How to Paint on a Foam Board

    by Virgil Dudley

    About the Author

    Virgil Dudley is an artist, designer, and urban theorist who has written, researched and designed projects in the fields of art, architecture, fashion, and design since 2001. She has written for websites such as eHow. She holds a B.F.A. in ceramics and art history and a M.Sc. in architectural history and theory and is co-owner of an environmentally responsible clothing line.


    Foam board, often called foam core, is a sturdy board created with two thick pieces of paper laminated on a core made from foam. The boards come in a range of sizes and thicknesses, with different finishes on the outer paper. Foam core is an easily transportable art and craft material due to its sturdy yet lightweight characteristic. The board can be used in a variety of applications and is an effective surface for painting.

    Things You'll Need

    • Foam board
    • Craft knife
    • Straight edge
    • Gesso
    • Pencil
    • Assortment of paint brushes
    • Acrylic paints
    • Paint medium

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    Select foam board based on the way you plan to use the painting you create. Thicker foam board is more durable and can withstand more handling. A thinner board might be suitable if you don't plan to transport or handle the painting, or if you plan to secure it in a frame. Ideally, purchase a matte finish form board to ensure that the paint sticks properly.

    Trim your foam board to the desired size using a straight edge, such as a metal ruler, and a very sharp craft knife; a dull blade will cause the foam core to have a torn or chewed-looking edge.

    Prime the foam board with a neutral base material like gesso. Ensure to use gesso that is suited for the type of paint you plan to use. For example, use acrylic or soy gesso if you plan to use acrylic paints. Once the gesso has dried thoroughly, draw an outline of your design on the foam board in pencil.

    Apply paint in the pencil guidelines. Avoid adding too much water to the paint as it might get too wet for the outer layer of the foam board. Add matte or gloss medium to thin the paint as needed. Allow each layer to dry before applying the next layer.