Can You Paint Over Spray Foam Insulation?

spraying spray foam insulation in loft

Spray foam is among the best materials to insulate homes, sheds, and other structures. Despite its many properties, from soundproofing to increasing energy efficiency, it can look unattractive, if not covered.

Consequently, homeowners are always looking for ways to hide spray foam insulation. So, how can you integrate it into your place’s interior or exterior design seamlessly? Can you paint over spray foam insulation?

Luckily, you can. Aside from enhancing aesthetics, you can also paint over spray foam insulation to protect it against environmental factors. You only need to pick the right type of paint and make sure to keep a few considerations in mind before attempting such an upgrade.

In this article, we explore the possibilities and challenges of painting over spray foam insulation to help you achieve the best results. 

Can You Paint Over Spray Foam Insulation?

Usually, spray foam insulation gets concealed under the floors or inside the walls. However, it can be visible in some applications, and that’s when you’d want to hide it. Not only does it look unappealing, but it can also become a dirt magnet over time.

Fortunately, it’s possible to paint over spray foam insulation. Such a task should be easy, whether you hire a professional or do it yourself.

Why Paint Over Spray Foam Insulation?

Despite what you might think, painting over spray foam insulation isn’t a bizarre idea. In fact, people do it quite often for various reasons.

Take a look at three of the most common benefits that may lead you to paint over spray foam insulation.

1. Enhanced Aesthetics

One of the primary reasons you may want to paint spray foam insulation is to enhance the overall aesthetics of the surface. While spray foam is quite efficient, it’s not that good-looking with such a bland colour.

Therefore, painting over it results in more harmonious integration with the surroundings. Plus, the neutral colour gives you a suitable base to apply paint.

2. Protection Against UV Radiation

Generally, spray foam insulation isn’t UV stable, meaning that it needs a layer of protection when applied outside. That’s because sun rays can lead to the foam’s gradual degradation over time.

So, painting the spray foam adds an extra barrier to shield it against the harmful effects of UV rays. Such practice helps extend the lifespan of insulation and ensure long-term optimal performance.

3. Sealing and Moisture Resistance

While spray foam insulation is water resistant, the open-cell type isn’t completely waterproof. That’s why such a type isn’t suitable for areas exposed to moisture or rain.

Conveniently, paint can act as a barrier that can enhance the sealing properties of spray foam insulation. It prevents moisture from penetrating the foam, which reduces the risk of mould growth or moisture damage.

What To Consider Before Painting Over Spray Foam Insulation?

The idea of having a makeover to enhance the look of spray foam insulation is exciting. However, a thoughtful approach is essential to ensure a successful paint job. So, before you start with the project, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

a. Choosing the Right Type of Paint

Spray foam insulation isn’t compatible with all types of paint. In fact, solvent-based and oil-based paints can damage the foam insulation. Moreover, you need to avoid triggering any kind of chemical reaction resulting from applying paint over the foam.

That said, water-based acrylic or latex paint is what you should go for. Compared to other alternatives, these paint types maintain their colours for longer. Plus, they’re water-based, meaning they don’t react negatively with the foam.

Additionally, try using flat or semi-gloss paint. Unlike high-gloss finishes, they work best in concealing foam irregularities.

Either way, you should always consult your local hardware store for the best types to use. Furthermore, testing a small area before proceeding with the project helps you avoid future complications.

b. Surface Preparation

Correct surface preparation is key for achieving a successful and satisfying paint job over spray foam insulation.

If the foam insulation is newly installed, it’s crucial to wait until it’s completely cured before starting to paint. To be safe, you need to give it at least 24 hours to fully cure.

On the other hand, if the foam insulation was installed a long time ago, make sure to clean the surface to remove any dust or debris.

In addition, it’s also recommended to do light sanding before painting, as the spray foam insulation can have a bumpy finish. Doing so allows you to have a smoother and more easily paintable surface.

c. Potential Thermal Expansion

In general, spray foam insulation contracts and expands in response to temperature fluctuations. Such movement can compromise the integrity of the paint layer, leading to peeling or cracking.

Therefore, it’s advisable to use elastomeric paints designed to accommodate these changes without damaging the paint job.

How To Paint Over Spray Foam Insulation?

Now that you know all the essential considerations, it’s time to get to work. When it comes to painting over spray foam insulation, following the right steps is vital for the success of the job.

Take a closer look at the steps you need to follow to end up with the desired results.

Step #1: Cleaning

After preparing and sanding the surface you want to paint, it’s vital to do some clean-up to remove foam dust. To do so, you can wipe down the area with a damp cloth. However, remember to allow it time to dry before proceeding.

Alternatively, another moisture-free way to clean foam surfaces is using air. Pressurised or not, air can help remove any clinging foam particles effectively.

In all cases, it’s crucial to wear protective gear when dealing with foam insulation debris to avoid irritation or any respiratory issues.

Step #2: Priming

Generally, primer ensures better bonding between the paint and the foam surface. Plus, it promotes an even finish.

Although not always an important step, priming can be useful in some cases. For example, open-cell foam insulation requires a layer of primer to seal it before painting due to its porous texture.

Be careful though, because just like paint, you shouldn’t use oil-based primers over spray foam insulation. Instead, go for a latex alternative.

Step #3: Paint Application

There are various ways to apply paint over your spray foam insulation. You can use a paint roller, spray paint, or a paintbrush.

While using a paint roller is helpful for large areas, such a method requires a smooth surface. Otherwise, it can reveal, and sometimes amplify, the material irregularities. On the other hand, using a paintbrush only works best for smaller areas or tricky, hard-to-reach spots.

Consequently, using spray paint proves to be the best way to paint large spray foam insulated surfaces. What’s great about this method of painting is that it results in a smooth finish without clumping.

Whatever the case is, make sure to work in a space with good ventilation and avoid windy days (if you’re painting outside). Plus, try to cover all the areas you don’t want the paint to get to. It can be surprising how far spray paint can go.


For those who seek both energy efficiency and aesthetic appeal, covering spray foam insulation is a must. Some choose to install plasterboards, while others seek a more budget-friendly solution, such as painting. Yet, can you paint over spray foam insulation?

The answer is: Yes, you can. With proper preparation and careful consideration, you can have a successful paint job to cover and protect spray foam insulation. Just remember to consult a salesperson in your local home improvement store if you need advice.

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