Coating Fabric With Liquid Latex




About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

This is an easy way to quickly make any fabric airtight. As such, you can use this technique to make a wide array of inflatable objects.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff.


- liquid latex (get Clear #10)
- fabric (canvas is ideal since it is strong, tightly woven and doesn't stretch)
- a bar of Dove soap or similar ( bacon soap is tempting but not recommended)
- three plastic dishes (large enough to hold soap)
- baby powder


- 1 cheap paintbrush
- paper towels

Step 2: Prepare the Materials.

Get your three bowls. Fill one bowl halfway with water and stick your brush into it. Fill the second bowl with a small amount of liquid latex. In the third bowl stick a bar of soap.

Step 3: Paint Your First Coat.

Take the brush out of the water and rub it into the bar of soap. This is done to keep the latex from bonding to the brush's bristles, but remember not to leave too much soap on the brush. After rubbing the brush against the soap, rub the brush against the side of the bowl to get all the excess soapy water off the brush.

Now dip the bristles of the brush into the liquid latex about halfway. Rub off the extra latex on the side of the container so that it doesn't drip everywhere.

Quickly paint a thin horizontal layer of latex onto the canvas. By horizontal I mean that all brush strokes should be made horizontally across the surface of the canvas.

The first coat will take longer and use more latex than all subsequent coats.

Step 4: Paint the Second Coat.

After about twenty minutes the first coat should darken and be dry to the touch.

At this point you are going to want to lay down the second coat. This time make all your strokes vertically or, rather, in the opposite direction of your initial strokes.

After the second coat your fabric should be airtight.

Step 5: Paint Additional Coats.

Even though your fabric is now airtight you are going to want to put on at least one more coat for additional strength.

Just make sure you paint on the latex in alternating patterns. For instance, since your last coat was painted vertically, this new coat will be painted horizontally.

I wouldn't recommend putting on more than 5 coats of latex. After 5 coats I imagine that the fabric will start to get very weighted down.

Step 6: Powder It Up.

Once your fabric is well-coated in latex you are going to want to keep the latex from sticking to itself. This is easily done.

Take your container of baby powder and generously shake the baby powder onto the surface of the latex. Rub the baby powder vigorously around over the surface until the latex is no longer sticky.

Now you are done.



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    39 Discussions


    5 months ago

    When using this material to make an inflatable, does the latex coated side go in or out?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 months ago

    I typically put it inside. It's more durable that way.


    Answer 7 months ago

    It will likely stick to most fabrics. What is the end goal?


    3 years ago on Introduction

    I was planning on making a Twi'lek costume for the Star Wars premier next month, but was frustrated with my cloth lekku, because they don't look like skin. I could order latex lekku, but they're fairly expensive. This, I think, is a great way to "skinify" my cloth lekku to make them look the way I want. Thank you!!

    4 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Did you end up using this method? I am doing a Togruta from Star wars and have lekku made of lycra spandex I want to cover with latex. My trial tests haven't been very successful. The latex seems to 'stiffen' the fabric. I would like my lekku to sway not stick out straight. Did you have this issue?


    Reply 3 years ago

    I did the same with my Diva Plavalaguna a few years back. Made the headpiece appear the same texture as the dress. Worked nicely but got heavy!


    Reply 3 years ago

    IIRC it was some cheap white cotton/lycra mix, pretty basic with just a bit of stretch. I added acrylic paint to my latex for colour and painted it on to the dress while it was on a mannequin form so it wouldn't stick to itself- my dress was so long I hung the form from a beam!

    My headpiece was latex painted over foam wrapped in cling-wrap. I don't recommend doing it that way, it was so thick and heavy I spent a lot of time leaning against walls to rest my neck.

    Unfortunately it was before I got a digital camera so I have no progress pics but someone gave me one from the cosplay competition. Um... I don't know why it's insisting on being sideways. :-S


    Reply 3 years ago

    Liquid latex usually stays tacky even when set, so you're using the baby powder (talc) to help set the latex so it's not sticky anymore.

    Shake it onto all latexed surfaces a bit at a time and basically rub it in. When you're done run your hands over the surface to make sure no stickiness remains or repowder sticky bits. Without this step the surface can bond to other surfaces and it becomes really hard to pull apart again (think of a popped balloon that's been sitting in the sun).


    3 years ago

    OMG this changes everything


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Could I use the liquid latex if I wanted to make a design on a pair of cotton gloves?

    Thank you for this instructable randofo, it inspired me to remember forgotten knowledge and perhaps the best solution to a recent problem.

    I may also have some ideas to extend this instructable.

    First, the soap rinse is brilliant, the brush gets clogged so fast and rinsing alone doesn't work very well.

    You may be able to completely dispense with the brush all together. I have tested diluting latex to the point it's almost pure water and yet the solution STILL coats materials with a micro thin coating of latex.

    The trade is that as more water is added the shrinkage increases. In the case of fabric I think that's not an issue as the water will mostly penetrate the fabric. If you coated just one side it MAY cause a problem with puckering if you put on enough coats.

    If you want to waterproof / "air tighten" fabric a very thin solution of say 30 water to one latex or less would probably allow you to simply soak the fabric in, or pass it through the solution and get a waterproof / airtight layer.

    The layer on the surface will be thin, but the latex will penetrate into the fabric along with the water bonding with the fibers very well.

    Finally, I've read about people boiling latex to vulcanize it, and I'm sure steaming it would work even better provided it actually works. It would probably be wise to powder the latex before cramming a bunch into a pot or steamer though.

    As an alternative powder which is actually cheaper here in Japan...cornstarch, which online info said was the main ingredient in baby powder anyway.

    I have two up and coming projects which I will try my own ideas on and I will report the results here, and maybe do a related instructable about if it works as well as i hope.

    Thanks for the inspiration,


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I want to spiff up an old umbrella, e.g. steampunk parasol. It's vintage 1960s nylon with an ugly print. Do you think latex paint will dissolve the underlying nylon? Is the paint reasonably opaque? Can something else be glued or painted onto it once it's done?



    6 years ago on Introduction

    Where can I purchase the liquid latex you show in your pictures?

    Is this the only sort of liquid latex to accomplish this technique?

    Can I purchase liquid latex body cosmetic from liquid they have it listed under Coating Fabrics and Porous Surfaces with Liquid Latex.



    8 years ago on Introduction

    Such a great instructable! I was looking for this for a lot of time but couldnt find the right words (sorry for my english). Can i ask you a question? I hate advertising the brand of my laptop showing on the back o the screen and would very like to stick a patch (in spanish we say insignia dunno if its the same in english) like they use at the military to make myself clear. Ive been thinking a lot about a way to stick it but make it "washable" or a least cleanable as patches get very dirty very quick. Would this tecnicque work? Or if ur so kind do u know any other way (like applying some kind of barnish or something? But i think THIS is exactly what i was looking for :D great job thanks for sharing!