Toolkit What Kind Of Paint To Use On Pumpkins


What Type Of Paint To Use On Pumpkins | The Best Paint | Cheap But Effective Paint | Quick & Easy Paint | Various Techniques, Tips & Reminders

The big question is, what kind of paint to use on pumpkins? The nice thing about painting pumpkins instead of carving them is that they last longer this way – for at least a month. Most especially if you do the extra step of sealing them before and after the painting process. With a carved pumpkin, you’re lucky if they last for a week before completely rotting away. Painting your pumpkins also gives you more creative freedom and can be a fun and safer activity to do with the kids than carving. You can even glue things on if you want to experiment even further. 

With all the different kinds of paints out there, it can get so confusing. From commercial paints to artist paints, there are so many varieties to choose from as well. Below, I’ve narrowed down the options to just a few that you can try out for yourself. You can use just one of them or mix and match them like I did with mine. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Looking for something in particular? Jump ahead using the links below:

Can you paint straight onto a pumpkin?
What Type Of Paint To use On Pumpkins – Tried and Tested
Best Paint To Use To Paint Pumpkins – Acrylic Paints
What Paint To Paint Pumpkins That’s Cheap But Effective – Latex Paints (House paints)
What Paint Sticks To Pumpkins Quick and Easy – Spray Paints & Chalkboard Paints
Tips and Reminders For What Kind Of Paint To Use On Pumpkins
Can you use washable paint on pumpkins?

Can you paint straight onto a pumpkin?

Yes you can, just gently clean your pumpkin to remove dirt and other things that might affect the paint. Don’t do it roughly as you might damage the skin. If you plan on leaving it outside where it will be exposed to the sun and rain, you can first apply a sealant over it before doing any painting – and after as well. But otherwise it’s perfectly fine to paint directly without that extra step.

What Type Of Paint To Use On Pumpkins – Tried and Tested

These are the paints that I’ve personally tried and will fare better when exposed to the elements. So you can choose to display them indoors or outdoors. 

Best Paint To Use To Paint Pumpkins – Acrylic Paints 

Acrylic paints are water-based paints. You only need water to dilute them or for clean ups, which make them definitely easier to use. They also dry much, much faster than oil based paints. You don’t have to use your special artist grade acrylic paints for your pumpkins, the cheaper acrylic craft paints will do. You just need to layer them on for more opaque applications since they’re more fluid and less pigmented than the artist grade ones. A small price to pay for the much cheaper cost.

They come in tubes, tubs, and even as paint markers and in a dizzying array of colors, too. Since acrylic paint dries quickly, you can work in layers especially for the parts where you want the paint or design to be more opaque.

My collection of acrylic paints. I have them in tubes and in plastic jars. I used acrylic to paint the finer details on my pumpkins along with the detail brushes from the Fine Line brush set of ZenART Supplies.

For painting in the acrylic details, I used detail brushes from the Fine Line brush set of ZenART Supplies. The specially designed handles really allow me to work comfortably while doing detail work for a long time. And gives me that much needed grip control for all those minute and micro brushwork. 

Here you see me using one of my favorite brushes from the Fine Line brush set of ZenART Supplies – the #1 Angled Flat Brush. It’s the best for painting in those crisp edges and really handy for those tight and sharp corners.

Curious to know more about acrylic paint? Find out the main differences between acrylic and oil paint and learn when to choose which one to use.

What Paint To Paint Pumpkins That’s Cheap But Effective – Latex Paints (house paints)

Latex paints are perfect for covering large sections, they would make for great base paints before you add the smaller details. They’re also water-based just like acrylic paints. Plus they are definitely cheaper and come in even larger sizes from ¼ pint cans to 5 gallon buckets. So you can paint as much and as many as you want without worrying about the expense. Just don’t use any of your special and prized painting brushes as they might get ruined. I always stock up on some cheap brushes for moments like this. 

Properly stir the can or bucket before using the paint. The components tend to separate when in storage for long periods of time. But even if it’s just a week or so, just mix it thoroughly anyway to be on the safe side. 

Above are 1 Liter buckets of black and white latex paints. With some used for mixing the chalkboard paints. I actually ended up using just the chalkboard paint mix for the big coverage painting areas, I just really fell in love with the matte finish of it. But if you prefer the glossy finish, then just use the regular latex paints.

What Paint Sticks To Pumpkins Quick and Easy – Spray Paints & Chalkboard Paints

Spray Paints

Looking for an even quicker painting time, you can also opt for spray paints. You can cover large areas very quickly or for some fun negative painting with some stencils applied to your pumpkin beforehand.

Just make sure to use this in a well ventilated area (best if done outdoors) and have a big enough space lined with newspaper/scrap paper or any other material that you don’t mind getting some paint on. This is to protect your table or whichever surface you choose to paint on from the fine paint mist from all the spraying. Or even better create a DIY spray booth that’s big enough for your pumpkin to fit in with enough room left around for you to work with. This will help contain the overspraying so you won’t have to worry about getting it on surrounding objects, walls, and flooring.

First shake the can vigorously for a minute or two so the paint components are well mixed. Then spray on your pumpkin from 12-18 inches away. Turn your pumpkin as you go so the entire surface gets evenly covered. Don’t overspray, instead apply in thin coats and wait for each coat to dry before applying the next one. If you force it and spray too much, it will create drips that might not be to your liking. If you applied tape or stencils, wait for the paint to dry before peeling them off. 

Above are my arsenal of materials for spray painting. I used masking tape to cover the sections that I want to remain orange.
On top: Spray painting a pumpkin inside a DIY spray booth – a repurposed box from a package. Bottom: Spray painting a pumpkin outdoors with just some recycled brown paper to protect the outdoor surface.

There are many kinds of spray paint you can choose from. This shade of gold is one of my favorites and is labeled as Gold – Brilliant. I have silver and black too as these are the colors that come in handy for my personal usage most of the time.

The white surrounding the gold spray paint is a Titanium White acrylic paint. I used the #1 Angled Flat Brush from the Fine Line brush set to paint those white borders.

Chalkboard Paints

Chalkboard paint used for pumpkins is my new favorite! The matte finish of chalkboard paints can be a fun thing to play around with or to mix and match with the glossier paints for that great textural contrast. You can even add glitter or metallic paint to your design for an even more interesting contrast. Which is what I did with mine!

Just like house paint, make sure to stir your paint can/bucket before using it. You can buy chalkboard paints ready to use in a number of colors from the hardware store. Or you can make your own using regular latex paint (preferably flat) mixed with unsanded tile grout, baking soda, cornstarch, or plaster of Paris. Check out the mixing ratios below for your choice of mix and in what amounts you should put them in. Stir and mix thoroughly until there are no lumps. Don’t mix too much, just mix in small batches so you don’t end up with too much paint on your hands.

Here’s a recipe for each one, simply adjust according to how much you need for painting. I went with baking soda as I had it readily available at home.

Check out the wonderful rough texture of the white chalkboard paint below, it really goes well with the gold acrylic paint detailing I added.

Tips and Reminders For What Kind Of Paint To Paint Pumpkins

Painting and Drying Time

These are just some things to keep in mind when painting your pumpkins. Sometimes you might be tempted to paint thickly so you don’t have to add another layer of paint. But oftentimes what seems to be a shortcut will end up costing you more time to correct or give you much regret at the finished look. If it’s too thick, it can drip and create runs of paint here and there while you leave it to dry. Unless that’s the look you’re aiming for, resist the temptation of slathering on that paint. Instead use a blow dryer to hasten the drying process, and you can add layers of paint in no time.

Masking Tape Uses

Make good use and have fun with the masking tape! It’s cheap, easily available, and quite effective. You can easily create designs and patterns by making use of the negative painting technique. Do you want really nice and clean edges – use a masking tape! 

Sketching on Chalkboard Paint

Charcoal pencils and chalk pastels are just like using the chalk on a chalkboard at school. You can draw your design or drawing easily using them and they’re very easy to erase when you need to. They also just disappear under the paint you apply over them.

Use The Right Brushes

For latex paint or house paint, just use cheap brushes as they can easily ruin your pricey ones. And save yourself the pain of trying to paint detail work using big brushes, especially the ones with splayed ends. Use detail brushes for those smaller details and actually have fun with the painting process!

Check out the lovely selection of detail brushes from the Fine Line set of ZenART Supplies. These brushes are designed for fine acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouache, and ink use. 

Can you use washable paint on pumpkins?

Yes, you totally can. If you’re going to keep your pumpkins indoors then washable paint can be used, too. If you want to place them outdoors, seal them before and after you apply the washable paint. Otherwise the paint will start flaking and rubbing off when continuously exposed to the sun and rain. You can use clear spray paint for this, make sure it’s fully dry before you paint over it. And make sure your painting is completely dry as well before sealing it in.

And now it’s time for you to paint your very own pumpkins!

I hope this inspires you to paint them and not just go with the usual carving method. You can get to enjoy your efforts for a much longer time. And there’s so much to explore painting-wise. Just remember to have fun and keep in mind the tips and reminders I shared. You don’t even have to paint Halloween specific themed designs, that way you can still have them on display even after the said holiday.

Featuring the Fine Line brushes, this set comes in a canvas roll up case that makes it quite convenient to store and bring along.

Looking for something else to paint for Halloween? Check out our How To Draw A Vampire article for a step by step guide into drawing vampires. You can choose between drawing just the head or a dramatic full body vampire drawing.

We’d love to hear back from you!

Which paint used for pumpkins are you thinking of trying out? What kind of designs are you drawn to painting? What future content would you like to see from us? Let me know in the comments below! Join our friendly art community Painting Inspiration Daily on Facebook. You can share your art and ideas, watch LIVE tutorials, and be inspired to paint! 

Next up on Toolkits – Moon Landscape With Gouache, an easy and fun tutorial with an accompanying video by the lovely Theodora. Until then, have a blast painting those pumpkins!


Kathleen is the Wordsmith at ZenART, resident artist and art editor. When God sent a shower of talents, Kathleen made sure she got a basketful of them! She’s a visual artist with practical knowledge on various fields from painting and sculpture, to costume and set design which comes in very handy when writing about various art techniques and theories. She also shares her passion for the arts through teaching. She runs her own brand of handmade wirework jewelry designs.