Can you spray paint a storage tub?
January 24, 2008 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to (successfully) spray-paint a rubbermaid storage tub that would sit outside and be exposed to the weather? Alternative suggestions for sprucing up a plastic storage tub welcome!

I want to make some self-watering planters from some plans I've found on the web. They involve using storage tubs, and look pretty easy/neat/effective. They also look kind of trashy (to me) when completed. I was thinking that they might look nicer if painted a terra cotta color (like real earthboxes). Is there a spray paint that would work on this material and hold up during 8 months or so outside in the elements?

Do I have other options to make these attractive? Here's a link to the plans... be aware that it's a PDF.

I have a rather small deck and we enjoy the heck out of it all spring/summer/fall. I love to grow vegetables out there, and am excited about these planters, but don't want them to be an eyesore.
posted by FortyT-wo to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This link talks about "flashing" the tupperware with a flame for 30 seconds or so, to remove oils from the surface, before painting with Krylon spraypaint. The link reports that this was successful.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:25 AM on January 24, 2008

A couple of years ago, we used one of the generic paints for plastics (one of the big-box store brands) to refresh a set of plastic patio chairs. The chairs sit-out year-round. So far the paint itself seems to be weathering just fine. It doesn't stand-up to scratches or abrasions, but the weather itself has been no issue.
Some of the brands sell a primer for the plastic paint. I suggest you use it, as well.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:43 AM on January 24, 2008

One of my friends used Krylon Fusion to paint some plastic outdoor planters, and they have been outside in the elements for about a year now and still look great.

And wow, thanks for that earthbox plan! Way too cool!
posted by Orb at 5:48 AM on January 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I hear accounts of successfully spray-painting plastic stuff like this, but it's never worked for me. It's entirely possible (likely, even) that I'm doing something wrong, though.

If it were me, I'd try to find some larger, more attractive container that the plastic boxes would fit in. It might be hard to find a terra-cotta planter that size, but you could probably build something out of wood and stain it. When I saw the picture on the first page of the pdf you linked, I immediately thought that that row of plastic boxes would look great in one long wooden box. You could slap something together in a weekend, easy. A few 2x6 on edge with corner braces would do the trick. If you make it sturdy enough, you could incorporate a bench around the edge.
posted by Shohn at 6:43 AM on January 24, 2008

I've used Krylon paint on outdoor furniture with great success. I started with the spray stuff, but it was messy and a can wouldn't cover much. Then I found out that Krylon also sells "regular" brush-on plastic paint. Worked great!
posted by bluefrog at 7:19 AM on January 24, 2008

A few months back I painted an old Rubbermaid storage container with a recycle symbol to make a second recycle container to sit next to the city ordained one (we are a household whose recycle trash regularly outpaces our landfill garbage) and it's been fine with wind and rain and all. I used a paint made for painting plastic, and made sure I did it in a cool dry place and gave it 24 hours to "cure".
posted by foxydot at 7:26 AM on January 24, 2008

I bought a bunch of plastic flower pots in various sizes with the intent of painting them. I took one to my favorite paint store (Frazee) and told them what I was planning to do. They recommended a primer that would "stick to anything". And it did! I primed, then painted the pots, and they've been sitting outside in the southern Arizona weather for a year. No signs of peeling or wear at all.

So, my recommendation is to take one to a local painting professional (not Lowes! Look in the yellow pages for a Sherman-Williams, Benjamin Moore, etc.) and and tell them what you want to do. They won't steer you wrong.

And remember -- a good primer makes all the difference for how long a coat of paint looks good.

Note: I did not paint the full inside of the pots; I painted to just below where I thought the dirt line would be. Who knows what the paint would be leeching into the dirt?
posted by parilous at 7:32 AM on January 24, 2008

Spray vinyl die might be what you need. I've never used it outdoors or on rubbermaid plastic, but it's used on plastic auto parts because it fuses with the plastic and resists chipping or peeling. (But you can still scratch the plastic to expose the original color underneath.) No primer needed, but my second link (scroll down) recommends "Vinyl & Plastic Prep" spray cleaner.

I first learned about it in this askme thread.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:33 AM on January 24, 2008

Build a custom enclosure out of something like cedar. A basic enclosure won't require any tools fancier than a hand saw and hammer.
posted by JJ86 at 10:47 AM on January 24, 2008

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