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Can You Paint An RC Plane?

Painting an RC plane is something that requires a great amount of dexterity and tact. Once you have purchased your RC plane, the next thing that pops up in your mind is how do you paint it to suit your taste. Can you even paint an RC plane? 

RC planes can certainly be painted if you would like. There are a variety of different techniques that you can use to paint your plane and depending on the materials that the plane is made of you might have to use some specific types of paints. The proper preparation of the plane is also incredibly important to help your new paint job to stick to the plane properly so it won’t peel off. 

Now that you know that you can paint your RC plane, you might begin to examine various choices of paint. Should the paint be applied with a brush or sprayed? Should it be enamel or acrylic? What is the best combination of materials that you can use to give your plane the perfect facelift? 

For your RC plane to turn out beautifully painted, you must be able to answer these questions and make the right choices. 

Types of Paint

Other forms of paint exist, but when you are painting an RC plane, it is advisable to use enamel or acrylic paint. These two types of paint are guaranteed to give you the best results because they have the right texture for the body of your plane. Acrylic paints are especially beneficial because they dry faster and do not let off harmful fumes. Many owners of RC planes prefer enamel paint because even if they do not dry fast, they dry much smoother on the body of the plane than acrylic paint does. 

However, using any other type of paint apart from enamel and acrylic ones is not a problem unless the body of your RC plane is made from Lexan. If it is, then you really should stick with enamel or acrylic paint. This is because the body of Lexan planes is very tough, and other types of paint would crack in no time. 

Painting Techniques

Painting your RC plane requires you to have a specific technique in painting, and it is crucial that you see painting your plane as art, just the same way you would see paint on a canvas. In this case, your plane is the canvas. 

Let’s now look at the techniques to use when painting your RC plane:

Using a Brush

You can apply your paint with a brush, but the problem with using a brush is that it is not easy to make the body of your RC plane shiny and sleek when you use a brush. Because you are mechanically painting with your free hand, you may not be steady enough to deliver a glossy work of art and the brush strokes are often difficult if not impossible to avoid. Since the aim of painting an RC plane is to achieve gloss and sleekness, it is best for most people to use spray paint for your RC plane. 

This is not to say that brush-applied paint is not useful at all. It is very useful for the detailed part of the painting job, such as lettering, numbering, pinstriping, etc. This is because these parts of the painting job require you to apply paint to only a small portion of the body of the plane, so it can be done by hand much easier and will make your plane stand out quite nicely. 

Using Spray Paint

Spray paint is the overwhelming choice for plane owners because, unlike brush-applied paint, it makes the body of the plane sleek and glossy. Spray paint is quite cheap, too. For as low as $20, you can get a good quality spray paint and enough of it to paint your entire plane. 


Most people are often satisfied with using spray paint because it gives a satisfactory result, but some people want absolute perfection. This is the reason they resort to airbrushing. Airbrushing ensures that there is sufficient application of paint in a particular area of choice, and it produces an enhanced sleekness, something which cannot be achieved by using spray paint or brushing. 

Preparation Steps

There are some important steps to follow to enable you to achieve impressive results when painting your RC plane. They include: 

Scraping the Surface of the Plane

This is a piece of vital advice that many people choose to ignore, but it is important to scrape or sand the surface of the plane before applying spray paint. If the body of your plane is made from Lexan, scraping the surface ensures that the paint would not come off for quite a while. You can scrape by using a tool if the paint is loose or if not then you can sand the plane down with sandpaper. Remember to scrape lightly, as scraping with too much force can damage the body of the plane and affect the sleekness of the end product. Also, if you scrape too heavily, areas of the plane that would not be painted, like the windows, would show. So, take it easy while scraping or sanding your plane. 

Shaking the Can 

Shaking the can is especially important because most times, some paint residue settles at the bottom of the spray can. Spraying your plane without shaking the container vigorously can make you spray only the top content of the can, which can result in a poor end product. So, for even distribution of the paint within the can, shake the can vigorously. 

If painting by hand you will of course want to mix your paint can thoroughly for the same reasons. 

Doing a Test Run

To ensure that your spray can is working perfectly, spray it on another surface for a short time before spraying it on the surface of your plane. Assessing the spray can on other surfaces enables you to check for faults like unexpected spurts and splashes from the spray that can spoil the end product you are trying to achieve. 

If you are unsure if the color you are choosing is the best for your plane then painting a small test portion on your plane will allow you to see what it looks like or even test your painting skills. 

Spray Light Layers of Paint

Do not try to cover your plane with one or two layers of deeply coated paint. The problem with painting in heavy layers is that there is a large chance of the paint running, chipping, and even flaking. So, spray very lightly and use many additional  coat of light paint until you achieve your desired result.

Emptying the Can

This sounds like a funny thing to say, but if you attempt to use the last bits of spray paint on the surface of your plane, you will notice that the paint would no longer come out in a fine spray. It will come out in spurts, and this can ruin all the fantastic work you have spent so much time doing. 

You can use the last bits of paint in your spray can by spraying it into a container, and using a brush to carefully finesse places that you have missed while painting earlier. 

For additional painting tips check out the video below. 


You can certainly paint your RC plane if you choose to do so. It is important to use the proper type of paint as well as to use good painting techniques to get a good quality paint job. The good thing about painting your RC plane is that if you mess up you have only wasted a little bit of money and some time. 

You can easily sand or scrape off the paint job if it doesn’t turn out right and start all over again. Over time you will probably find yourself changing your paint job more and more often as your preferences change. 

Since it is so cheap to change your paint color or style you could do so every single weekend and not spend too much money on doing it!