Do you love doing DIY projects around your house? Have you just bought a home that has styrofoam insulation? Are you also artistic and love painting? If the answer was “yes” to any of these questions, you’ve landed on the right page.

I’m going to show you how to paint styrofoam and what the best techniques are. What’s more, I’ll give you some of my recommendations for the best paints for styrofoam. If you want to learn about all of this and more — keep on reading.

Styrofoam in the House

Now, you might not have known this, but styrofoam works great as an insulator. You can use it for your walls, roofs, and foundations, as it works as a water barrier and a thermal insulator. Furthermore, some architects have started experimenting with the material and have made entire homes out of styrofoam.

But, where else can you find styrofoam in your home? Well, you might be surprised when I tell you that styrofoam is used in some of the electronics or appliances around your home.

For example, air conditioners, microwaves, fridges, and many other appliances have styrofoam elements in them. Also, you can find it in TVs, computers, and other IT equipment.

The reason why it’s so popular is that styrofoam is cheap, easy to use, and works well with other materials. Not only that, but it’s also pretty durable and waterproof.

Styrofoam and DIY Projects

If you’re like me, you love DIY projects. Using styrofoam for your projects is a great way to save some money on materials while making your home more beautiful. There are so many things you can do with it, so it’s all up to your imagination.

You can make an ottoman, a vase, a curtain rod, and even a faux wood or brick wall. Also, unlike some DIY projects for your home, all of these are really cheap to make, and all you need are a few supplies.

Now, if you don’t know what you’re doing, painting styrofoam can be tricky. First, we’re going to talk about some of my absolute favorite paints for styrofoam. Then, I’m going to tell you what the best techniques for painting are.

How to Choose the Right Paint

The most important step when coloring styrofoam is choosing the right paint. I wouldn’t recommend using spray or model paint, because it can actually dissolve the styrofoam and ruin your work.

But, if you have to go in with some spray paint, make sure to use a primer first. I found that Mod Podge glue or a Foam-Tac foam finish work best. All you have to do is apply the primer once or twice and let it dry before you start painting. Not only will these two provide a smoother surface, but they’ll also give you a great base for the paint to stick to.

Acrylic and Tempera Paint for Styrofoam

Now, the best thing to use for your project is acrylic or tempera paint. You can find great paints in most craft stores, like Michael’s, or get them online on Amazon. In addition to the paint, all you’re going to need is a paintbrush and some gloss, which will add a nice shine to your project.

Depending on how big your project is and how much money you want to spend, there are a couple of acrylic paints I would recommend.

1. Apple Barrel

First, there are the tried and true, Apple Barrel acrylic paints. The set from Apple Barrel contains 18 different colors, and they all come in a 2 fl oz package. You can mix and match different colors to get your perfect shade.

They could work great for bigger projects, but I wouldn’t recommend them for detailing, because the paints can be a bit thin.

2. Color Technik

Next, I wanted to talk about the paints from Color Technik. The set from Color Technik comes with 18 different colors, and the tubes are 2 fl oz each. The paints are non-toxic, and Color Technik will give you a one-year guarantee on all their products.

Keep in mind that the paint is pretty thick, so it could work great for doing details on your project.

3. Benicci

The reason why I wanted to include a paint set from Benicci is that it comes with some extra art supplies. With this set, you will get 24 acrylic paints, 12 brushes, a mixing knife, and a sponge. Now, the paints are smaller compared to the ones from Apple Barrel and Color Technik, and come in 0.4 fl oz tubes.

But, I think this could be a great starter pack if it’s your first time painting styrofoam and you want to experiment. Benicci will also give you a 6-month guarantee for the paints.

4. Arteza

Another type of paint I wanted to mention was tempera paint. I’ve chosen this set from Arteza because you’ll get 24 colors that are 2 fl oz each. Since tempera paint is water-based, there’s no chance it will damage your styrofoam project.

Some of the paints in this set can also glow in the dark, and a couple of paints have glitter in them. They are non-toxic, and it’s easy to wash them off skin or clothes.

How to Paint Styrofoam

Now, let’s talk about how to paint styrofoam. I’m also going to show you some techniques that have worked for me in the past.


There’s a lot more to painting styrofoam than just slapping on some color. Since it’s so porous, you’re going to need to use a primer before you start painting. Once the primer has dried, you can go in with the paint.

If you’re working with a round piece of styrofoam, I recommend setting it down on some sort of base, to avoid painting your hands. You can use a dowel or a wire and push it into the ball. But, just make sure you’re doing it somewhere where the hole isn’t going to be seen.

On the other hand, you can also use a toilet paper roll like a little stand. By doing that, you’ll be able to paint much easier and won’t have to worry about your project rolling off the table.


Put some of your acrylic or tempera paint on a scrap piece of paper or a little base. Then grab your brushes and just start painting. I recommend taking your time when you’re painting and making sure you’ve covered every inch.

Also, if you can, wait for 10–20 minutes for the paint to dry, and then go in with the next coat. Since both acrylic and tempera paints are water-based, they dry pretty fast. Then, go in with a detailing brush and let your imagination run wild.

Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, take some of your Foam Finish and seal everything in. You can also add a glossy top coat to give it a bit more shine.

Bottom Line

When it comes to the paints you shouldn’t use, avoid spray paint at all cost. Putting spray paint on styrofoam will just dissolve it and make a mess. The best paint for your project is some standard acrylic or tempera paint, that is cheap and easy to use.

Also, remember to put down a good primer as your base and lock it all in with a seal. Be careful when painting and don’t use large brushstrokes to avoid getting any streaks on your styrofoam. Finally, just be creative and have fun with your project.

1 Comment

  1. Vern Blissitt Reply

    If I use either of the sealers at the end of my project, can I use it outside? I want to use styrofoam containers to make containers to protect birds from the cold weather. Also, I have used Acrylic Patio Paint on outside pots and other outdoor things, because it holds up to weather changes and isn’t destroyed by UV rays. As long as I prime the styrofoam, do you think it would be okay to use the Patio Paint? Thank you for the awesome article about painting styrofoam and project suggestions.

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