This topic has 10 replies, 11 voices, and was last updated 5 years, 9 months ago by Omanie.

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  • #14775

      I need to paint some PVC pipes to look like metal. Previous experiences with painting PVC tell me that paint doesn’t adhere well to the PVC.

      Any advice? Is there something to pre treat the PVC that will give better adhesion?

        • Experience: 5-10 years
        • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

        We use a tumbler at work to rough up the pieces first. Sandblasting or sanding will help too. Obviously clean well and paint. I’ve tried quite a few different products from industrial coatings to spray paint and found that the Rustoleum 2X had the best adhesion.


        We have sanded the pvc and then applied a layer of green glue. You can let the green glue set for a while before painting. It doesn’t have to be tacky.

         Lili Lennox
          • Experience: 15-20 years
          • Scenic Status: Full Time Freelance

          Partner Member

          I’ve used XIM UMA bonding primer (UMA: urethane modified acrylic) on pvc, with good results. I’ve found it at the big box home stores, as well as my local paint places.

          Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


          I’m obsessed with the product called Breakthrough. We have it on hand in all sheens. You can use it clear or you can add tint to it OR you can add it to paint. It’s incredible and I use it almost every day. It’s water based and fairly affordable. It’s a PPG product I think. It sticks to EVERYTHING. We use it on metal, plastic, pvc, glass, windows…anything thats not wood. But sometimes we seal wood with it cause it’s so strong. Easy clean up. Comes in one gallons.

           Rachael Claxton
            • Experience: 5-10 years
            • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

            Hey Derek,

            I second the Breakthrough. You can get it easily from the PPG on St. Claire Ave. We used to get tons of there all the time when I was at CPH. It’s got a strong smell to it though, just a heads up. I’ve also had success with Gripper (from Home Depot) as well as Rosco Tough Prime, which comes in white and black. You’ll want to wear gloves with all those products. Good luck!


              I’ve run into a few scenics who’ve developed a skin sensitivity to Breakthrough and can’t be around it anymore. That’s enough for me to try to avoid it if at all possible.

              I like BIN aerosol primer for PVC surfaces, if it’s a manageable amount of square footage to put up with working from spray cans.


              I have used 3M Super 77 as a primer for many types of plastics including polyethylene. The trick is getting something that sticks to plastic that paint will then stick to.


                I just coat PVC with water based contact cement using a throw away brush. Sounds expensive, but it goes far since the PVC soaks nothing up. Once it dries, any paint sticks and stays.


                I recommend giving it a light sanding and then use Sherwin Williams Prep-Rite (which is wonderful stuff – even primes fiberglass and Formica). By using this primer, you are not using a lot of nasty chemicals. Breakthrough is great but difficult to buy in a lot of areas.

                  • Experience: 20+ years
                  • Scenic Status: Part Time Freelance

                  A quick sand with relatively fine grit paper (120 or 150), just until the surface is matte and then ‘stain’ the PVC with paint, rubbing the paint into the surface thinly with a cloth. Somehow, that allows other paint to stick to it! I like to base metallics with a colour anyway, to give richness (eg. red oxide under gold).

                  The sanding can be good and bad for metallics, though – sometimes it highlights the scratchiness, but it can also give a bit more ‘glitter’ to the surface. Depends on how close your audience is.

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