Can You Spray Paint on Styrofoam?

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Styrofoam is a super lightweight material that comes in many shapes and sizes. It has many uses around the home, and it can be used in many ways. Styrofoam is just the brand name for extruded polystyrene, and it’s become a household name ever since. Styrofoam can be used for packaging and is commonly used to protect products that are being shipped. If you’ve ever received a fragile product in the mail, chances are it has Styrofoam. It’s used as a cushion to stop objects braking.

Styrofoam is also used a lot in construction and insulation. If you have Styrofoam in your home, chances are it’s there to keep the house warm. It could come in sheets of blue and this is called blue boards. They’re also used to isolate your floors, walls, pipes and roofs on the interior of your house. It insulates from extreme temperatures, stops moistures, provides a barrier for sound, and it protects your home from outside elements.

If you’re trying to paint your home, and you come across some Styrofoam, chances are you’re wondering if you can paint it. There are different ways you can paint Styrofoam, but it can be tricky to know which type of paint you should be using and whether you can use spray paint or not.

Can You Spray Paint on Styrofoam?

Before you try and paint your Styrofoam, there are some things you need to know about the paint. You shouldn’t’ use regular spray paint to paint the Styrofoam because there’s a chance it will dissolve the foam. If you’re going to paint Styrofoam, you’re limited to Acrylic craft paint, water-based paint, tempera paint, and latex spray paint. If you are going to paint Styrofoam, these are the types of paints you should use.

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If you don’t have any of these paints available and you want to spray paint instead, you should know that you’re risking dissolving the foam due to the chemicals in regular spray paint clashing with the foam’s properties. If you’re going go ahead and do it, make sure to use some primer first. Modge Podge glue (view on Amazon) works best for Styrofoam. To use this, you can apply one or two coats of the glue and let it dry. Once it’s dry, you can start painting. Since Styrofoam can be rough, the glue will provide you with a smooth surface to paint on and this will give the spray paint a better finish. It’s also a great base for paint to stick to.

Best Paints For Styrofoam

Because spray paint can dissolve the foam, you should try and stick to acrylic paint or Tempera paint. There are some recommended types of paint that you should use for your project. All of them will provide you with a good result. Before you go ahead and start the paint job, you’ll need a brush (View on Amazon). Depending on how big your project is and how much you’re willing to spend, there are a couple of paints I’ll recommend.

Apple Barrel

Apple Barrel (View on Amazon) is an acrylic paint and it comes in 18 different colors. Each bottom comes in a 2 fl oz package and if you know what you’re doing, you can mix the different colors to get the perfect shade. This type of paint is thin so if you’re working on a small project that will require a lot of detail, then you should stay away from it because it can be thin. If you’re doing a big project and it doesn’t require detailing, you should go for it. If the Styrofoam you’re painting on is rough, then you should apply a coat of glue to help give the paint a smooth finish.

Color Technic

Another paint I’ll recommend is color Technik (View on Amazon). This is an acrylic based paint and it comes in 18 different colors and packaged in 2 fl oz bottles. This is a nontoxic paint, so it won’t damage your foam. This paint isn’t as thin as Apple barrel which is why it could work great for detailing. If you want to go ahead and use this paint, then you might want to apply some glue to your Styrofoam first. Glue will give the rough surface a smooth finish and this will make your paint turn out great.

Benicci

If you need some extra art supplies with your paint, you should go for a paint set from Benicci (View on Amazon). With this set, you’ll get 24 different types of acrylic paints, 12 brushes, a mixing knife and a sponge. This is great if you want to paint on small Styrofoam for little projects, this will be good for you. If you’re doing a big project and you want to paint in some Styrofoam that’s insulating your house, then you should avoid this and stick with your spray paint. The bottle come in 0.4 fl tubes so they’re only good for small projects.

Arteza

If you want a set of water-based paints, then you should use Arteza (View on Amazon). In this paint set, you’ll get 24 colors that come in 2 fl oz bottles. Since the Arteza is water based, this means it’ll work fine on your Styrofoam and it won’t dissolve it. If you want to give the foam a good finish, make sure to apply some glue before you start coating it. The Arteza set also glows in the dark and some of their paints have glitter.

How to Paint Styrofoam

Preparing

1. Before you paint or spray paint the Styrofoam, you should do some preparation. Since it’s porous and the paint you’re using could potentially dissolve the Styrofoam, you’ll need to apply some primer. This is a base that will allow you to start working on the foam. This can be the glue that was recommended earlier. Before you start painting, you should wait for it to fully dry. To test this, you can run your finger over it.

2. If you’re working on a large piece of Styrofoam, you can apply some painters tape to the edge that you don’t want to paint. If you’re trying to paint Styrofoam in your home, you’ll need to cover up the things that you don’t want to spray paint to touch. If the things you don’t want to spray paint have a large chance of getting paint on them, you’ll need to stick down some cloth on the area using tape.

3. Before painting your foam, if it has awkward or round edge, you’ll need to find some sort of base to place it on. This base can help you stabilize the foam so that you don’t get it on your fingers or on your table. You should also cover up any area of the table or the floors that you don’t want paint to get on, with covers.

Preparing Paint

1. You need to get your paint and pour out enough to cover the Styrofoam. If you’re painting a few Styrofoam balls or a cube, then you’ll only need a small bottle of paint. 2 ounces of paint should be enough or half of a small plastic cup. If you’re painting Styrofoam that’s a lot larger, you’ll need to by a bigger container of paint and pour it in a tray. This will allow you to use a roller. You also need enough for several coats because one coat of Styrofoam isn’t going to cut it. If you’re unsure of how much paint you need to use, you can buy more of what you think you need and if you don’t end up finishing it, you can send it back.

2. Avoid using spray paint to paint your foam. It has chemicals that will dissolve the foam and the Styrofoam will lose its shape and texture. If you desperately want to use it, make sure that you apply a primer to the Styrofoam so that the spray paint doesn’t come in contact with it. To be sure of this, you need to make sure that you apply several coats of primer. When you give the foam several coats, this will prevent the chemicals in the paint from ever touching the Styrofoam.

3. To do this, you can use regular crafts primer such as Modge Podge or Foam Finish. You’ll need to get a brush and apply the sealer over the foam. Before painting your second paint, you need to make sure that the primer has completely dried. If you’re holding the foam with your hands, chances are your finger will be blocking up parts of the foam and you’ll miss bits. This is why it’s crucial that you apply several coats of primer.

4. The primer will fill in the cracks within the foam, and it’ll give it a smooth area for the paint to cover. This will make your paint come out looking good. If your Styrofoam is too rough, you can sand it down using some light sandpaper since Styrofoam is so delicate. Sanding it down and adding the primer will allow the Styrofoam to have the best finish once it’s painted.

Applying the Paint

1. Dip the brush into the paint that you poured. You can either pour the paint on a paper plate or into a cup depending on how large the project is. If you’re painting a huge piece of Styrofoam, you can pour the paint into a tray. This will allow you to use a roller. Now, dip the brushes tip into the paint making sure to catch a good amount on the brush. To make sure you don’t waste any paint, you can pour small amounts of paint onto the plate first and you can always add some more if necessary.

2. Spread the paint over the Styrofoam and apply the paint in even strokes. You may need to dab some paint into the cracks of the foam to fill them in, but this won’t be necessary if you applied multiple coats of primer. Make sure each part of the Styrofoam gets a good glide of paint across it; making sure to focus on the area your fingers are rubbing out.

3. Once you’ve applied the first layer, you’ll need to wait for 10-20 minutes for it to dry. Since it’s acrylic, or water-based paint, it’s going to dry very quickly. To check if it’s dry, you can touch It and if paint doesn’t get on your fingers, then it’s safe enough to apply the second coat. Since Styrofoam is porous, it dries very quickly so this shouldn’t be too long for you.

4. Once it’s dry, you can repeat the same steps applying a second coat onto the Styrofoam. Continue to apply even strokes to the Styrofoam letting each coat dry when you want to add another one. After adding another coat, you can check for any white spots and cracks. If you see any then it’s an indication that you need to apply more coats.

Why Does Spray Paint Melt Foam?

The reason you should avoid using spray paint on Styrofoam is that it’ll dissolve it. Most spray paints have solvents or propellant in them that reacts badly with the foam. The foam has properties that makes it malleable and very versatile and the soft material clashes with the chemicals inside the spray paint.