How to Spray Paint a Box

If you’re looking for the best way to spray paint a box, you’re in the right place. At the outset, it seems like a simple task. However, the fast absorption rates of cardboard materials make it difficult to keep your spray paint designs permanent. 

Take a look below to learn the key steps involved in how to spray paint boxes. 


  • Start by using gesso primer or a latex primer. It’s best to avoid oil-based primers due to how they can leave patches of oil. 
  • This also prevents warped cardboard so that you can create better cardboard art.
  • Place newspapers or plastic sheets in the area where you’ll be working.
  • Clean the surface of the box to get rid of any oils, dust, and debris. 
  • Wear protective goggles, gloves, and a mask. 
  • Dip a polyester brush into the latex primer and add a thin coating. 
  • Start from the outside of the box and gradually move inwards. 
  • Let the first layer of paint dry before applying another thin layer of primer. 

Spray Painting Cardboard Box

  • Before you start to paint cardboard, find an area that’s well-ventilated to ensure that the toxins from the acrylic paint don’t linger. 
  • In addition to this, make sure that the space isn’t too cold or too hot, as it can affect how the spray paints stick to the cardboard. 
  • Use adhesive tape to cover up the edges that you don’t want to be covered in paint. 
  • Make sure that your cardboard box is sitting upright against a wall or just sitting vertically. This makes it easier to spray paint the surface. 
  • Shake the spray paint can well before using it. This ensures that the liquids are properly mixed for the best results when being applied.
  • You may want to test it out on a separate piece of cardboard before applying it to your main box. 
  • This ensures that the paint has the right kind of consistency that you’re looking for. You can also use this as a practice run to gauge how far to hold the can whilst spraying. 
  • It’s best to hold the can around 10 inches from the cardboard surface. 
  • When you’re applying the first coat, be sure to use sweeping motions going back and forth.
  • This spray painting technique is best to apply thin coats to a cardboard box painting as it prevents too much paint from accumulating in one area. So, make sure to paint thin coats.
  • After letting the first coat dry for 3-4 hours, you can apply a second coat of paint. Apply it in the same way and leave it to dry again for a day.

Applying Varnish

You can choose matte, satin, or clear varnish to add over the top of painted cardboard. This will depend on how you want the final product to look. Follow the steps below to apply your chosen sealant. 

  • Wear protective gloves and glasses. 
  • Apply a dry brush to the varnish and apply an even thin layer to your box. 
  • Use broad strokes and go over the surface in horizontal movements until the surface is completely covered. 
  • Leave the varnish to dry for three hours. 
  • You can then inspect it and see if you need to add another layer. If so, apply another thin coat and let it sit for another few hours until it’s completely dry. 
  • If you’re using a spray bottle for varnish, lightly spray and apply thin layers. You may need to apply a third or fourth coat after inspection.

Also read: How to Spray Paint Fiberglass


So, that concludes our post on how to properly spray paint a cardboard box. Be sure to follow the steps mentioned in this post to ensure that your spray paint sticks to the surfaces and that the paint is spread evenly. 


Are acrylic paints better than oil paint on cardboard?

The main benefit of using something like white acrylic paint over oil paints is that it has quick drying times. You don’t have to wait as long between applications for the paint to dry. Therefore, acrylic paint is the best paint for cardboard when you want to paint directly onto the cardboard and work quickly.

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Written By Adam Rushton

Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.

His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.