Can You Paint Plastic Pots With Emulsion?

There’s nothing like a fresh paint job to enhance your plastic pots and spruce up your garden. Perhaps you are considering emulsion; you may even have some available in the home from other projects. But can it be used? Is it optimal? Let’s find out!

So, can you paint plastic pots with emulsion? You can paint plastic pots with emulsion, but it is not advised nor particularly effective. This is predominantly due to emulsions’ inability to adhere well to plastic. Instead, acrylic paint, oil-based paints, or latex paints are much better options. 

I’ve explored each of these below, as well as shared more holistic guidelines around how to best paint on plastic. 

Why You Shouldn’t Use Emulsion On Plastic Pots

Emulsion paint certainly has its benefits. Many gardeners appreciate its relatively clean nature. 

It’s water-based, contains a mere four ingredients: pigment, emulsifier, coagulant, and water, and is available in organic forms. 

Additionally, emulsions come in a range of finishes, so whether you’re looking for muted tones or a splash of color and fun elements, you’ll definitely find one that works for you! 

Despite this, the consensus amongst most gardeners is that emulsion paint isn’t suitable for use on plastic pots.

The predominant reason for this is the incompatibility of the emulsion with the plastic.

Specifically, its inability to adhere to it and its subsequent flaky nature once it dries. 

What Paint Can You Use On Plastic Pots?

Whilst emulsion paints may not be the way forward; you’ll be pleased to know that there are several alternative paint types that are plenty effective when plastic pots are concerned. 

It’s just a matter of choosing the right one for you. Here’s a breakdown of the options worth considering: 

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paints are a long-proven decorating paint.

Despite their water-based nature, they contain a binding ingredient – acrylic polymer emulsion or gel – which gives the paint excellent adhesive qualities. Thus, it takes to plastic very well.

Additionally, it dries quickly, which makes the cleanup process a breeze and means that you won’t need to wait long between coats to reapply it. Efficient! 

It’s also very durable, which allows it to withstand a range of weather conditions.

Finally, it makes for a fairly affordable option and is regarded as one of the least expensive painting mediums available.

Oil Based Paint

Oil-based paints and plastics go together like hand to glove.

Reason being, plastic pots are inflexible, and oil paint compliments this quality by creating a hard surface once dried. 

Plus, its advantages extend beyond its adhesive capabilities.

For instance, oil paints tend to have a long shelf life, making them a fantastic future-proof option should you procure additional pots or wish to amend your existing ones later down the line. 

They’re also water and fade resistance, so you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll withstand even the harshest of elements that they face. 

Nonetheless, there are many different types of oil-based paints on the market, so you’ll want to do your research. 

Essentially, you should opt for one that is specially formulated for use on plastic. Only then will you achieve an optimal and long-lasting finish. 

Latex Paint

Latex paint is created by mixing natural or synthetic resins with water.

As with acrylic paint, it takes well to plastic pots and is suitable for use on them whether you intend to house them indoors or outside. 

Perhaps its leading benefits are the speed at which it dries, its ease of application, and last but not least, its low odor. 

Even so, it’s worth noting that of the different paint types mentioned, latex tends to be the least durable in harsh conditions and the least stain resistant too. 

Other Tips and Suggestions When Painting on Plastic Pots

Preparation Is Key

Before you start painting, it’s important to prepare the surface of the plastic so that the paint adheres as well as it possibly can.

This will make the paint job easier as well as ensure that the paint doesn’t peel off later.

Start by removing any stickers or decals with a paint scraper, and sand the surface to remove any scratches or scuffs and smoothen it down.

Once the surface is smooth, wipe it down with a tack cloth to remove any dust or debris. 

For extra longevity, you may want to apply a plastic primer to the pot too.

Primers are specifically designed to make it easier to adhere paint to plastic, so this should make a big difference.

Brushes & Technique

When it comes to painting on plastic, using the correct brush is key to creating a beautiful finish.

It should be both the right size for the area you’re working on, as well as the right type. 

For instance, oil paint fares well with the use of synthetic-bristle brushes.

Your technique is important too.

The general school of thought is that you should paint in a done direction, allowing the paint to build up on the surface, particularly if the area you’re working with is quite small.

Sealing The Job

Once you’ve finished painting and it’s dried and cured, it’s good practice to seal the surface to protect the paint and ensure that it lasts longer.

There are a variety of sealers available, so you’ll want to select the right sealer for the paint you use.

Only then will the sealer bond well to the surface and be effective.

Just be sure to apply to the sealer in thin coats to prevent it from pooling and damaging your hard work.  

Final Tips

Now, for a final few tips.

Use The Right Amount Of Paint

First, use the correct amount of paint per coat. If you use too little, the paint may peel off much too easily in the future.

If you use too much, you risk producing a sloppy and potentially uneven look.

Paint Thin Coats

Additionally, be sure to use thin coats of paint instead of one thick coat. This will allow the paint to dry more quickly, and it will make it easier to smooth out the surface when the time comes.

Consider Finishing Sprays

Finally, you may also want to look into paint finishing sprays – these help the paint to dry more quickly and generally achieve an effortless finish.

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