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How to Paint Rubber: 5 Quick & Easy Steps

painting rubber tires

painting rubber tires

Have you ever painted on something made of rubber, and within a matter of days, it was chipping off? Or perhaps you couldn’t even get the paint to stick to the rubber at all.

The paints used, the technique, and the type of rubber all make a difference for long-term results. If you’re going to spend the time and the money to paint on a rubber item, you want to make sure it will not only look good but also last for a long time.

This article will show you the right way to paint on rubber, whether it be for an interior or exterior project. We will discuss how to prep the rubber surface, the best paints, and how to protect it to make it more durable.

Types of Rubber

Not all rubber is created equal for painting. Many people will paint rubber tires to decorate their yards or occasionally you will see paintings on rubber rain boots. Rubber can be hard or soft and the more malleable the rubber, the more difficult it will be to keep a coat of paint on your item.

For example, if you were to paint lovely decorations on a rubber swim cap it will be difficult for the paint not to crack due to the flexibility of the cap. But if you were to paint a hard rubber handle that doesn’t bend, the paint won’t crack but it may peel or wear off with use.

Let’s discuss the best methods to paint rubber, including indoor and outdoor use.

rubber tires
Image: PxHere

Types of paint that work well on rubber

Removable rubber coating: This coating comes in a spray can and works well to stay on your item until you are ready to peel it off. It is a good option if you want to paint something that you aren’t 100% sure you want to remain that way. This spray gives you the opportunity to try it out first. When ready to remove, just pull it off.

Acrylic paint: This paint is intended for indoor projects that won’t see a lot of wear and tear. After allowing the first coat to dry, apply a second coat. Then once completely dry apply a paint sealer.

Exterior paint: First cover with a coat of primer and then use either a spray or a brush to apply the exterior paint. This type of paint is more durable and can handle the outside elements.

Commercial-grade marine paint: This is for serious projects such as painting on rubber parts of a boat or swimming pool where they will be exposed to water. It is the most durable and will resist chipping, cracking, and fading.

painted rubber
Image: Pixnio

Rubber Paint Process (5 Quick & Easy Steps)

  1. Clean your surface. If the object you are wanting to paint is dirty, nothing will stick to it no matter what procedure you implement. So, clean the surface well with soap and water, making sure you thoroughly rinse off all of the soap so that no residue is left behind. Allow it to completely dry because the paint won’t stick to wet surfaces either.
  2. Choose paint in relation to the surface you will be covering.
  3. Apply a primer if the product will be outdoors. Allow the primer to adequately dry.
  4. Apply your paint, most likely two coats will be needed for sufficient coverage. If using the removable rubber coating you won’t need two applications.
  5. After the paint has completely dried, apply a paint sealer. Read the instructions on the bottles to know for sure how long the product takes to dry. Some products may appear dry on the surface but if it hasn’t dried all the way it could still crack or peel at this point.

Tips & considerations

  • Spray cans offer a more even coat than painting with a brush.
  • The removable rubber coating is great for filling cracks, leaks, and small holes on your rubber items.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions to safely use each product.
  • Sometimes roughing up the surface with a gentle sanding will help the paint to stick to the rubber surface.
  • Keep in mind some paints will have the primer already incorporated, allowing you to paint and prime at one time.


With a touch of planning and knowing what type of rubber you plan to paint on will help determine which paint is the best to use. Spraying on the paint does a better job on rubber than brushing or rolling on the paint. Remember to clean the surface and allow it to dry between coats and you will get great results.

See Also: How to Remove Paint Remover Residue (Tips & Tricks)

Featured Image Credit: joker 1991, Shutterstock

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