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"What kind of paint doesn't dissolve styrene" Topic

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18 Dec 2020 6:44 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "What kind of paint dosen't dissolve styrene" to "What kind of paint doesn't dissolve styrene"

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von Schwartz18 Dec 2020 6:34 p.m. PST

I'm going to try to cut up and form some styrene sheets I found lurking about my daughter's place and use them to make terrain, low hills and the like. The styrene is white and I would like to get some sort of terrain color either light brown or tan and some green before I try to flock them using diluted white glue. What is the best paint to use? I used some small pieces of the styrene to hold flag standards, partizans, and halberds for painting. After spraying them, the plastic seemed to be starting to dissolve, granted the paint was spray primer, so they probably had some solvents.

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2020 7:06 p.m. PST

Get a larger brush and use acrylic craft paint from Walmart or Hobby Lobby. I would get a large bottle of brown or green.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2020 7:22 p.m. PST

Acrylics and enamels.

William Warner18 Dec 2020 8:23 p.m. PST

If you want to use spray paint you can first coat the styrene with diluted white glue or Modpodge. If you're doing destroyed buildings you can leave parts of the styrene uncoated with the white glue. When you spray, only the uncoated parts will partially melt, making great battle damage.

Sgt Slag18 Dec 2020 8:31 p.m. PST

You can also use latex house paint. It can be custom tinted to any color you need, so long as you have a sample of the desired color. Or… You can use plain white latex paint, and just use it to seal the foam from the solvents; when the latex paint is fully cured, paint with whatever you like.

Another option is to paint the entire piece with Mod-Podge, to seal it. You can also use PVA Glue to seal it. Latex paint, however, is easier. Make certain you cover the entire surface area, every square inch. Cheers!

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP18 Dec 2020 10:12 p.m. PST

Use Tamiya spray paint, I have had good results. Always test a sample of any paint or process to insure you don't ruin the good stuff.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

Blackhorse MP19 Dec 2020 7:11 a.m. PST

I'm with Sgt Slag on the latex house paint. I picked up a quart at Home Depot and it should keep me going for years.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP19 Dec 2020 7:29 a.m. PST


I also use latex house paint for my styrofoam (which is what I think you mean rather than styrene which is a harder plastic) hills. You can get whatever shade(s) you want of greens and browns from your local hardware, paint, or big box store.


Rod MacArthur19 Dec 2020 10:00 a.m. PST

I have always used polystyrene tiles (or spare polystyrene packing sections) to make my terrain boards and hills. I paint these with Matt Dulux emulsion paint, which does not melt the polystyrene at all.

You can see the system here:


I have nearly finished painting some additional hill sections modified to make ravines, cliffs and passes. I will post a link to that when I put it on my website.


Striker19 Dec 2020 10:09 a.m. PST

House paint is what I use.

von Schwartz19 Dec 2020 10:35 a.m. PST

Wow! thanks for all the help, lots of good ideas

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Dec 2020 1:52 p.m. PST

Krylon makes spray paint with the "H2O" label. They are water based paints using water as a diluting agent, so it won't dissolve foam or the other things that acetone does eat away.

Kelly Armstrong20 Dec 2020 5:47 a.m. PST

To get the first coat of acrylic paints to stick better to the styrene, I have had success with a clear spray primer. the Brand is Montanna ( the product is "Primer Sparay Pre-treatment. I also use it on resin models after a soap and water wash. The brand are artist quality sprays (the choice of discerning street artists) and great for wargaming terrain.

Rich Bliss20 Dec 2020 11:19 a.m. PST

Latex house paint is my go to for this application. Craft stores also have spray primer explicitly for styrene. it is pricey though

von Schwartz20 Dec 2020 2:10 p.m. PST

I've seen a couple references to Mod-Podge, what, exactly is that?

Sgt Slag20 Dec 2020 6:42 p.m. PST

Mod Podge is a PVA Glue based sealer/glue. It is designed for decoupage applications. It is an extremely useful tool for terrain, particularly those involving foam. It is commonly used to prime foam craft structures. You can add acrylic paint to it, to color it. When applied to foam, it hardens the surface structures which it is applied to.

It can also be used as a glue, and to attach (decoupage) paper to foam, or other surfaces. You can look at it on the Internet for more information. Cheers!

Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 2:57 p.m. PST
Personal logo javelin98 Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2020 2:58 p.m. PST

Okay, that image was way bigger than I thought! Sorry!

von Schwartz ver 225 Dec 2020 5:56 p.m. PST

All this has given me an idea that I'm going to try once the Holidays are past and things and things have quieted down a bit. Using Mod Podge and sheet lichen, I'll keep you posted.

von Schwartz ver 209 Jan 2021 4:31 p.m. PST

I do appreciate all the good advice provided. I did a little research and discovered that Mod-Podge is basically white glue mixed 50/50 with water. They gave it a cute name and charge an arm and a leg, and maybe a portion of some other appendage. I'm gonna make my own. I even got a cute name for it….wait for it…"BOB-Podge" great name right?!?!?

Sgt Slag12 Jan 2021 11:13 a.m. PST


Mod Podge is more than PVA Glue + Water. However, PVA + H2O will work very similarly. I would recommend a superior PVA Glue, not "School Glue", which is watered-down PVA Glue.

The PVA Glue has some drawbacks: white varieties usually dry to a whitish substance, which is pretty glossy. The Mod Podge comes in glossy, semi-glossy, and matte. PVA Glue will soften when it becomes wet; there are water resistant versions of Mod Podge, made for outdoor use. There are a variety of formulas for Mod Podge, so depending upon your needs, you may find it is a better option.

I always say, "Experimentation is King, Baby!" Give it a try. If you don't like the results, you can always buy a jar of Mod Podge. Cheers!

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