Before attempting a Foam DIY project, we encourage you to exercise caution by wearing protective facial gear, gloves, and other forms of coverage. Be sure to leave your piece in a well-ventilated area for 24 hours before touching.
When I first saw a fluffy yet sculptural piece of heaven on my Instagram Explore page, I genuinely gasped. I’m always a fan of something a little strange and off-kilter, and foam furniture checked both of those boxes. The more I engaged with these photos, the more foam furniture and foam mirrors populated my feed. To me, they looked like what would happen if Dr. Seuss met modern day Instagram and made a baby IRL. I took particular interest in the foam pieces painted in pastel colors: the material seemed to have its own personality, one I wanted to inhabit. In a 2020 state of mind, I began to entertain the idea of morphing into a piece of foam-covered furniture myself.
Because I jump at any opportunity to avoid buying something new and spending a lot of money, I immediately decided that I was going to make my own foam beauty. Taking matters into my own hands, I decided to wing it and do everything myself. My first stop? The thrift store, where I’d upcycle the crap out of whatever item I found there that beckoned to be covered in foam. Keep scrolling for the DIY how-to from a first-time foamer.
Here’s what you’ll need:
— A piece of furniture, or a mirror, ready to be transformed
— Disposable gloves
— Garbage bags or a tarp
— Spray paint
— A Great Stuff spray can (it fills gaps and cracks) or High Yield Expanding Foam by Sika
— Paint thinner
— A tender adoration of the art form
Step one: Prepare your workspace and prepare to foam.
Thrift a piece of furniture that’s the perfect size for your place and just asking to be upcycled, or single out that old mirror in your room that’s ready to be reinvented. Cover the surface you are about to let loose on with protective garbage bags, tarp, paper, etc.
Step two: Do a test run.
Get your gloves on. This stuff is stickier than super glue. Start with a test by spraying the foam to the side of your item in order to get a feel for how the foam comes out.
Step three: Commence foaming!
Get spraying! The foam will expand over time, so as long as you cover the borders of your mirror with foam, it’ll turn out nicely. With your extra gloved hand, you can push the foam slightly to where you need it to go, or pat it for some different texture. Nothing here is permanent until it dries, which happens after 15 minutes. The foam has a mind of its own and takes its own form, so in the end, it all looks pretty much the same even if you try to form it with your gloved hand.
Step four: Putter around.
Once you’ve foamed the entire perimeter of the mirror, wait around a half hour for the foam to dry completely. You can choose to stare and watch the foam slowly expand, or go get a snack.
Step five: Paint prep.
Add layers of paper on the mirror’s reflective surface so that you don’t spray it with paint.
Step six: Unleash the paint.
Grab your spray paint can and go to town. Keep in mind that the closer you get with the spray can, the more likely it is that the paper protecting the mirror will fly away. Spray in strokes and make sure to paint the underside of the foam closest to the mirror surface. If you don’t do this, the mirror will show the nooks and crannies of cream-white foam reflected in the mirror.
Step seven: The big reveal!
Once the paint is dry, remove the paper and uncover the mirror. If you accidentally fully messed up and got paint all over, no worries! There is a magical can of spray that will remove all paint from the mirror—it’s called thinner. (Who would’ve thought?) (Not me.) Anyway, you just spray the thinner on the mirror and wipe away the paint. For-ev-er (to borrow a turn of phrase from Sandlot).
Final takeaways: Did I love the color I chose to paint the mirror? Not really. Maybe I don’t like it at all? Maybe I’ll re-paint it green or yellow. While you’re reading this sentence, I’m on my way to the store to find a different color spray paint.
All-in-all, foaming was a lot easier than I thought. Next time I’ll test out the color of paint on my test foam before I foam the entire mirror. Now that I’ve finished this mirror, I have to attempt some self-control and keep myself from foaming everything else I own, including my own body. (To be clear I’m kidding — no one should do that.)