Best plastic paint 2023: Revamp furniture and UPVC from £10

While you can polish metal and sand wood, plastic is one material that’s hard to bring back to life once it begins to look worn or faded. Fortunately, the best plastic paints can make your plastic items look like new again, restoring a glossy shine, changing the colour or hiding marks and scratches.  

There’s no one-size-fits-all paint solution for plastics. Different materials often need different types of paint, formulated for the specific type of plastic and the conditions they live in (indoor or outdoor, for example). In our roundup, we’ve selected some of the best plastic paints you can buy – as well as the questions to ask when choosing a product. Below, you’ll find our buying guide to help you select the best paints for plastic, or you can scroll on for our top picks.

READ NEXT: Choose the best paint for your indoor walls


Best plastic paint: At a glance

  • Best plastic paint for garden furniture | Rust-Oleum
  • Best plastic paint for conservatories | HMG
  • Best durable plastic paint | Bradite

How to choose the best plastic paint for you

What can I paint?

  • Exterior surfaces: If they’re made from unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (UPVC), it’s simple to give your front door or window frames a makeover with paint. Acrylic-based formulas are usually recommended, as they cope well with changes in temperature and thermal expansion, plus they adhere well to smooth surfaces. Try to paint in warm and dry conditions but avoid very hot days, as heat can cause paint to crack rather than dry naturally. Wait a minimum of a year before painting new UPVC as it needs to “dull” or degrease before paint will adhere properly.
  • Garden furniture, storage boxes and planters: These are usually made from polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP). A good choice is a specialist spray paint, as not only is this easy to apply around curves, it ensures that coverage is even. If colours are limited, using a spray-on plastic primer enables a wider choice of spray paints to be used afterwards and can create a smoother surface for a more professional finish.
  • Interior furniture, such as kitchens and wardrobes: Often made from melamine-coated or laminated MDF. Again, an acrylic-based primer works well to create a surface for other paint to bond to and prevent chips. There’s no need to use a specialist product on top, though: a durable eggshell should be fine. 

What else do I need to think about when painting plastic?

Make sure you have the right tools available for the project, whether that’s a brush, roller or a spray gun. The aim is to create as smooth a finish as possible, so clean and sand the surface thoroughly beforehand, and use the recommended applicator for the paint – some formulas won’t be suitable for brushing on.

How much should I spend on plastic paint?

While the product you choose will be largely dictated by the surface you’re painting, on average, budget at least £10 for a spray paint and £25 for a litre can of a specialist paint. Check if a primer or top coat is required too, as this can significantly increase your project budget.

READ NEXT: Give tired tiles a makeover with the best tile paint

The best plastic paint to buy in 2023

1. Rust-Oleum Direct to Plastic Spray Paint: Best plastic paint for speedy makeovers

Price: £9 for 400ml | Buy now from Amazon

Packaged in a ready-to-use can, this handy spray paint can be applied directly to plastic furniture, pots, planters and more, with no primer required. It can be used both inside and out too – we used it to paint some UPVC guttering. It has a glossy finish and in testing, found it very easy to use. The product went on smoothly, although we found it needed several coats, and the guidance suggests recoating within one hour; otherwise, you’ll need to wait a full 48 hours. This means your paint project might end up being a longer one if you miss your window of opportunity. 

The big upside here is there’s no real cleaning up afterwards, as there are no tools to wash and the smooth finish is effortless. However, there’s a slight smell of acetone as the paint is applied, and the only colour choice is black or white, which can be limiting.  

Key specs – Colours: Black or white; Available finish: Gloss; Suitable for: Interior and exterior; Primer required: No


2. Tikkurila Helmi 30 and Tikkurila Otex Adhesion Primer: Best plastic paints for colour choice

Price: £24 / £25 for 1L | Buy now from The Paint Shed 

If you’re feeling limited by colour choice, Tikkurila’s Otex Adhesion Primer followed by Helmi 30 is sure to please. Each product is tinted to order, allowing you to choose from a vast range of shades. Our samples were a stunning bright blue (TVT J356), neatly solving that problem of covering up white primer evenly. While Helmi 30, an acrylate paint, can be used just by itself, if you’re using it outside or are keen to get the best results then Otex Adhesion Primer is a must, allowing you to paint anything from melamine to PVC plastic. 

We painted a UPVC windowsill with both products: the primer went on easily with a brush and although brush marks showed when wet, it dried to a smooth glossy finish. The Helmi 30 also went on smoothly but dried to a lovely semi-matte finish. There were a few noticeable strokes in the Helmi 30 when dry, suggesting that roller application might be best if your brush skills are lacking. Neither product had a strong smell and the brushes could be cleaned with soap and water. A fantastic duo of multipurpose products for home makeovers.

Key specs – Colours: Multiple; Available finish: Semi-matt; Suitable for: Interior and exterior; Primer required: Yes

Buy paint now from The Paint Shed

Buy primer now from The Paint Shed


3. Bradite One Can OC63 Matte White: Best fast-drying plastic paint

Price: £33 for 1L | Buy now from Brewers

Combining a primer, undercoat and topcoat in one – and able to be used as any of the three – Bradite’s One Can is as durable as they come. It’s stain-blocking and scrubbable, yet water-based, so there’s practically no odour when applying and drying. One Can’s flat matte finish also offers a great alternative for those who don’t want a shiny look for their melamine or UPVC. What’s more, it’s ideal if you want to get the job done quickly, as it’s touch dry in 30 minutes and recoatable in one hour, meaning you can easily slick on three coats in day. There’s also the option of tinting from some retailers.

We used One Can White Matte on a scratched and stained white UPVC windowsill. While there were visible brushstrokes when the paint was wet, once dry, the strokes disappeared, although the surface was a little uneven after the first coat and better with two. If you’re less confident with a brush, it can also be roller- or spray-applied. It dried to a velvety texture, easily covered all the marks on our sill and the brush cleaned up well with detergent and water. 

Key specs – Colours: Black, white and anthracite grey ready mixed plus BS, RAL and NCS tints; Available finish: Matte or eggshell; Suitable for: Interior and exterior; Primer required: No

Buy now from Brewers


4. HMG PVC Pro Colours: Best plastic paint for exterior windows and doors

Price: £45 for 1L | Buy now from Rawlins

Painting a conservatory, door or windows sounds straightforward – until you factor in the tendency of some paints to be tacky as they dry, potentially adhering to seals. However, PVC Pro has been formulated to reduce the chance of this happening. It’s quick drying – touch dry at 20°C in 10 to 15 minutes and hard dry in 45 to 60 minutes – and durable, too. Ideal for making over your UPVC without risking sticky seals further down the line. 

We found it coated our UPVC easily, though it was one of the thinner paints we tested and prone to bubbles and drips if you overload the brush. For painting novices, its option of spray application might be a better choice – or there’s a fuss-free aerosol version. It has a slightly sweet smell when wet, though it’s not overwhelming. Fortunately, once dry, all the brushstrokes, bubbles and drips disappeared, leaving behind a professional-looking finish.

Our only issue was how to clean our brush, as neither soap and water nor white spirit shifted the paint. HMG’s Thinner 2661 is the recommended option but we found that the HMG Prep-Clean 2805 we had used to prepare the surface also did the job.

Key specs – Colours: 2,500+ RAL, BS, NCS and NCS 2050; Available finish: Satin; Suitable for: Exterior; Primer required: No

Buy now from Rawlins


5. Frenchic Al Fresco Weatherproof Inside/Outside paint: Best plastic paint for families

Price: £20 for 750ml | Buy now from Frenchic

While some specialist paints for plastic can be less than lovely to use, Frenchic’s Al Fresco range offers something different. Not only is this chalk and mineral paint water-based and virtually odourless, it still has all the qualities you need for your project. It’s weatherproof, mould and algae-resistant, UV-resistant and available in a palette of 20 colours with limited editions every year. While it’s been specifically developed to transform garden or indoor furniture, it’s suitable for brightening up UPVC and laminate too. It can even be used on children’s toys and has minimal VOCs.

There’s no need for a primer or top coat and, as the paint is self-levelling, you don’t have to worry too much about leaving brush marks behind. There are a couple of things to be aware of before you start transforming that faded swing set in the garden, though. One is that its curing time is quite long: around three weeks, which could be frustrating if you’re looking to get a project finished quickly. The other is that you’ll have to find just the right time to use it outside: it doesn’t work well when applied in wet or very humid conditions, or if the temperature is lower than 10ºC. Even in the summer, you’ll have to avoid days when you’re in direct sunshine. However, if you can pick the right time to slick it on, you’re sure to love the sheer range of bright, happy shades available, such as the stunning Steel Teal.

Key specs – Colours: 23; Available finish: Matte; Suitable for: Interior and exterior; Primer required: No

Buy now from Frenchic


 

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