sorority sugar

Scroll to Info & Navigation


BEST-OF-THE-BEST tips & products for sorority/fraternity cooler painting!!

☀ Best Coolers:

Anything that’s super flat and doesn’t have a lot of texture to it. Also, make sure to think about handles and wheels when you’re picking one out because they do get in the way of painting.

☀ Best Sandpaper:

 • Heavy grit to get the finish off, fine grit to smooth.

 • A detail power sander is less than $30 dollars at Home depot, or $35 at Target. It makes it SUPER easy to get the cooler smooth and ready to prime. Highly recommended, and you can go in on it with some sisters.

☀ Best Primers & Tips:

• Krylon indoor/outdoor white primer - (for normal sized coolers you will need at least two cans)

• Krylon Fusion for plastics in white works the best, and you don’t have to sand.

• Bulls Eye Water-Base Primer and Sealer by Zinsser - Apply 2-3 coats. Dries Fast and Flat. Can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

• Adhesion Primer from any auto supply store. It should be near the bondo and is made specifically to make paint adhere to plastic and metal.

• Use spackle to flatten out raised “Igloo” and “Coleman” logos - that way they don’t get in the way of your design. Or - If it’s a small area you can buy clear nail polish and pour it in to the creases and let it dry. 

• Try Bondo. You can get it at Auto Zone/Walmart and the cans are about $12. It may not look like much, but dries in 20 minutes flat. And it sands as smooth as glass. The trick is to put a small drop of the hardener to mix it and to be pretty quick about applying it. Do it in coats so it looks the best. 

• Before you spray primer, cover wheels and handles and whatever else you don’t want primed and painted with blue painters tape or plastic wrap. Leave it on during the whole project so when you remove it when you’re done they will be crisp and clean!

• Sometimes the primer will not bond. To avoid this, first wash the cooler with a non-residue cleaner (dish soap works fine). This will remove any dust or what else may be on the cooler that may prevent the paint from adhering.

• If you’re at Michael’s and they’re out of all Krylon primers and fusion, get Gesso. You have to sand it really well and do a light coat, but it works in a pinch. 

☀ Best Paints & Tips:

• Anything acrylic that you can buy at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.

• Paint pens will become your best friend (DECO brand is AMAZING!). They are perfect for small details. 

• The sharpie oil based ones work the best. The fine tipped ones can pull your base coats off.

• Glitter paint can be really fun. Martha Stewart makes glitter paint in an array of colors

• Sharpies work for fine print areas, but be careful because they are permanent.

• If you take a squeeze-glue bottle cap off and put it on an acryllic paint bottle, you can use it for more deatailed painting

{trick}: If you accidentally mark your cooler with a sharpie and need to get it off, trace over the mark with a Dry Erase marker, then wipe it with a paper towel. The Sharpie will come right off. Or ~ just dab some nail polish remover on a q tip and it removes it in seconds!

☀ Best Sealers & Tips:

• Minwax (the spray on works well too).

• Outdoor Mod Podge Paint On (Green Label) 

• Minwax WaterBased Polycrylic (Clear Semi Gloss)

• Mod Podge Spray Sealer

• Mod Podge Paint-On Sealer - messy to work with but it’s one of the best.

• Triple Thick Brush-On Glaze - used after the Mod Podge Spray Sealer.

• For sealing: do a couple coats of Outdoor Mod Podge (2 is usually fine) and then coat the cooler with 3 layers of Minwax Polycrylic. Allow for ample drying time in between layers and at least 24 hours before rough handling for your last coat of Polycrylic to set in. Finish your cooler at least a day before you go on your trip or give it to your date.  

{tip}: Be careful of the lid and how it opens on your cooler if you’re using the gluey Mod Podge. It gets really really sticky and if you open the lid, the Mod Podge will potentially stick together, pulling off into clumps!

{tip}: Make sure you are using a BRAND-NEW BRUSH. The Mod Podge will pull every little particle of paint you didn’t clean off onto the cooler. If you reuse brushes make sure they are 100% clean.

{tip}: Make sure you Mod Podge before you use the Minwax, or a lot of your colors will bleed, even if they have been dry for days.

{tip}: Can’t recommend Triple Thick enough! Where Mod Podge can stick and pull - Triple Thick dries to a rock hard finish that is really thick and really shiny! The important things to remember are Mod Podge first, and leave enough time for drying-it takes a really long time! Also make sure to dry flat because even if it looks fine, you will come back in an hour, and find that it has dripped. If you have to have it dry vertically, use a hair dryer to speed up drying time. 

{tip}: When using Triple Thick, be sure and Mod Podge everything first or else the glaze will make all of your paint smear.

☀ Design TIps & Tricks:

• If you’re looking for a lot of fonts, try It has a wide variety.

• Trace your designs onto tissue paper, then place on your cooler and outline them with sharpie. Just enough ink bleeds through that you have something to go by, but not enough that it will show through the paint.

• Print out a design on computer paper, scratch the back with pencil (like you would color a coloring book when you were little) and then trace the design onto the cooler by penciling over the lines of the design. (The lead that you scratched on the back transfers onto the cooler where you trace the design. Then paint away.) Be careful though to only trace exactly where you want the lead to be and watch out so your hands don’t press too hard and transfer the lead also. 

• Another way to trace with pencil is to print your image out, flip it over so the image is facing down, and then trace it on the back of the paper as perfectly as possible (if you put it on your laptop screen it helps a bunch). Then place the paper with the pencil side facing down on your cooler and color over the image with a ball point pen, make sure to press firmly so enough of the lead transfers). 

• Print out the picture or script and Mod Podge it onto the cooler. Then just paint over the exact picture! It will still look hand painted but will be very accurate. 

• Best way to Mod Podge an image if you want to paint over it: put Mod Podge on the back of the image AND on the cooler where the image will go. It’s much easier to smooth out the creases and bubbles and leaves a perfectly flat surface every time!

• For more TRACING tips, please link here: “Top 7 Sorority Canvas & Craft Lettering Techniques.”

☀ Painting Products & Tips:

• Use Frog Tape for delicate surfaces (it’s yellow). It costs a little bit more, but it’s WAYYY worth it, super clean lines and it doesn’t peel off the paint or primer.

• Use the blue painters tape along your edges for super clean lines over a painted area (regular scotch tape will pull the paint off when you remove it). If it’s over a clean cooler area, then scotch will do just fine.

{tip}: If you use painters tape it will sometimes still peel primer off. To prevent this, heat the tape with a blowdryer before peeling off of cooler!

• Use an exacto knife to scrape exact lines onto your cooler and to also scrape off paint where you don’t want it to go.

• For borders, use a thick ribbon and Mod Podge it. Use a wide solid ribbon in the color of your choice, then add skinny metallic ribbon down the middle of each wide ribbon border. This can incorporated college or fraternity colors. It also covers up a lot of mess-ups at the corners.

• Paper images can be Mod Podged onto a cooler (without painting over them). Just make sure to give the paper 2 coats of Mod Podge and several coats of sealer. 

{tip}: Many coolers come completely apart. The wheels will pop out of the groove (they are on an axel) and the lids/handles often times unscrew so you can remove them too.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Prep the cooler:

  1. Fill in the grooves or a raised logo with spackle. Let dry for 12 hours.
  2. Sand the surfaces with a course grit sandpaper (60-80), including spackled areas. 
  3. Sand again with a fine grit sandpaper (110-120) to get rid of most of the scratches. Sand until very smooth.
  4. To remove sanding dust, wash with mild soap and rinse well. Allow to dry.
  5. Prime all surfaces of the cooler with plastic primer. Krylon fusion can be used, or Valspar Plastic Primer.
  6. Mod Podge.. (optional step.)

Paint the cooler:

  1. Do at least 2 layers of a base color paint. Mod Podge in between each layer. Try using a foam brush for applying Mod Podge. 
  2. Paint 1 side of the cooler at a time. 
  3. Paint whatever designs you have planned, and Mod Podge over each layer of paint. Make sure your paint is completely dry before you Mod Podge. Mod Podge can pull the paint color with it across the cooler. 

Seal the cooler:

  1. Mod Podge 1-2 more layers on top of your ‘final’ painted cooler.
  2. Once that’s dry, spray a few layers of Krylon Sealer over everything. Pay attention to what kind of finish your spray is. The gloss is very shiny, so you may choose to use matte.
  3. Allow for 1-2 days of drying and setting before putting the cooler to use.

 THANK YOU the cooler connection Facebook group for the ultimate in cooler painting advice! {edited and enhanced by sorority sugar}.


  1. shannonigans322 reblogged this from sororitysugar
  2. sororitysource reblogged this from sororitysugar and added:
    BEST-OF-THE-BEST tips & products for sorority/fraternity cooler painting!! ☀ Best Coolers: Anything that’s super flat...
  3. allylonker reblogged this from sororitysugar
  4. malibubbq reblogged this from sororitysugar
  5. diamondencrustedrubberduck reblogged this from sororitysugar
  6. vivrelamourrire13 reblogged this from sororitysugar
  7. carpendiemamarenocte reblogged this from sororitysugar
  8. deepherdoll reblogged this from sororitysugar
  9. isla-lydiamartin reblogged this from sororitysugar
  10. letthisbetrue reblogged this from sororitysugar