General Home Design

What Paint To Use On Picture Frames

Picture frames are very easy to buy and an inexpensive way to jazz up the design of your home’s interior. Unfortunately, one caveat when it comes to these picture frames is that they all look very basic and similar to everybody else’s. So, we’ve researched how to paint picture frames to make yours unique.

Most materials used in picture frames work well with different kinds of paints like acrylic, chalk, latex, or spray paints. You can customize frames to match your home interior or simply coordinate the frame with the matte or photo.

Customizing your picture frame is easy, as long as you know what kind of paint you should use. Depending on what style you have in mind for your picture frames, there are different options that you can use. Continue reading because we’ve compiled all the information you need to do this little project.

Female artist painting portrait on canvas. What Paint To Use On Picture Frames

What Paint Should I Use?

Picture frames are made of many different materials, which gives us quite a number of paints that can be used to repaint them. Aside from the material, the paint you should use is also dependent on the time and budget that you are willing to invest in this project.

Colorful paint cans with brush

1. Acrylic

Acrylic paints are water-based and are known to be one of the more popular and versatile kinds of paint you can find available. It has a wide range of colors and is fairly easy to mix to create a custom shade. This paint is best used on wood, but it can also be used on metals and plastics.

One of the advantages of using acrylic paints for picture frames is their durability and great color payoff. It is very vibrant, plus it dries very quickly so layering color is quite easy. It is also known to be inexpensive and easy to find.

2. Chalk

Chalk paint is a kind of paint that has been gaining much popularity recently. For those looking to repaint their picture frames in a matte or chalky finish, then this is the paint that you are looking for. This paint doesn’t require much preparation but is best used on wood frames or metals.

This paint is very forgiving for first-time users. As it has been said earlier, it doesn’t require any priming unless your surface is very slick and shiny, in which a little sanding may be in order.

It is also thick so it requires fewer coats, but it dries pretty slowly so this paint requires lots of patience. One caveat though, is that chalk paint can be a bit more pricey than most kinds of paint.

3. Latex

Latex paints are water-based paints that are perfect to use for your picture frames. It comes in a variety of finishes, depending on the look that you are going for. This kind of paint can also be used for many picture frame materials, but a little priming preparation is required to allow it to adhere properly to the surface.

Some of the finishes that you can find when looking for latex paints are the following: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. For picture frames, the best finishes to use are flat, eggshell, or satin latex paints.

4. Spray Paint

Using spray paints is one of the quickest and easiest ways to paint picture frames. They are best used on plastic or metal picture frames, and spray paints provide the fastest way to repurpose those picture frames. These paints are oil-based and most already have primer mixed in it, so the only thing needed to do is to apply it.

Spray paints have different finishes and colors, depending on the look you are going for. When using them for your picture frames, it is best to do it in multiple coats and ensure that all sides of the frame have been covered. You can also try different spraying methods if you’d like to try doing a creative look while using spray paint.

5. Oil-based Paint

One of the paints used for repainting picture frames is oil-based paint. These paints cover well and come in a variety of colors to choose from. However, one caveat with oil-based paints is that it will require priming and it can be difficult to clean it up during application.

Using oil paints for repainting picture frames requires a bit of preparation and patience. This paint is one of the slower-drying paints, so doing multiple coats needs waiting time.

It can also be a little bit more expensive than acrylic or latex paints, but an advantage to this is that oil-based paints are one of the most durable ones out there.

Young woman hanging art picture on wall and decorating living room

How to Paint a Picture Frame

There are different ways to paint a picture frame and for this article, we will be discussing two of the most commonly repainted frames on the market: wood and metal picture frames.

These two frames are usually repurposed and customized, so they get a lot of repainting jobs done. Here are the steps on how you can repaint your picture frames.

Painting Wood Picture Frames

Materials needed:

  • wood picture frame
  • sandpaper (60 and 120 grit)
  • tack cloth
  • primer
  • paint (of choice)
  • topcoat or sealant
  • paint brushes


  1. Disassemble all the parts of your frame. Remove the glass and stand carefully.
  2. Use a 60 grit sand paper to remove all the paint and finish from your picture frame.
  3. Afterwards, use a 120 grit sandpaper to smoothen out all the rough edges.
  4. Wipe down the picture frame with your tack cloth.
  5. Depending on the kind of paint you will be using, prime your picture frame by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply a coat of primer and let it dry thoroughly.
  6. Apply your chosen paint to your picture frame. Make sure to apply it evenly and ensure that all the nooks, corners, and crannies have been painted. Allow to dry.
  7. Add another coat of paint if desired. If not, you may now apply a layer of topcoat or sealant to protect your picture frame.
  8. Re-assemble all the parts of your picture frame.

Painting Metal Picture Frames

Materials needed:

  • aluminum picture frame
  • grease cutting liquid detergent
  • wirebrush
  • sandpaper (80 and 120 grit)
  • primer
  • paint


  1. Disassemble all the parts of your frame. Remove the glass and stand carefully.
  2. Clean your metal picture frame by washing it thoroughly with the liquid detergent to remove the oils. Let it dry completely.
  3. Afterwards, use an 80 grit sandpaper and then a 120 grit sandpaper to lightly abrade the surface of your picture frame.
  4. If the picture frame has oxidized or has an old coat of paint, use a wirebrush to remove it. Use sandpaper to clean it completely.
  5. Wash again with liquid detergent and let it air dry.
  6. Depending on the kind of paint you will be using, apply a coat of primer and let it dry thoroughly.
  7. Apply your chosen paint to your picture frame. Make sure to apply it evenly and ensure that all the nooks, corners, and crannies have been painted. Allow to dry.
  8. If you are using spray paint on your metal picture frames, make sure to apply the paint using swift and even side to side motions.
  9. Re-assemble all the parts of your picture frame.
Careful painter getting the extra paint off the abstract picture with a cloth while holding a palette knife

What Is The Best Paint To Use On Plastic Frames?

Most picture frames available nowadays are made of plastic and come in mass quantities. Because of the limited designs and colors available, the best way to change the look of these frames is by repainting.

Plastic picture frames are non-porous and cannot be painted on directly. In order to repaint plastic frames, one simply needs to prime them quickly before getting a fresh coat of paint.

The best paint to use on plastic picture frames is acrylic paint. Depending on the kind of repainting that you will do, you can find acrylic paint in tubes or as spray paints.

Choose whichever paint best suits your needs and make sure to seal it afterward, although it isn’t a requirement since acrylic paints are quite durable in nature.

paint brush close up

In Conclusion

There are different choices of paints that you can use with your picture frames, depending on the material you are working with. A few popular choices are acrylic and latex paints, while a quick way to repaint picture frames is with the use of spray paints.

Whichever paint you choose, just make sure to follow application instructions to ensure that your newly repainted picture frames will last for a very long time.

Are you looking to add color to your room, maybe even match those new picture frames you’ve just re-painted? Here are some articles that might inspire you:

What Is Most The Popular Color For The Living Room?

11 Best Feng Shui Colors For Living Room Walls