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Little Tikes Paint Job FAIL

You’ve seen it all over the internet. You wanted to try it, but it just seemed so naughty…and…wrong. But all those deviants made it look so, so attractive.

Spray paint on plastic, that is. You’ve seen it here and here and here on ApartmentTherapy.  

So dirty. So evil. Yet, so, so enticing.

When I scored this Little Tikes Cook ‘n Clean Kitchen at DI for a measly $5, I was psyched. I knew my time had come to head to the dark side and try painting on the forbidden surface.

Sigh. I was really going to pimp this baby out. I was going to create new stickers and add a curtain. But it turns out, painting on plastic still isn’t’ the greatest idea.

While I didn’t use the Krylon Fusion suggested in the examples I found online, the paint I DID use (Rustoleum brand) specifically noted on the packaging that was had an extremely strong bond and was perfect for plastic. Just be be sure, I cleaned the kitchen with ammonia and sanded it with extra-fine sandpaper (I know, right?! I never like projects that take multiple steps).

I painted multiple coats and followed the instructions on the paint can to a T.

Things were starting to look good…

But after a couple days of drying time, I realized my project had gone awry.

I tried to pop one of the cabinet doors back into place on the kitchen, and I quickly ended up with scratches galore.

While I hadn’t waited the seven days for “maximum durability” as noted on the paint can, I figured that two day was plenty to very carefully try to piece the the thing back together.

But no, this was a DIY project for the fail files. Perhaps if I had given it a few more days of drying time…or if I had put a couple coats of clearcoat on top of the color… Maybe then it would have worked out. But honestly? I wasn’t too keen on spray painting the hell out of something and handing it to my toddler to put her mouth all over, anyway. I was going to be okay with it if the paint seemed REEEEEAAAALLLLYYYY durable. But no. It didn’t. Harper would slam this thing with a fake pot a couple times, and we’d have a chemical disaster on our hands. No bueno. And I really don’t think a few more days of drying would have helped all that much.

So, there you have it. Not all crafting projects in blogland turn out Pinterest-worthy! I know mine certainly don’t.

Have you tried any spray paint specifically designed for plastic? How did it work out? Have you ever had the perfect DIY project in your head, and it turned out to be a failure? Do tell!

  • Francine Johnson McGee

    I haven’t yet, but I do have some plastic chairs I thought I would test it on. I’ll let you know how it works out when I get to it. Right now I have my seasons reversed. Here in the Pacific Northwest, where it REALLY changes weather every couple of hours, except for those 8 months straight where it rains, and it has actually been sunny for WEEKS, I have had an insatiable sewing bug. I’ll probably be spray painting in the basement with the door open in November. Well, since you did it all correctly and it didn’t work, perhaps if I do it all WRONG it will work? Right?

  • Erin

    Hi, I just read another diy blog that talks about her experiment with spray painting a Little Tikes picnic table. She said that she read a “tip” that explains that Little Tikes uses a polyethylene plastic that hinders paint adhesion. I’m still researching if there’s a way to get it to stick well.

  • Rachel

    I think I know the problem. It was the paint. I’ve done a picnic table ( and it didn’t eat my plastic. I didn’t take the extra step to sand, but if I did it again, I would. Don’t give up!

  • Dan

    I read on another website that they had to use spray primer first. I’m potentially picking up a used little tikes picnic table so was looking for options on rejuvenating it.

  • jarreau

    Did you use primer and allow it to dry?

    I’m sure that’s what was missing..

    They sell it in a can… made by rustoleon as well and it sprays