The Secret To Painting Acrylic, Plastic, & Glass

Secrets to Painting Plastic Acrylic and Glass

I have a love affair with all things see-through. Well, no, that’s not true… just when it comes to home decor. Especially sleek acrylic storage bins.

I think if you have nice things, you should show them off! Even better, if you keep your nice things nicely organized inside their separate bins, you really want to show them off! Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of items I safely hide behind a well fortified wall of wicker or some other closed up storage, but occasionally there are those pretty items you want to be able to store and see!

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of items I safely hide behind a well fortified wall of wicker or some other closed up storage, but occasionally there are those pretty items you want to be able to store and see!

 

Painted acrylic magazine file holders

That being said, I usually prefer a “window” you can see through as opposed to an entirely clear piece. I’ve added that wow factor to many an acrylic, glass, and plastic storage piece using spray paint. The question I’m always asked is how to paint it for the sturdiest results, so here are a few tips for spray painting acrylic, plastic, or glass…

custom stylize magazine holder - materials

 

Here are a few tips for spray painting acrylic, plastic, or glass…

 

number 1

 

Start With Stellar Tape

For the cleanest possible lines be sure to use a really good painters tape. I prefer the Frog Tape brand, thus far it is the best I’ve tried. If you don’t use a good tape, the lines will be very choppy. Of course, be sure you take your time and press down on the tape edges really well so no paint seeps through. Additionally, be sure to remove the tape immediately after painting. Yes, you need to remove the tape before the paint dries, or you’ll peel bits of dried spray paint off when you remove the tape.

Clean lines

number 2

A Nifty Little Trick To Save Your Tape!

A good tape isn’t cheap, so I use it sparingly. Tape off the first line that will be the dividing line between paint and product. Next tape on paper bag or newspaper to cover the rest of the product. Do a good job covering non-paint areas, spray paint hangs in the air and a certain radius will end up with microscopic paint droplets.

Magazine holder - white spray paint

 

number 3

Start With The Right Paint, Dispense With the Primer

Primer is usually a good idea (especially important for spraying metal!), however in the case of plastic, acrylic, or glass, if you can complete the task in a single coat it is better. The problem with more than one coat is allowing paint to dry without immediately removing the tape…once you remove tape off dried spray paint it is likely to peel the paint along with the tape. So choose a high performing acrylic enamel spray paint, or simply look for a paint designed to bond with plastic. Then spray paint in even sweeps across your surface. Be careful not to allow any pooling, and take the time to make sure there are no uneven areas…you only get one chance.

Acrylic magazine file

 

number 4

The Protective Coat

Finish with a coat of clear spray paint. However, don’t spray it on until after you have removed the tape. Be sure to allow the initial coat to dry completely. You want to seal those raw edges where the paint and the product meet.

Magazine files

And presto! You have a stunning, customized end product. Something you would have to pay premium cost to buy, and you’ve just up-cycled existing jars, or taken cheap plastic products to a whole new levels of chic!

See other amazing things you can make-over with spray paint here>>


19 Comments on The Secret To Painting Acrylic, Plastic, & Glass

  1. Victoria
    October 6, 2016 at 5:39 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi! Lovely tutorial. Could you tell me the brand of clear spray paint you used to seal these?

    Reply
  2. Roy
    August 8, 2016 at 6:07 am (5 months ago)

    I’m trying to get the back painted glass effect with plastic. The painted side of the plastic will be the back and I’ll be looking at the paint through the plastic from the opposite side. Will your technique give me the same smooth look as back painted glass?

    Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      August 8, 2016 at 8:08 am (5 months ago)

      Hi Roy, spray paint is a smooth application as long as you are even with your distribution…so smooth is no problem. As a matter of fact, painting the back side of plastic is a great way to go to ensure there will be no possibility of scratches! :) I don’t know what you are making, but I think you are on the right track!

      Reply
  3. Chet Skibinski
    July 16, 2016 at 7:55 am (6 months ago)

    I’m restoring the clarity to the plastic lens of my car headlights. I’ve done multiple sandings, finishing with a 2000 fine grit. It’s ready for protection. But it demands a clear coat finish to fill in the remaining minute scratches. This clear coat must be right for plastics, offer UV protection, non-yellowing, and a fine spray. Does your Krylon recommendation match all these needs?

    Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      July 17, 2016 at 9:02 am (6 months ago)

      Hi,
      Since your project is on a car, and will be outdoors at all times, I would recommend taking a look at the Krylon website to see if it will stand up to those particular needs. You have to remember, anything I have used it on has been indoor projects and furniture. Typically if a project is an outdoor it is furniture related and often sealed with a non-yellowing polyurethane or a glazing spray paint. 😉

      Reply
  4. Joy Black
    June 2, 2016 at 3:08 pm (8 months ago)

    I enjoyed your comments. I would like to have an acrylic sheet behind my fish pond,
    in my entry, with a light behind it and have fish painted on the acrylic. Do you have any ideas. Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Hannah Morgan
    March 29, 2016 at 2:48 pm (10 months ago)

    Hi! I was wandering what brand of spray paint you use on acrylic?

    Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      March 29, 2016 at 8:52 pm (10 months ago)

      I personally prefer Krylon brand. They have quite the array of choices! :)

      Reply
  6. GOOLAM MAHOMED CHOHAN
    February 21, 2016 at 12:27 pm (11 months ago)

    i applied vinyl to glass and sprayed over it.but as i peel off the vinyl the paint along the edges of the vinyl peel off leaving an uneven line.how do i avoid this?please help me on this.

    Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      February 21, 2016 at 7:10 pm (11 months ago)

      You definitely want to peel back the tape/vinyl while the paint is still wet. It prevents it from pulling the paint off along with it. 😉 Good luck!

      Reply
  7. linda scott
    February 9, 2016 at 12:50 pm (11 months ago)

    Thanks! This looks great. Can these items be washed or will the paint come off? If so, is there any method to paint plastic/acrylic so that it’s wash-proof?

    Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      February 9, 2016 at 9:20 pm (11 months ago)

      No, they are not washable. The closest you can get (that I know of currently), is using a gilding paint (for example a gold liquid gilding). Water washes right over it, but I don’t know if it is truly wash/scrub proof. I have gently washed/rinsed it by hand however!

      Reply
  8. Vic
    February 8, 2016 at 5:50 pm (11 months ago)

    My problem is drips! On plastic or glass the paint slides down it it seems. Even when I use it sparingly – any tips and will sealing it prevent it from scratching off? Every time I paint plastic it scrapes right off and looks icky

    Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      February 9, 2016 at 9:16 pm (11 months ago)

      To prevent drips you need to keep the proper distance when spraying, and keep the spray bottle moving so it doesn’t pool in any one spot. When it comes to this, practice makes perfect! :)
      I seal it with a clear polyurethane spray.
      If I paint something gold or copper that will be handled regularly I use a liquid gold/copper. It doesn’t scrape off, and almost seems water/wash proof.

      Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      November 4, 2015 at 10:19 pm (1 year ago)

      Perfectly stunning! The project, the magazine holders, and the photography! Thanks for sharing! <3

      Reply
  9. Amy Ehmann
    April 11, 2015 at 3:06 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this DIY. I was wondering where the clear magazines were from? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ursula Carmona
      April 12, 2015 at 7:33 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you! They clear magazine files are from Target. They are part of Target’s “Room Essentials” line.

      Reply
      • Amy Ehmann
        April 12, 2015 at 10:43 pm (2 years ago)

        Thanks! I can’t wait to try this!

        Reply

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