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How to Paint Rubber (7 DIY Steps)

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Painting rubber isn’t the easiest of tasks. This is because it takes a different technique, type of paint, and even a different painting method to fully paint rubber.

If the rubber isn’t well painted, the paint can begin to peel off within a few days. So, how to paint rubber in the right way? Well, you are in luck because that is what this post is going to examine.

When you are done reading this post, you will know the best way to paint any rubber material, item, or surface easily and still achieve a clean and smooth paint job. So let’s get on with it.

What Tools Do You Need to Paint Rubber?

To paint a rubber item, material, or surface, you need the following tools and materials.

  • A paintbrush
  • A can or more of the required paint
  • Detergent
  • Clean rags
  • Scrubbing brush
  • A pair of gloves, breathing protection, and a pair of safety goggles.

How to Paint Rubber?

Rubber is usually painted for different reasons. Many people use it as a part of arts and crafts or for decoration. Rubber can be used both indoors and outdoors.

For instance, you can paint a few tires to decorate your yard or paint your rubber boots to make it look better. Regardless of which surface or material you want to paint, the following steps will make your task easier.

Inspect the Thickness of the Rubber

The first thing to inspect is if the rubber you intend to paint can be painted. Rubber is a flexible material which means it can be bent. If the rubber is too flexible, then you shouldn’t paint it because the paint wouldn’t stick well and it would just start to crack and chip off after a while.

For instance, if you try to pint a rubber shower cap, the paint will not stick to the surface because the cap will be too flexible. This will just cause the paint to crack and peel off gradually. However, if you want to paint through rubber, like tires or thick rubber boots, then the paint will stick better. You can paint such rubber items.

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Clean the Rubber

The next step is to clean the rubber. If the rubber isn’t too dirty, then you can use a damp rag to wipe the surface. However, if the rubber is dirty or you suspect it needs some extra cleaning, you can mix some detergent in water and use a scrubbing brush to wash the rubber.

After washing the rubber, you should rinse it and let it dry. The good news is rubber is waterproof so you don’t have to worry about the water damaging the rubber. After washing the rubber, let it dry and then move on.

Use a Filler

Rubber is a very durable material. It doesn’t get damaged easily. This doesn’t however mean that it can’t get damaged. The rubber you want to paint might have suffered from wear and tear which can cause lines and openings on the rubber. You need to fill these holes and openings so it doesn’t affect the result after painting.

You shouldn’t plan on using the paint to cover these lines because it will still be obvious after you have painted and by that time, it would be too late to cover the lines and openings. You can use removable paint to fill these holes.

Removable paint is a type of paint used on rubber. The paint is usually used as a quick fix or as a temporary provision. The removable paint comes in a can so you don’t need to prep it. You can spray it directly on the affected spot. Just ensure the color or shade of removable paint you use as a filler isn’t deeper than the color or shade of paint you intend to use on the rubber later on.

Apply Primer

Primer isn’t usually used on rubber. However, if the rubber will be used outdoors, then it’s best to use a primer on the surface first. The primer will allow the paint to perform well in harsh weather conditions and it will also allow the paint to stick well to the surface.

You can apply the primer using a paintbrush. Ensure to cover all the edges and corners of the rubber while applying the primer.

After applying the primer, leave it for the required time so it can cure. Primers can take up to 12 hours to cure and some take less. Check the instructions on the primer you bought to know the instructions guiding its use and drying time.

Related Read — Best Sprayers For Primers

Prepare the Paint

There are different types of paints that can be used on rubber. Some can be used directly from the can, some come in spray cans, and some need to be mixed or thinned before being used.

Read the instructions on the container of the paint you get. If you need to prep or mix the paint before you use it, you should do that now.

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Apply the Paint

The next step is to apply the paint to the rubber. The best way to apply paint on a rubber surface is to spray the paint. Using a paintbrush will most likely lead to brush marks and paint stripes when the paint dries.

A roller might not be your best bet too especially if the rubber has markings or designs on it. Rollers are suited to flat and smooth surfaces so if the rubber has markings and designs, they will affect the traction of the roller and this can cause runs and drips.

If the paint you want to use doesn’t come in a spray can, you can use a spray gun or a paint sprayer to apply the paint. Ensure to leave about 10 inches between the nozzle of the spray gun and the surface of the rubber. This allows you to cover a larger area.

You should apply two coats of paint to the rubber. After applying the first coat, leave it to dry and then apply the second coat. While spraying, do not waste time on a spot or surface.

That will lead to the concentration of the paint on one part of the rubber. Ensure to also keep your arm straight so you can achieve a good result. If you move your wrist while spraying, you will be spraying in an arch. Move your arm from side to side rather than your wrist.

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Apply a Paint Sealer

After painting the rubber, you can apply a paint sealer to the surface. This gives the paint increased durability and a better look.

Not every type of rubber paint needs a paint sealer though. For instance, exterior paint for rubber doesn’t need a paint sealer. The coating of the paint is usually strong and durable enough without a sealer.

After applying the paint sealer, leave it to dry and clean the equipment used so the paint doesn’t clog up the nozzle of the spray gun or paint sprayer. It can take up to 24 hours for the painted rubber to fully dry before you can use it.

What Type of Paint Should You Use on Rubber?

Different types of paint can be used on rubber. The paint type you go for will depend largely on how you intend to use the rubber and where you want to use it. If you are painting a rubber to be used outdoors, that means the paint you will pick must be weather-friendly.

So, what type of paint should you use on rubber? It depends on where you are going to place the rubber. If you plan to use the rubber outside then acrylic paint should do fine, if you plan to place the rubber indoor then removable paint will do wonders.

The paint type just should also thrive under heavy use and harsh weather conditions. Using a paint meant for indoor use on rubber to be used outside wouldn’t work well. The paint will start to crack and chip after a few days.

Asides from where and how you intend to use the paint, the type of finish you are going for also determines the paint you go for. Let’s check out the most common paint types used on rubber and their characteristics. This will help you decide on which of the paint you need for your rubber.

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Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint always finds its way on every list. This is because the paint is very easy to use. Acrylic paint is usually water-based paint and this paint dries quickly on any surface. Acrylic paint is commonly used for arts and crafts or decorative purposes. The paint is easy to apply and it dries quickly too.

Acrylic paint will work for you if you are aiming to paint a rubber that wouldn’t be used regularly. If the rubber you want to paint will be used indoors, then you can use acrylic paint. If you use acrylic paint outdoors, the paint will get ruined in days especially when the weather isn’t too friendly.

Acrylic paint isn’t suited for surfaces that will experience a lot of touching, friction, and use. This means you shouldn’t paint rubber boots with acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is suited for ornaments and decorative objects that wouldn’t be touched often.

Exterior Paint

This is the most common paint used on rubber. This is because exterior paint is used on exterior surfaces and rubber is mostly used outdoors. Exterior paint is also easy to apply and many products can be used directly from the container without having to mix or thin the paint.

Exterior paint is great for outdoor rubbers like tires used for decorative purposes in the yard. If the rubber will experience a lot of touching and friction, then exterior paint is the best. Exterior paint has a protective coating that can withstand heavy usage and harsh weather conditions. Exterior paint for rubber shouldn’t be used on rubber that will be put indoors.

Marine Paint

Marine paint is another very durable and weather-friendly paint. Marine paint as the name connotes is used on aquatic objects and vehicles like pools, nets, boats, and the likes. The good news is this paint can also be used on rubber.

Marine paint has a very strong protective coating. The coating is both waterproof and weather-friendly. This means you don’t have to worry about damages or chips on the rubber anytime soon. If you want to paint rubber to be used by a pond, in a pool, or any other water body, the marine paint will be the best bet.

In addition to being waterproof and weather-friendly, marine paint also produces a very fine and attractive finish.

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Removable Paint

Removable paint isn’t commonly used on rubber or any other material. Removable paint is strictly an indoor paint type. The coating of the removable paint isn’t strong enough to be weather-friendly and neither is it strong enough to withstand heavy use.

Removable paint is suited for rubber that will be refinished later on. Removable paint is very easy to be removed from a material. So if you want a temporary provision or you just need a quick fix that will be changed later, removable paint is your best bet.

However, if you want to use this paint as a permanent option for your rubber, then I would advise you to go for another paint type. You should use removable paint as a temporary provision or on rubber that wouldn’t be used.

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Final Words

There are other paint types that you can use on rubber but the four above are the most common. Just consider where you intend to use the rubber as well as the finish you are going for.

This will help you figure out which paint type to use. You can also consult a professional painter for guidelines and recommendations if what you want wasn’t listed above.

This is the only guide you will ever need to learn how to paint rubber. If you have any questions make sure to comment below.

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We’re a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

The Tool Geeks Team

We're a team of engineers, contractors, technicians, and woodworking experts who use power tools daily and share fact-based information, tips, and recommendations. At thetoolgeeks.com, we debunk myths about power tools and share methods to use them effectively.

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