Paint Poly Furniture Like a Pro

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Last updated: July 19, 2023

Poly furniture is gaining more popularity among homeowners for a good reason. This type of synthetic wood resembles natural wood. Since it got all the aesthetic qualities of oak, pine, and cedar, people often wonder if they can also paint or stain Poly, but this isn’t required as a key sealing feature. Think of it as plastic wood. 🙂

The great news is, yes, you can paint poly furniture, as long as you don’t use harsh chemicals or paint strippers. The main secret is to pick a high-quality coat of primer used explicitly for exterior plastics. You must also thoroughly dry and clean the surface before applying the primer. And spray painting is a good idea so that the coats of paint from a regular top coat are not thick or heavy.

Read on to learn more about Poly furniture material and how to paint it properly, and good luck!

Table of Contents

  1. Paint poly furniture like a pro
  2. Can you use spray paint on poly material
  3. Should you sand poly before painting
  4. How do you paint poly material
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. Is it safe to paint poly outdoor furniture
    2. Why should you consider painting your poly outdoor furniture
    3. What is the best way of cleaning poly outdoor furniture
    4. Can power wash poly material

Paint poly furniture like a pro

From an environmental point of view, poly lumber is recycled from plastic containers. Did you know almost half a million plastic containers are produced daily and, due to ineffective recycling processes, end up ocean-bound or a landfill in far-off countries in Asia? Since poly is made from a proprietary blend of sawdust, recycled plastic, and reclaimed timber. Since it’s 95% recycled materials, mainly from everyday household plastic items, it’s still poly plastic lumber. It’s durable and easy to clean, and the mill plastic can withstand strong winds, hot sun, and winters for outdoor settings where the weather is involved.

In more technical terms, genuine poly lumber is made of high-density polyethylene or HDPE. It is durable and, as we already mentioned, comes from materials such as milk jugs, bottle caps, and laundry detergent bottles. Despite its name, Poly doesn’t contain any natural fibers or wood. 

By nature, HDPE is a durable plastic easy to clean and resistant to the harshest weather conditions like solid winds, snowy winters, and hot sun. HDPE is an ideal material for outdoor patio furniture.  Aside from high-density polyethylene, Poly lumber also includes UV-inhibited pigment systems that help maintain the Poly lumber colors all over the material and not only on the surface.  Aside from being impervious to sun, rain, snow, ice, and saltwater, this unique recycled furniture and industrial material are also highly valued because of its eco-friendliness. 

POLYWOOD GNB60MA Vineyard 60" Bench, Mahogany

Considering new outdoor furniture? You might want to look at plastic Adirondack chairs. Beyond their minimal assembly (simple instructions !), the Poly material can take any paint to give a fresh look to plastic outdoor furniture. Don’t forget to add some Poly cushions after you decide to paint plastic outdoor chairs. It is also important to note that this is not inexpensive furniture. Most of Trex outdoor furniture is constructed of solid POLY recyclable lumber, and Poly furniture also performs better than traditional plastic or even lumber outdoor furniture. 

Row of Muskoka Adirondack chairs on the dock in the summer sunshine

I have seen Adirondack chairs in white, red, blue, pink, and numerous other colors. Running a promotion or just like your favorite color, you have choices.

When ready for new furniture, consider Trex decking for the backyard porch. Any residual dirt will be easier to clean with essential tools such as a high-pressure power washer than teak wood.

Trex Outdoor Furniture Cape Cod Adirondack Chair, Sand Castle

The Poly brand (we can’t mention it due to trademark, but here is their website) has dozens of furniture styles. You’ll discover the famous Poly rocking chairs, Poly chairs, Poly picnic tables, Poly Adirondack chairs, and more. Thanks to their exceptional durability, the durable dining tables, bar sets, and poolside chaise lounges are also popular options for commercial and residential use. 

Can you use spray paint on poly material

Instead of just being stained on the outer surface, the color of Poly is infused all over the material. You don’t need to paint products made from this particular material. 

However, if you want to try to spray paint Poly, yes, you can do so. A spray paint application can create a reliable finish with a second coat. Aim for a satin finish if you do not want to reflect as much light as gloss. The type of paint matters, so aim for higher-quality paint for such coverings. It will bring outstanding coverage and enhanced aesthetics to your furniture.

POLYWOOD® Lakeside Dining Table, Slate Grey

The type of spray paint applied may even help breathe new life into the product and make it last longer.  Using spray paint instead of a soft bristle brush is also better to speed up the painting process.  A couple of options exist. Krylon and Rust-Oleum have primer paint formulas that allow a coat of spray paint to stick to most plastics, like polypropylene. Krylon released its Fusion All plastic spray paint back in 2004. In contrast, Rust-Oleum released the Touch 2X Ultra Cover product, which offers a simple way to add loose paint to plastic.

However, remember that the specific type of paint you use matters here and that you only use spray paint specifically formulated to be used on plastics.

Should you sand poly before painting

You should avoid using sandpaper to completely resurface Poly material because it will end up scratching the exterior or surface of the material. You need to clean the material before painting it. 

However, suppose there are already minor scratches on your Poly chairs. It might be acceptable to buff the Poly plastic with a light sanding before painting to help get that smooth, even surface. It would be best to do it in moderation to avoid differences in texture and color.

If you experience damage or general aging, read our article on how to repair poly furniture.

How do you paint poly material

Consider these things before painting Poly to ensure things get done correctly. It can be pretty tricky to paint Poly materials. 

First, you should prep the surface.
Clean it thoroughly using warm water to remove any contaminants or excess dirt because it can ruin and affect the finishing of your painted Poly furniture. The surface should dry before you start painting. 
Let the primer dry completely, and apply the paint using a spray gun/can or brush. A brush will let you control the finish better; it consumes more time than spray paint.
If you directly apply paint or use a primer and paint in one, this may dry up on the surface but may start peeling and chipping immediately.  
You should first apply the correct primer that will serve as a double-stick tape and offer an adhering surface where the paint can lock on.
Let the primer dry completely, and apply the paint using a spray gun/can or brush. A brush will let you control the finish better; it consumes more time than spray paint.

POLYWOOD NCC2280-WH Nautical Arms Chaise, White

You can choose what method works better for you. Again, make sure you use the right paint formulated for plastic chairs and plastic bottles since Poly is entirely HDPE plastic.  

Following these steps will make your old chairs made from Poly look new all over again that won’t peel off easily. Exterior paint can also protect the Poly items or furniture and make them last a long time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to paint poly outdoor furniture

The short answer is yes; it is safe to paint your Poly outdoor furniture. The full answer is that this is good news if you wish to change the aesthetics of your furniture, update its texture, and ensure the best year-round performance. We’ve written a blog post here and there about upcycling furniture items for home decor, and these have been some of our most popular posts!

Why should you consider painting your poly outdoor furniture

While poly may be better than resin furniture for outdoor use, your furniture may take a severe battering from the different elements if you live in a coastal area with frequent salt spray and strong coastal winds. Painting your poly furniture can give it a fresh update with a new color

To learn more about Poly versus Trex outdoor furniture, read on.

What is the best way of cleaning poly outdoor furniture

POLYWOOD GNS60WH Vineyard 60" Swing, White

There are a couple of options for cleaning Poly furniture, and this is very easy to do because it requires low maintenance, and there is no risk of removing paint. All you need is water and mild dish soap to clean these pieces. 

Please read our more detailed article on how to clean poly furniture.  

Can power wash poly material

Yes, it is safe to power wash Poly material for easier maintenance. Just make sure you don’t go beyond 1,500 psi. An annual blast from a power washer will be enough to ensure that no dirt forms in gaps or joints and prevent critters from living in the hidden nooks of the furniture

Read more about the best poly outdoor furniture covers.

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