How To Spray Paint Styrofoam: 6 Ultimate Painting Tricks to Make Your Project Sparkle

How To Spray Paint Styrofoam

Are you a crafter? Then, you may love to make different decorative objects through creativity. Styrofoam is a handy item that you can use to design beautiful things. However, a question begs, how to decorate Styrofoam?

Since it is a porous and soft surface, following a particular approach is necessary to spray paint on these polystyrene (PS) foams. Many people are even in doubt whether it is really possible to paint Styrofoam because the material often can melt and dissolve.

So, how to spray paint Styrofoam? It requires you to follow a step-by-step procedure to get a professional result. I will discuss the correct way of spray painting a porous surface like Styrofoam. Let’s begin without further ado!

Can I Paint Styrofoam At Home, or Should I Hire A Professional?

Spray painting on Styrofoam can be easily done at home. Following some basic procedures is what you will need. You may not get 100% similar results initially. But once you have mastered spray painting skills, it will be more easy-going.

However, using all the required tools is essential. Otherwise, it will affect the final finish. Also, you want to ensure weather conditions and choose a well-ventilated area for spray painting.

If the Styrofoam project is large and complex, hiring a professional might be more cost-effective and efficient. A professional will have the experience and tools to ensure that the job is done correctly and to your satisfaction.

What Is the Best Way to Paint Styrofoam?

When it comes to painting Styrofoam, a wide range of selections are available. Let’s see which options serve what purposes.

a) Foam Rollers

A foam roller is a good choice if your Styrofoam surface is massive. It appears an affordable option too. You can let the paint absorb properly and redistribute the absorbed liquid.

b) Paint Sprayer or Airbrush

A paint sprayer or airbrush is a decent choice when your Styrofoam is challenging to hold in your hands or with too small objects.

c) Foam Brush

A foam brush is a good solution if your Styrofoam surface has cracks. It can help you add a solid base by using sealant before the paint.

d) Spray Paint

Spray paint is one of the best options for small and large objects. It is versatile to use. You can get precise results when you know how to paint on Styrofoam.

How to Prepare the Styrofoam Before Painting with These Easy Tips

To prepare the Styrofoam before painting, you need to sand the surface. Then, use a sealant on the styrofoam surface.

a) Sand Styrofoam

Can you sand styrofoam? Styrofoam is not as strong as some other objects. If you want to sand your Styrofoam, you must choose foam core Styrofoam. This sort of foam is thicker and more ridged.

Sanding foam core Styrofoam requires you to follow very exacting standards. You should not overdo it. Only then will you be able to get a professional-looking result.

Please avoid using cheap quality Styrofoam since they are not strong enough and has a rough surface. They may shrink or become too weak when trying to sand them. You also need to remove the imperfection and create small, rough ridges to make the paint adhere well.

How to Sand Styrofoam?

Sanding Styrofoam is simple. Use 80-grit, 120-grit, and 200-grit sandpaper sequentially to sand polystyrene (PS) foams. Make sure to add very little pressure while sanding.

When using 80-grit, sand the surface lightly. Just try to remove any high points from Styrofoam. Then, use 120-grit to give the foam a perfect shape and size.

Finally, use 200-grit sandpaper to achieve a polished and smooth surface. Take a fresh cloth to remove all the sand residues from the surface.

b) Use A Paint Sealer

Does your Styrofoam have any cracks o holes? If yes, sealing the gap is necessary. Additionally, a quality sealant will allow your paint to adhere well.

How to seal Styrofoam for painting?

Choosing a decent quality and compatible sealant is essential. Otherwise, you won’t get a perfect seal. A reliable seal product will create a solid and smooth base for painting.

Use Mod Podge as a sealant. This high-quality sealant has a unique formula to protect and seal your Styrofoam surface.

It is not prone to run, drip, or yellow. In addition, this unique decoupage glue dries clearly and quickly without any run, drip, or yellow issues.

how to seal styrofoam for painting

How To Spray Paint Styrofoam: A Step-by-step Guide

Several ways or methods are available to spray paint on these polystyrenes (PS) foams. But not all are reliable, efficient, and easy-going. So, how do you spray Paint Styrofoam?

Your primary purpose should be to get the best painting result without melting Styrofoam and using a simple approach. Below is the step-by-step guideline:

Step- 1: Gather All the Supplies You Will Need

So, what are the necessary items you will need to spray paint Styrofoam? Here are the most common materials essential to finish your spray painting job.

SL No.Items You Will Need
1Newspapers or Butchers paper to safeguard the painted area.
2Your particular Styrofoam objects to paint it.
3A Sealant to fill cracks and holes.
4A primer to make foam surface smooth and painting adhere well.
5Several bottles of spray paints depend upon the project’s nature.
6A topcoat spray paint to safeguard the painted area.
7A few pieces of rags or fabrics to remove unwanted paints.

Step- 2: Prepare Your Styrofoam Surface before Painting

What preparation do you need to paint your Styrofoam? Regardless of the paint surface you choose, good preparation is required before using the final spray paint.

At first, you want to get rid of all the dirt, grease, and other residues from the paint surface. You can wash it slightly using water without overdoing it.

If your foam surface already has old paint, remove the loose paint and powdery substances. You can use a foam brush or rag to remove all the unwanted things.

Step- 3: Use a Sealant to Fill Cracks or Holes

After cleaning the foam surface appropriately, inspect the condition of your Styrofoam. It may have some cracks or holes if it is too old.

You can use our sealant mentioned above to get a quality result. However, make sure it is compatible with the particular foam surface since Styrofoam comes in various types.

Step- 4: Apply a Quality Primer

So, what is the purpose of using a primer on Styrofoam? It will help you get even paint coverage and make the paint job more manageable. More importantly, you will get a smoother finish that might not be possible without a primer.

Have you any idea on how to use a primer on Styrofoam? Start priming from one area and then move to the forward area. This will aid you in covering all the nooks or corners.

Your primer and spray paint must be perfectly compatible, and that’s one of the most critical factors. Otherwise, it will prevent you from getting reliable results.

However, you don’t need to use primer in all cases. It generally depends on what type of spray paints you are going to use. Read the instruction manual of the product.

The manufacturing company should clearly mention if their spray paints don’t require any primer. If it doesn’t mention anything, you can use a compatible primer.

Step- 5: Use the Spray Paint

Now for the most important and exciting part. Before applying the spray paint, make sure the primer has dried properly. It may take several hours.

Now, use newspaper or butcher paper to protect the unwanted area. Though spray paints are easy to remove, the paper will ease your painting job.

Next, shake the bottle gently for 5-10 seconds. Test the paint in obsolete foam before using the color finally. If the paint comes out smoothly and the finish looks okay, start painting Styrofoam.

Generally, you will need to apply 3-5 coats based on the paint thickness level and priming. Apply a thin coat initially. Then move to the second coat.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure proper drying time between coats. It may take 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your chosen brand.

Step- 6: Apply the Topcoat

Apart from regular spray paint, you want to apply topcoat spray paint. This will protect several layers of paint and make the entire paint more durable.

In addition, it provides the surface with a more glossy or shiny appearance, adding a pleasant appearance. The protective layer will work as a barrier to the environment.

But how many topcoat paints do you need to apply? Generally, one coat is enough to handle the Styrofoam surface. You can use two coats in some cases if the initial layer is not thick enough.

How to Make Styrofoam Smooth and Paintable?

Want to get a smooth paint finish? It is necessary to follow some practical tips to achieve a flawless finish on your Styrofoam objects.

a) High-quality Spray Paints

Quality products provide quality results. Choosing cheap spray paints means you won’t get better adhesion, durability, or hiding properties.

Have a glance at this article to get the best spray paint for Styrofoam. They are made from quality ingredients to have a more beautiful appearance and longer-lasting durability.

b) Sealing and Priming

I have already mentioned that sealing and priming are required. What is the condition of your Styrofoam? Does it have any holes and cracks? Filling them with a good-quality sealant is necessary. Otherwise, the paint texture will give an uneven appearance.

In addition, priming will prevent the old color from bleeding and covers imperfections. Unless you handle all the flaws of your Styrofoam surface, achieving a smooth finish is difficult.

c) Using a Foam Brush

Sometimes, the spray paint’s nozzle alone may not help you get a fine and soft paint finish. You can use a soft foam brush to go over the paint in angles, crisscross, or circular motions.

This will get off some unwanted paint and softens the edge. Therefore, you will get a smooth mottled effect.

how to paint on styrofoam

d) Don’t Let the Paint Dry too Quickly

Spray paints are supposed to dry at the ideal time. You will notice the uneven texture if it dries too fast than the recommended period. It mainly happens due to hot weather.

Higher heat leads to quick evaporation of spray paints. Hence, choosing a perfect weather condition is necessary to let the spray paint dry naturally.

e) Using Light Glue if Necessary

Generally, three types of Styrofoam are available: polystyrene film, regular polystyrene plastic, and polystyrene foam. These foams have different physical properties.

Their paint adhesion power may vary from each other. If the Styrofoam doesn’t have a decent adhesion capability, you can use good-quality light glue.

How to Protect Styrofoam After Painting?

Wondering how to make your painted surface more durable? Follow these tips to protect your painted Styrofoam after they have been painted.

a) Keep The Painted Surface Clean

Since Styrofoam objects are moveable, keep them out of dust and dirt. Also, make sure to clean them when they appear dirty.

b) Sand and Repaint

Spray paints are not going to last a lifetime. If you notice a few weary signs on your Styrofoam surface after a particular time, sand the paint lightly and apply a thin topcoat.

c) Keep Styrofoam Objects Safe

Avoid keeping Styrofoam objects close to moisture or directly sun-exposed area. If not, the paint’s quality will be affected over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Spray Cans to Paint Styrofoam?

You can use spray cans directly to paint Styrofoam. But if it appears tricky to apply, you can spray paint in a small pot and use a foam brush to apply the paint. Avoid adding too much paint to the container at a time. Otherwise, the paint will dry quickly before applying it to the Styrofoam.

What Can You Put on Styrofoam to Harden It?

The best way to harden Styrofoam is by using liquid polyurethane. Make sure to use a two-part fluid polyurethane hard-coat system; each layer should be thin. It will help you to get a hard-surface coating.

Can You Spray Paint A Styrofoam Head?

Yes, you can spray paint on a Styrofoam head, but the proper technique is vital to ensure the paint goes all the area evenly. You may need to use the brush to apply paint in hard-to-reach areas.

How to paint over a sticker on Styrofoam?

To paint over a sticker on Styrofoam, you will need to remove the sticker first. You can use a knife or scissors or solvent to do this. Once the sticker is removed, you can paint over the area with any color you choose.

Final Thought

Are you still wondering how to spray paint Styrofoam? You should not! I have already discussed all the steps to help you precisely paint any Styrofoam objects.

Though spray painting on Styrofoam is not as easy as others, knowing the right technique and being a little care can help you complete the painting project successfully.

Apart from that, protecting the paint after an application is crucial to ensure long-lasting durability. Otherwise, you will end up painting the surface repeatedly after a few months.

Hopefully, you have learned the approach of spray painting on Styrofoam. Make sure to seal, prime, and sand it correctly if necessary. Don’t forget to use top-quality spray paints too.