Can You Paint Plastic Storage Sheds? (Key Facts)

If your plastic garden shed is looking a bit tatty, is it time to invest in a new one or can it be painted to give it a new lease of life?

Plastic storage sheds can be painted provided you first use a coat of primer paint specifically made for plastics. Over that you can then use either normal multi-surface paint, or paint specially made for plastic surfaces.

Let’s discover more about the topic of plastic painting, and find out exactly how to do it – so you don’t end up with even more awful looking peeling paint all over your old shed.

Can You Paint Plastic Storage Sheds? (Key Facts)

Can Plastic Sheds Be Painted?

It’s just about time to start all those spring cleanup projects. It’s been a tough year on us all. If your shed is also needing some TLC, how about a fresh, clean, spring color?

Some people may tell you – you can’t paint plastic. Plastic garden shed manufacturers sometimes discourage it, too. It’s true, plastic is not the easiest surface to paint. It isn’t porous and rough like wood.

But the truth is – you can paint plastic – if you use paints formulated for plastic, common sense, and some patience.

Have you been into a hardware store’s paint section lately? Sure, there’s a bunch of ceiling white paint. But It’s also full of specialty paints. Chalkboard paint. Glow in the dark paint. Paint for bricks. High temperature paint for grills. Appliance paints. Camouflage paint. Glitter paint. 

Look for the ones labeled – “for plastic”. There’s a bunch of them.

Paints that can be used on a variety of surfaces – from plastic to aluminum – are called “multi-surface” paints. Generally, these paints are self-priming, which means that you don’t need to go the extra step and buy primer.

What is primer paint? Primer paint is used when you have difficult surfaces to paint. Shiny and slick surfaces. Smoke damaged surfaces. Primer sticks to many surfaces that paint won’t. Not only that, but it has a texture (which is sort of chalky) that paint adheres to easily.

Primer can also help with color transitions. If you are changing the color drastically – like black to white – then starting with a primer coat helps. 

For plastic, priming is essential. Let’s say that you go to the hardware store, find the perfect spray paint but it’s not specially formulated for plastic. No problem. Just find some made for plastic primer and prime first.

Or maybe you want your shed to match your house. Your house has a custom exterior acrylic paint color, and you have some left over. No problem. Find some made for plastic primer and prime it first. 

Painting plastic gets a bad rap because plastic is hard and sometimes glossy. Paint needs a rough surface. If your plastic shed is new and shiny, sanding is another method to get paint to stick. 

If your shed has too much glossy surface to make sanding practical, there are plenty of chemicals to help. Many hardware stores stock liquid sander. These products will remove the shiny surface and clean the plastic too.

Check out this video comparing different primers with sanding for plastic.

The only caveat to the whole “can you paint plastic” question is resin. Some resin sheds just can’t be painted. Call your shed manufacturer to find out. Or you can get a small amount of primer and paint and test it out on a hidden spot.

Are Keter DUOTECH™ Sheds Paintable?

Yup. Keter offers many attractive colors, but they know that you may want your shed to match your house or to coordinate with your patio furniture. 

You can easily paint Keter’s rustic wood-look panels with exterior acrylic paint. The tongue and groove wall panels have been manufactured with resin talc, which is sticky for paint. The panels have rustic grooves that paint adheres to – without priming first

Keter warns that, although the rough wood-like panels are paintable, the plastic trim is not. For the trim, use a pre-primed paint made for plastic, or prime the trim first. Then, use your acrylic paint everywhere. 

If the trim is glossy plastic, you may need to get rid of the gloss first with light sanding – or use a Scotch-Brite pad.

Here’s a video on Duotech sheds.

Can You Paint a Rubbermaid Shed?

Rubbermaid says yes. They recommend the following steps:

  1. Pick a sunny day with no wind. 
  2. Clean your shed. Use a garden hose and a bucket of water with some mild dishwashing soap. Scrub gently and then rinse. If the shed has grease or oil on it, be sure to get it off with rubbing alcohol or more soap. Rinse then let dry.
  3. Push some cardboard or a tarp under the edges of the shed so you don’t paint the lawn or foundation.
  4. If you have glossy areas, rough them up with fine grit sandpaper, a Scotch-Brite pad, or liquid sander.
  5. Mask your shed. Use painter’s tape to mask off areas with different colors.
  6. Use a pre-primed, made for plastic spray paint. Check the instructions. Mix the spray by shaking the can. Then spray with a sweeping motion 16 inches from the shed. You will not cover the area in one sweep – it will take several.
  7. Let the first sweep dry, then do another.
  8. When the shed is thoroughly covered with the new paint and dry, do the second color, if you have one.
  9. When you are finished with the painting and it has thoroughly dried, finish off with an acrylic sealer coat.

What Kind of Paint Will Stick To Plastic, Vinyl & Resin?

First question – what’s the difference between plastic, vinyl and resin? Websites seem to use the three terms interchangeably. What gives?

Resin is a term used a lot, sometimes for materials that aren’t actually resin. Natural resin comes from trees. But that’s not the “resin” we are talking about here. Sheds are made from synthetic resin. Synthetic resins are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Synthetic resins are a type of synthetic plastic polymer. 

Vinyl is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl is also a synthetic plastic polymer.

Plastics is a catch-all term for a lot of materials. Generally, plastic is something that can be molded or shaped by heat and pressure. Here’s the Encyclopedia Britannica discussion of plastics. Check out the handy chart showing the different types, based on chemistry.

Boiled down, there are all kinds of plastic materials, including vinyl and synthetic resin. They are all synthetic plastic polymers. The Internet isn’t trying to trick you – they are all basically the same with only small molecular differences.

What kind of paint will stick to plastic, vinyl, and resin?

The answer is pre-primed specialty plastic paint. Or use a made for plastic primer first, and then any paint will stick.

Can You Paint Plastic Storage Sheds?

Does Acrylic Paint Stay On Plastic?

Acrylic paint – no primer – painted on slick, hard plastic will peel off.

Who wants to waste time and money painting a large object when the paint just flakes off? Save yourself the aggravation by first using made for plastic primer.

If you really don’t want to prime and don’t like the pre-primed colors in the spray section, then first test out a hidden area with just your acrylic paint. If the shed has a rough texture (like the Duotech sheds), you may be all right.

Will Spray Paint Adhere To Plastic?

There are several brands of spray paint that work with plastic. Look for Krylon Fusion for Plastic®, Valspar® Plastic Spray Paint or Rust-Oleum Specialty Paint for Plastic.

How Do You Keep Spray Paint From Chipping On Plastic?

Experts say the way to keep spray paint from chipping is to cover it with a layer of clear acrylic sealer. Many hardware stores stock the sealer in spray bottles or liquids for brushing on.

Try Krylon® The First Brush On Paint For Plastic

In 2011, Krylon® introduced Krylon Fusion for Plastic®. No sanding. No priming. No flaking. Fusion actually “superbonds” with most plastics, PVC, resins, glass, hard vinyl, metal, paper, wicker, wood, ceramic and plaster. It needs no prep work and is durable.

For shed-painting, cans of paint and brushes and rollers make more sense. Krylon Fusion for Plastic® comes in semi-gloss. They have eight shades from neutrals to colorful.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it – yes you can paint plastic storage sheds and it’s actually very straightforward to do so.

Just remember that you must always use primer on the plastic first (whether it’s plastic, vinyl or most types of resin), and then you need to use a primer paint specifically made for plastics. 

On top of that you can then use either normal multi-surface paint or paint specially made for plastic surfaces.

Got it? Good! I’m glad we’ve got all that sorted out! 🙂