How to Paint Cardboard Without Warping – In 3 Easy Ways

Since cardboard is a very useful material to make cool things, painting them enhances the beauty doubly. But it becomes unappealing to look if the cardboard gets warped because of the penetration of water and water-based filler or PVA. Therefore, avoiding the unnecessary warping of the cardboard is needed while you are painting on it.

But before you know how to paint cardboard without warping, you should know the tips for stopping your cardboard from warping. As kraft paper is the sole material for making cardboard, not all kinds of paints are applicable to it. To get a satisfied result, you are entitled to follow the process of preventing the warping of the cardboard and find out the applicable paints to paint them.

So, to avoid the damage of the cardboard while painting on it, watch out for our solutions at once.

How to Paint Cardboard without Warping

Materials You Need to Prevent Cardboard from Warping:

There are many ways that you can follow to save your cardboard from warping. Warped cardboard doesn’t provide the best service while you are up to do some crafting with it.

So, you must know how you can avoid the problem of your cardboard being warped every time you try to make something useful out of it. Therefore, you need to adopt the following materials to prevent the cardboard from warping.

1) Glue:

Glue use for permanent solution to prevent the cardboard from warping

Glue can be a permanent solution to prevent the cardboard from warping. But not all type of glue is fit for the job. You cannot adopt any old or water-soluble glue to stop the warping of your cardboard. Polymer-enriched glue works better to mitigate the warping condition. The flowing glues are our best choice to defend the cardboard from warping.

  • Hot Glue:

If you are searching for some long-lasting and reasonable materials to prevent your cardboard from warping, then hot glue is one of them without any doubt. The thermoplastic polymers in the glue work fantastically to resist cardboard from warping easily. Besides, the glue carries no water-soluble formula.

These components of the glue enrich the adhesive power. The cardboard never warps if you put an optimum thick stream of hot glue to cover it.

  • Black Hot Glue:

Black hot glue is the same as hot glue except you’ll have more advantages of it. This glue provides a neat and clean finishing that the transparent hot glue is unable to provide. Besides, if you want better joints and better adhesion then black hot glue is in your service.

  • Elmer’s Glue:

If you are dealing with small pieces of cardboard, then you can think of using Elmer’s glue. This stuff is efficient in jointing paper sheets with cardboards without letting it curl. Though the glue isn’t competitive enough, it can be a great help when you have no option left.

2) A Dry Space for Storage:

As it is common that water is prone to make cardboard warped, a dry space to store the cardboard is needed. But there your duty doesn’t end. You should look for places where there is no moisture in the weather to store your cardboard.

Space, where humidity leads in the air should not be the space for the storage of cardboard. Therefore, you should not compromise in choosing the right place to pile up your cardboards.

3) Styrofoam:

A little bit of Styrofoam keeps your cardboard away from curling. It is a great help to fill the giant crater of cardboard. Besides, the expanded polystyrene foam does not tend to warp. Therefore, your cardboard is safe from warping when you fill it with the material a bit.

4) Acrylic, Spray, Enamels, or Oil-Based Paints:

Watercolors are strictly prohibited for cardboards. It carries water-soluble materials and helps to shrink and curl the cardboard easily. Therefore, to resist it from warping, you need to choose the paint wisely. To use on your corrugated cardboard, adopt paints that will not damage it.

Acrylic paint is the best for painting and reducing the chance of warping the cardboard at the same time. You can even use acrylic and spray paints direct on them. Besides, enamels or oil-based paints are also applicable on cardboard. These paints are not wet like the watercolors and thus helpful for cardboards.

5) Improved Cardboards:

The thin cardboard happens to warp easily. Single-layered cardboard hardly withstands paint and moisture. It also looks fragile and unappealing after the paint. Therefore, to improve the condition, one more cardboard can be glued together perpendicularly. This will strengthen the condition of the cardboard and help to prevent warping.

3 Easy Ways to Paint Cardboard without Warping:

As we have already got through the point that wet paints are prohibited for cardboards, the three best paints that can be used to paint the cardboard and are acrylic paint, spray paint, and enamels or oil-based paint. Let’s explore the ways of painting the cardboards with particular paints.

Ways 1. with Acrylic and Oil-Based Paint

Acrylic and Oil Based Paint

Acrylic paint is commonly known as water-based and therefore has a little chance that the cardboard sometimes doesn’t withstand the paint. But acrylic paints are way better than watercolors.

If you put acrylic paint without water on the cardboard to such an extent, it will not penetrate the cardboard and make it warp. The same thing happens with the oil-based paint as well.

Therefore, these two paints require almost the same process to prevent the warping of the cardboard. Following the steps below will provide you a nice finishing with the paints.

Step 1: Use Gesso as a Primer:

Use Gesso as a Primer

To get an opaque and bold color of acrylic paint and oil-based paint, you need to use a primer at first. Gesso, as a primer, provides the best performance in this case. It provides a white coating. But you can change the color using some drop of acrylic or oil-based paint in it.

The adhesion power of gesso will not allow the acrylic and oil-based paints to penetrate the cardboard. Apply gesso vertically with a flat brush on the cardboard to get a good finishing and let it dry for about 24 hours.

Read Also: How To Seal Acrylic Paint on Cardboard In 2 Easy Ways.

Step 2: Put a Second or Third Coat of Gesso:

second coat of gesso on cardbord

A single coat is never enough for a better result, so put a second coat of gesso after the first coat is dried fully. Then wait again for 24 hours and let the gesso dry. Try to glide the brush while applying gesso in a way that evens the surface to some extent.

A third coat is necessary if the second coat fails to cover the surface of the cardboard completely.

Step 3: Sand it for an Even Surface:

The two or three coatings of gesso might leave an uneven surface. To make it even to advantage your painting, sand it in a back and forth motion with 500 grit sandpaper. Do it with light touch till you think the surface is even enough to do the painting job. And don’t think of dragging the sandpaper too deep. Otherwise, it will destroy the whole process.

Step 4: Use a Dry Brush to Paint:

To paint on the cardboard you should not use a wet brush because it will help to warp the cardboard. To avoid such a condition, a dry brush or a dry sponge works pretty well. Choose your favorite color and put some of them on the brush. After that, apply the paint on the cardboard evenly.

Step 5: Put a Thin Coat at First:

To prevent the warping condition of the cardboard, you need to apply a thin coat of the particular paint. The thin coat will not penetrate the cardboard and expose the warping. Let the coat dry properly for 2 hours. The extra moisture of the paint will evaporate in the meantime.

Step 6: Apply Multiple Coating:

A thin coat might seem transparent, so you’ve to keep coating the surface until the surface is fully covered with the exact paint color. This might take time to avoid warping but definitely worth it. After that, you can apply whatever colors you like to give a new look to your cardboard.

Ways 2. With Spray Paint:

Spray Paint without Warping

Cardboards are also exposed to spray paint like acrylic paint yet better than watercolors. That’s why spray paint is another best option to paint cardboards. After adopting the following steps, we’ll get a fine result of painting cardboard by avoiding warping.

Step 1: Find a Spacious Open Place:

To do the spray painting job on the cardboard, you need to find an open and well-ventilated space. The reason for finding an open place is you don’t have to face the toxic fumes that the spray paint emits. The airflow of the open place will also help in reducing the chance of warping.

But avoid the place if it is wet, damp, and windy. Dry and warm weather is perfect for the job.

Step 2: Put a Large Sheet Under the Cardboard:

Before spray painting, to protect the ground place a 3 or 4 times larger sheet than the cardboard under it. Spray paint leaves almost a permanent mark on the surface therefore you need to be careful while dealing with it.

Step 3: Shake the Can of Spray Paint:

Spray paint comes in a can and the way it is formulated is different than other types of paints. The pigmentation of the spray paint rebuilds together when you shake the can for about 2 or 3 minutes. To get a non-interrupted gradient flow of the paint from the nozzle of the can, keep shaking it every hour.

Step 4: Spray the Paint Holding the Can properly:

spray the paint on cardboard

After the shaking of the can, you need to spray the paint on the cardboard. It’s the most important part because knowing the right way to spray the cardboard can help it from being warped. The proper way to spray the paint is to hold the can at least 30 cm away from the cardboard.

After that, press the spray button lightly and paint the cardboard going a back and forth motion. Don’t overdo the job for the paint can go down inside the cardboard and make it warp. Spraying the cardboard twice is enough for the first coat.

Step 5: Let the First Coat Dry and Apply a Second Coat:

After the first coat of spray paint is dried fully, put the second coat of it following the same instructions. To get a beautiful contrast color, adopt different colors for the second coat. It takes almost 2 hours to dry after each coat. You can apply several coats to get a satisfying color following the same method and prevent the warping of the cardboard.

Ways 3. To Paint a Landscape on a Cardboard:

It’s always fun to draw something cool on a surface. And if it’s cardboard then a different kind of flavor adds to it. To draw a landscape picture on the cardboard, adopt enamels or acrylic paint for instance. Choose colors as per your wish and reflect your thought on the surface of the cardboard by drawing something beautiful.

If you want to do some light work with the paint, you can directly use the paints on the cardboard. But remember to use a dry brush every time to draw the scene. And if you tend to do a deep art working on the cardboard, then use gesso as a primer to prepare the cardboard.


Question: What kind of paint do you use on cardboard?

Answer: As the cardboard tends to warp if it is exposed to water and moisture, watercolors are not its cup of tea. Acrylic and oil-based paints are the best for cardboards. The cardboard doesn’t warp if you apply the paints maintaining the right procedure.

You can use the paints directly on the cardboard using a dry brush but too much use of the paints can expose the cardboard to warp.

Therefore, gesso is required as a primer on the surface of the cardboard. Besides, spray paint is also eligible for the job.

Last Updated on July 19, 2021 by Rogers Weber

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