Monday, May 31, 2021

Color PVC

PVC is a great material. It's lightweight, relatively cheap, and easily obtainable at your nearest box store. One of the main problems with PVC, though is the color. Most of the big box stores will only cary plumbing PVC in white and electrical conduit PVC in grey. Other colors of "structural" PVC can be ordered, but it's expensive and hard to find. You can also try and paint PVC, but it is messy, and often flakes off. 

The best solution that I have seen is the technique of "staining" PVC that I first saw here in MAKE magazine.

The technique is pretty simple and basically similar to the purple primer we use prior to joining fittings for plumbing PVC. It turns out, Oatey PVC Clear Cleaner can be stained a variety of nice colors with petroleum dyes.

These petroleum dyes are commonly used to add color to kerosine for lamps, and for coloring gasoline in industrial applications. The quickest way to get your hands on some is searching ebay for petroleum dye or Rekhaoil dye. I purchase mine from this retailer. One ounce goes a long way (20-30 ounces of Clear Cleaner.)

Add a small amount of dye to the can and test on a scrap piece of PVC. Once you are happy with the color, use the can's applicator or a sponge paint brush to apply to PVC. Remember these products should only be used in a well ventilated place (outdoors). I also use double nitrile gloves or thick dishwashing gloves as this will be absorbed through your skin and stain your hands a lovely color. 


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