With the Texas/OU Red River Showdown this weekend, I thought it would be a good idea to answer some of the questions people ask me when they are buying a cooler or trying to paint one themselves. I learned most of these on "The Cooler Connection" Facebook group, and they were game changers for my coolers.
Something most people don't know about Texas is that although we are a southern state, we are not typically grouped into the whole "The South" thing. Our style reflects this not only in what we wear or how we do game days, but also in the way we paint coolers here at the University of Texas. I know I'm not speaking for everyone, but for the most part it's true. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely ADORE the coolers I see from girls that go to schools in the SEC, but we just seem to do things a little differently in the Lone Star State. While their coolers typically have designs like Vineyard Vines logos and Lilly Pulitzer patterns, ours focus more on the Texas flag, our longhorn logo, our fight song, Friday Night Lights references, the tower, more Bevo, and lots of burnt orange. I think this is probably because Texas/OU weekend is really the only time we paint coolers here at UT. Nevertheless, I am always amazed by the coolers done by girls on The Cooler Connection. It's a great place to see ideas for more detailed coolers! In case this is your first time stumbling across my blog, here are some examples of coolers I have done for Texas/OU weekend:
What kind of cooler should I buy?
There isn't one specific cooler that is better than the others in my opinion, but for TX/OU weekend I definitely recommend buying a cooler that has rollers. You don't want to be lugging it around if you're going to take it with you! Coolers are all different shapes and sizes, and sometimes the one you want will be sold out in stores. It happens. If that does happen, don't fret! Your date will never even know. Last year the most common cooler people bought was the Igloo Ice Cube 60 qt Roller, available online here, but it changes every year.
The most important tip to remember is coolers with flatter surfaces and less texture require less prep time. Also, when you're painting, be sure to think about handles and wheels. They may be handy when you use it, but they can definitely get in the way when you paint.
How do I get the paint to stay on?
Sand it. Wash it (just with a wet paper towel to clena it up). Prime it. Paint it. Seal it. Seal it again.
If you have enough time, sanding your cooler really does make a big impact in getting the paint to stay and not chip. I recommend using heavy grit first to get the finish off and fine grit to smoothen out the surface. You don't want scratches all over the surface. It's not cute! I know from experience. If you're a real go-getter, go for the power sander, available at Home Depot. That's a tip from The Cooler Connection - they know their stuff, y'all!
TIP: If you use painters tape it will sometimes still peel primer off. To prevent this, heat the tape with a blowdryer before peeling off of cooler! OR use Frog Tape for delicate surfaces. It gives you super clean lines!
An important note about priming - when you prime, be sure to cover your wheels and handles or any edges you do not want to be primed. I usually tape them off and cover the areas in trash bags. It's random, but it works!
What kind of paint do you use?
I always use acrylic paint. You can find it at any Michael's or Hobby Lobby or any craft store like that. Right now I have a lot of Craft Smart and Americana because they have shades of orange that are very similar to our burnt orange.
TIP: If you're looking for a burnt orange color, I love "Persimmon" from Americana.
Do you use paint pens?
Yes! But not for everything. Paint pens are great, but only using paint pens can slow you down. I love using them for detail and for lettering. My favorite brand of paint pens has to be Sharpie, but only the oil based ones. They have so many different colors, and their metallic paint pens come out beautifully. When you're using these, be sure not to press too hard on your cooler because you may scratch off your base layer of paint. Yikes!
What do I use to seal my coolers?
The Cooler Connection girls swear by MinWax, and after trying it out myself, I am a huge supporter, too. In the past I did layers of ModPodge with every coat of paint and then Krylon spray sealer to finish it off, but adding MinWax to my sealing process was key. It really does a tremendous job!
Something to note - I prefer matte sealers because the glossy ones can be too sticky in my opinion, and in this Texas heat sticky is probably not what you need! If you still want that glossy finish, I have also used Triple Thick as sealer after ModPodge, too, and it is great for a glossy look.
As a final note, don't forget to allow time for your cooler to dry and set for around 24 hours after you seal it. That'll help the sealer protect all of your hard work!
I hope this was helpful! Good luck on your coolers girls! I'm sure your dates will love them.
PS. HOOK EM!