Oil paints are great for many projects, and can be used on a canvas, metal and even wood. But can oil paint be used on plastic? Oil paint is easily one of the best possible paints that you can use for plastic. It is especially good if you are planning to paint on plastic destined to be used outdoors.
That being said, you do have to remember that oil paint is not that flexible. Therefore, you probably shouldn’t be using oil paint on a surface that is going to be flexing quite a bit. This will cause the paint to crack and, as a result, you will be forever repainting the surface.
In this article, we go over everything you need to know for using oil paints on plastic. Let’s get to it!
How Long Does Oil Paint Take to Dry on Plastic?
There are some oil paints that will take thirty minutes to dry, while there are others that could easily take up to 24 hours.
My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Oil Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.
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I always recommend that you let the oil paint dry for at least 24-hours. Even if it is one of those ‘fast-drying’ paints, it is probably best to be better safe than sorry, right?
If you are painting outdoors, then it is likely that the paint will dry a lot quicker than indoors. Although, of course, you will want to ensure that you are not painting when it is forecast to rain. All of your hard work will be just washed away.
It is important that you do not use any ‘fast drying’ techniques when drying oil paint on plastic. This is because many of the most common techniques e.g. a heat gun or a hairdryer could damage the plastic. If the plastic is damaged by heat, then it is going to be almost impossible to fix.
How Do You Seal Oil Paint on Plastic?
Sometimes you do not actually have to seal oil paint on plastic. When it dries, there should be a decent enough seal on its own, since it is oil paint, after all. That is virtually impenetrable.
That being said, there are some people that will want to add a seal to the plastic. For this, they are going to need to get their hands on a clear acrylic sealer. I always recommend sealing any project you paint. it gives your work protection, and in most cases it will be safe from most weather.
Krylon Sprays are my favorite go to for sealing my projects. I use this for acrylic paint as well as oils. Not only does it protect your paint form chipping, but it also protects it against UV rays for those of you that plan on having your project outdoors.
You will want to spray once the paint has fully dried, and you will only need one layer. Wait about 12 hours, and it’s good to go!
Do bear in mind that the acrylic sealer is not going to be completely waterproof, but it is going to be water-resistant. However, this should be fine, even for outdoor use. This is because if the water manages to somehow get through the sealer, the plastic is still coated in oil paint. This should provide the plastic with a decent amount of protection.
Do I Need to Prime Plastic Before Painting With Oil?
If the plastic hasn’t been previously painted, then you will need to add a primer to the surface. This will allow the oil paint to stick to the surface.
I recommend this Sargent Art Surface Primer. It works great for all types of paint.
If there is already paint on the surface, then there is no need to prime it. Although, you may want to sand down this paint if it is a bit too ‘lumpy’. Just a light sanding will do. This way you will have a completely flat surface that you will be able to paint onto.
How Do You Paint Plastic With Oil Paint?
Painting plastic with oil paint isn’t all that difficult. Your biggest concern should be ensuring that you are either painting outdoors or you are painting in a well-ventilated room. Oil paints can give off some awful fumes, and you will often feel dizzy if you breathe them in for too long. For that reason, you will also want to include a dust mask in the mix.
Clean the Surface
To begin with, you will need to clean the surface of the plastic. You can use ordinary dish soap and warm water for this.
The purpose of cleaning the surface is to ensure that there is no grease or grime left on the plastic. If there is, then you will just end up painting that onto the surface, sealing it in. This is going to create an uneven finish.
Sand the Surface
If you have access to 1000-grit sandpaper, now is the time to use it. If not, this set here is perfect. You will want to use the sandpaper to lightly buff the surface of the plastic. You can do this even if the plastic has already been painted.
The main reason why you are going to be using the 1000-grit sandpaper here is to smooth out the surface. This will give you a more even finish. The ‘roughness’ of the plastic will also allow the oil paint to stick a little bit better. This, once again, is going to result in a far better finish for you.
While the surface of your plastic should be pretty clean by this point, it certainly won’t hurt to add a bit of rubbing alcohol onto the surface of the plastic. This will help to completely eliminate any dirt and grime that is left on the surface. It is going to be particularly good at breaking down any grease stains on the surface.
You will almost certainly want to be rubbing down the surface with alcohol while you are outside. You absolutely do not want to be breathing in the fumes of rubbing alcohol. It is going to be even worse than the oil paint.
Paint on the primer
If you are going to be using a primer, now is the point to paint it onto the surface. You will want to ensure that it is a lighter color. This will allow you to build up the darker colors on top of it.
You will have to let the primer dry before you paint anything else onto the surface, otherwise you are going to run into issues with paint mixing. This means that you will end up with awful coloration.
Paint the Surface
Now, all you need to do is paint the surface. Since oil paint is going to be relatively thick anyway, you do not have to paint it on too thickly. One layer should be more than enough to let the color pop out.
If the color doesn’t look good after drying (i.e. it looks a little bit too thin) then you can paint the surface again with some more paint. However, it is important that you do not go overboard. Too much oil paint can cause the surface to become a little bit uneven.
This ZenArt set is another one of my favorite oil paints to use. The colors are amazing!
Seal the Surface
Once everything has been dried, the only job that you have left is to seal it up.
Ideally, you will brush down the surface a little bit with a lint-free cloth before you add the sealer. This is important if the plastic has been sitting outside because things may have managed to get stuck to the paint.
Once you are confident that the surface is as clear as it is going to be, you can add the sealer. As we said before, a clear acrylic sealer is going to be enough. Once this is dry, your painting is complete.
Will Oil Paint Wash Off of Plastic?
You will not be able to wash off oil paint from a plastic surface. Since oil paint is mostly permanent, you will need to put some elbow grease into removing it. Luckily, there are a few ways to remove the paint from plastic surfaces.
1. Nail Polish Remover
Nail polish remover is great for removing certain oil paints from plastic surfaces. You can also use acetone, which is a type of nail polish remover. Make sure to rub the remover gently and try a test area first before applying it to the entire paint area.
Acetone can and may damage the surface of the plastic on top of removing the paint, so be sure to test a small area first. If you choose the regular nail polish remover, always go with a clear one, not the colored ones since it may stain the plastic.
2. Vegetable Oil
Vegetable oil is another great option to removing oil paint. It’s not as effective as nail polish remover, or other harsh chemicals, but it will loosen up the paint for your to scrape the paint off. If you apply a generous amount of oil with a bit of scrubbing, you may even be able to remove most of the paint.
3. Scrape the Paint
As a last resort, you can always scrape the paint off. You will need a paint scraper and lots of time on your hands. Make sure to scrape very gently so you don’t damage the plastic surface. This method can also be used with some vegetable oil, or other paint removers.
You can definitely use oil paint on plastic, and with the proper preparation, it will turn out amazing. Just make sure to follow all my recommended steps and you’re good to go. Happy painting!