How to Paint a Yeti Cooler

Yeti coolers are renowned for their robustness and impressive thermal insulation. However, you might be yearning for a bit more personalization or a unique touch to make your Yeti cooler truly stand out. One way to achieve this is by painting your Yeti cooler. This blog post will guide you through the process of how to paint a Yeti cooler properly, ensuring your paint job not only looks great but also lasts.


Painting your Yeti cooler can give it a fresh, personalized look, making it easy to identify among other coolers. Whether you want to add a camouflage pattern for your hunting trips, or just want to add some personal flair, painting a Yeti cooler is a fun DIY project. But before we dive into the steps, let’s understand why it’s important to paint a Yeti cooler correctly.

Importance of Properly Painting a Yeti Cooler

Yeti coolers are made with polyethylene, a type of plastic that is resistant to most kinds of damage, including scratches and UV radiation. However, this also means that paints don’t adhere well to its surface. Thus, it’s crucial to follow the correct process when painting a Yeti cooler, ensuring that the paint doesn’t peel off after a few uses. If done correctly, the paint job on your Yeti cooler can last for years, providing an added layer of personality to your reliable cooler.

Step 1: Prep Your Yeti Cooler

The first step in painting your Yeti cooler is preparing it. This involves cleaning the cooler thoroughly, taping up certain parts of the cooler that you don’t want to be painted, and deciding on a base coat color.

Cleaning the Cooler

Start by giving your Yeti cooler a good clean to get rid of any dirt or grime. You can do this using warm soapy water and a sponge or soft brush. Make sure to scrub off any stubborn stains or marks, as these can affect the final appearance of your paint job. Once cleaned, dry the cooler completely before proceeding to the next step. A clean and dry cooler ensures that the paint adheres better, leading to a smoother and more professional finish.

Taping up Certain Parts of the Cooler

Next, use masking tape to cover up the Yeti logo and any other parts you don’t want to be painted. This could include rubber latches, rope side handles, non-slip rubber feet, and anything else that you want to keep free from paint. For intricate shapes, use a sharp knife to cut the masking tape around the edges. Alternatively, you can remove these parts if they’re easily detachable and reattach them once your paint job is complete.

Choosing a Base Coat Color

The base coat is essentially the background color of your cooler. This color will set the tone for your design and helps in achieving the desired result. If you decide to use a darker color as your base coat, remember that lighter colors may not show up as well. Choose a color that complements your design and stands out in the right way.

Step 2: Sanding Down the Cooler

Yeti coolers have a smooth surface which makes it difficult for the paint to stick to it. To overcome this challenge, it’s necessary to create a rougher surface by sanding down the cooler.

Explanation of Why Sanding is Necessary

Sanding is a process that creates tiny grooves and scratches on the surface of the cooler. These small imperfections provide a grip for the paint, allowing it to adhere more securely to the cooler’s surface. Without sanding, the paint may peel off quickly, reducing the lifespan of your paint job.

How to Sand the Cooler Properly

To sand your Yeti cooler, start by choosing the right sandpaper. Medium-grit sandpaper is ideal for this purpose. Sand the entire surface of the cooler, applying moderate pressure to create an even roughness. Make sure you sand all areas that you plan to paint, ensuring that no spots are left untouched. Using an electric sander can save you time and effort, but hand sanding works just as well.

Step 3: Washing and Drying the Cooler

After sanding, it’s essential to clean your cooler again. This step removes any dust or debris created during the sanding process, providing a clean canvas for your paint job.

Importance of Cleaning the Cooler After Sanding

Sanding produces fine particles that can mix with your paint and create a bumpy, uneven surface. By washing your cooler after sanding, you ensure that these particles are removed, leading to a smoother and cleaner paint job. It also helps the primer and paint to adhere better to the cooler’s surface.

How to Properly Wash and Dry the Cooler

Use warm soapy water and a soft brush or sponge to scrub the cooler gently. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Dry the cooler completely before moving on to the next step. Any traces of moisture can prevent the paint from adhering correctly, leading to an uneven finish.

Step 4: Applying Primer

Primer is an essential step in the painting process. It creates a base layer that helps the paint stick to the cooler’s surface, enhancing the durability of your paint job.

Explanation of the Purpose of Primer

Primer is designed to stick to surfaces like polyethylene better than regular paint, ensuring a strong bond between the cooler’s surface and the paint. It also creates a uniform surface that allows the paint to spread evenly, resulting in a smoother and more professional finish. Moreover, primer blocks any underlying colors or patterns, ensuring that they don’t show through your paint job.

How to Apply Primer to the Cooler

Apply the primer using a brush or roller, covering the entire surface of the cooler evenly. Allow the primer to dry fully before applying another coat. Two to three coats of primer are usually enough for a Yeti cooler. Remember to let each coat dry fully before applying the next one. This prevents the primer from peeling or developing bubbles, which can ruin your paint job.

Step 5: Painting the Cooler

Once the primer is completely dry, it’s time to paint your Yeti cooler. This is thefun part where you can unleash your creativity and make your cooler truly unique.

Choosing the Desired Paint Colors

Decide on the colors and design you want for your cooler. Acrylic paint is a popular choice for painting Yeti coolers due to its durability and vibrant colors. Choose colors that complement each other and reflect your personal style or the theme you have in mind. Consider using different brushes, sponges, pens, or pencils to create the design you want.

Techniques for Painting the Cooler

There are different techniques you can use to paint your cooler, depending on the design you want to achieve. One option is to use spray paint, which provides a quick and even coverage. Spray paint works well for creating a camouflage pattern or covering large areas. Another option is to use regular paint with brushes or sponges for a more precise and detailed design. This allows you to add intricate artwork or personal touches to your cooler.

Tips for Achieving Desired Results

Here are a few tips to help you achieve the best results when painting your Yeti cooler:

  • Work in thin layers: Apply multiple thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat. This helps to prevent drips and ensures even coverage.
  • Allow each layer to dry: Make sure to let each layer of paint dry fully before applying the next one. This prevents smudging and ensures that the colors remain vibrant.
  • Seal and waterproof the paint: Once you’re satisfied with your paint job, seal it with a clear waterproofing spray or coating. This helps protect the paint from scratches and extends its lifespan.
  • Be patient and have fun: Painting a Yeti cooler is a creative process, so take your time and enjoy the experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and colors to create a cooler that truly reflects your style.


Painting a Yeti cooler is a fantastic way to personalize your cooler and make it stand out from the crowd. By following the proper steps, including prepping the cooler, sanding it down, applying primer, and painting it with care, you can create a paint job that not only looks great but also lasts for years to come. Remember to seal and waterproof your paint job to protect it from scratches and ensure its longevity. So go ahead, unleash your creativity, and transform your Yeti cooler into a unique masterpiece!

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