I've posted about painting coolers before. I did one about a year ago and as a rule of thumb, they are a labor of love! My roommate Kathryn is painting one for her boyfriend, so we started crafting last night!
After finding your cooler, step 1 is to prime it! (Also cover your surface! I used one of those plastic re-usable tablecloths, one was left over from my birthday and fit the bill!) We used Krylon primer in WHITE to make the overall painting easier. Know going into the endeavor that your cooler will chip. Even the best coolers chip. Womp womp.
After priming and letting it dry, start your sides! We haven't gotten to all of Kathryn's sides, but it's going to be Clemson themed (AHHHH!!?!? DID I REALLY JUST TYPE THAT?!?!?!?!?!) and boyfriend themed. Plot spoiler: her sides are going to be REALLY CUTE.
Since hers aren't done, I'm going to post a few pictures of the one I did.
They key to solid sides is LAYERS and LAYERS of paint. Paint a layer, Mod Podge it. Paint another layer, Mod Podge it again. You see the pattern, repeat 50 times. (Butreally...)
This side was by far the most time consuming. Each square was painted individually. As you can see, all those plaid patches are different. Like I said, I painted all the squares and then painted on Mod Podge. Then I did all the plaid, and more Mod Podge. I also used the Mod Podge to seal it. Over and over and over.
Another good trick of the trade is to use paint pens. If you're not very good at painting like me, paint pens give you a HECK of a lot more control than a paint brush. Unfortunately I only found this out toward the end of my cooler painting experience. Arm yourself with plenty of pens!!!
I also focused on basic shapes. Lots of basic shapes. In the map I was able to coordinate our state, our college town and where we were going all in one side! And it was EASY!
Tips for painting:
1. Prime. There is no such thing as priming.
2. Check your lid often. The worst feeling ever is thinking that you might have closed it too early and the paint fused the lid and bottom together!
3. Add in fun touches. I used metallic paint pens and glitter as the bottom of my Old Bay can! They add something different to the cooler and you don't see that very often!
4. Keep in mind that coolers need a lot of paint! If you're mixing colors, mix a lot more than you think you might need. Trying to match colors after they've dried can be impossible!
5. MOD PODGE. You can't ever have enough Mod Podge. There are also "recipes" to mix your own, but I stuck with the tried and true brand name stuff.
6. Seal your cooler with Mod Podge and a clear sealant. These are usually sold in the house section of paint/spray paint if you don't do your shopping at a craft store. I did mine in WalMart...
Hope this helps all your cooler painting artists in the making!!