Here's what kind of paint you should be using.

By Emily VanSchmus
October 23, 2020
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Painted pumpkins are once again on trend this year, and for good reason. Kids of all ages can get help paint pumpkins since there aren’t any sharp tools involved. Plus, painted pumpkins last much longer than carved pumpkins, so you can display them all season long. To help you get started, we’ve got 48 easy painted pumpkin ideas and a handful of tips that’ll help make the process easier. If you’re not sure what kind of paint to use for a painted pumpkin or what kind of brushes to use, not to worry—we’ve got it covered! So plan a trip to the pumpkin patch, choose a design, and stock up on paint.

Credit: Carson Downing

1

Before you can choose the right pumpkin, you’ll need to have an idea of what you want to paint. For a geometrical design like this one, you’ll need a smooth surface, but if you’re creating a gingham design on your pumpkin, you may want a pumpkin with distinct vertical ridges. If you’re heading to the pumpkin patch to get your gourd, be sure to keep these safety measures in mind this year. You’ll also want to make sure to wash and dry the pumpkin to remove any dirt that could get mixed in with your paint.

Credit: Jacob Fox

2

Washable acrylic is the best paint for painting pumpkins, but there are a few things to consider before you get started. If you’re going to display your creation outdoors all season long, a waterproof outdoor paint ($4, Michaels) is your best bet. For pumpkins displayed indoors or on a covered area of the porch, regular acrylic crafts paint ($1, Target) is a great inexpensive option. For an ombre look, all-purpose spray paint ($4, The Home Depot) can be a good option (just be sure to paint it outside or in a well-ventilated area).

Credit: Carson Downing

3

Once you've chosen your paint, you'll need a way to apply it. Foam brushes ($3, Target) work well on smooth surfaces (we love how easy they are to clean!), but to cover a bumpy, uneven surface, a set of bristle paint brushes ($10, Target) will help you get in every nook and cranny. The small brushes in this set will also help you create more detailed, intricate designs. 

Credit: Dane Tashima

4

We have hundreds of free pumpkin stencils that can help you get started. To use a carving stencil for a painted pumpkin, print out the design and use an X-Acto knife ($11, Target) to cut out all the areas you want painted. Then, tape the pattern to your pumpkin and use a pencil or pen to transfer the design. For this look, we painted the whole pumpkin green, let it dry, then added the smaller details. 

Credit: Michael Piazza

5

If you don’t want to fully carve your pumpkin, there are still a few ways you can incorporate some dimension into the surface. To create a pretty etched design, grab an etching tool. These are typically found in a pumpkin carving kit ($7, Target), and can be used to etch a design into the surface of the pumpkin, allowing the light-colored pumpkin flesh to show through. To recreate this floral design, paint your pumpkin white before adding the etchings. 

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