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Can You Use Chalk Paint on Styrofoam?

Chalk paint is a super easy and quick way to achieve an antique look on multiple different surfaces. While it usually works best on wood, you can use it on other surfaces as well if you prepare the surface first. Does this mean that you can use chalk paint on Styrofoam?

So, can you use chalk paint on styrofoam? Yes you can! You can definitely use chalk paint on Styrofoam, but you will need to use a primer to ensure proper adhesion to the surface. Chalk paint will not cause any damage to the styrofoam because it is water-based and doesn’t have any harsh chemicals that could melt the surface. It will also be beneficial to seal the styrofoam after painting to prevent any scratches or dents forming in the paint.

If you want to use chalk paint for a Styrofoam project, you will need to properly prepare the surface first. This will extend the life of the paint on the Styrofoam and make it easier to get the paint to stick. Let’s read on to learn more!

How to Use Chalk Paint on Styrofoam

Before you paint your Styrofoam with chalk paint, you will need to clean the surface to make sure it is free of any dust and dirt. If there is dust on the surface when you start painting, it can clump together and make your project look lumpy.

To get rid of the dust and dirt, it will be best to use an air compressor to blow it off. Styrofoam is a very tricky surface that anything will stick to, so using an air compressor will be the easiest option. After all the dust and dirt is removed, you can wash the surface of the Styrofoam.

You will need a sponge, dish soap, and warm water to wash the Styrofoam. You need to be really careful with the amount of pressure you apply when you are cleaning because you don’t want to dent the surface of the Styrofoam. Gently wash the surface with the soapy water, rinse it, and let it dry somewhere safe.

It is best to wait about 24 hours to let the Styrofoam dry before you start working with it. If the surface is damp, you can run into problems with your paint sticking and peeling in the future. When you are sure the surface is dry, you can apply a primer.

You have the option of using a chalk paint primer or an all-purpose water-based primer. Either of these will work just fine to get the chalk paint to stick, but the chalk paint primer will be best. You will want to apply two thin layers of primer before painting. Let the first layer dry before adding the second and give the second layer some extra time to dry before you start painting.

I like to use Rust-Oleum Chalk Paints, because they’re super durable, and come in tons of colors!

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The first layer of chalk paint should be just enough to cover the surface. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to be thin and quick. Chalk paint dries incredibly fast, so you should be able to add the next layer in about fifteen minutes. Your second layer should also be thin, but you can use more paint than you did on your first layer.

Two layers should effectively cover the surface of the Styrofoam, but you can add a third layer if you wish. This will increase the opacity of the paint while still leaving you with that antique look you are hoping for. 

Let the last coat of chalk paint cure for at least 24 hours before you try to move the product or add a sealant to the surface. Adding a sealant will provide your project with extra protection and prevent the paint from peeling in the future.

Abstract Painting

How Do You Waterproof Painted Styrofoam?

Styrofoam isn’t already waterproof, so making it waterproof can be extremely beneficial if you plan on keeping it outside or in an area of your house that is very humid and has a lot of moisture. The best way to waterproof a piece of Styrofoam is with Plaster of Paris.

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First, you need to prepare the area you are going to be working in. Find a place that has plenty of ventilation and lay out a plastic tarp. This will protect your environment from getting dusty while you are working. This will also make cleaning up easier.

Take your Plaster of Paris and mix it together based on the instructions provided. In most cases, you will mix two parts of Plaster of Paris with one part of water. While you are mixing, pay attention to lumps and smooth them out as you see them. Lumps can make your project have an uneven surface and cause issues bonding.

When you are positive that there are no lumps in the mixture, you can start applying the product onto the surface of the painted Styrofoam. Use a large paint brush and apply even, thin layers of the product to the surface. Work in sections to ensure that you are not missing any parts.

When you are finished covering the whole surface, let the plaster dry based on the instructions of the brand that you bought. When the first coat is dry, add a second coat. You should apply three coats for maximum water protection.

As soon as the last layer is dry, the Styrofoam will be waterproof. You can leave the project anywhere close to water or outside without having to worry about your paint job being damaged.

Best Paints for Styrofoam

The best paints to use on Styrofoam are going to be water-based and solvent-free. This includes acrylic paint, chalk paint, model paint, and tempera paint. All of these paints are water-based and non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about them damaging the surface of the Styrofoam.

Arteza Acrylic Paint

Folk-Art Chalk Paint

Crayola Tempera Paint

How Do You Seal Styrofoam After Painting?

If you don’t need your Styrofoam project to be waterproof, there is another way to seal it after you paint on it. One of the best ways to seal paint on Styrofoam is with Mod Podge. Mod Podge will allow you to protect your painting without causing much change to how it looks.

For chalk paint, Mod Podge will keep that chalky look while providing a smooth finish. Mod Podge also works great with Styrofoam surfaces, so it is a better option than some other chalk sealant options.

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Before you apply the Mod Podge to the surface of your Styrofoam project, you need to ensure the paint has had plenty of time to cure completely. You should wait anywhere between 24 and 48 hours for the best results. 

Apply the Mod Podge in thin, even layers. Wait about thirty minutes between each layer. It is recommended that you add two layers of Mod Podge, but if you feel like you need more protection, you can add a third layer.

Final Thoughts

If you want to paint Styrofoam to have an antique look, chalk paint is the best way to do that. Luckily, chalk paint can be used on Styrofoam with a little bit of preparation. You just need to make sure you apply a primer to the surface before you paint. 

You will also want to seal the chalk paint for maximum protection. If you need the project to be waterproof, seal with Plaster of Paris. If you don’t, Mod Podge is a great option to maintain the antique look of the paint.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your styrofoam painted project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

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