In my experience, it’s near impossible to get paint to stick on plastic containers and buckets. Having tried decorating buckets as a kid (robot heads etc!) or some discarded piece of Tupperware after watching Blue Peter or Magpie (showing my age now), it seems that the paint either doesn’t stick or flakes off when dry. However, there are in fact several types that will stay on there.
Paint technology has moved on a lot recently and, with a little preparation, there are a variety of paints that can be sprayed or brushed onto a plastic bucket.
Firstly, you need a solvent-based paint, which has the stronger bonding characteristics. A water-based one just won’t stick well. Of course this is the paint that we all used as kids so we had no chance. You may have to use a primer for some of these.
You can in fact use water based or acrylic paints if you paint them onto an oil or shellac-based primer as the primer creates a bond between the plastic and the paint. If you need to go down this route, paint the primer on to the plastic bucket and let it dry.
Certain other paints can be applied without a primer. An example of this is spray paint specifically just for plastic. You pick these up from car accessory suppliers such as Halfords in a wide range of colours and finishes (even metallic or leather effect - although I’ve still not found tartan) that will stick to a plastic bucket in the same way they adhere to plastic car parts.
Whatever paint you decide to use, you must prepare properly (ask any decorator). Paint won’t stick to oily, dirty or shiny plastic so use a scrubbing brush and some washing up liquid to clean it up. If you’re using a nice new one, wipe it down with alcohol to remove any surface oils or "liquid sandpaper", which is ideal for using to clean and ‘dull’ shiny surfaces. Even better, try using a really fine sandpaper.
Once prepared, you need then to consider what paint suits the bucket’s use. If it’s to be used indoors, it's OK to use cheap interior paint. But if the bucket needs to withstand continued general use and be knocked about, you must use solvent-based paint. You need to use exterior paint if you’re planning on keeping the bucket outside, otherwise it will undoubtedly peel and deteriorate.
If you’re planning on decorating a bucket in a certain style, then the best way to achieve it is to follow these instructions. But, if you’re just looking for a certain colour of bucket, why not check our new website for a wide range of colours available, or call us on 0151 639 0002.