Can You Use Acrylic Paint on a Mailbox? Guideline

Yes, you can directly use acrylic paint on a mailbox that’s made of metal and wood. However, acrylic paints might not adhere to plastic surfaces unless they’re properly sanded and have primer applied. Otherwise, the paint will start to peel off after a while. 

Many people seem confused about using acrylic paint on mailboxes. Hence, we’ve decided to step up and give an in-depth answer to this question. 

Check it out! 

Is It Okay to Apply Acrylic Paint on a Mailbox?

As mentioned earlier, if your mailbox is made of metal, then you can proceed without any hesitation. Acrylic paints work well on metal and wood surfaces. 

But if the mailbox has been painted before, you’ll have to make sure you clean up the old paint entirely, clean the surface, and apply primer before using acrylic paint.

If the mailbox is made of plastic, then acrylic paint won’t be a good choice since such paint doesn’t adhere well to non-porous surfaces. 

But if you want to use this paint on plastic anyway, first, you’ll have to apply latex paint that is specially designed for plastic. And after drying the paint, then you can apply acrylic paint.

How to Use Acrylic Paint on A Mailbox

Applying acrylic paint on a mailbox is an easy job but what’s a bit sweaty is the preparation. Here’s how you should use acrylic paint on a mailbox. 

Step 1-Sanding the Surface

Whether it’s a wood mailbox or metal, to enable the paint to adhere well, the surface needs to be prepared. To prepare the surface you’ll require a fine grit sand paper and wire brush. Now sand the surface thoroughly and then use the brush to clean up. Then take a damp cloth and wipe clean all the dust. 

Step 2 – Use Primer

Once you’ve cleaned the surface properly, apply a suitable primer. Latex primers work well with acrylic paints. After applying the first coat, wait for that to dry and then apply the second coat. 

Step 3 – Paint

When the primer coatings have dried, now you can apply the paint. Take a roller or brush, and paint the mailbox.

What Are the Advantages of Acrylic Paint?

There are many reasons why acrylic paints are highly popular. Let’s have a look at them −

1. Easy Clean-Up 

Unlike oil paints, you won’t have to work hard to clean up the painting items (brush, tray, etc.) when using acrylic paint. Just let the items soak in water for a while, and you should be able to wash off the paint completely. 

That’s because acrylic paints are water-based, and they dissolve pretty easily in water. 

Oil paints would’ve required you to use a special solution such as turpentine to clean the brushes, hands, paint spills around, etc. 

2. Less Allergic or Toxic

Most of the paints have volatile organic compounds, some contain low VOCs and some high. The VOC level in acrylic paint is very low which is why it’s considered safe for humans. Plus, acrylic doesn’t have an irritating fume as well. 

But you can’t be 100% sure, as manufacturers keep on experimenting with different formulas. That’s why, it’ll be wise that you take the needed precautions such as wearing a respirator mask (if you’ve breathing issues), and wearing gloves (for people with sensitive skin). 

3. Dries Fast 

The biggest advantage of using acrylic paint is− they dry faster than oil paint. After the first coating of acrylic paint, you won’t have to wait for a day to apply the next coating. Thin films of acrylic paint dries completely within 20 – 40 minutes. And thick films might take around 2 – 3 hours depending on the environment.

This fast-drying feature makes acrylic paint the only option when working on a very tight schedule.

4. Resembles Oil and Water Paint

There are some techniques that can make acrylic paint imitate oil and water paint. To imitate oil paint, the easiest way is to add acrylic gel to the paint. And to make the paint look like water paint, mix just a little bit of water. 

And the best part is, even though acrylic paint will look like oil paint, that won’t affect the cleaning process, it’ll still be easy to clean the paint with water. 

5. Water-Resistant 

Acrylic paints are water-resistant, they can withstand water splashes and spills. But the paint won’t be able to withstand heavy rain if not sealed with a high-quality sealer.

For being water-resistant, acrylic paint can be used on walls.

Are There Any Disadvantages of Acrylic Paints?

Yes, acrylic paints come with a few cons as well −

  1. The color of acrylic paint changes when it dries completely, it gets dark.
  2. As this paint dries quickly, the painter has to work fast.
  3. Once this paint gets dried, it’s hard to remove, therefore, the painter needs to keep washing hands and items with water.
  4. Acrylic paint isn’t environment-safe, as they contain heavy metals like toluene, xylene, styrene monomer, etc. 

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on a Mailbox that Is Already Painted?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on a mailbox that’s already painted with acrylic paint. But before you apply the paint, you’ll have to make sure the surface is properly sanded and has primer applied, so that the new paint will last longer and look good. 

What About Applying Acrylic Paint over Oil Paint?

No! Applying acrylic paint over oil paint is an absolute no-go! Oil and acrylic paint bases are totally different, and as we know, oil and water don’t mix. Similarly, you should be careful about mixing different types of paint or ink with acrylic paint. For instance, you shouldn’t mix alcohol ink with acrylic paint as you won’t get desired results.

Acrylic paints are water-based, and they won’t stick to oil paint surfaces for obvious reasons. As a result, after a few days, you’ll see the new paint peeling off. 

Furthermore, even though acrylic paints are water-based, they act like latex plastic coating, which doesn’t breathe properly. And oil paints produce gas that needs to be escaped. 

Therefore, when acrylic paint is applied over oil paint, the produced gas can’t escape, and that results in air bubbles in the paint. And after a little time, the new paint will start to crack. 

Isn’t There Any Way to Apply Acrylic Paint over a Mailbox That’s Oil Painted?

Yes, there is! If the oil paint is totally cured, acrylic paint can be applied over that. 

But how would you know if the paint is cured properly or not? 

Well, it takes at least 2-year for oil paints to be cured properly. After 2-years, applying acrylic paint shouldn’t be an issue. But even then, the paint needs to be sanded and primed.

Another way is to prepare the surface by cleaning and sanding it. Here’s how you can prepare an oil painted surface for repainting:

  1. Use a putty knife or anything sharp to take off the old paint
  2. Pick a fine grit sandpaper and thoroughly sand the surface
  3. Brush off all the dust and apply primer

Can You Paint A Rusty Mailbox?

You can’t directly paint a rusty mailbox. First, you have to sand the mailbox with sandpaper to get rid of rust flakes. Then, you’ll have to wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the rust powders. After that, a suitable primer needs to be applied. And then you can paint. 

Is It Okay to Apply Acrylic Paint on a Mailbox Without a Primer?

No, it’s not okay to apply paint without primer on a metal mailbox. Especially when the mailbox has been painted before. 

Primer is a liquid solution that prepares the metal surface so that paint can lock well. When paint locks properly with the surface, it lasts long. Otherwise, the paint will peel off in no time. 

There are different types of primers, and not all of them are suitable for acrylic paint. Make sure to pick a primer that works fine with acrylic paints. Latex primer works the best with acrylic paints. Here are two top-rated latex primers:

  • INSL-X AP100009A-04 Prime
  • INSL-X SXA11009A-04 Stix Acrylic Waterborne Bonding Primer

Can You Apply Acrylic Paint on a Mailbox Without a Sealer?

Yes, you can apply acrylic paint without sealer but you have to compromise the shelf life of the paint in that case. 

Mailboxes are usually exposed to rain and snow. Therefore, to keep the paint safe, you’ll have to make sure that the paint can withstand different weather conditions. And that’s where sealers come in. 

Sealers add a water-resistant layer to the paint to make sure water doesn’t penetrate inside and damage the paint. 

What Other Kinds of Paint Can You Use on a Mailbox?

Apart from acrylic, there are some other paint types as well that can be used on mailboxes. In this section, we’ll be looking into those. Take a look:

  • Oil-based paints On Metal Mailboxes

Oil-based paints are an excellent option for metal mailboxes because such paint adheres properly to the metal surface. 

Not only that, oil-based paints dry fast, last long, and they’re water-resistant too. Apart from oil-based paints, water-based paint is also an option.

  • Water-based, latex, and oil-based paints on Wooden Mailboxes

Water-based, latex, and oil-based paints are all suitable for wooden mailboxes. 

But compared to water-based ones, oil-based and latex paints seem to work best for wood surfaces. That’s because water-based paints can cause the wood to swell. Plus, it’s hard to apply water-based paints on the wood surface using a roller or brush due to the texture. 

  • Latex-based on Plastic Mailboxes

Latex-based paints that are specially formulated for plastic are best for plastic mailboxes. Besides that, oil-based paints also work well on plastic surfaces that are prepared (Sanded and primed). 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use acrylic paint on a plastic mailbox?

No, you can’t use acrylic paint directly on a plastic mailbox. Doing so will result in the paint peeling off the mailbox. To apply acrylic paint on plastic, you’ll first have to apply a paint suitable for plastic. And then you can apply acrylic paint over that. 

Can I paint designs in my mailbox?

Sure, you can! If you have painting skills, you can do some creative designs on your mailbox that’ll make it stand out from the rest. And if you don’t have the skill, you can hire someone to do that for you. 

What surface does acrylic paint not stick to?

Acrylic paint will not stick to plastic material due to its non-porous smooth surface. Plus, this paint won’t stick to silicon, Teflon, and nylon as well. To make acrylic paint stick to these materials, the surface needs to be heavily sanded and then prepared with a high-quality primer. 

How long does it take for acrylic paint to dry on metal?

It actually depends on the environment, if you’re working in a windy environment, the paint will dry faster. But usually, acrylic paint dries within 30 minutes if the layer is thin. Thick layers might take around 1 ½ hours to dry properly. 

How do you seal acrylic paint to make it fully waterproof?

After applying the paint, wait till the paint is dried completely. With a thick brush, apply the first coat of sealer properly. Leave the first coat for drying and when it dries, apply the second coat. Repeat the same process and apply the third one. That should make the paint waterproof. 


So, can you use acrylic paint on a mailbox? Well, yes, you surely can! As long as the mailbox is made of metal or wood, you can use acrylic paint on that with no worries. 

If the mailbox is made of plastic, you’ll have to use a paint that’s suitable for plastic, or you’ll have to heavily sand the plastic and prepare it with a primer before applying acrylic paint. 

However, it’s not recommended to use acrylic paint on plastic material. 

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