Fiberglass reinforced panels (or FRP) are thin plastic panels or flexible sheets that are made by integrating strong polyester resin reinforced with fiberglass.
In simple terms it’s a composite material that is made of a polymer matrix reinforced with fibers (usually glass in fiberglass, the carbon in carbon fiber reinforced polymer, aramid, or basalt.
These are today widely used on interior walls and ceilings for added style, durability, and hygiene reasons.
The good thing about the FRP panels is they can be directly installed over the drywall, wood, concrete, and a variety of other solid surfaces.
How to Paint FRP Panels?
Because they have built-in color and are reinforced to reduce surface damage, Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) is NOT designed to be painted.
This is particularly true because the surface is not designed to stick to paint.
This non-stick surface makes cleaning the FRP easy, but the paint has a difficult time sticking.
However, most FRP surfaces may be painted if you do the proper preparation.
There are exceptions depending on the manufacture and design of the FRP.
So, you will need to check first before you decide to paint to ensure that it will work.
Choosing the Right Paint for FRP
For getting your FRP panels painted, you’ll need to get the right paint first.
In most cases, high-quality epoxy or acrylic paint will work best.
This is because it has the best chance of sticking to FRPs that have had their surface properly prepared.
A low-quality paint or latex paint will tend to peel, flake, or chip easily because it will have a difficult time sticking.
Instead, acrylic paint of high quality is perfect for FRPs that will remain indoors.
For FRPs that will be exposed to sunlight or used in delicate outdoor environments, using high-quality epoxy paint or polyester-based paint is best.
Once you have chosen the best paint for fiberglass, be sure to obtain the right type of brushes, sprayers, or rollers to apply the paint on smooth FRP panels.
You can choose the type of application that best suits your needs.
Preparing and Painting the FRP Surface
After you have obtained the paint and supplies, you’ll need to prepare the surface so that it will allow the paint to stick.
Otherwise, you’ll find the paint sliding off the surface rather quickly.
Even paint that does manage to stick will not look natural and brush strokes along with uneven coats will definitely show.
Step 1 – Wash
Run water over the FRP until you have thoroughly washed the surface.
Once clean, wait for the FRP to dry.
Step 2 – Scour
Use fine-grit sandpaper to scour the surface.
Your goal is to make the entire surface of the FRP rough so that paint will stick.
Step 3 – Primer
You’ll want to use acrylic primer on the FRP.
Be sure to smooth it out using a brush with wide bristles.
Apply primer to all FRPs first and then wait for them to dry. In most cases, this should take a couple of hours.
Once the primer is applied, you should clean any residue from your brush.
Step 4 – Paint
Once the primer is fully dry, you can use acrylic paint.
Apply a single coat of paint to each FRP and wait for the paint to dry.
If you still see primer showing through the paint, apply another coat.
And now you have successfully painted an FRP. You can repeat the process on as many FRPs as you like.
Tips and Warning
One of the biggest challenges with painting fiberglass textured wall panels is its preparation before painting.
Preparing the FRP panels for painting often needs some sanding (to allow the paint to stick better) which may expose you to the fine fibers that escape into the air.
It is best to prepare the FRPs outdoors, so the fine fibers can disperse safely in the breeze when you sand.
Despite such precautions, you’ll need a respirator to cover your mouth and nose to prevent inhaling the fibers.
Once you heed the warnings, you are ready to prepare and paint your FRP panels.
Make sure that you follow all the steps right and sand the surface before painting to avoid getting poor results.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.