How to paint polycarbonate: 7 expert tips

Can you paint polycarbonate and how do you go about it? Model makers and hobbyists often paint clear plastic. For example, you might want to airbrush a miniature car made of polycarbonate or a host of other small objects. Some painters also use polycarbonate or as a canvas. In this blog, we’re bringing you seven tips for painting clear plastic.

The basics of painting polycarbonate sheets

Even if you aren’t a model builder or crafter, you might wish to paint polycarbonate. Reasons to paint plastic include refreshing discolored plastic, changing the original color, or touching up worn areas or repairs. Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to read our instructions carefully before you begin painting polycarbonate. We also recommend always trying the paint out on a small, inconspicuous area first, before you proceed further.


# 1. Avoid solvents

If you’re going to paint polycarbonate, avoid solvents at all costs. If you use solvent-based paints, your polycarbonate sheet will soften and deform. Not the result you’re looking for!

# 2. Degrease the polycarbonate sheet

Like most types of plastic, the surface of a transparent plastic sheet is so smooth that it’s difficult for paint to adhere. It’s essential to make sure there isn’t a trace of grease on the sheet by cleaning it with lukewarm soapy water and anti-static cleaner.

# 3. Sand the polycarbonate

The decision whether or not to sand your polycarbonate before painting depends on what exactly you’re going to use it for. For example, if you’re going to use the panel as a canvas and make a painting on it, you only need to degrease it as described in # 2. Make sure that no dirt remains, as this can cause scratches when you dry the sheet. An expert tip is to place the sheet, as long as it’s not too big, in an oven at 40 ° Celsius for 10 minutes. This removes all traces of moisture, and the heat improves the adhesion of the primer and paint.

Tip: Do you want to give the entire surface a solid color? First, roughen your polycarbonate sheet with 200 grit sandpaper or sanding wool and then degrease it a second time.

# 4. Use the right primer

For the paint to adhere well to the polycarbonate, using the correct primer is essential. Make sure you use a primer that is suitable for polycarbonate or plastic, and that you can paint over, such as multi primer from Sikkens. A primer ensures good adhesion to the panel surface and creates an excellent adhesive base for the paint. Always read the instructions carefully before use.

# 5. Lightly sand the sheets again

Resending is only necessary when you intend painting the entire sheet in a solid color, such as a clear plastic panel, a miniature car or other modelling objects made of polycarbonate sheet.

# 6. Use acrylic paint

To mask off part of the clear plastic sheet, use a good quality masking tape. It will create a clean masking line and won’t leave any glue residues on the polycarbonate. Various types of paint are especially suitable for polycarbonate. Tamiya polycarbonate paints are frequently used for painting small surfaces. These aerosols are specially designed for transparent, flexible polycarbonate bodies, such as those on RC cars. For larger surfaces, we recommend applying acrylic paint with a roller.

Tip: Are you going to spray? Observe the recommended spraying distance, ensure the correct ambient temperature and spray in several layers.

# 7. Allow the paint to dry

Customized polycarbonate sheet

We offer clear polycarbonate in a range of sheet thicknesses on our website. We’ll cut the sheets to size for you. If you have any questions about painting clear plastic sheets or regarding another project, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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