How to Paint Styrofoam-Detailed guide with easy steps

Using Styrofoam for ideas for crafting might have occurred to you in the course of contemplating home-based projects. It begs the question: is it possible to paint Styrofoam? It is a fact that painting Styrofoam is an excellent idea as a school project, crafting for kids, and stunning festive decor.

But, Styro painting requires a basic understanding of the subject since it’s a challenging surface to paint on. You might have attempted a couple of different Styrofoam paints or techniques. However, you have many things to master to do your ideal project. This article will help to familiarize you with the material, instruct you on how to paint Styrofoam, and motivate you to experiment with those intriguing ideas!

What Is Styrofoam?

Contrary to what many people believe, the porous, white foam you’ve come across isn’t Styrofoam. Styrofoam, or “Blue Board,” is the trademarked brand name used for an insulation product made by Dow Chemicals. It is made up of closed-cell extruded polystyrene (XPS), which is composed of styrene. The styrene gets refined to form polystyrene before the addition of hydrofluorocarbons is created. Following an expansion and drying process, a Styrofoam board is now ready to be installed.

You may wonder what this white, airy foam is called if it’s technical Styrofoam. You’re thinking of EPS, which is expanded polystyrene foam. It’s made of 95 percent air and is an excellent insulative partner for coffee thermoses, packaging, and industrial construction projects.

This may assist if you’re still unsure about the distinction between XPS and EPS. XPS Styrofoam is made by mixing various chemical ingredients into styrene. It is forced to expand by pressure until a firm piece is created, usually bricks or boards.

On the contrary, EPS foam is constructed of tiny plastic spheres and polystyrene that is forcefully expanded by air to create different shapes. The kind of foam you typically use for painting is likely to be EPS. However, XPS Styrofoam is usually used as construction material.

How to Paint

How can you paint styrofoam?

Customize Colors: Styrofoam is generally available in its natural white color. However, painting it lets you make it your own or blend it with other colors you want to match in your work. It is possible to choose one of the colors to create a distinctive style.

Texture: When you paint styrofoam using various techniques, you can create different textures that will add interest to your work. For instance, you could apply a dry-brush method to create the appearance of aging or weathered or use stippling techniques to create a textured surface.

Ensure the surface is protected: Applying a paint coating on styrofoam will help keep the surface safe from wear or damage. This is especially beneficial when projects are to be often handled, like costumes or other decorative objects.

Enhance the appearance: Styrofoam painted with paint can give it a more polished and professional look. If you’re making displays for your store or preparing an outfit for a performance painting, styrofoam could make it more professional and polished.

Overall, styrofoam painting is a fantastic way to increase the appearance and longevity of your creations as well as the opportunity to showcase your creative side.

Why Paint Styrofoam?

You paint Styrofoam to seal it and beautify its surface after crafting. It is a fact that when you create something stunning, you’ll want to place it somewhere that everybody can see it. The elements in an open space allow Styrofoam to decay slowly. Without protection, your work will break at some time.

Paint covers a Styrofoam surface to stop UV rays and water from damaging the surface.

Exposure to Styrofoam to the sun’s UV radiation over a long duration will make it fragile and yellow. However, water causes it to break down into tiny particles known as microplastics which can pollute the earth.

If you paint the Styrofoam foam, it is protected by preventing the penetration of UV Rays out of the way, and as an added benefit, painting colors can make them appear stunning for a longer time.

Painting Styrofoam At Home or Hire A Professional?

Painting with spray paint on Styrofoam is easy to accomplish at home. You will have what you’ll require by following a few basic steps. It is possible that you might not achieve identical results at first. Once you’ve mastered the art of spray painting, you will find it easier to follow.

But, making use of all of the tools needed is vital. In the absence of this, it could alter the outcome. Additionally, it is essential to be sure of the weather conditions and select a well-ventilated area to spray paint.

Hiring a professional may be more economical and efficient if your Styrofoam project is huge and complicated. A professional has the knowledge and experience to ensure the task is done correctly and to your satisfaction.

What Is the Best Way to Paint Styrofoam?

When you’re painting Styrofoam, an array of choices are readily available. Let’s take a look at what options are best for which purposes.

  • Foam Rollers

A foam roll is an excellent alternative for those with huge Styrofoam surfaces. It is a reasonable alternative too. It is possible to let the paint absorb the liquid and then redistribute it to other areas. 

  • Paint Sprayer or Airbrush

A paint sprayer or an airbrush is an excellent option if your Styrofoam is difficult to grasp with too small objects.

  • Foam Brush

A foam brush can be the best solution if your Styrofoam surface is cracked. It will help you create a solid foundation by applying sealant before applying paint.

  • Spray Paint

Spray paint is among the most suitable choices for both large and small objects. It’s a versatile paint to apply. You can achieve exact results if you know how to paint Styrofoam.

Can-You-Spray-Paint-Styrofoam-Balls-find out

How to Seal Styrofoam Before Painting?

If you choose to use corrosive paint for polystyrene, the first thing you need to do is prepare and seal the surface. Choose a quality finishing product that is suited for foams, like Smooth Finish, which will provide a smooth surface and prevent the paint from breaking. These are steps for how you can seal Styrofoam.

  • Use a paintbrush or other utensils like a knife or palette to apply an even, thin coat of Smooth Finish on the Styrofoam. Be sure to cover any edges, corners, and holes that might be present. dont forget to clean the brush post painting.
  • Let the coating dry for between one and two hours. Then, using sandpaper, smooth out any uneven areas. The product is exceptionally smooth, and the application is easy, meaning you do not have to sand extensively.
  • Continue to the subsequent layer, repeating the previous step.
  • Once the coats dry and sanded flat, seal and protect the Styrofoam, be ready to apply any paint you want without any worries.

How to Paint Styrofoam: A Step-By-Step Guide

There are numerous creative and innovative ways to create with Styrofoam. It can be used to decorate celebrations with a theme for weddings, birthdays, and New Year’s Eve parties. It’s an excellent source for stage sets, school project props, and fancy costumes. Many of these items are shaped in a way that makes them challenging to draw. Being able to paint Styrofoam balls is one aspect, but it can be even more difficult. This guide will show you step-by-step to overcome those difficult designs.

Step 1: Set Up Your Materials

  • Paper or newspaper can be cut to shield your work area and avoid spills.
  • For example, your Styrofoam project is plain polystyrene letters for bedroom door decoration.
  • A tray or plate to paint on and dip brushes in.
  • A Latex primer that evens out the surface area to paint.
  • Paints for latex are available in the colors that you need.
  • Foam brushes work well to the shape and size of your work. In this case, we’re using foam letters to illustrate.

Step 2: Prepare Your Working Space

Place the paper in your work area, then fix it using tape so it isn’t moved. It is possible to place papers on your ground to protect yourself in the event of. You can clean latex paint easily, but it will create more work. Still, you will have fun creating your work.

Step 3: Apply the Primer

Applying a primer is unnecessary; however, it can help cover the foam’s surface much more easily and provide a smoother surface. For priming your polystyrene:

  1. Move from one place to the next to reach every crevice.
  2. For Styrofoam letters, prime the edges first and let it dry before you proceed to the back and front areas.
  3. Select the most suitable size brush to get into the corners and tough-to-reach angles.

A single coat of primer must be dried within 60 minutes. It is then possible to apply another coat if needed.

Step 4: Paint with Color

The next step is to see how things develop. Let the primer completely dry. Then, using foam brushes, begin painting the Styrofoam. Utilizing the same technique as the primer. Paint the sides first, then allow the paint to dry before moving on to the back and front of the design. Be sure to apply evenly; that gives you an even finish. Give yourself 60 minutes for drying time, and then apply another layer of the paint. It will take two or three coats for optimal coverage of the surface.

Step 5: Seal or Varnish the Polystyrene

Again, there is no need to seal your project. Still, it will provide a layer of protection and a nice final look to the foam letters or other projects. Ensure the letter is dried, and then paint an even layer of sealer over the surface using an appropriate foam brush. You can also apply a spray bottle of aerosol sealant in a similar manner.

How to Seal Styrofoam After Painting?

After your project is finished and dried correctly, you may want to seal the surface using varnish or a sealer to provide extra protection. Your choice will depend on the look you wish to achieve, along with the area in which your project will be placed concerning its purpose and life expectancy.

When it comes to sealing alternatives, a variety of options are available, including the spray coating method, decoupage products, and a polyurethane sealer.

You can select the type of finish you want with various options, including matte, glossy, lacquered, and flat. Suppose the project is outdoors or in an area with sun. In that case, it is possible to use a UV-resistant sealer to ensure that the paint is protected against the weather.

Types of Paint Suitable for Painting on Styrofoam

Although the gold rule of avoiding paintings that contain solvents may be restrictive, many excellent Styrofoam paint choices provide pretty effective solutions to the issues with Styrofoam painting. Many craft stores stock these and other paints formulated explicitly for foam use. Always read the label of the paint you pick. If it’s not tempera or acrylic, it should state that it’s suitable for application on foam Styrofoam as well as polystyrene.

Acrylic Paint

Applying acrylic paint to Styrofoam is the best option since it doesn’t contain any chemical or other chemicals that could cause your Styrofoam to melt or disintegrate and it does not eat Styrofoam in any foam and gives good finishes.

It is well-adhered to polystyrene and can be directly applied to the surface without a primer. A few coats of acrylic paint are needed to get complete coverage.

In the end, using acrylic paint on Styrofoam could cause some degradation to the polystyrene, so stay clear of this paint if your goal for your work is to last for a long time. Acrylic paint is readily accessible from craft stores of all kinds.

Latex Paint

Paint made of latex is made of acrylic resin, a safer option for Styrofoam painting. It is typically used to paint the interiors of buildings and can take longer to dry. Therefore it’s recommended for large to medium-sized Styrofoam objects. Water-based paint requires fewer coats to attain your desired coverage, but it will not last longer than acrylic paint. It is not a reason to exclude latex paint as a possibility. Still, it indicates that it is best for use on a surface not subject to temperature fluctuations that could result in cracks.

Tempera Paint

Another great styrofoam paint choice is tempera paint, which adheres well to polystyrene substrates. Since the paint is water-based, applying this to Styrofoam objects that won’t expose to the water elements is advised. Tempera is not available in a broad range of colors and does not mix well. There are, however, many options regarding finish, and the paints are readily available at most craft stores.

painting Styrofoam

should i wet my brush before using acrylic paint: i have the answer

Can You Spray Paint Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is a light, rigid foam material that is made from polystyrene. It’s available almost everywhere, and due to its being light and easy to shape, it is popular for creative and crafty types. However, it can be challenging to use spray paint since various types of paint, including spray paints, will cause it to melt, which causes it to break down and split.

You cannot spray paint on Styrofoam because of its chemical composition.

Polystyrene has a shallow melting point, meaning it starts to melt and softens in the presence of heat or other chemicals. If this happens when you spray paints, solvents contained in the paint interact with polystyrene molecules, causing them to expand and then deform, creating an uneven surface finish or, more terribly, fragments of Styrofoam.

Another problem with spraying paint onto Styrofoam is that many colors are made up of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be dangerous to humans and the environment when inhaled or inhaled. They can cause more harm by softening already soft polystyrene molecules and causing total disintegration of your piece.

How to Paint Styrofoam Balls?

There are many possibilities for creating something from various dimensions of Styrofoam balls- Tiny snowmen, tiny people, beautiful fake cakes, globes, and baseballs. The possibilities are limitless! Using round objects can be intimidating; however, we’ve got all the information and tips to help you learn how to create paint on Styrofoam balls.

The previously mentioned steps of applying the primer and paint, then sanding and sealing, could not create smooth enough surfaces over circular Styrofoam balls. If this is the case for your project, follow the steps below. They will assist in making your product as perfect as you had envisioned:

  • Instead of applying paint directly to the Styrofoam ball, brush a light glue over the entire area and then cover it with a smooth cloth. After that, apply the primer and paint in the same way as usual.
  • Try a Gesso primer instead of Utilizing an aerosol primer and Mod Podge. This will yield seamless results.
  • Before applying the primer, use a second Styrofoam ball. Rub it on the Styrofoam ball you’ll be working with. This is pre-sanding but with a less hefty and less pronounced result.

Top Things to Consider When Buying Paint for Styrofoam

Styrofoam is a unique material for painting. Consequently, you must be careful about the kind of paint you choose for your project to be successful.

Here is a listing of everything you need to consider when purchasing the paint you need for Styrofoam.

Paint Type

As we mentioned, the paint on Styrofoam must be water-based as it does not contain solvents.

The best choice is latex or acrylic if you desire that finish to endure for a long time.

You can, however, use tempera paints as they’re water-based, although they’re not permanent.


A pigment can be described as the element of paint that imparts color and determines its opacity.

It is crucial to select paints that have vibrant hues if you wish for your work of art or craft to shine.

Choosing products with a high color count is also recommended, as they will effectively cover surfaces with only a couple of coats.


If you’re looking for your project to last, use professional-grade paints.

Tempera/student paints don’t last long, especially when they come in contact with water.

You can apply the sealant coat following the painting with tempera paint, but the paint isn’t as durable as the artist-grade paint.

Easy to Clean

Every creative art project requires paints that are simple to wash.

It is possible to slip up while you work or change your mind about color during an assignment.

So, you require an eraser that you can use without damaging your progress.

When creating crafts and arts for children, it’s recommended to use paints such as tempera, as they can be washed off after drying. Acrylic paints are the best choice for adults and older children since they are easy to clean when you find a mess when they’re still damp.


If you paint with harmful substances, you could develop grave health risks, including allergies to the skin, respiratory problems, and, sometimes, cancer.

So, you should only buy AP-certified tempera and acrylic paints since it is safe for children to use.


The amount of paint you purchase is contingent on the dimensions of your project or the amount of surfaces you plan to paint.

Select paints with greater colors and larger-sized bottles when working on large projects. Stick with the smaller paint tubes when painting just one or two small ornamental objects.

easy tips for Styrofoam painting with different

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Paint Styrofoam?

Yes! It is possible to paint virtually every surface, provided you’re using the right tools for the job. This is also true for painting Styrofoam. Water-based paints are your only method to provide your foam with a pop of color. Make sure to use latex or acrylic paint, and ensure they’re not contaminated with chemicals. You don’t want your foam to melt and form an unwieldy lump of plastic.

What paint won’t melt Styrofoam?

It is paint that is water-based, which won’t melt the Styrofoam. Paint made of acrylic is rapid-drying paint that can make the surface of Styrofoam tough yet light enough to allow it to float in the water. The paint won’t harm the Styrofoam, and it is possible to jog it. But it will not create a solid layer. The color will fade once the Styrofoam gets submerged in water.

Can you stain Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is a product made of Polystyrene. Staining Polystyrene does not alter the quality of the foam; it’s just an alteration in color. There is still white foam underneath the stain. If you want more dark colors, the only way to achieve this is to obtain an even darker shade of paint.

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