Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam Perfectly Without Damaging It?

Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam

Do you know can Styrofoam be painted or not? Styrofoam is mainly one type of petroleum-based plastic. Its primary ingredient is styrene monomers. Painting on a Styrofoam surface is slightly different and more tricky than others.

Since it is a delicate surface, following a special spray painting treatment is crucial to get the best results. You can paint on your Styrofoam in different ways. I have tried several approaches to painting Styrofoam surfaces, but spray painting is my top favorite.

In this post, I will try to answer the question, “Can you spray paint styrofoam?” Also, I will shed some light on common mistakes people make while using spray paints on Styrofoam. Furthermore, you will learn how to get a perfect finish on Styrofoam.

What Happens When You Spray Paint Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is a pretty porous surface. It doesn’t hold as simply as some other regular surfaces. Plus, you can’t use all types of paints on such slippery objects.

Using the wrong spray paints will disintegrate the Styrofoam. When using the right paint, applying several layers of coats is necessary. You need to conceal all the white areas.

Another important thing is ensuring the proper distribution of paint. Or, it will shrink and come close to nearby paints. If not properly distributed, you may notice little holes and uneven texture.

When applying spray paint on old-coated Styrofoam, you may notice melting issues too. In this case, removing the old coat is necessary before adding the layer of paint.

How Does Spray Paint Affect the Styrofoam?

Using Styrofoam safe spray paint will add an eye-catchy and well-looked appearance. It adds a distinctive look too.

When you apply the paint properly, it creates a thick layer of protection. Hence, sunlight won’t cause excessive damage to the surface.

What Are the Risks of Spray-painting Styrofoam?

Picking the wrong spray paint is probably one of the most common mistakes. Water-based acrylic or latex paint is the best option for spray painting on any Styrofoam surface.

Oil and solvent-based paints have a higher amount of chemicals. Using such paints will damage the Styrofoam. Hence, the Styrofoam may be unusable in the future anymore.

Aside from that, knowing the ideal way of using spray paint is compulsory. Otherwise, you may end up getting trashy, old, or incomplete paint. They won’t have a presentable appearance.

Non-foam safe spray paint won’t retain the original color for a long time. They are hard to spread too. Additionally, they can’t help you get thick and well-distributed paint coverage.

Is Spray Paint the Best Way to Paint Styrofoam?

Using spray paint on Styrofoam might not be the best approach, but it is still effective.

The primary reason people use spray paint on foam surfaces is due to its simple method of application. It takes less time to apply than other approaches.

Knowing the right approach to spray paint can also help you get reliable results. After all, your spraying pattern, consistency, angle, and paint spreading will affect the outcome.

Which Is The Best Paint for Styrofoam?

Most experts say craft-based acrylic paint is the best option for painting Styrofoam.

They are highly water-resistant when you let them properly dry and cure. Their fast drying will also save you time. Other than these, this high-quality paint has increased pigment density.

Getting even coverage with a perfect thickness level is what you will appreciate about this craft-based acrylic painting.

Is It Possible to Spray Paint Styrofoam?

Can you use spray paint Styrofoam? The direct answer is YES. But, you must remember two rules when using spray paint on Styrofoam surfaces: the right spray paints and the correct method.

spray paint styrofoam

a) Using Ideal Products Is The Key!

Styrofoam is a very porous surface. It is likely to melt heavily when it directly contacts chemical objects. Solvent-based spray paints have a massive amount of chemicals. Try using toxin-free or at least less chemical-based spray paints. It will ensure maximum protection.

b) Stick to the Right Method

Avoid spray painting from too close. You need to maintain a minimum of 1.5 feet distance from the Styrofoam surface.

Spraying paint too close will add excessive pressure on the Styrofoam. In addition, it may damage the foam surface due to extra force.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes While Using Spray Paint on Styrofoam?

It is common for some people to make some usual mistakes while using spray paint on Styrofoam. Here are the tips to avoid such errors.

a) Shake the Bottle Can Gently

Some people think that the harder they shake the bottle, the better spray paints will result in it will provide. Unfortunately, shaking the bottle container too hard may cause bubbles issues.

Since Styrofoam is a porous surface, its pores can catch more air. Therefore, it has more chance of creating bubbles. Gently shaking the paint container will be enough.

b) Spray-On The Right Side

Beginners and even experienced people sometimes mistakenly apply spray paints on the wrong side. Using a paint shield is a rule of thumb to avoid this mistake.

When you accidentally apply the water-based spray paint to the wrong area, use a fresh rag to wipe off the paint. If it becomes harder, you can use a soft brush and rag to get off the paint.

c) Pick the Right Weather Condition

Spray paints need a little more time to perfectly adhere to a porous surface like Styrofoam. When it dries too fast due to extremely hot temperatures, it may quickly show powdery lines or cracks.

As a result, the paint won’t be long-lasting. You will notice hairline cracks or peeling off problems within a short period.

d) Give Enough Dry Time for Each Coating

Generally, Styrofoam surfaces require several layers of coatings to ensure durable paint. But ensuring enough dry time for each coat is crucial.

When each layer of paint gets enough for curing, they create an even coverage one after another. However, giving too short a time between coats will cause cracking. Each coat must be dried fully before applying the next coat.

e) Apply Several Layers of Thin Coats

Dripping is a common issue when applying spray paints on Styrofoam. But why does it happen? It mainly occurs when you use too many coats on the foam surface.

An excessive number of coats will make the paint layer highly thick. So, how many layers of thin coat should you apply on Styrofoam surfaces? It should be 4-5 coats. Not more than that!

f) Move the Spray Bottle Spray Steadily

Do you have the habit of holding the spray container on a particular spot for too long? It can make the spray paint looks blotchy. You will notice the uneven texture.

Some parts will be too dark, while others will have a light finish. Be more focused while applying the paint. Move one area to another steadily. Don’t wait too long in a single place.

g) Prepare The Surface Appropriately

It is always good to clean the Styrofoam surface before applying the spray paint. Remove all dust, dirt, and other residues. You can use a safe cleaner to get rid of unwanted items.

But make sure it doesn’t affect the paint adhesion. Applying spray paint on a dirty or greasy surface will cause wrinkling. The surface should not be rough too.

Is Spray Painting Styrofoam Always a Bad Idea?

Spray painting on Styrofoam is not as convenient as on many other surfaces.

But that doesn’t mean it is a bad idea to use spray paint on Styrofoam. Since the foam surface is highly porous, you need to be a little more cautious while using it.

If you think spray painting is a little bit tricky on Styrofoam. You can use a paintbrush. Using spray paint with a brush simplifies and changes the experience of painting.

Firstly, spray paint evenly on the whole area of foam. Some places might be tricky to apply from the spray bottle. So, take a small cup and spray paint directly on it to accumulate paint.

Now, apply the paint to the remaining area using paintbrushes. Generally, experts recommend using foam brushes instead of paintbrushes.

Foam brushes are soft and designed to hold a wide range of paints with dipping precisely. They can provide a smooth finish too. More importantly, their price is incredibly low.

How Can You Get Perfect Finish Spray Painting on Styrofoam?

Unless you get a perfect finish from your spray painting, your hard work won’t be paid off. So, what is the magic behind getting a flawless paint finish? Below are a few techniques you can stick with.

can you use spray paint on styrofoam

i) Use the Best Product

High-quality products may have a higher price tag. But their quality will ensure a better result. So, aim at choosing the best spray paint for Styrofoam.

ii) Choose the Right Painting Tool

Using the right painting tool is important to get a perfect finish. Your paint results will often get affected by the equipment you use to apply the paint.

iii) Use Fresh Spray Paint

Do you have the habit of using too hold spray paint? 2-3 months old paints appear okay. But the more time it passes, the more it degrades its quality. If you use expired spray paint, it will make the job of getting a flawless finish harder.

iv) Keep the Spray Paint Bottle Well-Protected

Avoid letting outside air enter the bottle’s internal area. Keep it always close when not using it. Otherwise, contamination will occur, and the paint formula will be inefficient.

v) Prime the Foam Surface

Priming is often the key to getting a beautiful paint finish. So, use a decent-quality primer before applying the main spray paint. This will ensure better adhesion. Also, it will protect the paint.

vi) Test Before Using

Never use the spray paint directly on the main Styrofoam surface. Test the paint on an obsolete foam surface to check whether the paint is coming out correctly and consistently.

How To Make Styrofoam Smooth And Paintable?

Every painter aims to achieve a smooth paint surface. But, not every painter succeeds. So, what is the secret to making your Styrofoam surface smooth and paintable?

i) Clean The Surface Properly

It is a basic task. But I am reminding you again. Dirt, dust, and other residues should be out off the surface. It should be plain and flat.

ii) Use a Light Glue

Does your Styrofoam surface too rough? Before using a primer, it is better to apply light glue. This will produce smooth results.

iii) Choose The Ideal Primer

Which primer do you generally use for Styrofoam? According to most experts, a Gesso primer is the best choice for this type of foam surface. It dries hard. Also, it better prepares the surface.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam Balls?

Yes, you can use water-based spray paints on Styrofoam balls, but they will take a little more time to dry.

How Long Does It Take for The Spray Paint to Dry and Cure on Styrofoam?

Generally, it takes 10-20 minutes for the spray paint to dry. But temperature and external environments will affect the durability of the paint.

What Is the Maximum Temperature You Can Spray Paint Styrofoam?

If the temperature exceeds 90° Fahrenheit, it will appear too hot for spray painting Styrofoam.


It is true that you need some extra preparation and be more cautious while using spray paint on this foam surface.

However, knowing the right technique and using the correct products and tools can help you a perfect finish on your Styrofoam surface.

Hopefully, you have learned the secrets behind getting a superior paint finish. Make sure to protect the surface after achieving a good result.