Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Painted coolers

Hey y'all! All those who went to college in the south will immediately know what I am talking about when I say painted coolers. Painted coolers are popular in the Greek community. Bigs give painted coolers to their littles for reveal day in sororities. They can be given just as a present. But most importantly, when a frat guy invites you to a function, such as mountain weekend or formal, you paint him a cooler! I'm not in the Greek system but who can really resist a painted cooler? So far I've made two. One for my boyfriend's birthday two years ago and one for myself recently. I am currently working on another one for my boyfriend's 21st birthday. Now I would in no way consider myself an expert at this. Its pretty much trial and error for me when it comes to it. But I did read a lot of articles about it before I even attempted to paint a cooler. So I'm just going to tell you what I do and then let you see my finished cooler. I'll let you know my mistakes so you can avoid them.
Cooler painting steps: (Keep in mind these are just my steps, others might do it differently)

  1. Pick out a cooler. I wanted a big one, so I picked out this one from walmart: but I have painted a smaller one. I have never attempted one with wheels.
  2. Next you need to sand the cooler really good. Some people sand it with a bigger grain and then a smaller grain. I just use one small grain and sand it all over.
  3. I then wash the cooler off to get rid of dust and cooler particles.
  4. Make sure you use painters tape to tape the handles and where the top opens and closes. If you paint that, it will not open. 
  5. Prime the cooler. I use Krylon paint that is made for plastic this will make the cooler white.
  6. I always plan out my cooler in the beginning so I know what will go where.
  7. Start painting one side! (only do one side at a time) 
  8. When you have painted all the sides, you need to let it dry. (I let my dry for a day)
  9. Get mod podge in the screw top bottle and paint it on all over the cooler. You want to do a couple coats, just make sure you let each coat dry before the next.
  10. Let cooler dry for a day.
  11. Get mod podge  clear acrylic spray and give your cooler a coat or two.
  12. Let your cooler dry completely before you use it.

  • Use tissue paper! Trace the outline of the image or the words you want from your computer screen onto tissue paper. Then tape the tissue paper on the cooler where you want it and trace back over the image in sharpie. It will leak through and give you the outline on the cooler for a clean image or words.
  • Sharpies and paint pens work really well for small, clean lines.
  • Always use a ruler for straight lines.
  • Allow yourself time. Mine took a week from start to finish

  • Do not make your mod podge coat too thick, mine did not dry clear in some places.
  • If you mess up and need to paint over, make sure you cover it up completely and give it time to dry.
  • Do not freehand if you are not an artist or if you cannot write well. My computer messed up on the last thing I needed to do so I had to freehand some words. My handwriting is not neat. 
  • Do not mod podge at night under a light or you will be picking bugs out of the sealant.
  • Do not let your baby brother "help" or you will be repainting.
So here is my cooler y'all:

Top of cooler: (I hot glued pearls around my monogram)

Back of cooler:

Cooler front:

Side of cooler: 

Other side of cooler:

Like I said, I am not expert whatsoever. Plenty of other girls have more experience and can probably do it better. But this is my cooler and my steps. So have fun painting a cooler y'all!


  1. You're my hero! I love that you are not Greek & that you painted a cooler for yourself. <3

  2. Thanks!! I always thought the coolers were just so cute and I had to have one!