So You Want to Paint a Cooler: Step-by-Step Guide for Cooler Making

So you want to paint a cooler? Well, before you get started painting there’s a couple steps you have to take, and that’s where I come in!

Painting a cooler is definitley stressful--you probably feel like you have been locked in your room for hours, with nothing to show for it but a messy floor and paint in your hair. But it doesn't have to be like that! Art can be a way to alleviate stress, and painting a cooler to be someone’s date shouldn't be a nightmare!

So here are some simple tips to follow:

1. Sand the cooler. Seriously. Sand it. Some people like to skip this step, but it really is important! When you buy a cooler, sanding it down gets rid of all the bumps along the surface, and as tedious as it seems, getting rid of those bumps makes painting it so much easier and it also stops the paint from chipping. If you have an electric sander or know someone who does, ask if you can borrow it. If not, stores like Home Depot have sanding paper for cheap, and you can sand away while you watch TV! 

2. Spackle!You know when you get a cooler and it has a logo indented on it? Well no need to fear, because using spackle can fill in the dents and create a flat surface for you to paint on. This step is not always needed, especially if the logo is in a place that will have a solid color on it--but if the logo is big and you have to paint details on top, it may be helpful to fill it in. 

3. Almost time to paint!One more step and your cooler is ready to paint! And that step happens to be primer! When you buy a cooler, it probably has a white lid and colored sides. Using primer (preferably white) lets you create an even tone around the whole thing so that the original color of the cooler will not show through your paint! Since this step involves spray paint, I would encourage doing it outside or your RA might be upset! 

4. PAINT!NOW you can paint. I know it seems like it has taken forever to get here, but half the battle is already done and now you can get to the creative parts! When it comes to painting the sides of your cooler, here are some ideas to take into consideration: painting a sports team logo, fraternity/sorority/college symbol, favorite quote, state flag, country flag, monogram, drink or food logo. Personally my cooler would go: Patriots, American flag, Vineyard vines, Lilly Pulitzer, and Dunkin Donuts, but that’s just me!


5. Finishing Spray!This is another step I recommend doing outside. When you're done painting the cooler and it has dried, spray it with finishing spray to stop the paint from chipping. When applying modge podge or spray modge podge, laying it on thinly or spray from a distance. If you paint too much on or spray too close to the cooler, it will cause the paint to run.

Other Painting Tips!

-Do not wear your favorite clothes while painting! You will be very upset when your Jack Rogers have paint on them, so wear a T-shirt and shorts you don’t really like, or don't care if it gets some paint on it.

-If you’re in a rush, use a blow dryer to help the paint dry. 


-When you get to painting, find pictures of logos or symbols you like, and practice drawing them on a piece of paper before you paint.

- Remember, it’s just paint! If you don't like something, wait until it’s dry and paint over it.

-Put the biggest designs on the lid or the longest sides of the cooler.

-Paint something on each corner of the cooler (bow ties for example) to create a distinction on each side of the cooler.

    - Paint pens will be your hero! If you have to create any small details or write letters, buy a paint pen from Michael’s Craft Store!

-If you feel inclined, write a funny message or note at the bottom of the cooler!


Your Mountain Weekend/birthday/Kentucky Derby/tailgate/Carolina Cup/personal cooler is finished! Now go bask in the glory of being finished, and maybe take a shower to wash the paint out of your hair!

Happy painting, collegiettes!