A few months ago I updated some plastic lawn chairs with plastic spray paint. I had several people ask me if the plastic spray paint actually worked. And if I would give an update. So here it is.
In addition, I’ve used this paint on some other projects and I can tell you that for the most part, the short answer is plastic spray paint actually works quite well on plastic or synthetic resin. The question becomes, for how long? The answer to that is varied and depends on several factors.
Does plastic spray paint really work?
Factors that may effect the outcome:
Were the furniture pieces cleaned properly before applying the paint?
Did you use spray paint that is suitable for plastic surfaces?
Was a clear coat sealer (also suitable for plastic) applied over the spray paint?
Did you allow for proper drying and curing time for all finishes?
Is the plastic or resin furniture or decor item going to live indoors or outdoors?
If outdoors, is it going to be placed in a covered area, ie: screened in porch or under an overhang?
Will the painted plastic item be subjected to extreme weather conditions on a continual basis?
How much use is it going to get? Use = wear, there is no avoiding that.
All of these factors will determine how long the plastic spray paint finish is going to last when painted on plastic or synthetic resin furniture or decor items without showing signs of wear and tear.
Plastic spray paint used for indoor projects
One of the first projects I did was this plastic laundry tub.
Project completed with:
Plastic spray paint
Sealer was not used
Although I did clean it, I didn’t scrub it down with a scouring pad, and I don’t think I used one of the four cleaning solutions mentioned below. But this laundry tub exists in my townhouse basement laundry room, so it is not subjected to any outdoor weather elements.
While I have seen a few small nicks in the paint finish, over all, the paint has stayed adhered to the tub and still looks pretty good after several years.
See best practice for cleaning the plastic or resin, further below.
Plastic spray paint used for outdoor projects
In the spring of 2016, I spray painted these plastic chairs. I took some time to see how they were holding up several months later. The plastic chairs have been through several rain storms and the humid summer heat. The plastic paint coating still looks like a second skin on these chairs. So at the time frame of several months after applying the paint, I haven’t found any chipping or blistering. I would say above all, it was the elbow grease in preparation that has left them with such a nice finish that has lasted the entire summer season.
Project completed with
Cleaning and scrubbing with Dawn and vinegar
Plastic spray paint used
Sealer was not used
Exterior use, direct sunlight daily
Did not winterize (protect from the extreme winter temperatures).
At 2 years later, I have different results. One of the chairs actually broke after our friend, who stands 6’5″, sat in the chair, lol. And now, the remaining chair is definitely showing wear and tear. Was it because I didn’t use one of the harsher chemicals to clean the chairs, or was it because I never bothered to bring the chairs in out of our extremely cold and snowy Chicago winters? My guess is that the wear and tear is mostly due to not weatherizing the chairs, but instead allowing them to be subjected to the winter elements.
Spray painted plastic tiki torches
Best outdoor location for spray painted plastic furniture
Sun or snow exposure? Which is worse for plastic spray paint?
I have two plastic-coated, metal tiki torches that were originally purple, as shown above.
I spray painted these at the same time that I painted the lawn chairs, and with the same paint. At the time frame of several months after painting, the torches have survived rain, humidity and the heat from the flames. Looking at them, you’d never guess they were once purple. The new coat of paint had no sign of wear, whatsoever at the end of several months.
Project completed with:
Gentle cleaning with Dawn and vinegar
Painted with plastic spray paint
1 Tiki torch exposed completed to direct sun and the winter elements
1 Tiki torch located near an overhanging porch, shielded somewhat from the elements, but not completely
Two years after painting these tiki torches, they are definitely showing wear and tear. The paint finish on the torch that was exposed directly to the sun, snow and cold weather has almost blistered all off. The paint finish on the torch in the slightly protected area is showing slight signs of wear, but mostly in the area that has been exposed to snow and cold wind. The paint finish on the side of the torch that is shielded from snow and wind, but still subjected to full sun for part of the day is still holding up quite well.
Concluding for me that the snow, ice and wind have done more damage than direct sunlight.
Proper cleaning preparation for painting?
What I have found to be the best practice after spray painting several plastic pieces is good preparation.
- Use one of these four solutions to wash the piece down:
- a hot soapy mix of water, Dawn soap and vinegar;
- a strong degreaser;
- or paint thinner.
- Scrub really well. Give the pieces a really good scrubbing with a scouring pad. Rinse well.
- Let all pieces dry completely before painting.
You know how when you use sand paper on wood, you get better paint or stain coverage? The scouring pad works the same way on the plastic by creating a roughened surface for painting.
While any of the cleaning mixtures mentioned above should degrease all the oils from finger prints, food spills, and such, ammonia and paint thinner are quite a bit more harsh. And are probably going to strip just about any “contaminant” from the plastic surface. Which would probably give you the best surface prep results.
Best practices for spray painting plastic or resin furniture and decor
- Clean and scrub plastic or resin furniture properly with a good degreasing solution, ammonia or paint thinner.
- Use a spray paint that is suitable for plastic or resin surfaces.
- Apply a clear coat sealer that is also suitable for plastic or resin surfaces.
- Allow proper drying and curing time for all finishes (follow product directions.) See more about curing time, here.
- Protect finished plastic and resin furniture from extreme weather, (ice and snow in colder climates; extreme and prolonged sun and heat in warmer climates). Protection includes, either covering, placing under a covered overhang, bringing indoors, or into a garage or shed.
Estimated expected life span for spray painted resin or plastic furniture
How long will the finish on spray painted furniture last?
These are just my opinions and best estimates, based on my own findings (without any guarantees); given that the correct steps for cleaning and painting have been used; and furniture gets moderate use. Here they are:
Furniture placed outdoors and exposed to full weather elements (not winterized):
1 to 2 seasons without sealer applied.
2-3 seasons if sealer has been applied
Furniture placed outdoors but winterized during harsher weather:
2-3 seasons without sealer applied
3-4 seasons if sealer has been applied
Furniture placed under and overhanging porch, screened in porch, or indoors:
3-4 seasons without sealer applied
4-5 seasons if sealer has been applied
How to tell if the spray paint works on plastic?
The best way to tell is to read the label, if you can read the small print, that is;)
This is a paint an primer combined. The label says it works on wood, metal, plastic and more. It also reads “for Indoor/Outdoor use”. Currently the cans have a little yellow banner across the front stating that it works on plastic, show above.
There may be other brands that work just as well. I can’t say because I haven’t tried them, but most important factor would be to make sure the label says “WORKS ON PLASTIC!”
In addition, it seems like every year or so, they improve the formulas. So if you may have tried using plastic paint several years ago and didn’t get the best of results, you may have better luck with a newer blend.
Let’s face it plastic furniture and other household plastic pieces do not last forever. Plastic is also on the cheap end of the decor spectrum, wah-wah. But when you’re working with a low budget, and plastic is what you’ve got, you can make it more interesting with paint for an update that can last through a summer season, or even several years if protected from the elements.
In summary, if you want to spray paint your plastic furniture or other items, make sure you give it a REALLY good cleaning with the right type of solution, make sure you use a spray paint that bonds to plastic, consider using a clear coat sealer and if you can help it, protect the furniture from extreme weather.
Thanks for stopping by ~ Amy
Have questions? Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment.
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