How to Paint a Cardboard in 6 Easy Steps [2023]

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Cardboard is one of the most sorted art materials for artwork due to its versatility, lightweight and low-budget nature.

Whether you are repurposing that old cardboard by creating artwork or for pleasurable art projects, cardboard gives you room to make mistakes and restart without feeling the waste.

If your work does not turn out as intended, you can eliminate it without feeling a pinch on your money. Using cardboard is a good way of experimenting with creativity and improving your skills, unlike when using cartridge paper.

Cardboard modeling is another craft that requires painting. This craft is commonly used by architects, designers, or for pleasure.

However, cardboard may not be a good option if you look forward to solid art projects since it cannot last long without decomposing. Your artwork will also be short-lived.

Can I use Spray Paint on Cardboard Box?

Painting cardboard is very delicate due to its porous surface; therefore, not every paint can be used. However, with the few available options, you can have the best results if you follow instructions.

Spray painting is one of the best options for perfect-looking art since it is easy to apply. If you intend to cover a wide area, a paintbrush may not be practical.

Also, certain finishings can only be done through spray painting. In addition, you can find spray paint at your nearest art supplies store or hardware. So, yes, you can use spray paint on a cardboard box.

Can I Use Spray Paint On Cardboard Box
Spray Paint on Cardboard Box

If you want to spray paint cardboard, ensure you are in a well-ventilated environment with enough air inflow because spray painting requires a fully sheltered environment free from wetness, cold, and wind.

However, some people are reluctant to use spray paint as they complain about easily warping the cardboard. Warping can only happen due to excess moisture. Below are some helpful tips for spraying paint cardboard effectively without warping:

  • Use corrugated cardboard (double-wall or triple-wall)
  • Work in a dry environment.
  • Hold the can at least 12inches from the cardboard.
  • Apply a light coat on the cardboard surface and let it dry completely before applying another.
  • Apply thin coats of primer and let them dry before painting.
  • Avoid working in an area with high humidity.
  • Store your cardboard in a cool and dry place

What Types of Paints Can I Use on Cardboard?

Despite being loaded with many benefits, cardboard is made from craft paper, so when too much moisture is applied, it tends to warp. That is why you need to use the correct type of paint. Below are some of the highly recommended cardboard paints:

Types Of Paints To Use On Cardboard
Types of Paints to Use on Cardboard

1. Acrylic Paints

Regarding the best cardboard paints, acrylic paints take the lead since they are readily available, easy to use, less toxic, and affordable. Their versatile nature makes them perfect to use on different surfaces such as canvas, metal, wood, ceramics, cardboard, and many more.

Acrylic paints have a pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and are solvents in water when moist. Still, once it has dried, it becomes water-resistant and forms like a plastic film.

Acrylic Paints
Acrylic Paints

However, this paint is moist and thicker coats can cause warping on your cardboard even with a primed surface if you are not careful enough. To avoid warping, apply a light coat as much as possible and let it dry before applying another coat. Use a sponge or a dry brush to paint.

If it does not spread easily, bend and twist the bristles to make them less stiff. Avoid squeezing the acrylic paint from the tube directly onto the cardboard, as it could leave moisture patches. After painting, it is easy to clean up everything using little water. Below are the top best acrylic paints:

  • Mont Marte Signature Acrylic Colour Paint Set: This set consists of thirty-six acrylic color paints, and you can apply them to all your craft and art projects. You can paint several coats within a short time due to the rich texture that dries extremely quickly. The paints blends and coat together easily, giving you great results
  • ARTIST Acrylic Paint Set: The set has twenty-four acrylics in numerous colors and can work on various surfaces. They coat and blend perfectly. This kit gives you various craft choices due to its versatile nature. It is non-toxic, making it suitable for kids and adults. They mix well, giving you colorful tones and shades.

2. Oil Paints

Oil paints are another alternative for cardboard painting. Just like acrylic paints, they are thick but with more vibrant colors than that acrylic. However, they are a bit expensive compared to acrylic paints and have some toxic paint pigments.

In addition to their downsides, you may require turpentine or mineral spirits to clean up once you are done. Use light coats, as thicker ones may warp the cardboard. If possible, prime the cardboard before you begin to paint and leave it to dry.

Oil Paints
Oil Paints

3. Spray paint

Spray paints dry within the shortest time compared to other paints. It takes up to 15 minutes to dry completely. Ensure to spray paint cardboard when it is lying flat to avoid warping or breaking it.

It is easy to cover a large area of the cardboard using this paint and can also easily reach places a paintbrush cannot. Here are the leading spray paints in the market:

Spray Paint
Spray Paint
  • Krylon Glitter Spray Paint: If you are a beginner, the Krylon spray brand will serve you best. They are cheap, and apart from this glitter shade, they come in other varieties. It takes a short time to spray paint cardboard using Krylon paint since it combines paint and primer. Despite Krylon being considered for vinyl, wood, plastic, and metal surfaces, it is still fit for use on cardboard. Shake the paint well to mix the glitter properly before use. It is easy to apply.
  • Rust-Oleum 249130 Spray Paint: This spray paint is the most versatile and dries within a very short time. Using Rust-Oleum is not complicated, just the point where you want to spray and start moving. You can paint a large surface quickly, and the finished work looks great on most surfaces.

Spray Paint Cardboard: How to Paint a Cardboard Box?

Spray painting cardboard is easy so long as you are keen on instructions and you have prepared yourself together with the working space properly. Despite being heavy-duty paper, cardboard is not made to withstand paints effectively. However, you can make a long-lasting paint finish by applying a primer before painting.

Spray Paint Cardboard
Spray Paint Cardboard

A primer keeps your cardboard craft and art projects in good shape for longer. The type of spray you choose to use will depend on your paint preference and the type of project you are doing. Below are instructions for a perfect spray paint cardboard:

Step 1:

Use a gesso or a latex primer for your cardboard. Apply the primer using a foam brush or a sponge. Apply two vertically and horizontally layers, respectively, and leave it to dry about 24 hours before painting. If the primer layer is rough after it has dried, sand it with fine-grit sandpaper until smooth. Clean your sponges and brushes after applying the primer.

Step 2:

Ensure your working area is well-ventilated and sheltered. You can also spray paint cardboard outdoors, provided there is no wind or moisture. There should be good airflow as the fumes can be toxic. Also, put on a facemask to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes through your mouth or nose.

Step 3:

Prepare your working space since removing spray paint on the surface is challenging. Place a newspaper, old sheet, tarp, or another cardboard underneath the cardboard you intend to spray paint. Use a piece of cloth to remove any dust or dirt from the surface of your cardboard. Also, put on gloves and protective clothing.

Step 4:

The pigments found in the spray paint tend to separate after some time. Therefore, Shake the spray paint for not less than 3 seconds to combine the pigments and to have a balanced gradient. Keep shaking the can every hour to have a good flow gradient.

Step 5:

Hold the can about twelve inches from the cardboard surface and spray lightly. Move the paint can on every part of the cardboard to create any pattern of your desire while still spraying lightly. Avoid spraying any section more than two times since it can oversaturate and cause warps. Leave the first coat to dry for about 2 hours before applying another coat.

Step 6:

Once you have confirmed that the first layer is completely dry, proceed to apply the second coat. Use the same technique as in step 5. You can create a contrast in your painting using a different color for other coats. You can add more coats to achieve a firm color. Ensure you allow at least a 2-hour interval before adding another coat.

How to Mend The Damage?

Despite having all the information on how to spray paint cardboard, it is still possible to miss one or two steps accidentally and end up with a warped painting. If the damage is not too severe, you can mend it instead of disposing of all your efforts, time spent, and paint used. Follow the instructions below to mend the damage:

Step 1: Ensure that the cardboard has dried completely. You can store it in a safe place for up to 3 days before mending it.

Step 2: Using a spray, rehydrate the cardboard lightly to bring it back to shape. Never soak or dip the cardboard into water lest the pulp tears away.

Step 3: Set the cardboard on an even surface to ensure the curls face upwards. Place an even plywood cut on the cardboard and add heavy items such as books. Leave your cardboard in that state to dry for about 24 hours to 3 days. You can redo the process if the cardboard does not flat within the appointed time.

Away from that, you can seal your spray paint cardboard to protect your artwork and improve its appearance. Also, sealing will help your artwork last longer.

The sealing process is a bit costly, but if you do not intend to keep your spray paint cardboard, you can do away with it. So, what do you use to seal painted cardboard?

And the answer is, applying varnish. You can choose between a spray and a brush-on varnish paint. Varnishes also come in various finishes, such as matte and gloss.

An acrylic paint could serve your painted cardboard better since it is water-based, easy to use, non-toxic, fast-drying, and can be used on different surfaces.

Prepare your working space by laying down a sheet of paper, be it a newspaper or another piece of cardboard. Ensure there is no dust on your cardboard painting. Put on a face mask, gloves, and protective clothes. Mark the areas you do not want to varnish using masking tape.

Shake the vanish can for a few minutes, then hold a few inches away from the cardboard surface. Once the entire surface is covered, leave it to dry for a few hours. If necessary, apply a second coat once the first one has dried.


You can create great spray paint cardboard art projects if you follow all the recommended instructions, from identifying the correct paint for your project to priming, spray painting, varnishing, and everything useful in detail, as explained above.

Spray painting cardboard has never been this fun and easy for both young and old. Avoid using water-based paintings as much as possible, or you will have to spend more days trying to mend the damage.

Read MoreHow To Paint House Exterior With Sprayer?

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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