What You Need to Know About Painting with Acrylic on Plastic

Acrylic paint is one of the most popular materials that people use to paint. It can go on top of almost any surface, though one causes more trouble than the rest – plastic.

If you know nothing about the combination of plastic and acrylic, it can be easy to get tripped up. What do you need to know about painting with acrylic on plastic?

The most vital things to understand about painting with acrylic on plastic include:

  • It will not last forever
  • It often requires priming and sealing
  • It can be hard to work with

All of these things should remain in the back of your mind when dealing with acrylic and plastic.

Keep reading to learn more about painting with acrylic on plastic. It can be a tricky task, so these items are vital to remember to accomplish whatever you are trying to accomplish.

Will Acrylic Paint Stick to Plastic Cups?

Acrylic can work very well with plastic cups. If you want to paint on cups with this material, it is often best to use thick paint.

This texture will permit bold colors and allow the acrylic a better chance of sticking to the surface of the cup. You should also prep these items, which we will discuss a little later on.

Some items you can create with acrylic and plastic cups include:

  • Decorative tumblers for special occasions, such as weddings and baby showers
  • Sports team gatherings, such as awards ceremonies and start of the season parties
  • Specified work cups for each person in your workspace

All of these can come to life by combining acrylic and plastic cups.

Not every material is as easy to work with as plastic cups. You will find that you run into issues with many plastic items. We will talk a little more about this later on.

There are a few techniques that you can use if your paint is not sticking to plastic.

Preparing the Surface May Be Necessary

Sometimes, the acrylic will not stick to the plastic no matter what you do. This situation may require you to prep the surface of the plastic, permitting the paint with a texture that it can grab on to as it dries.

This technique sounds tricky but only requires a few materials to accomplish.

There are two main ways of prepping plastic. These include:

  • Prepping the surface
  • Priming the surface

These are the two best ways to get plastic ready for the addition of paint.

Keep reading to learn more about each of these methods. They are simple to accomplish, and you should be able to prep without much issue, no matter how experienced you are with these items.


One of the ways that you can prepare the plastic for the addition of paint is by using sandpaper.

This material will add a texture to the plastic while also eliminating any other surface paint or coating that could affect the way the paint sticks. You can find this sandpaper at any local hardware store and many grocery stores.

Some of the best sandpapers that you can find on Amazon include:

These are both excellent options for prepping plastic for the addition of acrylic paint. They are not very expensive, so you should not have a hard time obtaining them. Sandpaper might also come in use for other projects that you take on down the road.


Primer is also something that can be added to the plastic to get it ready for acrylic paint. You should add at least two layers, taping over the spaces that do not need primer.

The primer should only be used in well-ventilated areas where you will not be inhaling the fumes constantly. These can also be found at your local hardware store.

Some of the best primers on Amazon include:

All of these are excellent choices when priming. They are all affordable and can be used many times before replacements become necessary.

Primer and sandpaper can be used together to create the ultimate surface. To ensure that the acrylic paint sticks, using these items is the best bet for you. It will ensure that your plastic has a shot at becoming filled with acrylic color.

Sealing After May Be Required

Just like the prepping, sealing might be required as well. This statement is especially true if you want the acrylic to last for a long time on the plastic.

Without something to seal it down, it will chip off as time goes on. You can also invest in sealant at a hardware store in your area.

Some of the best sealants that exist on Amazon include:

These are all excellent and affordable sealants that you can use to make acrylic paint more permanent on plastic.

With the combination of sealant and prepping, the acrylic is more likely to stick to the plastic with little problem. If you want to make the colorful addition as permanent as possible, use sealant.

It will not last forever, but it will help with the time it stays on the surface.

Cleaning Will Help Paint Stick

Another way to ensure that acrylic sticks better to plastic is by cleaning the surface ahead of time. By getting rid of excess debris, the paint will attach to the plastic rather than the dirt.

You can clean off the plastic by:

  • Investing in a cleaner made for plastic, found at most hardware stores
  • Using a cloth and water to wipe away any mess
  • Brushing it off with a small brush, such as a makeup brush

All of these items will work well to get the plastic surface clean.

Once this is done, applying acrylic to the plastic should be a lot easier. It would be best if you let it dry before you try to put anything on the plastic, or the paint might not be able to stick to the surface.

Acrylic Will Likely Come Off Eventually

When working with acrylic on plastic, it is vital to know that it will not last forever. Even if you use a sealant, the bond between acrylic and plastic is not strong enough to keep it on for an extensive period.

If you decide to go about this method, you should be prepared to perform upkeep or throw it away in a few years.

There are a few ways that you can delay this natural process. You can protect the acrylic from coming off as fast by:

  • Ensuring you have put plenty of sealant over the paint
  • Avoiding touching it, which we will discuss later
  • Putting it in a box where the world outside cannot come to contact with it

All of these will permit the paint to stay on the plastic for longer than it should.

Acrylic and plastic are not materials that will form a permanent bond. If you are seeking something long-lasting, you might want to select different materials. We will go over a few varying choices later on if you desire this instead.

Aerosol Can Be Beneficial

If you are afraid that regular tube acrylic will not stick, it is vital to know that acrylic spray paint is an option. This material is a lot thinner, and the way it spreads will allow it to adhere to plastic much better than the thicker paint.

You need to prep and seal it just the same to give it the best chance at coverage.

There are many locations where you can find acrylic spray paint. Some of the best options for sale on Amazon include:

All of these are excellent choices if you are on the hunt for acrylic spray paint. They do not cost very much, and the can will last you many uses before you need to replace it.

If you choose this method, ensure that you are outside to avoid inhaling fumes. You can always touch up areas that aren’t covered with regular acrylic paint after you have attempted a few layers.

This format of acrylic will likely give you less trouble than the bottled kind will. It’s affordable and worth a shot.

Avoid Touching It as Much as Possible

We already discussed that acrylic on plastic is not very likely to last forever. To protect what you have done, you should avoid touching the paint job as much as possible. The natural oils on your fingers will damage the surface, causing all the work you have done to disintegrate prematurely.

Try putting a case over your piece or using another layer to keep the painted plastic from being touched by oily hands. By taking this precaution, you should preserve it for longer than if you are constantly coming into contact with it.

Picking Another Material Might Be Better

If you get frustrated by plastic, you can always choose another material to work with instead. This choice will work best if you are trying to use acrylic to paint furniture or other forms of décor.

Some of the best items that you can paint using acrylic include:

  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Canvas

All of these items react well to acrylic paint.

Keep reading to learn more about these alternative materials that you can use. Of course, these alternatives are not always the best option. If you are working with cups or a model, you will not replace the plastic.


Wood and acrylic paint are like two peas in a pod. If you are painting plastic furniture, you might replace it with wood pieces to paint instead.

The paint sticks very well to the surface of this item, allowing for creativity to expand in a way that plastic does not permit.

For instance, you might select wood pieces such as:

  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Footstools

All of these items can be made out of wood and painted with acrylic.

If you intend to paint plastic furniture, this can be an excellent replacement. If you get frustrated with plastic, look at this material instead.


Glass is also an excellent material for acrylic paint. It sticks to it very well, though if you want it to last, you will need to add something else to solidify the connection between the two materials.

If you are trying to achieve décor by painting the plastic, glass is an excellent second option. It rarely needs any preparation, unlike plastic. You might find that the process is much easier if you select this item over plastic.


Canvas is the material that painters use when dealing with acrylic. It is most commonly utilized for paintings, forms of wall décor, and other items of decoration. If you are aiming for decoration, you might want to look into this material instead of plastic.

Acrylic sticks well to canvas because:

  • The surface of the canvas is textured already
  • Acrylic has a binder that permits it to stick to the canvas

These factors permit acrylic to stick to a canvas. It works best if the paint has been spread smoothly rather than being placed on thickly.


If you want to use acrylic on plastic, mastering it is going to be a tricky task. However, it is not impossible to do. It would help if you noted a few techniques that will allow the paint to stick longer.

These include sanding and priming the plastic that you are working with for your project. You can also avoid touching it or even pick another material instead.

As an artist, it can be fun to experiment with items such as acrylic and plastic.

Though it may not work every single time, it is good to test your skills and see if there is a way you might be able to fix these two contrasting materials to each other. You might make something incredible.




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