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What Is Dimensional Paint?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Dimensional paint is a type of paint which expands as it dries, creating a raised pattern. This popular craft product is also known as puff paint or puffy paint, reflecting the fact that it puffs up during the drying process. Many craft stores carry it in a range of colors and order special colors by request. It is also possible to order dimensional paint over the Internet, with some manufacturers selling directly to consumers.

Classically, this type of paint comes in an applicator tube. Using a nozzle on the tip, a crafter can create a line of paint. Some come with tips which can be switched out, akin to pastry tips, to create other types of patterns and lines with the paint. The paint also comes in tubs, with people using a paint scraper or brush to apply the paint. The paint may also be mixed with glitter or glow in the dark materials to make it more visually interesting.

This paint was originally designed and marketed for use on fabrics. As a fabric paint, it usually weathers well through washing and drying, although it can start to crack and peel on a garment which has been worn a long time. The lifetime of a design on fabric can be greatly increased by handwashing and storing the garment flat, without folding, so that the paint does not develop creases or cracks. Exposure to high heat is also not recommended.

In addition to using it on fabrics, dimensional paint can be used on a wide variety of other surfaces. This paint adheres well to wood, paper, and other materials, although it can have difficulty sticking to things with a glossy finish. Puff paint can be used to make posters, unique greeting cards, and a wide variety of other crafts projects. As a general rule, this paint does not mix well, so if additional colors are needed, they will need to be purchased.

One use for dimensional paint which people may not think of is as a tool for marking things for people with low vision. Vision impairments can make it difficult for people to determine whether switches are off and on and to perform other tasks requiring visual acuity, such as accurately identifying currency. This paint can be used to create small raised markers which people can use to assist themselves without having to rely on the assistance of someone else to help them identify something.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon352337 — On Oct 21, 2013

Thank you for the information about the ability of "puffy paint" to stick to paper as well as fabric. I am creating a "birthday cake" for a bulletin board, and am hoping that the cake decorations I am painting will puff up and look like frosting!

By lluviaporos — On Jun 24, 2011

You can make your own dimensional paint (we called it puffy paint) to use with your kids. I wouldn't use it as a dimensional fabric paint because I don't think it is water proof, but it can make some nice three dimensional paintings for your fridge. Just mix together one part of self raising flour to one part salt with water to make a paste, then add food coloring or kid safe dye.

If you are going to let them fingerpaint, be aware that the dye could stain their skin. You might try just mixing the flour mixture with fingerpainting paints, although I don't know if that will work as well!

You will need to microwave the finished products afterwards to get the paint to set.

Just zap them for a few seconds though, and keep an eye on it as the paper could quickly catch fire.

By Mor — On Jun 21, 2011

I used to love this stuff as a kid. We painted all over our t-shirts and shoes.

It lasted for a long time on our shoes particularly ones we didn't wear outside. But it came off pretty quickly on the shirts. We would just paint it on again though!

I remember the paint always seemed to be in neon colors, but maybe that's because I was a kid in the 80's. I've seen it today in craft stores and it comes in all kinds of colors.

I think it would be particularly fun to use the glow in the dark paint to make a solar system mural on a child's wall. If he or she was interested in that kind of thing!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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