It’s no secret that nail polish is an amazing and multipurpose product. Almost any color you can think of is available. Nail polish can work on a number of materials, so you’re really only limited by your own imagination when it comes to using this product.
So, can you use nail polish as paint? Yes, you can use nail polish as paint. However, there are several factors to consider, such as what kind of nail polish you are using, what surface you are painting, and whether or not you’ll need to prep your surface.
Using nail polish as something other than nail polish may sound odd. But there are many ways you can use it to paint materials other than your fingernails.
In this article, let’s learn about how versatile this paint really is and how you can use it effectively to paint various materials.
Is Nail Polish the same as Paint?
Before we talk about the specific applications, it may be helpful to learn about the similarities between nail polish and good old fashion paint.
All paints have four main ingredients: pigments, binders, solvents, and some additives. The pigment is the same for almost every type of paint, but the difference between water-based paints (like chalk paint or acrylic paint) and oil-based paint is in the binder.
The solvent allows the mixture to stay liquid, and the additives provide specific paint properties that meet your design needs.
Although the exact formula may vary for different manufacturers, all nail polishes are made with organic polymers, along with pigment and other additives to harden the polish, add a glossy or matte finish, etc.
Besides the pigment and the solvent, the additives are mainly to tweak the appearance of the nail polish, as well as give it a film-like appearance after drying. Some nail polish also has fast-drying qualities, and gel nail polish is usually cured with an LED light.
You can see the similarities here, and some people even say that nail polish is very similar to enamel paint. This is why, while nail polish is specially formulated for fingernails, there are loads of other applications for it.
Let’s take a look at how you can take advantage of your nail polish collection in other arts and craft projects.
How To Use Nail Polish As Paint
While nail polish is very similar to regular paint in terms of ingredients, there are a few characteristics that are very specific to nail polish.
First of all, nail polish dries very, very fast, which means you don’t have a lot of time to spread it around, blend, or fix your mistakes, like you would with regular paint. That’s why nail polish is only recommended when you need to create very small details and work in small areas.
That can be money-saving as well because nail polish usually comes in small bottles, so in terms of quantity, it’s probably not a very economical solution if you want to create big pieces.
Depending on the type of nail polish that you use, it can dry hard and become waterproof, but since it’s not really designed for longevity, the paint can crack and peel after a few weeks.
Since nail polish is designed to work with your nails, it actually works better with non-porous materials like metal, glass, or ceramic. For porous materials like fabric, paper, or canvas, there are a few extra steps that you have to take.
Let’s take a look at how to use nail polish with some materials below.
You can use nail polish to add texture and embellishments to fabric. Since nail polish comes in so many different shades and finishes, you can use it to add small details and add sparkles to fabric, creating a fun and unique look with details and glitter.
Because fabric is a porous surface, it’s a bit tricky to use with nail polish. For the nail polish to adhere to the fabric, you will need to heat-set the polish. This is simple enough – you can use a hairdryer to go over the painted area for a few minutes, and the polish should be able to bond to the fabric.
This works well with durable fabric like cotton or polyester, but if you have a particularly heat-sensitive fabric like rayon or spandex, it’s best to avoid painting the fabric with nail polish.
After heat setting, you can safely wash the painted fabric, but make sure to use the delicate cycle or hand-wash so that the paint won’t peel or crack from the friction of the washing machine.
Canvas is another porous surface that will work really well with nail polish. Since you won’t be washing your canvas, you don’t have to worry about priming or setting the nail polish. It will still show up really well on your canvas.
Nail polish is an excellent option to use on canvas if you want to play around with the water marbling technique. This is where you mix a few drops of polish of various colors in a pan with water, swirl the solution around, and dip the canvas in.
The result is a unique, marble-like finish that looks amazing without a lot of effort. Since you don’t need a lot of paint for this to work well, nail polish is an amazing solution for this technique.
You can use nail polish to add small details and embellishments to paper, similar to working with fabric. However, some polishes work better than others, and depending on the paper you have; you can opt for an option that works best.
Nail polish works great on cardstock when you want to add special designs when making cards or scrapbook pages.
Nail polish is a great solution to help you cover up scratches and fill up small cracks. Since it will dry hard, it can do a great job and stick to the wood nicely. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even add a top coat to protect the polish layer.
Keep in mind that because nail polish is not designed for this purpose, it’s probably not a very durable solution, especially for high-traffic areas like a hardwood floor. However, it’s still a good quick-fix solution that can work for small spots.
If you want to remove the nail polish from wood, you can use coarse sandpaper to sand down the polished area.
It’s usually not advisable to use nail polish with your walls.
This is because your walls are porous surfaces that actually withstand a lot, including heat and moisture. Your nail polish isn’t really designed for these purposes, so if you use nail polish on your walls, you will surely see a lot of cracks and peels right away.
‘Plastic’ is such a general term that can refer to a multitude of things, from single-use plastic and plastic bags to very strong and durable plastic containers. There are so many types of plastic that it can be difficult to determine which one will work best with which polish.
Some plastics can be painted with nail polish, but in a lot of cases, the plastic will either melt or weaken when you apply nail polish. This is why it’s important to test out the polish on a small spot first to see whether it will work.
If it works well, then you can safely proceed to paint on your plastic using nail polish. Since plastic is a non-porous surface, the paint can adhere to it well and stay well. It dries fast, and there are so many options for nail polish that allow for a whole range of creative projects.
Metal is another non-porous material that can work very well with nail polish. However, since some metals are quite prone to rust, it’s best to clean the metal surface thoroughly and allow it to dry before painting.
The most popular application of using nail polish to paint metal is to paint the handle of your keys to distinguish between them (but be careful not to paint the area that actually goes into the keyhole). This is a fun, practical way to use nail polish, and it’s a really quick project as well.
Nail polish can be painted on glass and mirrors, similar to other non-porous surfaces. If you would like to create a permanent design, apply a waterproof sealer after painting so that the paint won’t crack.
Similar to painting other surfaces, it’s best to clean the glass to remove any dust or grease before painting. Any residue can really prevent the paint from sticking to the surface.
This is an area where you can really have fun with decorating! You can customize your glasses, vases, and jars, or even add fun designs to your mirrors and windows – there are so many possibilities!
You can also use nail polish on ceramic. Water marbling is a technique that’s commonly done on ceramics using nail polish, and it works well on different types of ceramics too.
If you use nail polish on ceramics, it’s best to seal the paint with Mod Podge (use the dishwasher-safe type). This way, you can maintain the paint’s appearance and performance over time.
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