Painting perspex

Painting on acrylic

Many painters use acrylic as a “canvas”. At Plasticsheetsshop, a question we often get asked is whether acrylic sheet can also be painted/coloured. The answer is: yes. But the most important question is: with which paint do you paint plexiglass? In this blog, we provide the most important tips and tricks.

No solvents and preferably no extruded acrylic sheet

Acrylic sheet is sensitive to solvents. If you use solvent-based paint when painting on plexiglass, the sheet surface will become soft and distorted. The paint can then react with the plexiglass, which results in very poor results. A water-based paint based on latex gives the best results, but you must use a good primer for this. The primer ensures good adhesion to the surface of the sheet and forms a good adhesive base for the paint. A second alternative is the use of acrylic lacquer for painting on acrylic sheet and we use that in the examples. Always read the packaging or ask the seller if the paint is suitable for plastic surfaces.

Preparation: whether or not to sand?

The next question to arise is: should I sand the surface or not? That depends on whether you are going to paint the entire surface or whether you are going to make a painting on the sheet. If the surface is given a solid colour, we recommend that you roughen up the surface with 200 grit or abrasive wool such as Scotchbrite. The surface must then be degreased by cleaning with lukewarm soapy water and an anti-static cleaner. If you want to make a painting on it, the surface only needs to be degreased. Clean the surface of the acrylic sheet with a soft, lint-free cloth, then rinse it well with lukewarm water. Dry the sheet with a soft tea towel. Make sure that no dirt is left on it or scratches may occur during drying. A good tip is to place the acrylic sheet – if it is not too large – in an oven for 10 minutes at 40 ° Celsius. You will then know for sure that all moisture has disappeared from it, and the temperature helps the primer and paint to adhere.

Masking, painting, spraying and finishing

Do you want to cover just part of the acrylic sheet? Then choose a good masking tape, it is worth spending a few euros extra on this. Good masking tape gives a perfectly straight painting line and leaves no glue residue on the acrylic. Removing glue residues can be a chore. Paint can be applied with a brush or roller, with a roller being preferred. If you are going to spray, keep an eye on the recommended spraying distance and ambient temperatures. Spray in several (3-4) thin layers.

After spraying or painting, wait until the surface is touch-dry. If you remove the tape then, the paint is not fully cured and still has a little flexibility along the edges. You then get a nice straight line when removing the tape, without pulling the paint away. Then let the paint dry and harden well. Always observe the drying time stated on the paint package. With spray paints, we recommend that you finish the paint layer with clear polyurethane-based paint. This provides protection for the paint layer and gives a better end result.