Can You Use Fabric Paint on Polyester?

Last Updated on February 4, 2023

Can You Use Fabric Paint on Polyester? Are you planning to embellish a polyester fabric with fabric paint? If so, you should know if it is possible or not. Fabric painting involves the use of special paints and mediums that are designed for fabric. But can you use these paints on polyester fabrics? Read the article to find out more about painting on polyester fabrics.

Can You Use Fabric Paint on Polyester?

Listen to the Answer!

Yes, it is possible to paint on polyester fabrics using fabric paint. However, it is crucial to keep one thing in mind polyester is a synthetic fabric made from plastic fibers, making it difficult for the paint to stick firmly.

So, when deciding what type of paint to use, it is recommended to look for paints specifically made for synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, as they will adhere better and be less likely to crack or peel over time.

Usually, instructions for use and all information is indicated on the package. But if you didn’t find it there, then go to the manufacturer’s website. For example, “Rit” dye is great for dyeing synthetic and natural fabrics. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. They are indicated on the packaging of the dye.

Why Polyester Fabric is Hard to Paint on?

Polyester Fabric is Hard to Paint

Polyester can be a tricky fabric to paint on for a few reasons:

Polyester is Synthetic Compared to Natural Fabrics

One of the primary reasons painting on polyester may be tricky is its synthetic composition. Not only will this affect how paint adheres to the fabric, but it can also cause it to warp when placed in direct contact with heat. On the other hand, natural fabrics such as cotton and linen are typically more responsive and resilient when exposed to temperatures that would generally affect polyester fabrics.

Polyester Needs Proper Base Coat Application

When painting on polyester fabric, you must remember that this material requires thorough preparation before any painting activity can begin. This means that a base coat must be applied first so that your painted design will stick more effectively over time. Without proper base coat application, your artwork will lack longevity and may peel off after a few washes or wearings.

High Heat Sets Spring Weathering Into Motion

It’s also important to note that high heat levels will activate spring weathering within polyester fabrics—a phenomenon that warps the fibers and causes them to swell up with moisture in hot and humid conditions. In short, high temperatures can completely alter and ruin your hard work if paint gets too close to any heating source, such as an oven or iron presser, while working with this material.

Paint Needs Time to Dry Completely

Lastly, although not all paints dry at the same rate, it’s crucial for all designs done on polyester fabric to take adequate time during their drying phases. No matter what paint is being used for application purposes that day. Polyester absorbs much more moisture than natural fibers do.

Durable Paints Won’t Last

It’s also worth bearing in mind that any durable paints used for a detailed finished look can quickly rub off polyester yarns. Especially from items subjected directly to friction from regular wear and tear, such as a shirt or trousers. Making it tricky for lasting designs unless there are several layers of paint built up around it.

How to Prepare Fabric Before Painting Polyester?

How to Prepare Fabric Before Painting Polyester

Polyester fabric is a popular choice for all types of crafts, and one of its great benefits is that it can be painted. Whether you’re creating shirts, bags, pillows, or other kinds of arts and crafts projects, preparing the polyester fabric properly is key to ensuring that your finished project looks professional. Here are some steps you should take if you want to paint on polyester fabric:

Wash and Dry the Polyester Fabric

The first step when painting on polyester fabric is to machine wash it with detergent and tumble dry it. It will remove any residues from fabric, such as sizing or waxes, which could keep the paint from adhering properly. It’s essential not to use fabric softener during this process as this can also interfere with paint adhesion and give your design an uneven texture.

Iron the Polyester Fabric Thoroughly

After washing it, iron the fabric thoroughly, so it is wrinkle-free before you begin painting. Consider using a steam iron if you have one, as this will help open up the material’s fibers for better paint absorption. 

Pre-treat the Polyester Fabric

Applying a pre-treatment product specifically designed for fabrics before painting is often necessary for permanent fabric paints and markers to adhere successfully. Pre-treatment products come in both brush-on liquids and spray forms and are easy to apply before starting your project.

Prime the Polyester Fabric with Gesso

Gesso is a primer used by artists when preparing any surface for painting – including textiles like polyester fabric. A thin layer of gesso applied directly onto the area where you’ll be applying paints acts much like an artist’s canvas primer on stretched cotton canvas. It provides a barrier between your paint surface and whatever material lies beneath it. As an additional benefit, gesso acts as another adhesive layer so that paints adhere more readily without changing their color or vibrancy over time.

Test Your Paints before Starting Your Final Design

To ensure your final design looks exactly how you want it, do a test patch first with all your planned colors before permanently committing anything to your polyester fabric materials. Doing so will give you an idea of how well each pigment mixes and what changing concentrations of each color look like side by side, and even save time in case something doesn’t look right!

What is the Right Paint to Choose for Polyester Painting?

The right paint to choose for painting polyester fabric depends on a few factors, such as the type of fabric and the desired finish. Generally speaking, you should use acrylic paints for the best results. Acrylic paints are water-based, so they’ll dry quickly and won’t damage the fabric over time.

Also, consider using a fabric medium to help the paint adhere better to the fabric and improve its durability when washed. In addition, it’s essential to choose an appropriate brush size that will fit between the fabric’s weave to avoid streaking or pooling of paint.

How to Care for the Polyester Fabric During Washing and Ironing?

It is essential to take proper care of polyester fabric after painting, washing, and ironing to ensure its longevity and quality. Here are some tips on how to best care for your polyester fabric:

  1. Ensure the fabric is completely dry before storing; wet cloth can lead to mildew and unpleasant odors.
  2. Wash any painted polyester items with a mild cold water detergent, no more than 30°C.
  3. Use only a low heat setting when ironing, as high temperatures can cause shrinkage and damage the fabric.
  4. Avoid using bleach or spot removers when cleaning polyester fabrics, as these products can be harsh on fibers, and colors may fade quickly over time.
  5. Use an appropriate type of upholstery cleaner when vacuuming furniture made from polyester fabrics, as regular vacuums often lack the power needed to deep-clean into the fibers properly.

These simple tips will help keep your polyester fabrics looking great for years to come!


Fabric paint can be used on polyester as long as it is of good quality. However, it is important to pre-wash the polyester before applying fabric paint. Also, consider using proper heat when setting the paint, as polyester does not take dye as easily as natural fabrics. Be sure to test an inconspicuous area of the fabric before starting the painting to ensure even color throughout.

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