.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!
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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!
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?
How to Update a Plastic Playhouse
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.
Supplies for Painting a Plastic Playhouse
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
- Reusable Respirator for use while spray painting (protect your lungs y’all!)
- Drop cloth or spray tent
*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.
Step 2: Did you know that Little Tikes and Step2 offer replacement parts for their toys? Order any new parts that are necessary. It will take a few days for them to come in. They offer replacement decals, but 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. If I did it again, I’d use this special outdoor vinyl and my Cricut Maker.
Step 3: 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.
Step 4: 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.
I tried magnetic paint for the board above the table… total fail. I’m gonna try that stuff on wood at some point, but I think it’s fair to say it will not work on this.
- Use stickers and mod podge to add lettering and other details. A Cricut Air 2 and some outdoor vinyl would work even better.
- 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: My husband made a replacement half door from wood.
It’s about 90 degrees here and my kids want to spend all their time outside in this house. Obviously, I made bad choices to take this project on during the hottest part of the summer, haha. But I’m about as patient as my 3 year old so hey. I’m still excited!
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?
See how easy it is to paint a plastic playhouse to add character and make it unique with this simple tutorial.
- Rustoleum 2x Painter’s Touch: Satin
- Acrylic Paints
- Mod Podge
- UV Krylon UV Resistant Spray Paint in Clear
- Reusable Respirator for use while spray painting
- Drop cloth
- Paint Brushes
- Take the playhouse apart.
- Powerwash and let dry.
- Paint and mod podge the old lettering.
- Spray paint the large areas.
- Use acrylic paints for the plastic to add detail to the playhouse.
- Spray paint the tire black.
- Use stickers and mod podge to add lettering and other details.
- Cover with UV sealant spray paint.
- Replace accessory parts.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Krylon K01305 Gallery Series Artist and Clear Coatings Aerosol, 11-Ounce, UV-Resistant Clear Gloss
- Complete Acrylic Paint Set – 24х Rich Pigment Colors – 12x Art Brushes with Bonus Paint Art Knife & Sponge – for Painting Canvas, Clay, Ceramic & Crafts, Non-Toxic & Quick Dry – for Kids & Adults
- Mod Podge Original 16-Ounce Glue, Matte Finish and 16-Ounce Gloss Finish. Includes 25 1-inch Foam Brushes. Never Be Stuck Without The Right Finish!
- Little Tikes Town Playhouse, Features Market, Gas Station, and Sports Center - Walmart.com
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Danielle Pientka is the sewing and DIY blogger behind DIYDanielle.com. She taught herself to sew in 2011 when she wanted to make cloth diapers for her first son. She’s been sewing everything from ecofriendly items to kids products to clothing since, as it has become a passion. She loves learning how to do new things and teaching others in the process. She hopes to inspire other moms to take time for themselves to find their own creative passion.
Danielle lives in Maryland with her three young sons and her husband, Brandon. In her spare time, she gardens, reads, horseback rides, and has a small homestead with goats and ducks. Visit her shop to buy patterns or her sewing eBooks. Subscribe to her newsletter to get blog updates, free patterns and other printables by clicking here.