Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is a popular material used by crafters who want to build on a different frame or shape.

It’s one of the easiest and most versatile materials to use, but sometimes, you may want to change its color. But can you spray paint it?

Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam

Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam?

Whether you can spray paint on styrofoam depends on the type of spray paint you use. You can’t use regular spray paints to paint your styrofoam.

If you use regular spray paint, the styrofoam will dissolve and corrode. Due to that, you need to use spray paint that won’t corrode the material.

Why Does Spray Paint Melt Styrofoam?

There are certain solvents that will melt the styrofoam. It is due to these specific solvents: 

  • Acetone
  • Benzene
  • Dimethylformamide
  • Methyl Ethyl Ketone
  • Toluene
  • 1,1,1-trichloroethane

When you use spray paint on styrofoam, it will start to melt. They dissolve the styrofoam due to these specific ingredients.

When you’re purchasing your spray paint, it’s best to check the ingredients first for any of these solvents. 

It’s best to avoid oil-based, latex, or enamel-based spray paints when you’re finding spray paint for styrofoam. Enamel paints are the worst for styrofoam, but there is one more factor you should consider.

The styrofoam will corrode if you use too much spray paint, even if it has few chemicals or solvents that harm polystyrene.

A thick layer of paint can cause it to soften quicker, so you should also ensure that you don’t use much, regardless of the type of paint.

Best Types of Spray Paint for Styrofoam

The best types of spray paint to use on styrofoam are acrylic and water-based spray paints. Most experts agree that acrylic and water-based spray paints are the safest.

They’re foam-friendly, so they won’t dissolve or corrode the styrofoam. They’re also great for when you want to re-paint the surface.

They provide a better cover, so you won’t have to worry about any harm to your styrofoam project.

Preparing Your Styrofoam for Spray Painting

If you want to use spray paint on styrofoam and you have water-based or acrylic paint, then you’re safe to commence your project.

However, there are a few steps that you should take to get the best possible results. Regardless of the type of surface you’re painting, you should always prepare the material first.

To prepare your styrofoam to be spray painted, you should check the foam to see if there are any cracks. You can do this while cleaning the surface to get the best results.

If you do have any cracks, you can use a craft sealant to conceal these. However, the craft sealant will have other effects, and you’ll find that it will also protect the surface too.

Along with protecting and restoring the surface, the sealant will improve the level of adhesion on the styrofoam’s surface, thus allowing the paint to stick better.

However, if you don’t have some sealant, you can also use light glue. This light glue can cover the styrofoam and protect the surface from any chemicals you might not expect.

Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam (1)

It will bond to the surface permanently, so you can ensure it’s fully protected. You don’t need to use much, so you can apply a thin coat before you start painting.

Once the styrofoam’s surface is prepared, you can also use a primer to create a protective layer. Primer will protect the foam and stop it from softening if the spray paint heats up after you apply it.

Using a primer will ensure the foam doesn’t dissolve and will ensure better results.

Successfully Spray Painting Styrofoam

Before you start spray painting, you need to move your styrofoam to the right environment. Grab your equipment and make sure you’re working in a well-ventilated area.

You should also ensure that you don’t apply it in an area that’s too hot. If you’re working in a heated environment, the paint will dry too fast, and it will start to shrink.

You might even find that it will melt regardless, so check the temperature before you begin.

Once you’re in a good area, grab an obsolete piece of styrofoam and test the spray paint on it. Check if there are any issues on the surface. If there’s no problem, you’re good to start your project. 

What if You Don’t Have the Right Paints?

If you find that your styrofoam is melting, you don’t need to panic. Ensure you’re wearing gloves, and feel free to meld your styrofoam into a new shape.

Take the opportunity to do a new project. Move it all to a secure area and let it dry overnight. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have created a brand-new shape.

Should you not have the right type of spray paint and you don’t want to melt your styrofoam, you’ll need to find a different method to paint it.

You can paint it with acrylic or tempera paint if needed. All you need to do is use a foam brush to receive the best results.

However, you should only use tempera paint as a last resort. Even if it works well on foam surfaces, it doesn’t adhere well as it’s highly susceptible to water.

Instead, use some acrylic paint to color your styrofoam if you can’t find the right spray paint.

Final Thoughts

Styrofoam is a challenging material to use spray paint on, as you need to be careful about the solvents used in the paint.

If you have any solvents that can dissolve styrofoam, you’ll find that there is a higher risk of them melting even when you’ve prepared.

Always get an acrylic or water-based spray paint instead, and make sure you prepare the styrofoam in advance. 

When you paint on styrofoam, make sure you only put a thin coat of paint. Excessive paint can also be a risk.

We hope with the help of our guide, you won’t have anything to worry about when you work on your next project.

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