With carved pumpkins quickly deteriorating and making a mess, knowing how to paint a pumpkin can provide you with long-lasting Halloween decor so you can stretch this fun holiday through the month of October.
If you want to try out your pumpkin painting ideas, it’s important to prepare your pumpkin properly to help your paint stick and look good for longer. Painting straight onto an unprepared pumpkin can lead to peeling paint and less than ideal looking Halloween decorating ideas.
Here’s how to paint a pumpkin step-by-step so you can fine-tune the finish and keep your pumpkins looking their best all season long.
How to paint a pumpkin
Painting a pumpkin is an easy process that can be a lot of fun. What’s more, it’s often easier than hollowing out and carving a pumpkin – especially for younger kids or if you’re less dexterous.
1. Choose the right pumpkin
“The best pumpkins for painting have smooth, even edges, with little or no scratches or blemishes,” says Rachel Crow, garden editor for Homes & Gardens. “Avoid any pumpkins with soft spots,” she warns, “this could be a sign of rotting.”
The best pumpkins to choose for easy no-carve pumpkin ideas have flat bottoms so your design will sit well in your Halloween window decor or Halloween porch decor.
2. Clean your pumpkin
Cleaning your pumpkin before painting is essential to achieve a smooth finish and prevent pumpkins from rotting so quickly.
To clean a pumpkin for painting, use a cloth soaked in warm soapy water to remove any dirt or debris from the surface, avoid wetting the container or stem of your pumpkin as this can encourage rotting .
After washing, buff with a dry cloth or towel to dry your pumpkin completely. Avoid using a hard-bristled brush to clean, as this can scratch or otherwise damage the surface of the pumpkin, leading to rot.
3. Use a sealer or primer
“Pre-painting your pumpkin is optional, but it can make your paint job last longer,” says Rachel.
Choose any craft sealant like this highly rated, quick-drying sealant on Amazon (opens in new tab) and spread liberally on your clean, weeping pumpkin’s surface. If using a spray sealant such as an aerosol, be sure to spray evenly over the surface in a well-ventilated area. For paint-on sealer, use a brush to apply an even coat to the entire surface and allow to dry thoroughly.
Give the sealant sufficient time to dry before applying any paint.
4. Decide on your design before you paint
Just like pumpkin carving ideas, it’s important to decide on your design before you start executing your design.
Just like how to carve a pumpkin, consider sketching the outline of your design on the surface of the pumpkin with a pen or pencil before you paint to make the process easier and help prevent mistakes.
If you are painting your pumpkin with a base color such as white or black, paint on this layer first before drawing on the outline.
5. Paint your pumpkin
Painting is one of the most fun steps in any Halloween craft idea. If you want, paint your pumpkin a new base color first, let this layer dry completely before painting on your more intricate design.
“It’s best to use acrylic paint for pumpkins,” advises Rachel. “If you want to use an alternative paint-pe, paint a small area in an inconspicuous area first to test the formula on the surface of the pumpkin.”
Consider using different tools to paint your pumpkin for different effects. Rather than limiting yourself to a paintbrush, consider using cotton swabs, sponges, or cotton balls. You may want to keep a damp cloth with you as you paint to quickly wipe away any mistakes before they dry.
6. Seal in your design
‘Sealing your design once the paint is dry is one of the most important steps if you want your painted pumpkin to last,’ explains Rachel. “Apply another coat of your sealer over your dried painted pumpkin to lock in the paint and add a nice, reflective sheen that can reflect the light of candles or Halloween lights.”
What kind of paint do you use to paint a pumpkin?
It’s best to use acrylic paint instead of oil-based paint when it comes to painting a pumpkin, as it dries quickly and is easy to remove if you make a mistake.
Water-based paint can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth, but if you choose to use an oil-based paint, be sure to have a cloth with a little turpentine or rubbing alcohol on it to wipe away mistakes. If you use these solvents, always keep them away from young children and supervise when painting.
Can you paint straight on a pumpkin?
You can paint directly onto the surface of a pumpkin, but it’s best to clean the surface beforehand with warm, soapy water to remove any dirt that might prevent paint from sticking.