Can you paint a bowling ball? This is a question that has many people stumped.
The answer is yes, you can definitely paint a bowling ball.
In this post, we’ll give you some tips on how to do it and some ideas for fun designs.
Let’s get started.
How to paint your bowling balls properly
The first thing you need when painting a bowling ball is the proper equipment.
You will need three different paintbrushes, each with its own purpose, to apply your design correctly.
I would suggest getting some cheap dollar-store paintbrushes for this project.
The sizes should be no larger than 1 inch wide at the top of the brush hairs, and no smaller than 1/4 inch.
If you use brushes that are too small for your design it will result in very thin paint strokes, which can give you problems later if you want to cover them up with a different color.
The three brushes to get are a 1″ flat brush, a 3/8″ gator grip round brush, and a detail brush.
The next thing you need is some painter’s tape or some other very sticky tape that will not pull the paint off of your ball when you remove it.
You may have to do a test on a spare bowling ball before painting so you can find out what kind of tape works best for this project.
If you want your design to be a solid color from top to bottom, you can skip this step.
If your ball is not a solid color from top to bottom, you will need to use painter’s tape on everything but the section of the ball where you want your paint design.
You want to avoid painting on areas that have any kind of texture or raised lettering.
After you get the tape in place on your ball, you need to get a stencil ready for painting.
If you do not have a stencil, just print out the design that you want and cut it out to size.
If your design fits on one page, odds are good that it will work best if you just tape the paper to the ball instead of painting the back of the paper with glue or spray adhesive.
If you do use spray adhesive make sure to lightly mist the adhesive to the back of your paper, two or three times at about ten inches away.
It should be tacky but not wet when you press it down on the ball.
If your design is too big for one page, then either tape multiple pages together or use a combination of glue and spray adhesive.
When using glue you can apply it to the back of your paper and then tape it in place on the ball.
Once your paper stencil is ready, get some acrylic paints that are slightly darker than what you want your final design color to be.
If you are using white paint for a design that will be red, use orange instead.
The reason for this is the acrylic paint will dry darker than it looks while wet.
You can always add a little more white or color to lighten the effect if you need to, but going too dark is harder to correct.
Do a test spot of your design on a spare bowling ball before painting the entire thing so you know how many coats of paint you will need.
It is better to go with too thin of paint than too thick, so err on the side of less rather than more.
You can always add another coat or two to build up the color if you do not use enough the first time.
Now that everything is set up for the painting, either paint your design directly on the ball by hand or use a stencil with masking tape around the edges for better control.
It does not matter if your design goes over onto the painter’s tape while you are doing this step because while the paint is wet it will not stick to anything under it.
Once you have finished painting your design, let it dry for an hour at least.
After it has dried, remove the painter’s tape and let the ball dry off for a day or so before you play with it.
If your design is completely white from top to bottom, remove all of the paper stencils as soon as your paint dries.
If you leave this on too long then the acrylic paint will stick to it when you remove it.
If you did not use paper stencils, though, it is best to wait at least two days before removing your ball from the lathe.
This will allow the paint to completely cure and harden so that it will take a lot more abuse than just having been put on the ball for this project.
When you do remove the ball from the lathe, you will likely find that some paint has gotten onto the wood and created a mess.
If this happens, all is not lost.
Some sandpaper and steel wool can fix most mistakes of this kind.
Just do not try to use anything abrasive on the graphics you have painted on your ball, or it might damage or wipe them off.
Some bowling ball painting tips you can try
Use spray paint to get an intricate look
Using spray paint for this project is a great idea, especially if you want something more than just block lettering on your ball.
You can achieve any kind of effect you like with spray paint and it will not come out looking sloppy.
If you do not have much experience painting things, then working with spray paint is an ideal way to start learning without fear of making a mess.
Use decals if your design is too complicated to paint by hand
If you are trying to do something with swirls or other small details that would be nearly impossible to paint on without making a mess, then it might make sense to use decals instead.
Decals are easy because all you have to do is apply them like you would a sticker.
Often times they do not need to be painted on because the graphic or lettering will go on clear, allowing you to use whatever color paint you want underneath it.
Put on some bright neon laces to make it stand out on the lanes
If you do not want to paint on your ball and would rather just add something colorful, then laces are some of the cheapest and simplest things you can do.
Laces are cheap because they are generally sold in packs of three or more pairs so that each bowling alley has enough for everyone.
At the same time, laces are super bright so that your ball will stand out even when it is lost among all of the others on the lanes.
Use a few laces to spell out “Flame” or something similar
If you do not want something so vibrant, you can also use two or three laces to spell out some sort of phrase.
“Flame” is a good example of something you might want to put on your ball, especially if flames are part of your design already.
The key here is to experiment with what you have until it looks right.
Get creative by painting stripes, polka dots, or other patterns
If you do not want to go with a full ball design, then painting stripes or polka dots is an interesting idea.
These are symmetrical and can be done in any pattern you choose.
You might also consider using some kind of highlighting technique by putting one color under another for effect.
This is especially useful if your design has multiple colors already.
Cover the surface of the ball in glitter for a sparkling effect.
Glitter is an interesting idea for bowling balls because it will make them stand out in a way that reflects the light.
The best part about using glitter on your ball is how easy it is to do.
All you need to do is paint a single coat of acrylic paint onto your ball and then sprinkle glitter on top of it while it is still wet.
Once it dries, you will have a nice effect that is sure to make people look twice when they notice your ball on the lanes.
Choose whatever color glitter you want to match whatever other colors you are using for your design.
What kind of paint will stick to a bowling ball?
When you are looking to paint bowling balls, it is important to know what kind of paint sticks well to the material.
Acrylic paints are ideal for this type of project because they stick very well and dry quickly.
Glitter paint will also work well if you want a sparkling effect.
Just make sure that whatever paint you choose says “Acrylic” on the label so that you know it will stick to your bowling ball.
Can you put a picture on a bowling ball?
Yes, you can use a picture on your bowling ball if that is what you are looking for.
You can find pre-made decals online or make your own with paint and a clear transfer sheet.
Decals might be easier because you do not have to worry about painting something directly onto the surface of the ball in any complicated way.
The most important thing is to find something that is the right size and shape for your ball.
If you do not want a full image, using lettering or symbols is another idea as long as they are symmetrical.
Can you put your name on a bowling ball?
Yes, the process is similar to putting a picture or phrase on a bowling ball.
You can either buy decals that you apply yourself or paint something directly onto your ball and then put a clear transfer sheet over it to keep it in place.
So, as you can see, there are many ways to make your bowling ball look unique and personalized.
Whether you decide to paint it or decorate it with stickers, the possibilities are endless.
Just be sure to take your time and have fun with the process.
After all, that’s what bowling is all about.
How will you customize your bowling ball?
Last updated on March 2, 2023
Jerry Coleman is a professional bowler and experienced bowling blogger. He founded and owns the voelkersbowling.net website, which provides news and information about the sport of bowling. Jerry has competed in numerous tournaments over the years and has won several awards for his bowling skills.