The Best Way to Paint Cardboard

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Things You'll Need

  • Tack cloths

  • Canvas drop cloth

  • Latex primer

  • Synthetic polyester paintbrush

  • Polyester paintbrush

  • Latex paint

  • Acrylic paint

  • Craft brushes

  • Stencils


If you'd like to paint cardboard for artistic purposes, apply an acrylic paint, using craft brushes. For a durable, longer-lasting finish, choose a latex paint.

You can generate sharp, professional looking patterns and designs on cardboard by using stencils. Purchase stencils at your local craft store.

Painting cardboard is not particularly difficult as long as you understand the fundamentals of paint preparation. Cardboard is really just heavy-duty paper; however, unlike the sheets of paper you can paint water colors on, bare cardboard isn't especially suited for lasting painted finishes. To promote a lasting finish, treat the cardboard like bare wood. Apply a coat of bonding primer that will contribute to better adhesion and a longer-lasting finish.


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Step 1

Wipe dust from the cardboard using tack cloths. Skipping this step could lead to peeling due to adhesion difficulties.

Step 2

Set the cardboard on a canvas drop cloth. You may also use a cheaper plastic drop cloth; however, these tend to allow paint to pool.


Step 3

Coat the cardboard with latex primer using a polyester paintbrush. Apply a light coating to prevent ugly sag marks. Let the cardboard dry for two hours.

Step 4

Wash the brush in the sink or bathtub, using running water only.


Step 5

Paint the cardboard in the same way you primed it, using the clean brush. Let the cardboard dry for two hours. Touch-up any skipped areas if necessary.


Ryan Lawrence

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.