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Make over a dingy old sandbox so it looks fresh for summer fun

The classic turtle sandbox can be a costly addition to the backyard. Instead of buying new, rescue one from a garage sale or Craigslist and give it new life with a little paint.

Turtle sandbox supplies


  • Automotive primer
  • Fun colors of spray paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • Black paint pen
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Drop cloth
  • Turtle sandbox


1. Clean the sandbox

Turtle sandbox prep

Make sure the sandbox is completely clean before you start painting it. I hosed mine off in the backyard and then gave it a once-over with a disinfectant wipe to make sure any dirt or residue was gone.

2. Prime it

Turtle sandbox primer

My ultimate secret for getting paint to really adhere to almost any surface is automotive primer. Coat the sandbox and lid in a layer of automotive primer, then let it dry completely.

3. Paint it

Sandbox DIY

Start painting the sandbox in your color of choice. Make sure whatever spray paint you choose says it will bond to plastic.

4. Paint the lid

Turtle sandbox DIY

Paint the lid of the sandbox the same color that you painted the base of the sandbox. Just paint along the grooves of the lid for now, since the raised portions of the lid will be different colors when you are done.

5. Add more color

Turtle sandbox DIY

After the lid paint is completely dry, start taping off the individual sections of the lid with painter’s tape.

6. Prevent over spray

Turtle sandbox DIY

Before you paint each section, protect the rest of the lid from over spray by laying out pieces of newspaper or paper towels.

7. Paint each section

Turtle sandbox DIY

Fill in the taped off section with spray paint, then remove the tape right away before the paint has a chance to dry. Repeat steps 5-7 until all sections of the lid have been painted.

8. Color the eyes

Turtle sandbox DIY

Grab your black paint pen and fill in the eyes on your turtle sandbox. Once all of the paint has dried, fill the sandbox with sand and you are ready to play.

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