Painting Polyester Fabric: How to Do It? Update 07/2022

From textile artists to preschool teachers, painting fabric is a lot of fun. However, before you get started on this creative endeavor, you should do some research to ensure that you use the correct paint for each type of fabric. You’ll probably need to know how to paint polyester whether you want to spruce up a thrift store recliner, artistically stencil your cosplay costume, or decorate t-shirts for your child’s birthday party.
Acrylic paint blended with a fabric medium allows the paint to adhere smoothly and without cracking, making it the most popular and permanent paint for polyester. Spray paints and synthetic dyes have also proven to be successful for textile painters. Painters apply paint to polyester with brushes, stencils, sponges, and spray paint.
In this article, you’ll learn which paints work best on polyester, as well as painting suggestions for special jobs like upholstery and clothes and general fabric paint standards.

Polyester Painting

Can You Paint Polyester Fabric?

Many different processes can be used to paint polyester fabric. However, you must ensure that the paint you use adheres to synthetic materials.
Some paints will not attach to the plastic fibers of polyester. Oil paints do not normally adhere well, but acrylic paints do because they are also made of plastic.
You might be astonished to learn how much polyester is included in your household items and garments. Polyester goods can now be found in almost every major retailer and brand. This is due to the fact that producing synthetic fabrics is significantly less expensive than harvesting, processing, and manufacturing natural materials.
Polyester fabric may be made to look like a variety of other fabrics thanks to advances in textile technology. If you look closely at the labels on the garments in your closet, you may see that they appear to be made of velvet, fur, silk, or cotton knits, but they are actually made of polyester!
Because polyester is so common nowadays, anyone interested in textile arts will almost certainly need to know how to paint it.
To begin, you should have a basic understanding of how this fabric is manufactured.
Polyester is a petroleum by-product, unlike cotton and wool, which start off as natural fibers. Polymerization polymers is a scientific technique used in factories. Polymers are molecular chains that are bonded together in long, strong chains.
The polyester looks like plastic soup at this point! After that, the plant utilizes long nozzles to shape the plastic into fibers.
The fibers are transformed into fabric in a variety of methods. Some companies make woven polyester, which is used in products like the printed sheer curtains in your bathroom. Others create poly knits or poly mixes.
The end effect can be as disparate as velvet and microfiber. Every sort of polyester fabric, on the other hand, starts off as a type of plastic made up of long, regular strands of molecules.
Polyester does not absorb water and is stain resistant due to its plastic fibers. Synthetic cloth can only be colored with dispersed dyes, and not all paints stick to its plastic fibers.

Can You Use Fabric Paint on Polyester?

Acrylic polymers are used in many fabric paints, and some of them attach well to polyester. However, before making a purchase, always check the label or product description to see what type of surface it works on.
Fabric paints will sometimes adhere to polyester, but only after the material has been washed or if the color has been heat-set after application.
The thick, three-dimensional puffy paint you squeeze out of a tiny tube directly onto the cloth is commonly referred to as “fabric paint.” For more detailed work, you can buy thinner fabric paint to apply with a brush or use fabric markers.
Unless you really want the elevated design of puffy fabric paint, normal acrylics mixed with a fabric medium will save you money and give you a larger selection of colors. This results in a thin, smooth paint that is ideal for spreading across the cloth.
You should avoid anything that is oil-based in general. These paints will dry stiffly, and the cloth will most likely fracture and pull away from them.

What Kind of Paint Can You Use on Polyester?

Tulip Soft Fabric Paint Kits

Acrylics are the most common and reliable paint to use on a polyester surface. Many standard fabric paints and fabric markers will work as well. Some companies, such as Jacquard, even have items made expressly for synthetic fabrics.

Tulip Fabric Paint

polyester fabric paint

Tulip fabric paint can be used on polycotton mixes. The manufacturer, on the other hand, does not recommend it for 100 percent polyester.
Some painters work with Tulip materials on 100 percent polyester with no detrimental consequences. Others have complained about the puffy paint cracking and peeling away from the synthetic material.
Tulip is perhaps one of the most well-known fabric art brands. The company sells both dimensional paint and soft paint, which is a thinner variant of dimensional paint.
Tulip products may not be the best option for updating upholstery or producing a sophisticated piece of art. This brand, on the other hand, may be an economical and enjoyable tool to use for children’s crafts. Simple activities, such as stamping colored butterflies onto your dining room draperies, are also easy to do with it.
Tulip fabric paint is machine washable and dries permanently.

Acrylic Paints

can you use fabric paint on polyester

For painting on polyester, acrylic fabric paint is by far the most popular option. This is fantastic news for any textile artist who is passionate about their work. Almost every craft store has a vast selection of acrylic paints in every color imaginable!
Plus, acrylics are less expensive than licensed fabric paints–at Walmart, you can get a wide choice of colors for just fifty cents a bottle!
Acrylics are petroleum-derived polymers. To put it another way, this paint is a liquid form of plastic with a few additional chemicals and minuscule color pigments suspended within it.
Acrylic paints have the advantage of dissolving in water while still wet. This makes cleaning up and fixing mistakes a breeze! When the paint dries, it becomes insoluble in water and usually sets permanently.
Some acrylics necessitate particular processes including pre-washing the fabric, thinning the paint with a fabric agent, and heat-setting the cloth once you’ve finished your project. However, if you follow these instructions, your pattern will be permanently imprinted into the fabric.

Jacquard Fabric Paint

Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow 8 Color Set

Both natural and synthetic materials can be dyed using Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow. This one-of-a-kind pigment produces a wide range of highly unique artwork. This dye-like material is used by certain artists to produce fabric art that resembles stained glass or diamonds. This paint has a unique quality due to its transparent, jewel-toned colour.
Jacquard claims that their product works more like a conventional dye than cloth paint. As you work, it penetrates the cloth’s pores and fibers. Dye-Na-Flow can be applied using a brush, sponging, stamping, or even an airbrush!
The color must be set with heat, just like some acrylics, to make it permanent and washable. Because polyester melts at high temperatures, this can be challenging, so read the package directions carefully. The material will usually not be damaged by using the lowest setting on your iron or using moderate heat in the dryer.

How to Paint Polyester Fabric

Depending on how you want to apply paint and what kind of surface you need to color, you can paint polyester fabric in a variety of ways.
Stripes on polyester curtains are created with tape and paints by creative house decorators. Alternatively, they dapple an armchair with multi-colored flowers using a sponge cut into a flower form.
Paint delicate flowers around the neck of a t-shirt or airbrush band logos onto the back of a sweatshirt for artists who prefer to wear their work.
Here are some pointers to help you get started!

Helpful Tips

Whether you’re painting an armchair or a t-shirt, there are a few things to keep in mind before you start.
To begin, if at all feasible, prewash your fabric. This is significant because polyester cloth is frequently treated with sealants or coatings. These compounds make the material more resistant to water, fire, and mildew.
Cleaning the fabric surface guarantees that there are no dirt, stains, or other impediments between your brush and the cloth.
Second, select a paint color that is appropriate for your job. If you want to stencil, thin paint could leak under the design’s margins and smear your image. If you’re going to use an airbrush, however, you’ll need thin paint!
Consider buying a fabric medium for acrylics along those lines. The paint is thinned without the colors being diluted with this particular solution. Acrylics spread more smoothly across the fabric when this thinner is added, and it also prevents breaking when the paint dries.
Selecting a textile with a tight weave is also a good idea. This helps to prevent any color bleeding.
Your fabric item, such as the front and back of a t-shirt or the front and back of a shoulder bag, may have multiple layers. In this situation, make sure you work with a thick piece of cardboard in between the layers. This will prevent the colors from bleeding through to the wrong side.
Finally, read the instructions on the paint package to determine how long your artwork should be allowed to dry. Every product necessitates somewhat different timing, and you don’t want to rush your great project!

Acrylic Paint on Polyester Fabric

Acrylic paint on polyester

Here are some tips for applying acrylics to polyester cloth that could be beneficial. Naturally, there are as many various techniques to apply paint to fabric as there are different types of finished textile art! Trying things out to see how they appear is a big part of fabric art.
However, in general:
  • Before you open and use acrylics, give them a good shake. You can end yourself working with a runny, watery product if you omit this step.
  • Before you start, many painters recommend mixing one part fabric medium with two parts paint.
  • Follow the instructions for pre-washing and preparation outlined earlier. Before applying acrylics to the polyester fabric, it’s also a good idea to dampen it. A gentle spraying from a clean spray bottle would enough.
  • Choose your tools based on the outcome you desire. If you want to apply a repeating design across a whole tablecloth, for example, you should generally use a stamp rather than a brush. Spray paint is a good option if you want to cover a large area of fabric with a single color.
  • Some acrylics need to be heat-set before being washed. Before ironing your project, test the tip of your iron on an inconspicuous portion of the fabric to ensure it won’t scorch or damage it. Because polyester does not respond well to heat, use the lowest setting on your iron.
  • Allow 24 hours for the finished work of art to dry before washing it.
  • Finally, for an object that will be subjected to heavy use, such as a piece of furniture, consider putting a sealing layer or spray.

Painting Polyester with Spray Paint

Spray paint for polyester fabric

Many types of fabric paint are now available in spray format. Acrylics can also be mixed with a thinner and sprayed on polyester using a paint gun or an airbrush gun.
Many artists find that standard brand-name spray paint, such as Krylon, works just as well. However, some people say that after using these items, they feel stiff and crackly.
Here are some spray painting polyester tips, no matter which method you use.
  • Before you start, try a small spritz of paint on a hidden section of your object. This allows you to see how the color looks before committing.
  • The importance of preparation cannot be overstated. Make sure any section of the thing you don’t want sprayed is taped off or covered with plastic! If you’re painting an armchair, for example, you should wrap the chair legs in foil, plastic wrap, or tape to keep the paint from splattering on them.
  • In a similar spirit, if you don’t mind multicolored grass, you can take your creation outside. Otherwise, cover your work space with plastic sheeting to avoid splattering your kitchen floor!
  • Wearing eye protection while dealing with any type of spray is also recommended.
  • Now it’s time to have some fun! Move the spray can up and down or across in smooth, repeating sweeps once you’ve started. Stopping and starting frequently will result in blobs of color pouring down the fabric’s surface.
  • Two or three smooth coatings are normally required, with each one drying completely between applications.
  • When you’re finished, check the spray can to see if you need to apply a sealing coat on the project. Some paints recommend this, while others may have a negative reaction to the sealer.

How To Remove Paint From Polyester

Depending on whether the stain is wet or dried, you can use a variety of methods to remove paint from polyester.
On still-wet spots, the simplest way works best. Using a cloth soaked in water and dish detergent, dab at the stain and try to blot out the color. With warm water and dish detergent, you should be able to wipe and scrub the stain away from solid surfaces.
If that doesn’t work, or if the stain has already hardened, turpentine or paint thinner can be used. A word of caution, however: some experts suggest that acetone and turpentine will not harm polyester fabrics. However, just in case, you should test a hidden portion of the fabric first.
Make sure the thinner you’re using is compatible with the stain’s type of paint. Some solutions are only compatible with oil, latex, or acrylic paints, so make your selection appropriately.
Wear eye and skin protection because many paint thinners can harm your skin and eyes. Also, please dispose of the thinner properly and in accordance with local regulations!
Spread the soiled fabric tightly against the rim of a small disposable cup or bowl to remove the stain. Then pour the thinner slowly through the fabric, allowing it to pool in the bowl beneath.
After rinsing the fabric with water, check to see if the stain has disappeared. If this does not work, repeat the paint thinner procedure.
Finally, either hand wash the garment or run it through a regular wash cycle with a little laundry detergent massaged gently into the damp spot.

How to Dye Polyester

Polyester can not receive dye as readily as many natural materials, however specific dispersion dyes can be used to color synthetic garments. These dyes use heat to impart color into water-resistant fabric fibers.
Rit DyeMore is perhaps the most widely sold disperse dye for home use.
Working with dispersed colors necessitates the use of a big container that can be placed over a heat source, such as a kitchen stove.
  • To avoid color spray, cover anything around your stove with plastic sheeting.
  • To avoid getting burned, put on protective gear like thick rubber gloves.
  • Disperse the dye according to the package directions by measuring the amount of water and dispersing the dye.
  • Bring the water in your pot to a boil, then add the dye powder and stir to combine.
  • To avoid spraying boiling color all over yourself, cautiously add your fabric item.
  • The dye bath will need to be brought to a boil for a bit. For exact timing, refer to the package directions, however this process normally takes at least thirty minutes.
  • Remove the coloured item with tongs and rinse in warm water several times. Switch to rinsing in gradually cooler water after the water starts to run clear.
  • Finally, air dry the garment after hand washing or running it through a regular wash cycle.

Best Fabric Paint For Polyester

If you’re in a rush and want a quick recommendation for a decent beginner kit, here are two great polyester-friendly products. Acrylics, as you may know, offer a great deal of versatility in the textile arts and are still the most preferred choice for usage on polyester. The Dye-Na-Flow set from Jacquard also has an intriguing and dye-like coloring option.

Apple Barrel Acrylic Craft Paint Set

how to paint polyester

Apple Barrell supplies high-quality acrylic paints that are ideal for a variety of crafts at extremely reasonable costs. There are 18 colors in this lovely beginning set. The set includes all of the basic colors with interesting names like Flag Red and Flame Yellow, and each bottle holds 2 fl oz of paint. These non-toxic paints glide across almost any surface with ease.
Apple Barrel has been around for a long time as part of the Plaid family of companies. These paints are used by artists to color 3D-printed plastic things, canvas, and a variety of fabrics.

Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow

painting polyester fabric

Swimsuits and leotards are good candidates for Dye-Na-Flow. This paint is made to work on a variety of materials, including synthetics like polyester and nylon. Although these specialty fabric paints are more expensive than the ordinary tube of acrylics, the package offers nine.5 oz bottles of concentrated color at an affordable price.
Periwinkle and Magenta are two of the main colors. These paints are recommended for use with a sponge, stamp, brush, or airbrush by artists. These colorants are too thin to be used with stencils because of their thinness. According to the manufacturer, you may make a perfect tie-dyeing solution by mixing the paint with 14 times as much water.

Conclusion

Acrylics coupled with a fabric medium, according to most artists, provide a smooth and lasting way to paint polyester fabric. Other paints made for synthetic materials, such as Jacquard’s Dye-Na-Flow, can also be used. Stamps, sponges, spray guns, and the typical brush can all be used to apply paint to polyester fabric.
Are you ready to get your brushes, stamps, or sponges out now that you’ve taken a little tour of the world of fabric paints? If you’re planning a fabric painting project, let us know what sort of paint you’re going to use in the comments section below!

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