.

How long do paints last on foam boards?

It really depends on what you’re using the foam board for and where you’re placing it. If you want it to last longer, you should most certainly use acrylic paint as it adheres and lasts longer than any other paint.


As seen above, painting foam boards isn't difficult at all. Just make sure you're using the right paint, considering the type of foam board, and following the necessary precautions, and you’ll be all good to go.