Tips on how to paint an engraved Acrylic with outstanding A-grade quality?

Hey guys, I’m seeking advice on how to get to as close to a professional paint job on engraved acrylic.

My method:

  1. Rustoleum Flat Primer that is plastic compatible. I give it several excellent short bursts of spray paint.

  2. Rustoleum Satin Paint that is plastic compatible (painters touch and advanced formula). I give it several short burst of spray paint, wait 30 mins and then give it a second coat of paint.

  3. Rustoleum Matte Clear Cover/Sealer that is plastic compatible. I spray a lot of these in short bursts, wait 48 hours then give it a final coat of clear cover. From there I let it dry for 5 days before peeling off the masking tape.

The Outcome:

Notice how the paint easily chips along the walls of the engrave.

The ground level engraved spots seem to be fine and quite resistant and durable unless you scrape it forcefully with a nail. Even so, only a teensy bit of paint comes off on the fingernail.

I guess my issue is how do I stop the paint from chipping so easily from the walls of the engraved spots? Or maybe there is a better method for painting, perhaps a better setting for engraving? I am wondering if my engrave is too deep and I need to have it shallower. Is it better to just remove the proofgrade mask, spray paint the entire acrylic sheet, remasking, then engraving the paint away?What do you all think? Any tips and/or advice is appreciated!

You might want to check out two-toned acrylic. You engrave away the top layer, exposing the different color underneath. I’m sure some of the folks here have good sources and favorites. (I’ve seen it, but haven’t played with it.)


Thanks, I will order some and experiment. Engraving on a two-toned acrylic appears to be a better route. Anyone have any examples of a two-toned engrave?

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I made my own. I used clear acrylic and spray painted it black and lasered of the paint.

I have also paint the clear acrylic white and etched of the pain layer in reverse so that you have a nice smooth glossy acrylic side.


If you don’t want to shine a light though it, just paint the back again with a contrasting color after you laser it.


This is a fabulous tip, thanks!

I’ve done quite a few small signs with acrylic and I use acrylic paint, brushing it into the etched areas, and let it dry (mostly) and remove the masking, and then use a wooden clothes pin to rub off any left over masking and paint bleed. The wood is soft enough not to scratch the acrylic, but takes off the masking and paint well.

I’ve had success with white acrylic with multiple colors of paint, as well as black acrylic with white paint, and have never had an issue with “chipping” or coming off as I remove the masking–but since the wood scraper removes the paint without harming the material, if you need any touch ups, you can do so even after removing the masking!


I have good results with the Rustoleum. I etch and then brush the etch with a toothbrush, then paint. No one has complained yet. I do three or four thin coats to get good color. Then remove the masking after the paint dries.


This was a test engrave on some two-tone black over clear from Johnson Plastics. It’s fairly expensive. For the most part, it looked pretty good, but we ended up abandoning using the two-tone and going a different route.


There are assorted tips for adding color to engraves here:

I’d also recommend trying Krylon Fusion spray paint as it’s specifically meant for plastics.

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Yeah. I think the paint matters. I’ve been using primer and paint for plastic models (it’s amazing how many colors they come in, and nice small rattle cans so you don’t have a lot of paint sitting around). Engrave the acrylic, shoot with primer (making sure sharp edges have good coverage), two coats of Tamiya enamel paint, peel off masking.

This was a rush job and I’m afraid I didn’t give everything enough time to dry between coats, and I needed another pass on the clear but didn’t realize until after I peeled off the masking. But it’s still decent and doesn’t have any of the chipping at the edges like in the OP post above.

I think it’s the paint that matters most.


I think you may be over complicating things and I’d suggest going back to basics and just using acrylic spray paint. I’ve used a lot of it and haven’t experienced and chipping, but YMMV of course.

The first two pics didn’t have any primer or clear coats and it just acrylic spray paint. (“Ironlak” paint to be exact, but I’ve used other brands as well.) The third pic was an experiment using “triple thick” clear coat. It worked out well and the paint is really protected.

I’ve given the two-toned acrylic a try and wasn’t thrilled with the cost or outcome. It’s finicky and takes some work to get just right, especially the red and white stuff. I quit using it and just use paint now.




thank you for the sample. Looks good, but you’re right that it is expensive!

I very much second this. It should work MUCH better.


Thanks, I will try painting it with Krylon. I did a little Rustoleum vs Krylon research and the majority of the people prefer Rustoleum. But I guess its always better to test it yourself

These looks beautiful! I’m curious how resistant the paint is when scratching it with a fingernail? I’ve not seen a “triple thick” clear coat except in the form of polyurethane. Which brand of triple thick clear coat do you use?

A painted keychain clinking around a purse long enough will probably chip, but I’ve had good luck painting things like ornaments and signs. I normally don’t clearcoat the ornaments, but I use it on stuff that’ll be handled more. I have Krylon clear acrylic coating both regular and the triple thick stuff. (The triple thick stuff isn’t really necessary for protection and makes for a very plastic effect.) It comes in glossy or matte and a UV protection version. I’ve used other brands as well and they’ve all seem to work the same.

It took some pressure on the tip of the knife to scratch it off.

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thanks. i’ll definitely give that a shot. I only see krylon in art supply stores. i’m hoping this will be my solution! i’m definitely ok with painting coming off if scratched with a knife. as long as its durable in human hands that’s more than perfect. is that your channel? ill give you a follow +1 sub!

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You’re welcome. If you just need it to hold up to a little handling, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Good luck and let me know if it works out for you!

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when you’re using masking with paint, peel the masking after the paint has tacked up but before it’s completely set up. This way the paint is still wet/soft enough to tear at the edge of the masking without lifting itself. Takes a little practice to find that sweet spot when to do it because if its too wet, the paint can bleed after masking removal, too late and the paint lifts.