6 Tips For Painting On A Cardboard Box!

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Customising a cardboard box by painting it as part of a home decor project has become very popular recently with cardboard boxes of all sizes being used in a wide range of different ways to help complete the look of a room. On top of this, painting a cardboard box also has a number of use cases within the arts and crafts space too for a number of different projects leading to a number of people asking for advice on how to paint a cardboard box.

Due to this, we have decided to publish this article about painting on cardboard to help our readers get the best results possible when painting your own cardboard boxes. It doesn’t matter if you are looking to paint your cardboard boxes as part of a home decor project or as part of an arts and crafts project, the general concept is generally the same with the process of painting the cardboard to get a good end result being almost identical.

We have noticed a number of different questions relating to painting cardboard boxes recently and plan to answer as many of them as possible in this article. This is why we have decided to add the table of contents below to make it as easy as possible for our readers to navigate the article. You are able to simple click on any of the sections within the table of contents to instantly be taken to that specific section in the article.

Painting On A Cardboard Box!

Painting a cardboard box can be as easy as most people presume with the paint being applied directly to the cardboard from the tub or tube of paint without any other preparation required. Depending on the paints used and the type of cardboard used in the box that you are painting, this can lead to side effects though so taking steps such as priming and sealing can be applied to get the best results possible.

Although it is far from essential, you are able to apply a thin coat of gesso to the cardboard box prior to applying your paint to it. This will act as a priming layer to ensure that your paint is able to bond with the cardboard better and reduce the chances of the paint peeling, flaking, or bubbling in the future. If you are looking to use the cardboard box as a serious part of your home decoration once painted then taking the time to prep it with a primer is usually worth the effect.

You can then take this a step further by applying a paint sealer to the cardboard box once the paint that you apply has fully dried. This will ensure that both the paint and the cardboard will last for as long as possible as well as maintain the color of the paint and reduce the chance of it fading over time. A decent paint sealer will also offer some form of both waterproof protection and UV light protection too adding additional benefits to painted the cardboard.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Cardboard?

You are able to use most types of paint on cardboard and get a great end result allowing people of all budgets to get involved in painting card. That said though, some paint types will require the cardboard to be primed for the best possible performance. On top of that, some paint types will need to be sealed as they naturally peel and flake if left to age without a sealing agent being applied in top of them.

For the majority of people, a decent acrylic paint set will usually be the best option when looking to paint a cardboard box. Modern day acrylic paint sets are cheap, easy to use, offer excellent performance, and are available in an absolutely huge range of colors too ensuring that you are able to get exactly what you need to match the rest of our room or arts and crafts piece.

Depending on your needs and the materials that you have available, you can use oil paint, chalk paint, tempera paint, and most other types of paint on cardboard with mixed results. With chalk paint being very popular right now, more and more people have been asking about using it with cardboard and the main tip we can offer it to use a wax on the chalk paint once it has dried onto the cardboard box rather than an actual sealer to maintain its unique texture and look.

The Best Paint For Cardboard Boxes!

The majority of people should be able to get everything that the need out of a standard acrylic paint when looking to paint cardboard boxes. Most of the time, there is no need to go with an expensive set of acrylic paint either unless you already own an expensive set with the cheaper, entry level acrylic paint sets often being able to deliver the results that most people want.

This is why we usually just recommend that our readers go with a cheap [amazon link=”B00ATJSD8I” title=”acrylic paint set” /] when they are looking to paint a cardboard box. Not only is it cheap enough to keep your costs as low as possible but it is also a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to use a primer or sealer for the project too. Most of the modern acrylic paint formulas on the market will offer solid performance on most types of cardboard, especially the cardboard use for boxes right out of the tub.

Even a cheap, entry level set of acrylic paint should be able to offer you all of the colors that you will need for the projects too with most offering the core colors that you are able to mix together to create any color that was not included in the set. The consistency of modern acrylic paint formulas is considerably better than it once was too with it usually being very easy to apply to cardboard using a cheap brush set while still getting a solid layer of the paint applied to your cardboard surface.

Is It Better To Spray Paint Or Paint Cardboard?

Both spray paint and paint applied with a brush can work well when applied to cardboard but you have to keep in mind that there are a huge number of different spray paint formulas on the market that have been designed to do slightly different things. In addition to this, there are also oil and acrylic based spray paint formulas but provided you stick with a formula designed for arts and crafts, they should all work with your cardboard without issue.

Thankfully, there are a huge range of excellent spray paint products on the market right now that are cheap, offer great performance for arts and crafts, are easy to use, and come in a wide range of colors. This can make it very easy to get your base coat of paint onto your cardboard box with minimal effort when compared to using a paint that is applied via a brush.

That said though, any additional coats of paint that you want to apply to your cardboard box will usually do better if you apply them using a brush, especially if you are looking to add high amounts of detail to the artwork. This is why it can be common for people to apply the base coat with spray paint, leave it to dry, and then build up the additional layers with regular paint and a brush.

How Do You Prepare A Cardboard Box For Painting?

Prepairing a cardboard box for painting is usually easier than most people initially think. The most important step is to make sure that the cardboard box is both clean and dry but if needed, you can apply a primer to the card such as gesso but this is not essential. From there, you are pretty much ready to go and you can apply your paint of choice to your cardboard box as needed.

If you do choose to apply a primer to the cardboard box prior to applying your paint then it is absolutely essential that you leave the primer to dry fully before applying your paint to it. In addition to that, you should also be making sure that the primer works with the type of paint that you intent to apply to your card too. This means if you are using a water based paint then a water based primer should be used but if you are using an oil based paint then a suitable primer should be chosen.

Although some people think that their cardboard box is not suitable for painting due to having a rip or tear in it but this is not always the case. You can sometimes use tape to hide the tip and then paint over the tape so there is minimal difference to the actual look of the box once the paint is dry. If you do choose to apply a primer to the cardboard box prior to painting it then it is unlikely that you will even be able to tell that there was some quick, DIY repairs done to the box using tape anyway.

Do I Need To Use A Paint Primer On A Cardboard Box Before Painting It?

Although it is not essential to use a paint primer on your cardboard box before painting it, primers do offer a number of benefits. Although most paint should be able to bond to normal cardbox with ease, if your cardboard box has any type of laminate on it then your paint may struggle to bond correctly and the use of a primer is able to prevent this and offer better performance.

If your cardboard box has been glossed over then it becomes more likely that you will have to use a primer on your cardboard prior to applying your paint for optimal performance. If you are using a cheaper paint formula then the importance of a primer for your cardboard box also goes up due to some of the cheaper paint formulas often struggling to bond with any type of surface that has even the slightest gloss finish on it.

As the majority of cardboard boxes out there tend to be just normal cardboard, this shouldn’t present an issue for most people though as cheap paint formulas, especially [amazon link=”B00ATJSD8I” title=”cheap acrylic paints” /] tend to stick to normal cardboard without issue. Although you are able to use a paint primer on your card in this very specific situation, it tends not to be essential and most people will be able to make do without using a primer of any type.

How Do You Paint A Cardboard Box Without Warping It?

To paint a cardboard box without warping it, make sure that the cardboard is dry prior to applying your paints, make sure that your paints don’t contain an excess of water and try to avoid leaving the cardboard box in a humid area while drying. Depending on the specific situation, the use of something like gesso is able to help prevent the warping of the cardboard box with specific paint formulas too.

There is nothing worse than putting all of the time and effort required to paint a cardboard box to make it look beautiful only for the card to start warping out of shape ruining everything. There are a number of causes of cardboard warping but the most common one does tend to be an excess of water on the cardboard. Doing everything to reduce the amount of moisture and water involved in the process tends to be enough to prevent warping when painting your cardboard box though.

Even the slightest amount of water on your cardboard box can result in warping, especially if you are using some form of waterbased paint and you have added a little too much water to the paint. Running your hand over all sides of the cardboard box as well as a visual inspection should be enough to workout if the card is too wet to be painted or not. If you thin that your cardboard box is too wet and that it will end up warping then simply wait for the cardboard surface to dry before applying your paint to it.

Can I Use Gesso On A Cardboard Box?

Although applying a high quality gesso product to a cardboard box prior to painting it does offer a number of benefits, it is not essential and many types of paint will bond to your cardboard without issue. That said though, if you do have some gesso to hand and are wanting your painted cardboard box to last you for as long as possible then applying a thin coat of gesso and leaving it to dry before applying your paint really can improve the end result.

Even a cheap gesso formula is able to offer you these benefits so if you are new to arts and crafts and don’t currently have a gesso product inyour accessories then many people will be able to pick on up for cheap. Gesso is very easy to use making it a beginner friendly product and the majority of people will be able to apply a thin coat of gesso to their cardboard box to get maximum benefits before applying their paint.

As we have touched on throughout the article though, there is often no specific need or requirement for many people to use a gesso when painting cardboard, especially for a temporary arts and crafts project. Even a cheap paint formula can perform well on normal cardboard and offer solid results provided there is no gloss coating or laminate on the cardboard you are painting as th importance of gesso does tend to increase after that.

Does Painting A Cardboard Box Make It Waterproof?

Painting a cardboard box does not make it waterproof unless a fully waterproof sealer is applied on top of the paint once the paint has ben left to dry. If you are just painting your cardboard box without using a suitable waterproof sealer then you should be doing your best to keep the cadbox box as dry as possible to prevent damage to the box.

We actually have a dedicated article going over various methods you can use to waterproof cardboard that may be useful if you specifically need your cardboard box to be waterproof. Depending on the amount of water that the box will be exposed to, the majority of people can usually quickly, easily, and cheaply waterproof their cardboard box without having any serious issues.

Although a large number of people do tend to initially think that they need to waterproof their cardboard box after painting it, this is rarely the case as it can often be rare that a painted cardboard box will actually get wet. If you are planning to use your painted box in a location that does present a water risk to your box then using a fully waterproof sealer is highly recommended to offer it as much protection as possible though.

How Do You Seal Paint On A Cardboard Box?

Sealing a cardboard box tends to be very straight forward and say due to so many of the popular paint salers on the market mounting to the actual paint rather than the cardboard itself. This mans that you should be able to easily find a suitable sealer for the type of paint that you apply to your cardboard and seal your paint without issue.

You are able to pickup a decent paint sealer for much less than most people think too making the job of sealing your paint correctly very budget friendly. Not only can sealing the paint on your cardboard box help to offer it protection from water but it can also help to offer protection from UV light that is often forgotten about. This will ensure that the paint that you apply to your cardboard box will hold its color for as long as possible as UV light is often able to rapidly depleate the color within the pigments of most modern paints without a sealant being applied to them.

If you do need to use a waterproof sealer for your cardboard box then a varnish based formula will usually be the best option for the majority of people. Not only does the varnish act as a great barrier against water but it will also protect against the vast majority of other contaminants that may cause problems for the painted cardboard box too.


That brings our article going over painting a cardboard box to an end. We have tried to go over as many of the relevant questions that we have seen people asking as possible to try and ensure that we offer as complete of a picture on how to paint a cardboard box as possible. We have also gone over the various ways that you are able to primer the cardboard as well as seal your paint onto cardboard too making the job more complete and often resulting in a better end result too.