Can You Paint Styrofoam? (How To DIY Guide)

Whether you’re crafting for fun or helping a loved one with a project, you’re probably wondering if you can paint Styrofoam to change its color.

The good news is that you absolutely can cover Styrofoam with paint, but you’ll need to purchase the right kind before getting started. It helps to know how to paint Styrofoam to achieve the overall best results on any project you’re completing. 

Styrofoam is a type of polystyrene foam. It feels soft to the touch and has a slightly thick layer. You can find lots of different things made with this material, such as cups, plates, boxes, and trays.  

Of course, many people like to use Styrofoam when completing crafting projects. If you’re a crafter, there’s a good chance you have some Styrofoam at home because you can do a lot with it, whether you’re making little snowmen, creating an artificial floral arrangement as a centerpiece for your kitchen table, or even using it to prepare your own wreath. 

Because it comes in handy for crafting, it’s one of the primary reasons people consider painting this material. While Styrofoam is often white, you can change its color by painting it.

Although it’s not necessary in some cases, it’s definitely a must if you want to add some color and vibrancy to the material. Painting it will leave it looking more like whatever you’re trying to make, such as an artificial flower pot or anything else. 

You may be wondering, “Can you paint Styrofoam balls?” The good news is that you can. Whether it’s balls, rectangles, or other types of Styrofoam products, you can paint them because the material allows it. If you use the right paint, it adheres perfectly to the material, leaving it looking new with a fresh color added to it. 

Can You Paint Styrofoam

Compatible Paint 

Acrylic craft paint is the best type of paint to use for painting Styrofoam. However, if you’re doing a craft project with kids, you can also use watercolor paint because it's not as messy and does stick to the material, too. Be careful, though. If you attempt to use solvent-based paint, the Styrofoam will melt, leaving you with a mess! 

  • Can you spray paint Styrofoam?
    No, you shouldn’t attempt to use spray paint on Styrofoam. Unfortunately, when you combine the two, the material tends to melt and can quickly turn into a disaster. It's best to avoid spray paint when working with Styrofoam. You can however, use spray paint on craft foam.
  • Can you use acrylic paint on Styrofoam?
    Yes, acrylic paint is one of the best choices for Styrofoam. It provides complete coverage, adheres perfectly to the material, and leaves the material with an excellent finish.
  • Can you use tempera paint on Styrofoam?
    You can safely use tempera paint on different Styrofoam materials. Because it's a water-based paint, it sticks without causing the material to melt, and it's an excellent option for children.
  • Can you use latex paint on Styrofoam?
    Much like tempera and acrylic paint, latex paint is an option for this material. Because it’s a water-based option, it won’t cause damage to your Styrofoam when you’re covering it.
  • Can you use house paint on Styrofoam?
    The answer to this question depends on the type of house paint you use. If it’s not water-based, it’s not a good choice to use when applying color to your Styrofoam.

How To Paint Styrofoam? (Best Way Explained)

Painting Styrofoam is a relatively simple process. For this project, you will need a few materials to get started:

  • Microfiber cloth for cleaning the surface.  
  • Paint brush 
  • Different water-based paint colors 
  • A craft sealant, such as Mod Podge, which will add that finishing touch to your project to keep it looking its best 

Follow the steps below to complete your project: 

1. Prepare the Styrofoam

After you’ve selected the item you'd like to paint, you need to prepare it for the painting process. You should wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris from the material.

Make sure the cloth isn't too wet because you don't want to soak your Styrofoam, causing it to become excessively wet. You simply want to wipe it down to get rid of any dirt from it. 

2. Apply a Sealant 

Once you’ve completed the cleaning process, you can apply a sealant, such as Foam Finish, to all areas of the Styrofoam.

It works to provide a smoother surface that makes it that much easier for you to provide complete coverage with the paint. It’s much like a primer in that it works to improve the look of the paint when applied to the material while keeping it sealed to the Styrofoam. 

3. Add a Layer of Paint 

After the sealant has dried, you can add a layer of paint. Continue to work in thin layers of paint, adding more where necessary until it reaches your desired color.  

How to Paint Different Styrofoam Objects 

When you’re working with different objects, such as Styrofoam balls and mannequin heads, it helps to put them on a stick or stand so that you can paint all sides without worrying about getting paint all over your hands and table.  

If you want to know how to paint Styrofoam balls and other objects that aren’t flat, you would simply need a craft stand to cover them with ease. For example, you could place sticks into a foam block and then attach your Styrofoam balls to the sticks.

Once they’re attached to the sticks, it’s easy to apply the paint to different sides of the ball without messing up. You can complete this process with other objects, too! 

Applying paint to Styrofoam is a simple process. If you want to add color to the material because you’re completing different crafts, make sure you have your materials and the right type of paint to provide complete coverage. As long as you have what you need, you’re good to go and are ready to get started. 


Tips When Painting Styrofoam (+ Other Safety Measures) 

Before you get started on your craft, keep these tips in mind: 

  • Safety precautions:
    Consider wearing gloves to protect your hands from getting paint all over them. While optional, it’s super convenient because then you don’t have to worry about having a bunch of different colors on your hands and fingers.
  • Make the paint last
    If you want your paint job to last longer, be sure to take the proper steps, which includes cleaning the material, applying a sealant, and taking a step-by-step approach to add the paint to every side of the material. 
  • Add a finish
    You should also apply a finish to your material, such as Mod Podge, because it will make the finished results look even better while helping your paint job last a lot longer. Before you apply the Mod Podge, you'll need to give the material time to dry. You don't want to apply it too soon while the paint is still wet. 

When you follow these steps, you’ll have a smooth material that looks beautiful with the different colors you’ve used to paint it. 

woman wearing protective suit

Painting Styrofoam FAQs 

Can you paint over Styrofoam insulation? 

You can paint over any type of Styrofoam material. However, you need to have the right paint, such as acrylic paint. You can also choose from any water-based option available to you. 


How long does it take for paint to dry on Styrofoam?  

The length of time it takes for the paint to dry on the Styrofoam varies and will depend on the number of layers of paint you’ve added and how big the Styrofoam is. It can take as little as an hour and up to several hours to fully dry. 


How long does paint in Styrofoam last? 

If you take the proper steps of cleaning, sealing, and applying the paint in layers, you can expect it to last a long time. As long as it goes undisturbed, it should continue to look good. 


Conclusion

It’s entirely possible to paint Styrofoam using different types of paint, including acrylic and tempera paint. As long as it’s water-based paint, it’ll work wonders. You can use the right technique to apply paint to Styrofoam to change its color, especially when completing different crafts.  


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