How to Paint Plastic

Throughout the day, we are in contact with many plastic objects. They range from tables to chairs to dishes to parts of cars. Plastic is an inexpensive and very versatile material that can be molded into any shape you desire. Depending on what you're making, it can be made to any hardness and thickness. However, one thing you should be aware of is that plastic is very difficult to paint. Painting on plastic presents a unique problem, as most plastic surfaces are smooth and resist paint adherence. To make the challenge simpler, we have provided some tips on how to paint an outdoor plastic table. The technique is the same for painting any plastic item.

Materials needed:


  • Plastic bowl
  • Sandpaper
  • Soap
  • Ammonia
  • Sponge
  • Wash cloth
  • Latex primer
  • Latex paint
  • 2 polyester paintbrushes

Here's what to do:

  1. Mix three tablespoons of soap and a half a cup of ammonia into one gallon (3.8 liters) of water, in a plastic bowl.
  2. Wash down the plastic table very well with a sponge, to ensure there is no dust or grease on the surface. Grease and dust will not let the paint adhere to the surface.
  3. Wash off the soap with clean water and a clean sponge. The primer won't stick if there's a soap residue.
  4. Dry the plastic table well with a dry towel or rag.
  5. Sand down the table with sandpaper to remove the shine. Make sure there is no shine on the entire surface. Don't rub too hard, as this can scratch the table.
  6. Apply the latex primer to the entire table with a polyester paint brush. This will help the paint adhere to the surface. Let the primer dry overnight.
  7. Paint the table with the latex paint and another polyester brush. If you can, choose a dry hot day to paint, as the paint will dry quicker and adhere better [sources: Lifestyle, Examiner].