Introduction: Plastic Coat

Picture of Plastic Coat

Plastic coating has hundreds of uses, water proofing the electronics of robots and remote controlled vehicles that might land in water or repairing fishing poles. Mix it with paint thinner then add it to paint and it makes an almost indestructible chip guard paint for your car that can stand up to any gravel road. You can even use it as modeling glue.

I repair everything I own that is not under warrantee, and I like to repurpose for reuse anything I cannot repair, or I recycle everything else. Now you can buy clear plastic coating but I like to make my own plastic coat.

This is a very easy product to make that you can use right after making or if you have an air tight container save for another day.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Polystyrene or Styrofoam

Air tight Jar


You can use just about any clear solvent or naphtha gas to make plastic coat; however the lower the vaporization temperature the faster the plastic coat dries when used.

I used 118 ml of CPVC, ABS, PVC, clear primer cleaner that contained, Tetrahydrofuran, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Toluene, and Acetone to make clear plastic coat. This stuff vaporizes fast and I had some lying around not being used so I thought I would put it to use.

Step 2: Mixing

Picture of Mixing

To make plastic coat you can use just about any Polystyrene or Styrofoam, but if you want clear plastic coat use just the white Polystyrene or Styrofoam. White Polystyrene or Styrofoam isn’t white, it’s clear like water, and just like water when it freezes it looks white.

Break up the Polystyrene or Styrofoam and stuff it into the jar.

Add the solvent to the jar, the Polystyrene or Styrofoam should start to dissolve almost immediately.

Keep adding Polystyrene or Styrofoam to the jar, if you are using a solvent that vaporizes quickly put the lid on the jar between adding Polystyrene or Styrofoam and wait for it to dissolve.

Continue adding Polystyrene or Styrofoam to the jar until it takes several minutes for the Polystyrene or Styrofoam to dissolve.

Now you have plastic coat that dries clear.

Step 3: Mixing Plastic Coat for Paint

Picture of Mixing Plastic Coat for Paint

Mixing plastic coat for use with paint is much the same as the clear coat with a couple key differences.

First, latex and other water based paint are out of the question, they just don’t mix with solvent.

Second, paint thinner takes longer to dissolve the Polystyrene or Styrofoam, and it takes longer to dry.

Third different oil based paints use different application thinners. Automotive paint uses automotive paint thinner, oil paints used in the home like you would use on your mailbox might use varsol as a thinner. If you use the wrong application thinner the plastic coat and the paint won’t mix.

Paints with a light colored pigment like white or yellow use the white Polystyrene or Styrofoam to make your plastic coat paint so it won’t taint the final color. Dark paints like black or metallic blue won’t be bothered as much by added pigments so you can use the colored Polystyrene or Styrofoam.

Mix the paint thinner and Polystyrene or Styrofoam to the jar just as I did for the clear plastic coat.

Since the paint thinner takes longer to dissolve the Polystyrene or Styrofoam in the jar you may have a lump of undissolved Polystyrene or Styrofoam.

Put the lid on the jar and let it sit overnight stirring it occasionally until the Polystyrene or Styrofoam in the jar has dissolved.

If all the Polystyrene or Styrofoam doesn’t dissolve by the next day you can filter out any solids with a paint filter.

Step 4: Using the Plastic Coat

Picture of Using the Plastic Coat

To water proof electronic circuit boards first make sure the circuit board works as intended, the plastic coat is harder to take off the circuit board then it is to make and apply if you want to make repairs. Then dip the circuit board into the plastic coat, or paint the plastic coat onto the circuit board with a brush.

To repair worn resin on the whipping of a fishing pole just paint the clear plastic coat made with the PVC primer over the whipping and it dries in seconds making your fishing rod ready to go fishing in a minute.


Greycloak (author)2017-08-12

Interesting, I came here looking for a paint on solution for a boat I am going to be making out of XPF sheating foam. Is there any reason why this shouldn't work for that? Also is there a way to add color to it permanently?

I have never tried in on that foam, I have to test it.

Yes you can color it with oil based paint.

Okay cool. I am doing the prep work for building a kayak and would prefer the finished product not end up looking like pink panther. Thank you so much for the response!

mach1950 (author)2017-05-15

Hi again Josehf, I have only just got some styrene in a package to try this. I am dissolving it in pure acetone, and is fizzes as it goes in, but it's leaving a soft white deposit in the bottom of the jar. It still seems to be dissolving (fizzing) but there's this deposit in the bottom. Am I doing something wrong?

Needs Toluene.

mach1950 (author)2017-03-21

How good is this at UV resistance? Thinking of when you use it to re-furb solar cells. (another great idea you have) I live in Australia and we have much more "full sunshine" hours than you, but we still struggle with the cheap solar string lights, usually becasue of UV degradation I guess.

You are right, some months we only get 55 hours of full sun where I live. I think our winter is as hard on solar cells if not more hard then the summer. Earth's orbit is at the Periapsis during our winter, (Closest to the Sun.) and since our winter is your summer, I'm not surprised solar cells don't last long down under.

Glass solar cells fair better but they are not Immune to Environmental Damage.

Toluene can remove some of the UV damage and revitalize the plastic epoxy resin on some solar cells, Toluene in the plastic coat makes it stick better.

By the way; how was your first day of fall?

:-D First day of fall was a bit cool 78F max down to 55F min but it was sunny. How was your first day of spring?

Sunny 41 F dropping to 5 F. went fishing caught my limit in trout so all in all a good beginning to spring. :-)

mach1950 (author)2017-03-20

This is really great. I'm so angry when I think about all the styrene i've thrown in the rubbish. I will be using this to dip my PCB's for protection and to repair my fishing gear. Fantastic. Many thanks Josehf.

iceng (author)2017-02-04


Josehf Murchison (author)iceng2017-02-04


iceng (author)Josehf Murchison2017-02-05

Are the white caps from water bottles suitably soluble ?

For that matter are the bottles themselves soluble ?

We drink mostly water bottles because cancer hot spots and arsenic...

Josehf Murchison (author)iceng2017-02-06

Never tried water bottles but I have seen solvents with toluene melt a number of different plastics.

ddrury3 (author)2016-12-09

let's say I wanted to use a coat to paint over leaky wood on back porch. wouldnt it be way to flamable.

Josehf Murchison (author)ddrury32016-12-09

The solvent evaporates quickly so after a short time it is no more flammable than plastic.

Doc Cox (author)2016-07-30

Hi Josehf, Have just printed off the solar light repair instructions, these will be of great help especially the four leg transistor explanation, have been looking for a data sheet for ages, this is also a great instructable for the plastic coat, so simple but so effective, regards Doc Cox.

Thanks Doc

Just one thing if the plastic coat wont stick it needs more Toluene.

dhackaray (author)2016-06-19

i did't buy the pvc cleaner/primer as a bit low on funds. i bought a bottle of nail polish remover in stead. i have some isopropyl alcohol. does that work as well?

The nail polish remover should work well on its own it may not dissolve some forms of Styrofoam.

dhackaray (author)2016-06-18

how do i get a white plastic coat for my homemade fishing lures? it would be alot cheaper than what i am using now. does it go on smooth? thank you

Wood plastic or metal lures?

Plastic coat sticks real good on wood.

It sticks good on buffed plastic.

On metal it will chip and peel with use.

For plastic see my Instructable, "Repairing Polymer Degradation on Solar Cells", The plastic coat is very smooth,

To color the clear coat depends on the solvent you used to make it and the thinner in the oil based paint.

I used 118 ml of CPVC, ABS, PVC, clear primer cleaner that contained, Tetrahydrofuran, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Toluene, and Acetone, it will mix with almost anything oil based including nail polish, but sometimes it will come out like mother of pearl which is kind of neat looking.

i do wooden ones mostly. so i guess i will get a few different solvents and do some experiments. if i do a plastic coat on the bare wood it will save me some time, as i put a few coats of envirotex (which takes hours to dry. then after sanding between and one final sanding before a few coats of white primer more hours ) i also want to try the clear coat after i paint the wooden lures. envirotex does leave a nice hard finish but takes 6 to 8 hours to set and 3 days to cure completely. i use up to 5 coats of enviro tex to coat each lure. thank you for the quick reply.

The plastic coat can go right on the wood, it is like encapsulating the wood in plastic. You might find it lighter than envirotex.

The mix I use dries enough to sand in minutes. When I coat the whipping of fishing rods you can use the rod as fast as you can bate the hook.

simpsonizer (author)2016-06-12

Thank you for this! I wonder if it is possible to make a paintable flexible pvc by solving / melting soft pvc from vinyl gloves? This is too cool!

I'm not sure, but if you are patient and lay down many layers you can make it very thick.

meister (author)2016-06-09

could this be used to redo oxidized headlights

Josehf Murchison (author)meister2016-06-09

Yea that is where I got the idea. In the past I would use compounder to clean the oxide off the headlights and spray on plastic coat to fix the head lights.

AMTP1 (author)2016-05-20

Great tip. Is there anything that can be added to this mix to block the damage done by UV rays or is it not necessary?

Josehf Murchison made it! (author)AMTP12016-05-20

So far this mix lasts me years, but where I live we can get snow from September to May, we had snow last week and an Ice storm last month that destroyed thousands of trees. Solar power is only some what useful 4 months a year so when September hits everything gets put away for the winter until May. I don't know how the plastic coat would respond in a place where they get sun all year long.

Tulsawelder (author)2016-05-19

I made this with MEK and it works great i used it to water proof outside wood furniture. Great hack thanks for your time coming up with this.

Thank you

geologymom (author)2016-04-29

Can you use Styrofoam plates or non biodegradable packing peanuts for this process?

Yes you can do this to all Polystyrene or Styrofoam if you use the right solvent for the Polystyrene or Styrofoam.

For this Instructable and my projects, I used food grade Polystyrene and Styrofoam which is not recycled where I live.

Manufactures don't make public the exact formula, just the contents.

Then to make it more fun when you buy meat at the store they will tell about the meat and they neglect to tell you about the packing.

Most people don't even think to ask what the packing is.

I could see they were meat trays, I just don't buy enough meat to do this project without having a different source of Styrofoam. I haven't bought meat on a tray in five years, so I was looking for an source material that I might have access to without having to resort to buying trays. Thanks for the idea, it is a good one.

I forgot to mention the black ones were vegetables.

We have the blue box program and the green box program where I live, one of the things we do not recycle or compost is Polystyrene or Styrofoam.

Have you checked your neighbours garbage?

Back when you could get payed for paper and cardboard when I lived in the city garbage day was 5 days a week depending on the district. In a good month I made 2000 a week picking from other peoples garbage. It was better pay then working for someone or EI.

The blue box program put me out of work but I still salvage from my neighbours garbage.

smartrem (author)2016-04-29

Brilliant, you got my vote!


munir A chughtai (author)2016-04-27


Its Great idea, Thanks for posting.would you plspost me a simple coating on fabric to water proof and for wrinkle free especialy my shirts



Josehf Murchison made it! (author)munir A chughtai2016-04-28

I tried the plastic coat on a white shirt today.

Plastic cote made the shirt water proof and slightly transparent.

The shirt was a little stiff but it was still flexible and it was not wrinkle proof.

You can see the circle of the container I stretched the shirt over to coat it.

Now that is an interesting experiment I wonder if it would be like fiberglass or sheet plastic.

Ill do a test piece tomorrow and let you know how it comes out.

baudeagle (author)2016-04-27

Great idea, Thanks for posting.

Thank you

You know, applying this to frequently used buttons would help to prevent the painted letters/numbers from being worn away. Telephone or keyboard for example.

Like I said hundreds of uses.

Zamieuth (author)2016-04-28

I'm an electrical engineer and the spray I ise to weather proof things is like 10.00 a can an awe full for the environment this is a great hack you won my vote friend


I've used the spray on stuff I think it was $15 a can this you can dip a circuit board in the plastic coat and it dries in a minute when make it with the PVC primer.

petercd (author)2016-04-27

Neat idea, I've been looking for an alternative coating for some zinc alloy, the original paint cracked and it looks manky.

Josehf Murchison (author)petercd2016-04-27

I take it you are talking the rocker panels on your car?

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a photographer, a tinker, an electronics technology engineer, and author; I write short stories and poetry for the love of writing. I started ... More »
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