Painting Rubber

Has anyone successfully painted soft rubber without getting stretch marks or peeling?
Please reccomend a paint if so. Im trying krylon’s plastic paint right now, but it’s still a bit tacky even after 2 days…

Man, that sounds rough.

Almost every paint I can think of tries to dry to a hard, scratch resistant finish, which on rubber means that every time the rubber flexes, you get cracking like crazy.

If you can find it (maybe online) animators use a paint called cell vinyl (or just vinyl paint), which is designed to paint on acetate sheets, so it has to be flexible enough not to crack as you move it around. That might work, but it could be pretty expencive for painting a big piece. I had a tough time finding a store that sells it online – the only one I saw was this fishing tackle store:

If that won’t work, you might try something like plasti-dip. This is a fake-out at best, as you won’t get a wide range of colors with ony 6 to mix from, and it probably wont be as flexible as the original part. But if it’s a last resort, it might be the way to go.

Good luck, and if you find either of these works, be sure to let us know, since this question comes up every once in a while.

Don’t think it’s even possible. Rubber are molded with the color. If you are making a model, why use real rubber in the first place if you can’t get the right color?

I was just waiting for that one…
yes I am trying to cast, but its a back up plan. Im keeping things open because of such a tight timeframe I am working in.
Thanks for the tips on the tackle paint.

Can’t you dye the rubber before you pour it into the mould?

Yes. I will be mixing the color for the cast piece. I also have found the same shape “off the shelf” in a different color that I can paint as a back up.

Depends on what you mean by “rubber”

True latex based rubbers can be painted with latex paints, not house paint but the latex paint used to paint foam rubber puppets, and special effects prosthetics, you’re always gonna want the base part to be cast in the lightest color, it’s hard to cover dark colors with lighter colors.

There are a few commercial products available that are painted rubber but they are few and far between because the process is sloppy. I know of a few painted dog toys, but the thing that comes to mind imediately are the WWF Wrestling action figures from the 80’s anyone who remebers those knows how awesome they were but also that most of the time the painted hair or yellow under drawers were rarely painted precisely.

Plasti Dip was mentioned, you can do quite a bit with this stuff, you can thin it with Bestine and mix it with latex pigments then run it through an airbrush, i have used this method to finish models and the results can be beautiful. You’ll probably get a matte finish right out of the airbrush but it can be made super smooth and glossy by spraying it with a coat of bestine after it dries. I wouldn’t recomend any of this if you don’t have a great respirator and a spray booth.

the plasti dip method should stick to urethanes and krayton fine but if
If it’s a silicone rubber, you might be SOL, but i don’t know too much about silicone outside of mold making.

perfect! Thank you both.

In the skateboard industry the wheels are made of urethane rubber, cast. Since the turnover and style change is so quick, the wheel are all molded white and then dyed whatever color the market is demanding that month. The dye is supposedly RIT fabric dye, and the wheels are boiled in the dye water for several hours. The longer the time the deeper the dye penetrates. Stretch away, not problem.

check out the sneaker industry. It has a variety of paints that you could use. If you’ve ever seen midsole paint on a sneaker that is a good example. It never cracks or splits etc. They have many varieties. They can also Chrome a piece of rubber or plastic. The process is called sputtering. If you like the shiny buttons on a cell phone, voila. Hope this helps.