What Kind of Paint and Primer Is Best for Plastic?

It can be challenging to paint on plastic products because not all paints and primers will work properly. Plastic is a slick and non-porous material, which can cause problems when trying to adhere paint to it. So what paint is best?

For the best results when painting plastic, use an oil-based paint labeled as “plastic paint” or “plastic-friendly paint.” These formulations are designed to adhere to plastic surfaces effectively. You should also apply an oil-based plastic primer beforehand to improve adhesion.

In this article, you will learn:

  • The 6 factors to consider when choosing paint for plastics
  • What type of paint to use
  • What finish is best
  • My top picks for the best paint and primer for plastics

The 6 Factors to Consider When Choosing Paint for Plastic

1. Type of Plastic

The type of plastic you are painting plays a significant role in the success of your final result. Some plastics, like vinyl and nylon, are naturally more difficult to paint than others.

When choosing a paint, you must make sure that the one you choose is compatible with the type of plastic you’re working with. You can also use a specially formulated plastic primer to improve the adhesion and durability of the paint.

2. Purpose

Another factor to consider is the purpose of the painted plastic. For instance, if the plastic is going to be exposed to sunlight or extreme temperatures, you must choose a paint that can withstand these conditions.

On the other hand, if you are decorating a plastic object that will not be exposed to these conditions, you can use less expensive paint.

3. Paint Type

Different types of paint adhere differently to various surfaces. When it comes to painting plastic, there are two main types of paint: water-based and acrylic. Choose one depending on your needs.

4. Climate Conditions

The climatic conditions of the place where the painted plastic will be used are essential to consider. With excessively high temperatures, regular paint will peel, crack and fade easily, rapidly deteriorating the painted surface.

5. Paint Quality

The quality of the paint is essential when it comes to plastic painting. Make sure to use high-quality paint that is specifically designed for plastics.

This will help ensure better adhesion and durability in comparison to regular paints. Choosing a primer with good bonding properties is also recommended to provide a better base for your paint job.

6. Application Technique

Using the right application technique is important to ensure that the paint adheres properly and lasts longer. Depending on your skill level and the area to be covered, you can opt for brush or spray painting.

What Type of Paint Is Best?

Oil-based Paint

Oil-based paint is paint made of a mixture of oil and pigment. It typically provides the best coverage, durability, and longevity when painting different surfaces.


  • High durability
  • Better adhesion
  • Smooth finish
  • Single coat coverage
  • Flexible surface


  • High VOCs
  • Slow drying
  • Strong odor
  • Difficult clean-up

Water-based Paint

Water-based paints like acrylics are ideal for painting plastic. They are durable and easy to clean with soap and water, making them an excellent choice if you’re looking for a long-lasting finish.


  • Low VOCs
  • Easy clean-up
  • Quick drying
  • Low odor
  • Minimal shrinking


  • Less durability
  • Adhesion challenges
  • Multiple coats needed
  • Limited flexibility

What Paint Finish Is Best?

If your plastic is going to be exposed to the outdoor elements, gloss paint is your best bet. Gloss paints are durable and have a shiny finish that can withstand different environmental conditions, such as rain, sunlight, and extreme temperatures.

Gloss paint is resistant to fading, chipping, and peeling. It can help prevent damage caused by UV rays, making it a top choice for outdoor applications. Plus, it can enhance the overall appearance of your project by providing a smooth, sleek finish.

For indoor plastic pieces or surfaces that won’t come in contact with harsh weather conditions, a finish with a lower gloss level, like satin or eggshell, is recommended. These paints are more subtle and will not bounce off too much light while providing a pleasing, lasting finish.

The Best Paint and Primer for Plastic

Best Paint

Rust-Oleum Specialty Spray Paint for Plastic is the go-to choice when it comes to painting plastics, both indoors and outdoors. This exceptional spray paint is specially formulated with an oil-based formula that provides maximum adhesion and durability.

The paint is designed to bond and adhere to a range of plastic materials, including PVC, resin, fiberglass, polypropylene, polystyrene, and vinyl plastics. This versatile formulation offers superior adhesion that lasts long, even after exposure to harsh weather conditions. 

This spray paint dries to the touch in just 20 minutes and has a coverage area of up to 10 square feet (0.9m²) per can. In addition, it delivers excellent color retention with a soft gloss finish, adding a smooth and uniform look to your project.

What makes this spray paint particularly outstanding is its ability to enhance the durability of plastics. The oil-based formula creates a resilient layer that holds up against wear and tear, so you can rest assured that your creation will last for a long time without losing its luster.

When it comes to color selection, Rust-Oleum Specialty Spray Paint for Plastic offers a range of popular colors to choose from, so you can easily find the color that matches your needs.

Best Primer

Rust-Oleum Specialty Plastic Primer Spray is ideal for those looking to paint plastic surfaces. This high-quality primer spray is designed to prepare plastic surfaces for top coating with any Rust-Oleum color or finish.

With its superior bonding capabilities, this primer spray adheres to hard-to-paint plastic surfaces, such as polypropylene, polystyrene, resin, PVC, fiberglass, and vinyl plastics.

It can be used to renew or change the color of various plastic items around the home, such as chairs, tables, and planters.

Not only does Rust-Oleum Specialty Plastic Primer Spray help to improve the adhesion of the topcoat, but it also enhances the durability of the final finish. The product is easy to apply and dries quickly, allowing for efficient and seamless paintwork.

The primer also helps prevent chipping, peeling, and cracking, ensuring that your painted plastic items look great for years.

Joshua Milton

Joshua Milton is a passionate DIY and home improvement enthusiast. With his expertise in various projects, he provides practical tips, step-by-step guides, and creative ideas for transforming your living space.

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