Q&A: Paint for Plastic

Painting plastic can be one of the more difficult jobs, especially for amateur DIYers.

The ultra smooth surface makes plastic prone to brush marks and uneven coverage if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

So how do you get an even finish on plastic? What preparation do you need to do to the surface before painting? Is it better to brush, roller or spray plastic?

We’ve taken some commonly asked questions as well as some more specific questions asked by our readers and answered them in this handy guide to all things plastic paint.

Ready to become an expert in plastic paint? Read on!

How do you get an even finish on plastic?

Getting an even finish on plastic will depend entirely on how well you prepare and prime the surface. Assuming you’ve prepared and primed properly, using a self-levelling paint will also help achieve a smooth finish.

What preparation do you need to do to a plastic surface before painting it?

The important steps during the preparation phase will be to make sure the surface has firstly been cleaned and degreased. Secondly you should give the surface a light sanding down as this will give the paint something to key to. Finally, by applying a primer you’ll provide an extra layer of adhesion, almost guaranteeing that you’ll get a great finish.

Is it better to brush, roller or spray plastic?

There’s no correct answer to this. I would personally prefer to use a brush but of course you’re leaving yourself open to leaving brush marks with that method. Spraying arguably gives the best finish, especially for amateurs.

What kind of paint will stick to plastic?

Universal all surface type paints are the best paints when it comes to sticking to plastic. Good examples of all surface paints include Rust Oleum Universal All Surface and Zinsser Allcoat.

How long does plastic paint last?

How long plastic paints last will vary depending on things like the condition of the environment it’s in, how often it’s touched and how well it was applied. Plastic paint can last years under the best conditions.

Does Rust-Oleum primer stick to plastic?

Yes. You shouldn’t have any issues using Rust-Oleum’s primer on plastic.

What is the best primer for plastic?

The best primer for plastic is either Zinsser BIN or Rust Oleum’s Specialty Plastic Primer.

What’s the way to paint a plastic loft hatch to match the same colour as the ceiling (white)?

I use Bedec MSP in soft satin for plastic loft hatches. These hatches aren’t smooth plastic so typically you don’t need to prime them first. If it is smooth, use Dulux’s Super Grip Primer.

I need to paint an external waste pipe which is plastic. Would a normal exterior oil based U/C and topcoat be OK?

I always just gloss rainwater goods unless they are peeling badly. Thinned gloss always sticks better to plastic than an undercoat so you’d be better off doing that.

I want to paint my brown plastic facias in anthracite and have been told to use Zinsser Allcoat by Dulux. Does it work well?

My mate has a brown uPVC front door which I finished with two coats of anthracite grey water-based Zinsser Allcoat satin. It has been on there for 12 months now and is looking great despite his kids’ best efforts to scratch it off with their scooters!