How to paint a plastic playhouse to add character and make it unique. Such an easy DIY to keep this Little Tikes house out of the landfill!
.How to paint a plastic playhouse to add character and make it unique. Such an easy DIY to keep this Little Tikes house out of the landfill!
I was leaving my gym the other day and saw this big playhouse sitting by the dumpster. I wanted to call and ask if they were actually tossing it, but I was embarrassed to ask and running late so I didn't. The next day it was STILL THERE. So okay, this is just fate telling me I NEEDED this playhouse, right?! I asked and the child care in the gym said they were told to get rid of it. I asked if I could take it and they said sure. SO EXCITING. This is a DIY project that I've been EAGER to attempt!
I've been wanting a playhouse for the kids, even though there's a playhouse portion of their swing set (which I upgraded with accessories last year).
These plastic playhouses are way cool and seem to have more to them than the wood ones that come with the swing set. There's something about plastic playhouses that calls out to the little girl in me, but I certainly wouldn't have dropped the $300-400 that this particular playhouse costs new. But free? Heck yes. I'm doing the world a favor... no toys going in the landfill around this lady.
And really... it's for the good of the blog right?
So I couldn't just leave it looking like it was. It was dirty, pieces were missing, and hey why not paint it too. I was able to order many of the accessories from the Little Tikes website for around $25. This project didn't cost me a ton and my sons LOVE it.
Below are a list of the supplies I used or recommend (I made some adjustments or suggestions for supplies in situations where the product I used wasn't awesome). Many can be bought on Amazon and I'm including affiliate links to the products.
- Rustoleum 2x Painter's Touch: Satin. I used deep blue, seaside, and warm yellow.*
- Acrylic Paints
- Mod Podge
- Paint Brushes
- UV Krylon UV Resistant Spray Paint in Clear: I used matte. I didn't love this stuff and it seems to take off some of the paint underneath a bit. Not sure how well it will work. If you can find something better, I recommend trying that instead, but this was the only thing I found that others seemed to have used. Most people don't appear to use a spray to seal the paints on their redone playhouses, but I was feeling reallllllly paranoid after all the detailed painting I did.
- Lettering if desired.
- Replacement accessories if needed.
*Order SATIN spray paint, not gloss. I was reading this blogger's post about spray painting her plastic chairs and how they looked a year later. She said the gloss faded. I saw this AFTER I'd already spray painted with gloss, of course. Darker colors are easier to paint on with less coats, but are harder to paint details on after.
How to Update an Old Plastic Playhouse
- Take the playhouse apart. Wash (we power washed ours) and let dry.
- Order any new parts that are necessary. It will take a few days for them to come in. I could've bought decals, but obviously they come off so I decided to paint and mod podge some lettering on instead. This may come off as well, but they're items I had on hand.
- Spray paint the large areas. You need special spray paint for plastic and keep in mind that darker colors offer better coverage, *but* if you want to paint the details, then it will take you much longer if you spray painted the sides darker colors.
The yellow did a terrible job covering up the tan color, although I think my yellow paint was just awful compared to other colors of the same product. Do additional layers of spray paint as necessary. I needed 2-3 cans of each color that I used. The dark blue needed the least because it was only one side and had great coverage. I didn't spray paint the inside of the ceilings to conserve paint.
I also spray painted the hoop.
Let it dry before moving on to the next step.
- Optional- You can use acrylic paints
for the plastic to add detail to the playhouse. It's so odd, but the playhouse we found had all these really cool details, but they didn't have anything on the original product to make those things pop. I saw an Amazon reviewer had done this with her playhouse so I figured I'd give it a try.
This job is not for the weak. It took me 2 episodes of Orange is the New Black, 6 episodes of The Newsroom, and 1 episode of Supernatural to finish the details I did (I wasn't really watching the shows either, just needed the story in background to keep me from dying of boredom. Haha.). And I didn't do all of them because the dark sides were harder to paint over. This was a lot of work, but I think it was lots of fun too. I spray painted the tire black... any larger item would do well with spray paint if you can properly cover the other areas. It would make things MUCH faster and the paint just went on easier. I wish I'd realized that before I painted the tool chest and safe by hand.
The paints below are the ones that I used. I needed to use a couple layers of paint in order for the background paint to not show through. This was a bit of a struggle, but it worked out okay. The paint job certainly isn't perfect.
I asked to receive this product free to use for this project in exchange for an honest review and an affiliate link on my blog (below). Let me be clear- these paints aren't really made for plastic, but I couldn't find anything that met my needs better than this beside spray paint which just wasn't going to work for the detailed parts. Trust me, I tried it. Spray paint went horribly. These paints allowed me to fill in detailed areas carefully and cautiously with different size paint brushes.
The sealant I used over it will HOPEFULLY protect the paint job from the weather. I may see if I can find another sealant if I start having trouble.
- Use stickers and mod podge to add lettering and other details.
- Cover with UV sealant spray paint. Pray. No seriously... I'm so worried. I hope this stuff works. I only needed 2 spray cans of this.
- Replace accessory parts.
- Rebuild in area you want to put your playhouse.
Additional options: We haven't gotten to this yet, but my husband is also making a replacement phone and half door from wood, and I'll be replacing the soccer netting on the "Score!" side. None of those items were available to purchase on the Little Tikes website for replacement parts, although I realized it's a GREAT place to pick up replacement parts like basketballs and such because they're cheaper than other places.
Update: I wrote another post, Painting Plastic: Does it Last?, if you want to see updated photos of this playhouse and recommendations on how to best paint plastic toys. I also have recommendations for storing the toys and types of paint.
Do your kids have a playhouse? Do they LOVE it? Do you keep it inside or outside?