Why is your acrylic paint not drying on plastic? Beginner’s guide 

Acrylic paints are known for their versatility because they can be used in so many techniques as well as many surfaces but plastic is such a surface on which you can face some difficulties of drying. You are not only the one who is facing this issue but most beginners face the same issue.

This blog aims to provide a complete solution to why your acrylic paint is not sticking to plastic and the solution will also going to be discussed further.

Let’s explore!

Acrylic paint does not dry on plastic due to not sanding the plastic surface, not using a primer, Air circulation, Adding much water, and environmental factors.

Here are step-by-step explanations:

  • Not sanding the plastic surface
  • Not using a primer
  • Not enough air circulation
  • Addition of unwanted water
  • Environmental factors

These causes directly contribute to slowing down the drying of acrylic paint on plastic surfaces but these issues are very easy to solve in real life. Let’s understand them clearly to find a suitable solution.

Table of Contents

Interested in oil painting? Read how long does oil paint takes to dry.

Not sanding the plastic surface

As acrylic paints are suitable for porus surfaces plastic surfaces do not contain any pores making it difficult for them to stick very well. Sanding is essential to get proper adhesion with long-lasting shelf life.

Sanding creates a suitable and rough texture that allows the paint to grip better. This simple step can save us from future problems. If you are not doing sanding before painting on a plastic surface, then do this.

Not using a primer

After sanding, priming is also an essential step that makes the surface ready to accept the paint. Without priming, paint cannot stick to the surface properly and the particles of sand that applied before will cause the paint to peel off.

Additionally, priming also helps to even the surface properly and provides consistent support to hold the paint. These two steps are essential if you want to paint on a plastic surface. Make sure you are doing these steps.

Environmental factors

The environment can also affect the drying process of the acrylic paint on the surface of the plastic. For example: moisture, and humidity( level of water vapors in the air) can react with the paint particles and slow down the drying process.

If you are working in such an area where moisture or humidity is above 70% that could be a reason for a slow drying process. Prepare a proper studio to work with minimum moisture level. Normally Acrylic paint takes 10-30 minutes to dry (single layer) and 12-24 hours to fully dry but in the case of high humidity levels, acrylic paint takes more than an hour to dry (single layer) and 2 days to 7 days to dry completely.

Addition of unwanted Water

Acrylic paints are thick in consistency but the addition of water makes them thinner. Drying issues could be faced by an additional amount of water. Remember no more than 25% water should be added. Acrylic paints dry from the evaporation process but an additional amount of water requires more time to dry.

How do I use acrylic paint on plastic?

  • The surface should be clean
  • Select the right Acrylic paint for plastic 
  • Do sanding properly
  • Apply primer on the surface  
  • Applying layers of acrylic paint
  • Apply suitable mediums
  • Seal the acrylic painting with varnish

How to dry acrylic paint on plastic?

Here are some tips to dry acrylic paint on plastic:

  • Do sanding and priming on the plastic surface
  • When you apply acrylic paint on the plastic first need to use a thin layer or coat rather than apply a thick layer
  • Apply paint smoothly but first dry the first layer then you need to proceed further.
  • Maintain proper ventilation around the painting
  • It is not recommended to put the painting directly under sunlight to make it dry faster.

Acrylic paint dries in 12-24 hours but make sure to give it 24-48 hours. Also, read the manufacturer’s instructions before using them.

How long does acrylic paint take to dry on plastic?

Acrylic paints dry faster on the porous surface but for flat surfaces, it takes a longer time to dry due to not getting proper grip over the surface. Normally a thin layer on a porous surface dries within half an hour but in the case of plastic, it may get dry between 2-3 hours depending on the thickness of the layer. High humidity, less ventilation, and cold temperatures also affect the drying process.

Does acrylic paint stick on plastic?

Acrylic paint does not stick to the plastic directly but with proper sanding and priming, you can easily stick the acrylic paint to the plastic surface with the same shelf life. To make sure your acrylic paint sticks properly to the plastic surface, here are some guidelines you must follow if you are not following them already:

Clean the surface properly and then do sanding properly and try to even the surface perfectly. Use a suitable plastic primer to even the surface. Now, the surface is completely ready to accept the painting process.

Can you paint on acrylic plastic?

Yes, you can apply acrylic paint on the plastic but you should need to remember the steps to gain good results. The first is to prepare the surface with sanding and priming and then apply the acrylic paint by taking care of environmental conditions. Otherwise, your paint will not stick to the surface properly.


Will acrylic paint stick to plastic tablecloths?

Yes, the acrylic paint will stick to the canvas but only if you do sanding and priming properly before starting the painting procedure. As you know plastic is just a flat surface that does not contain any pores. These two applications are done in advance to make sure the paint gets a proper grip on the surface.

Can acrylic paint stick on plastic bottles?

Yes, acrylic paint can be stuck on plastic bottles too. But how? Read the above answer to know.

What can I use to seal acrylic paint on plastic?

There are many options to seal the acrylic paint onto plastic:
1. Acrylic varnish 
2. Clear spray sealant 
3. Mo Podge
4. Epoxy resin
Remember before applying sealants, check the paint is completely dry and then apply it on the paint. 

Final Words

In conclusion, the issue of acrylic paint arises by not priming and sanding the surface properly. Plastic is a flat surface that does not contain any pores giving a hard time to the paint. As a result, the paint does not work correctly and takes much time to dry. This issue can also arise from environmental conditions, lack of ventilation, additional water usage, and some environmental conditions.

By overcoming the issues of sanding, priming, ventilation, and water usage, the issue of slow drying can easily be solved. We hope the blog will be successful in delivering what you are here. If you are a beginner and learning acrylic painting, here are some additional issues that you may face:

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