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Can You Paint Polywood

Can You Paint Polywood

Have you ever admired those cute bistro sets or adirondack chairs with the pretty, painted colors? Or maybe you’re just tired of looking at the same old faded patio furniture. Either way, you’ve probably wondered: can you paint Polywood?

The short answer is yes! With the right prep and paints, you can definitely customize Polywood outdoor furniture. Painting allows you to revamp the look or refresh faded pieces. But there’s a bit more to it than just grabbing a can of spray paint. Polywood has a slick surface that paint doesn’t easily adhere to.

In this handy guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to successfully paint Polywood. You’ll be rockin’ a customized bistro set in no time!

An Overview on Painting Polywood

Let’s start with the basics. Polywood is a synthetic lumber made from recycled plastics like milk jugs and detergent bottles. It’s designed to mimic the look of real wood while being more weather-resistant.

The material is dense and non-porous. This is great for durability, but it also means paint can’t easily soak in and grip the surface. So painting does take a little extra effort.

The main reasons for painting Polywood include:

  • Customizing the color – blue Adirondack chairs anyone?
  • Refreshing faded furniture
  • Adding a protective layer to the surface
  • Updating the look for far less than buying new pieces

However, there are some limitations to be aware of:

  • Paint may chip or peel if not applied properly
  • It generally won’t hold up as long as the factory finish
  • Painting voids any warranty from the manufacturer
  • You’ll need to reapply paint periodically – it won’t last forever!

But with the right prep and paints, you can absolutely paint Polywood successfully. Let’s look at how to do it right!

Step 1: Prepare the Surface

They key first step is proper surface prep. If the surface isn’t cleaned and lightly sanded, the paint won’t adhere well and will just peel right off.

Make sure to:

  • Thoroughly wash the Polywood with a mild detergent and scrub brush. This removes any dirt, grime, mildew or grease that could prevent the paint from sticking.
  • For really dirty furniture, use a vinyl/plastic cleaner or diluted bleach solution. This helps break down stubborn gunk.
  • Rinse off the cleaning solution and let the furniture fully dry. Water will block adhesion, so the surface needs to be completely dry before painting.
  • Lightly sand the surface with 220 grit sandpaper. This helps roughness for the primer and paint to cling to. But be gentle – you don’t want to scratch off the protective outer layer.
  • Wipe away any dust after sanding so it doesn’t mess with your nice paint job.
  • Do a test spot in an inconspicuous area, let dry overnight, and check that the paint adheres well before tackling the whole piece.

Okay, now your Polywood is squeaky clean and lightly scuffed. It’s ready for a makeover!

Step 2: Choose the Right Paints

For painting plastics like Polywood, specific kinds of paints are best:


Primer is mandatory! It provides a textured base layer that the paint can grip. Look for primers made specifically for painting plastic or synthetic wood. They work best on slick surfaces like Polywood.

Some top-rated options are:

  • Krylon Fusion for Plastic Primer
  • Rustoleum for Plastic Primer


For the topcoat, use high quality exterior grade acrylic or latex paints. The paint should be formulated to bond well on plastics. Matching the brand of your primer and paint helps ensure compatibility.

Krylon, Rustoleum, and Montana Spray Paint are all good brands for plastic and outdoor use.

You can use brush paint or spray paint. Spray paint is faster, provides a smoother finish, and gets into all the crevices easily. But brushed paint allows you to control the finish more.

Either way, choose paints designed for outdoor use on plastics and synthetics. The label will specify if they’re appropriate for use on Polywood, resin, and similar materials.

Step 3: Painting Process

Now comes the fun part – let’s paint! Follow these tips for getting that fresh new look:

  • Work in thin, light coats instead of trying to fully cover in one thick coat. Several thinner layers give the best adhesion and most even finish.
  • Apply the primer first according to the manufacturer’s directions. Let the primer fully dry before adding paint.
  • Spray or brush on the first coat of paint lightly to get a base layer down. Let it dry completely.
  • Apply a second coat of paint, then additional coats as needed for full coverage. Drying times are usually 20-30 minutes between coats.
  • Don’t overload the paint or you’ll end up with drips and sags. Keep the coats light.
  • Be patient! Proper prep + light coats + drying time = paint that won’t peel.
  • For a standard bistro set or pair of Adirondack chairs, you’ll need 1-2 cans of spray paint or 1 quart of brushed paint.
  • Let the paint cure for several days before heavy use of the furniture. The paint will be dry to the touch much more quickly but needs time to fully harden.

Step 4: Post Painting Care

Once your Polywood makeover is complete, you’ll want to take care of it properly so the new paint lasts.

Here are some tips for maintenance:

  • Let the paint cure fully for at least 72 hours before putting the furniture into service. Avoid heavy use for the first 5-7 days.
  • Clean painted pieces gently with plastic safe detergents. Avoid harsh chemicals.
  • Expect to recoat the paint periodically. Plan on yearly touch ups or a full repaint every 2-3 years. The paint won’t hold up as long as the factory finish.
  • Immediately spot paint any scratches, nicks or peeled spots to avoid damage spread.
  • Consider storing painted furniture indoors during harsh weather or covering to extend the life of the paint job.

Fun Color Ideas for Painted Polywood

Once you’ve prepped and painted, the fun part is choosing what color! Here are some stylish shades to consider:

White or Cream

Crisp white is a classic look for outdoor furniture. It brightens up the whole space and allows you to accessorize with any cushion or accent colors. Soft cream is equally versatile.

Light Blues, Greens, Grays

For a relaxing vibe, try soft tones like sky blue, seafoam, sage green or light gray. These watery hues complement outdoor living areas beautifully.

Vivid Bright Colors

Make a bold statement with vivid oranges, reds, violets or yellows. These fun colors work great for kids’ furniture or creating a festive party atmosphere.

Deep Rich Tones

Think deep blue, forest green, navy and chocolate brown. These elegant shades lend a cozy, inviting look.

Neutral Wood Tones

If you want the look of natural wood, go for warm medium browns, tans, and other woodsy neutral tones. Avoid orange undertones.

Metallic Accents

For a cool modern vibe try metallics like silver, gold, copper or bronze. They add a contemporary twist.

Ombre Combinations

Ombre paint jobs blend two colors, like light blue to navy blue. This adds visual interest with color blocking.

Coordinating Sets

Paint furniture the same color for a cohesive customized look. The unified color palette ties the whole space together.

Get creative and have fun with your Polywood paint colors!

The Pros and Cons of Painting Polywood

Before you grab those paint brushes, let’s recap the key pros and cons:


  • Allows you to customize the color
  • Provides a budget facelift for faded furniture
  • Protects the outer layer from sun damage
  • Much cheaper than buying new furniture
  • Gives you creative freedom with your outdoor space


  • Paint needs periodic recoating
  • Proper surface prep is crucial
  • Paint may chip or peel if wrong products used
  • Voids manufacturer warranty
  • Won’t be as durable as the factory finish

So in summary, painting Polywood is very doable but does require some maintenance. Proper prep work and using the right primer/paint combos helps ensure success.

If done well, you can extend the life of your furniture and have that cute weathered look for a fraction of the cost of replacement.

In Closing

The key tips for painting Polywood include:

  • Clean thoroughly and sand lightly
  • Use primer specifically formulated for plastics
  • Choose the right exterior grade paint for synthetic materials
  • Allow proper dry time between coats
  • Prep work is vital for good adhesion
  • Maintain periodically to keep it looking fresh

While it requires a little extra effort, you can absolutely paint Polywood furniture. Following this guide helps ensure your makeover turns out picture perfect. That cute mint green bistro set is calling your name!

So grab those brushes and get to customizing your outdoor oasis. In a few hours you’ll have beautiful new furniture on a budget. Happy painting!