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 much paint and how to Spray paint foam board and more.

Foam Board Projects

Foaming 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 black foam board, you can most certainly do so. Paint elmer's foam board will also both hide its white outer layers while enhancing its appearance. When it comes to deciding what paint to use on elmer's foam board, you need to take a painted foam board 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 spray paints, acrylic paint is the best paint to use on most black foam boards. 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 paints or even spray paint on your foaming 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 foam edges to curl up [2].

When it comes to painting foam board, here are the different paints that you can apply spray 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 foaming boards as you don’t need to use solvents. It is also durable, spray adhesive to most surfaces with ease, and does not require a base coat.
  • Crayola paint
    You should not use Crayola paint on foam board as it won't stick to the surface.
  • Oil paints
    You should also not be using oil based paint on a foam board as it takes a while to dry completely and may slide off the slick surface of the foam board. If you would like to use oil paint lightly, however, you would need to make sure that you’re painting the foam board when it’s flat. 

Types Of Foam Board 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 tempera paint.

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

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

Rigid Foam Board Insulation

If you paint on rigid foam board insulation, you should use water-based acrylic or latex paints. 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 primed foam board or a mixture of PVA hot glue and paint. Avoid using solvent-based or oil-based paints as these paints can damage board insulation. foam insulation board.

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 Insulation Board

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

Pink Foam Board

When it comes to painting a pink foam interior 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 foam board. To do so, simply soak your flat board 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 visible brush strokes have 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 or wax paper 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 painting 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 spray 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 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 electric paint sprayer. You would need to apply multiple light 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.

Can I use spray foam insulation board for commercial construction? Foam insulation board is a type of insulation material that is made from polystyrene foam. It is used in both residential and commercial construction. Foam insulation board is available in a variety of thicknesses and sizes to fit any need.

Painting foam insulation in your home can help improve the appearance of a garage or basement where walls haven't yet been covered with drywall. Only water-based acrylic or latex paint should be used on spray foam insulation, whether you are using the material for crafts or are painting unfinished walls.

While painting foam boards, you must keep in mind the properties of foam core board if you wish to paint on it. Foam core boards are sensitive to moisture, and spray paint has less moisture than many other paints. It dries slowly and may slide off the foam core board slick paper surface. Acrylic paint is ideal on foam core because you do not need to use solvents like with oil paints. People oil paints applied on foam core sheets, styrofoam, and the outcome is great.

Paint Tools for Foam Boards

Frequently Asked Painting Foam Board Questions

What can I use to seal paint on foam board?

Use Mod Podge or Plaster of Paris as a sealer for paint on foam board. They provide a smooth surface for painting and are easy to apply.

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

Drying time for paint on foam board is 10-20 minutes for the first layer. Apply subsequent layers evenly and carefully.

How long do paints last on foam board?

Paint lifespan varies based on usage and placement. Acrylic paint is recommended for longer-lasting results compared to other types of 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.