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Can You Use Tempera Paint on Plastic

Tempera paints are an excellent medium that you can use, regardless of age or skill level. If you love experimenting with paints, you may find yourself attempting to paint on different materials. However, many people struggle to use tempera paints on plastic.

So, can you use tempera paint on plastic? Yes, but you have to prepare the plastic in order for your paint to adherer to it. Since plastic is a non-porous material, tempera paint won’t stick to it on its own. After drying, your hard work will flake off unless you prime and properly seal your paint.

In short, you can use tempera paint on any material, as long as you make sure to prepare the surface first correctly. If you do, your creation is sure to last a long time! You’ll want to know more about how to paint on plastic, so make sure you continue reading.

How To Use Tempera Paint on Plastic (Soft and Hard Plastic)

First, you’ll need to find a suitable object to paint on. When using these methods, you can choose any plastic! Once you have your item, you’ll need to wash it with warm water, dish soap, and a coarse sponge to remove debris.

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Tempera 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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For special offers and discounts, with my link you can also go to the Arteza website and shop their amazing products.

Next, you’ll want to have two different grit levels of sandpaper. I recommend using 220 and 300 grit when buffing a piece of plastic. Even hard plastic is technically soft so that you can do all of the sanding work for your project by hand.

You should start by lightly buffing the area you want to paint with the 220 level grit- you may not even need the 300, so make sure you stay away from how much you’re sanding the piece. You also want to move your hands in a downward, circular motion. When you finish, wipe down the plastic with a cloth to remove the plastic dust.

Moving on, you’ll need to wipe down the plastic with rubbing alcohol. This step ensures that any oils from your hands come off of the surface. The oil stops the paint from sticking, which would ruin your work! You don’t need a lot of rubbing alcohol, so make sure you don’t skip this step.

Next, you may want to apply masking tape, depending on what you’re painting. I usually use painter’s tape to ensure I get a finished look on all my paintings. 

Finally, you should apply a coat of primer. This substance helps the paint stick to the surface of the plastic even better. You have spray-on and brush-on options available to you. However, no matter which kind you choose, you will want to give the primer ample time to dry before painting.

Does Tempera Paint Need a Primer?

Before using any paint, you should apply a primer. However, this is especially true with water-based paints such as tempera. Adding a quality primer gives you the best surface to work on.

Abstract Painting

My favorite primer is Liquitex Primers. They work great with tempera paint, acrylic, and even gouache! Liquitex offers an amazing coverage, on top of properly adhering to your paint.

Plus, when you want to paint on plastic using tempera, you should always add a primer as the last step before you start painting. Tempera paints won’t stick to plastic naturally. While sanding the surface down does help a lot, primer gives your work the best chances of lasting.

To summarize, it’s always a good idea to use a primer when working with tempera. Because the paint consists of water and organic ingredients, it’s one of the most challenging mediums to get to stick to non-porous surfaces. Primer is a way to make painting on anything with tempera a possibility!

Can Tempera Paint Be Used Outside?

While you technically can use tempera paints outside, I would recommend against it. Tempera paints are water-based, which means they quickly wash away with the smallest amount of water. It would only take one rain for your hard work to vanish!

However, you can use tempera paints as an alternative to sidewalk chalk! Kids love painting and can have a lot of fun doing it outdoors. The paints should wash away after just one rain. If you are going to try this, make sure that you use non-toxic paint.

Tempera is very washable, perfect for activities with young kids, but not great if you want to do a permanent outdoor project. There are other paints that better resist fading from the sun and elements that you can use instead.

Can You Make Tempera Paint Permanent?

Tempera paints aren’t permanent right out of the tube. If you want to make your tempera painting last forever, you’ll be happy to know that you can! Usually, primer and sealant make the image more resistant to chipping, fading, and washing away.

However, you can also make your own permanent tempera paints! If you love DIY projects, you’ll want to give them a try. Classic egg tempera is permanent; here’s what you need to make it: 

Once you have all of the materials, you can get to work on creating your permanent tempera paints! Creating paints together would be a good teaching opportunity to show how people made tempera in the past if you have children.

Always start by putting on a mask! You don’t want to breathe in the pigments accidentally. Here are the steps to create your paints:

  1. Select fine pigment powders and mix them with distilled water until it turns into a paste.
  2. Place the pigment on a palette and use a palette knife to stir it. You may need to mix in more water if it feels too dry.
  3. Put the pigment paste into the jars with the lids on tightly.
  4. Remove the yellow egg yolk from the white and drain the yolk into the jar. Add one tablespoon of linseed oil and another equal part of distilled water. 
  5. Mix everything well.
  6. Thin with distilled water until the paint has a thin texture.

Since this paint contains eggs, it won’t last long! Make sure you use as much as you can in each sitting. It also helps to make only smaller batches of paint at once.

Can You Modge Podge Over Tempera Paint?

Tempera paint isn’t shiny when it dries. However, you can still quickly get that glossy look by adding Modge Podge! Make sure you don’t touch your painting until it dries thoroughly. It’s best to give it a few hours to make sure you won’t smear it.

Then, apply a thin layer of Modge Podge and allow that to dry as well. You can add another coating for more gloss if you want, but you also need to give it ample time to sit. You don’t want the painting to be sticky when you go to apply more.

How Do You Seal Tempera Paint?

Sealing tempera paint is easy and protects your creation from damage! You can find plenty of fantastic acrylic spray-on sealants online. After your painting dries fully, you can spray the canvas with the sealant. Make sure to hold the spray can a reasonable distance away from your work!

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There are also paint-on sealant options, which would work like the Modge Podge mentioned above. This sealant also works well but can take more time to use.

Final Thoughts

In short, you can use tempera on plastic. However, the paint won’t last very long unless you use sandpaper on the material. Doing so wears down the surface, making it more porous and able to hold the paint. Adding an acrylic sealant also helps protect your work and prevent it from rubbing off.

Overall, knowing how to use your tempera paints on plastic is an excellent skill to have. You’ll never know when the urge to customize something will strike. Now you can paint on any surface with ease!

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

To view my personal artwork collection click here.  All of my artwork is one of a kind and comes ready to hang. You can also find my work at The Gallery SOHO, in the Pomona Valley Art Association.

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