Rubber. That stuff your sneakers soles, mats, and tires are made out of. In fact, you probably have something made of rubber in your room right now. Rubber is notoriously difficult to recycle, so it’s always a great idea to breathe new life into your rubber shoes and tires by painting them.
Can you paint rubber, and how can we best do it? It really depends on the type of rubber that you are planning to paint. Rubber is a very flexible material that presents itself in many shapes and forms. There is a right way to paint rubber to avoid cracking depending on what you’re painting.
Can you paint rubber? If the rubber won’t be bending too much (for example, a tire or a floor mat), then you can paint it with ease. If the rubber is going to be stretching and moving, the paint won’t be able to move along with it, and as a result, it will crack.
For instance, if you are planning on painting a swimming cap made of rubber, it’s probably not going to work. This item is very thin and flexible, so it is difficult for the paint to stay without cracking. However, if you are planning to paint a tire, there are certain types of paint that will work.
To paint rubber, you can use a spray can of removable rubber coating, acrylic paint, exterior paint, or even commercial-grade marine paint. Basically, any type of oil-based or shellac-based paint will be able to withstand the elements.
A removable rubber coating can be sprayed on easily, but it won’t stay on the rubber for too long – you can easily peel it off afterward. Similarly, acrylic paint is easy enough to use, as long as you don’t plan on using your rubber outdoors.
If you are planning to paint rubber tires for a swing in your backyard, we recommend using exterior paint or commercial-grade marine paint. These types of paint are very durable and waterproof, so they can withstand the elements without chipping or cracking.
Another product that is a must for any type of rubber is this plastic restorer. Even though it has the word “plastic” in the name, it actually works amazingly for rubber items as well. Just don’t try to use it on leather.
Let’s take a look at how to paint rubber to refresh your shoes, boots, and floor mats below.
How To Paint Rubber Without Cracking
Painting rubber without cracking is mostly about choosing the right paint. If your rubber isn’t going to be stretching or bending a lot, then it will protect the paint from cracking as well.
As we have mentioned, exterior paint and commercial-grade marine paint are the most durable types of paint, especially for rubber items that are going to need a lot of help against the elements (such as your rain boots). Using these types of paint will definitely help the paint to stay on for a long time.
Here’s how to paint rubber without cracking:
- Clean the rubber surface to remove any dirt on the surface. If the rubber surface is dirty, the paint simply won’t stick. Then, allow the rubber surface to dry completely since the paint won’t stick to a wet surface.
- Apply an exterior paint primer. This step is especially important if you are going to be using the rubber item outside since it will help the paint stick to the surface a lot better without cracking.
- Allow the primer layer to dry completely.
- Using a brush, apply your external paint (or marine paint) to the rubber surface. You can use one or two coats depending on whether the paint can provide enough coverage, making sure that each coat is completely dry before applying the next one.
- After the paint is dry, you can apply a paint sealer to further waterproof the item. This step is optional but highly recommended for items that are going to be used outdoors.
How To Paint Rubber Shoes and Boots
Rubber boots are difficult items to paint since they are going to be moving around with your feet. However, it doesn’t mean it is impossible; it will take a few extra steps to seal the boots to make sure that the paint doesn’t chip or crack, at least not prematurely.
- Clean your boots! Make sure that all the dirt is completely removed so that the paint can have a chance to stick!
- When the boots are clean and dry, use medium-grit sandpaper to sand down the entire surface of the boots. This step is important, especially if your boots have a glossy finish since it will allow the paint to stick better.
- After sanding, you should use a wet cloth to clean your boots and allow them to dry completely before priming and painting.
- Similar to the above, you can apply a layer of exterior paint primer, followed by one or two coats of exterior paint. Let each layer dry completely before applying the next layer.
- Spray on a rubber sealant coating. This sealant will dry clear and maintain the flexibility of the rubber while offering a layer of protection for your paint, which will prevent it from cracking after some use.
How To Paint Rubber Soles
Did you know that you can completely transform your sneakers just by painting the rubber soles? Painting the soles is a fun, unique way to customize your sneakers just how you like them.
However, since the soles are going to need a lot of flexibility and waterproofing when you wear your sneakers, you do have to take a few extra steps to make sure the paint will still look good after some use.
- Okay, we are going to repeat it – clean your soles! Making sure that the surface is clean will help the paint stick better to it.
- If you have rubbing alcohol, you can take an extra step of using rubbing alcohol to remove any oil from the soles. The soles of your shoes meet a lot of substances, so cleaning them thoroughly will really make painting easier later on.
- Use painter’s tape to tape off the areas of your sneakers that you don’t want to paint. Take some time to cover all the sneaker fabrics that are attached to the sole since you don’t want the paint to get on them.
- Apply your exterior primer and exterior paint, similar to the steps above. With rubber soles, since the area to work with is very small, make sure that you use short and small brushstrokes, which will prevent the paint from cracking later on.
- Then, let the paint dry completely before using a spray rubber sealant to seal off the paint.
- Make sure that the sealant is completely dry before peeling off the painter’s tape. If it’s not totally dry, you may risk peeling off some of the paint too!
After this, you should have a cool new look for your sneakers, and the paint will be sure to stay on even after a lot of wear and tear!
Check out this video by YASH on YouTube for a step-by-step visual tutorial.
How To Paint Rubber Tires
Painting rubber tires is an amazing way to refresh them or up-cycle old scraps, especially if you are making a tire swing or planters with your tires.
The paint on your tires is less likely to crack because they don’t need to be very flexible, but since they are going to be used outdoors, you still need to really waterproof the paint so that it doesn’t chip off after some use.
- Clean the tire with water and soap to remove any dirt and grease.
- If you are planning to use your tires as swings or planters, you should drill and cut them before painting.
- Apply your exterior primer and paint. Since a tire has a lot of curves and ridges, you can use spray paint to get into all of the corners. In this case, you should make sure that the spray paint will adhere well to plastic (rubber) and that you use an even hand to get an even coat over the tire.
- You can apply several coats of paint on each side of the tire, making sure that each coat is completely dry before applying the next one. When one side is dry, you can turn the tire over and apply the next coat.
- If you want to paint designs on the tire, you can use exterior paint with a brush to add the details on the tire.
- When your paint is completely dry, use a waterproof sealant to seal the paint. This is very important to protect the paint from harsh outdoor elements like rain, moisture, and sunshine. You can use a hard-drying sealant in this case since the tire doesn’t need to be very flexible for use.
How To Paint Rubber Floor Mats
Customizing your rubber floor mat with some paint is a great way to add some personality to your car without having to make drastic changes.
A rubber floor mat needs to be highly flexible and waterproof, similar to your rubber boots and shoes, so we recommend employing very similar steps.
- Clean the surface of the rubber floor mat you are planning to paint.
- With some rubbing alcohol, clean the surface again to remove any grease.
- Pat the surface dry, then use medium-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the rubber surface. This step will help the primer and paint stick to the rubber.
- After sanding, you should wipe the surface again with a wet cloth and let the rubber surface dry completely before priming and painting.
- Prime and paint your rubber mat with an exterior primer and paint. Since your rubber mat is going to be in contact with rain and dirt from your shoes, you should still use waterproof paint for this job.
- Make sure the paint is completely dry, then apply a flexible rubber sealant to the mat to protect the layer of paint.
And there you have it – a brand new look for your rubber floor mat that can look new and refreshing in your car!
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