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"Difficulty adhering paint to polyethylene surface"


I am having some difficulties adhering paint (I have try many) to a polyethylene surface (surface being that of PVC silver tarps). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

E. Lowenstein
- Jersey City, New Jersey


Hi E.L.

Um. I am confused. You say you have a PVC tarp with a Polethylene surface? Somehow or another, I wonder if that is true. These being highly dissimilar plastics.

To paint onto a true Pe, Ow! There is no known true adhesion method. PVC's should accept paints, preferably having solvents in them to get better adhesion.

To make things worse you want to paint onto a flexible material, a tarp ... and paints dry hard and are mainly inflexible. Ergo, adhesion is worsened, isn't it?

If, if, if you had a 'round' Pe pipe, for example, you could paint it IF you scoured/sanded the surface and then used an ordinary (quasi flexible) el-cheapo latex as the paint, upon curing, tends to contract somewhat and would bond to itself. But the bond would not be good.


freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [dec]
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).



Hi E.L. The best method I have found for painting polyethylene (not PVC)is to flame treat it. This may not be suitable for your particular application, as you obviously don't want to destroy your tarps by melting or burning them. Using a propane torch with a flame spreader, quickly pass the flame over the surface prior to painting. If the material is, in fact PVC, try using silkscreen printing ink for flexible vinyl instead of paint. Good Luck M.L.

Marc Littlejohn
Toroto, Ontario, Canada


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