DIY Painted Cooler

Pinterest Cooler

I have made a post on how to make a painted cooler before (check it out here!) but I figured I should update the post and tutorial! In college, if you’re invited to a social it’s tradition to make your date a painted cooler. I made my husband a cooler in my first tutorial and he absolutely loved it! But you can paint a cooler for ANY occasion! In this tutorial I made cooler for my friend’s birthday. Also, I had help from our dog Sutton making this cooler (he’s in the background of all of the pics!)

Here are the pics of my husband’s cooler!


Here are a list of the materials that you will need, but I must say that the most important thing you will need is TIME. It takes a lot of prep and drying time if you want a great cooler that will last and stand against scratches.



Paint (acrylic)

Paint pens



Plastic paint primer

ModPodge or sealant

Newspaper with dark images or carbon paper


The first thing you need to do is to peel off all of the stickers on your cooler. Next, sand the entire cooler down. It’s much easier if you have an electric sander, but you can definitely do it by hand. The purpose of sanding down the cooler is so that the paint will stick to it. There is a shiny coat on the cooler which makes it easy for the paint to scratch off. Trust me, this step is very essential!


Once you have it sanded down, it will be quite dusty. So, take a damp rag and wipe down the surface of the cooler.


Next, fill any logos or indentures with the spackling. Take a putty knife and fill them in and smooth it over. You will need to let it dry according to the package (I believe it’s 12-24 hours).


After it has dried, sand the putty down by hand to make it smooth. It’s a good idea to wipe it down again with a rag.


Now, using plastic primer, spray over the entire cooler. This will give you a clean canvas to work on. Also, this will help to make your work stick!


Once the primer dries, it’s time to start painting! It’s a good idea to go ahead and figure out what you are going to put on your cooler. If there are some logos that you want to have JUST right print those out on the computer. I free-handed a lot of sides on this cooler, but it’s a good idea to sketch it out on paper and then transfer it to the cooler.

You can transfer your images or sketches by placing it on top of newspaper. It’s best to use carbon paper, but if you don’t feel like going to the store, newspaper is your next best bet. (It’s best to cut out a section of the paper that has a lot of black ink on it like a picture) I taped it to the cooler and then traced and pressed down on it with a pen.


Once you have all of your ideas and logos down, time to paint away! It’s best to use paint pens for lettering and outlining! I’m quite impatient, so I use a hair dryer to help speed up the process!

Also, every time you finish painted a section or side, I would HIGHLY recommend lathering it with mod podge. This will help your work STAY and reduce the risk of it getting scratched!

Use every inch of the cooler that you can! Paint something creative on the corners and along the edges!

For this cooler I painted the handle in glitter gold. If you do this, make a base coat of regular gold with gold spray paint, THEN spray over with the glitter gold. Seal the glitter with a sealant or ModPodge

To finalize the cooler, coat the cooler in ModPodge or sealant to assure that your hard work doesnt scratch off!!

I’m so proud of the finished cooler!



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