How to paint glass?

Steps to learn how to paint glass

Decorating glass is an easy and inexpensive way to let your creative juices flow. Whether you want to make a stained-glass effect window, add colorful geometric patterns or paint simple designs, Painting Glass Gurus was made for you.

1. Prep your surface

Clean through using warm water and soap to disappear any dirt, grime, or fingerprints. Ideally you should also wipe your surface withy alcohol or vinegar for a spotless surface.

If you are planning to apply acrylic paint that is not specifically made for glass, you will also want to prime your surface using any regular primer for long lasting results. If you are using paint that was formulated for glass, you don’t need to prime.

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2. Select the right paint to use on glass

What is the right paint for glass is one of the most asked question around glass painters. The quick answer is while you can use regular acrylic paint on glass, ideally you should use paint that was made specifically for this surface.

Regular acrylic paint will peel off easily from glass so only if you don’t care about long lasting results you should go for this option. Continue reading for the most common types and brands of paint for glass:

Types of paint for glass

Acrylic for glass

This is the number one go to option for painting glass. The most common brands of acrylic paint for glass are Folk Art by Plaid and Glass Paint by DecoArt and they may come in different finishes such as Satin, Matte and Glossy.
 
Paint that is ideal for glass surfaces usually state so in their labels. Sometimes you will see it clearly on the front of the bottle but for others, you’ll have to squint your eyes and find it on the label on the back: “Premium, durable acrylic paint for glass, ceramics, wood, metal, rigid plastic, canvas, fabric, and terra cota”. That’s what you are looking for.
 

Note that this type of paint will be safe to cure in the oven, which will cause your paint to become a bit shiny. Neither finish is safe to use on microwaves or to become in direct contact with food.

Enamels for glass

Enamels are a type of paint formulated to ensure even more permanent results than acrylic for glass.

Because they are partially made out of oil, they are naturally more shiny. Also, enamels will take longer to dry than acrylic for glass. The main difference between enamels and acrylics is enamels will be more shiny and difficult to scratch.

Americana Gloss Enamels by DecoArt is one of the most known brand of enamels.

Both, acrylic for glass and enamels can be safely cured in the oven but they are not safe to use on the microwave nor to enter in direct contact with food.

Stained glass effect paint

My personal favourite. While acrylic and enamels are usually very opaque, meaning light will not go through it, stained glass paint will do.

This effect is one of the most sought after as it resembles that of real stained glass. How cool is that?! Most popular brands are Gallery Glass by Plaid and Pebeo Vitrail. Products like Gallery Glass will allow you to peel off your creations once they are dry and stick them to a different surface.

DIY stained glass paint with food coloring or alcohol ink

You can also make your own paint with a super cool technique to create a stained glass effect by mixing 1 tbsp of clear glue with one or two drops of food coloring or alcohol ink.

Depending on how much light you want your paint to let through, use less or more paint. You will see how the glue takes a colored crystal look effect that you can apply to any glass surface and see the amazing results.

Note that you can also use any other type of acrylic paint, but because alcohol inks and food coloring have more of a liquid consistency, they will better impregnate the glue with color.

Tip: do not shake the glue nor your paint as this will create bubbles that will make your work look funky. Burst any bubbles with a toothpick or a needle.

Spray paint

If you are looking to distress your paint for a vintage look, chalk paint in spray can be an amazing way to achieve this effect, easily.

Not a lot of brands carry spray paint specifically for glass, but you can get great results by priming your glass surface with an all purpose primer like the ones mentioned above.

Brands like Krylon carry spray paint for a sea glass effect in a good variety of colors.

 

Using regular acrylic paint on glass

All of that being said, regular acrylic paint (meaning the one that you use for school projects), can also be used on glass, even if the label does not state that is recommended.

A lot of people that are only looking to entertain the kiddos or do a quick weekend project may choose this type of paint because its convenient and long lasting results may not be that important for them.

However, you need to know that, because glass is a very smooth surface, paint will have a hard time staying on once it’s dry and it will peel off very easily.

If you still want to use regular acrylic paint and also want long lasting results you can prime your surface before and after your work. Most experts recommend spray primers because they are very easy to use but you may use any all purpose primer in the market, brands like Zinsser or Krylon are quite popular.  Watch the video below to see how to do. 

3. Soft brushes

Regular brushes work on glass but because glass is a very sensitive surface, your strokes will show easily. This is why it is recommended to use soft bridle brushes or even sponges after the first and second coat for a smooth finish. 

4. Paint a design

You can paint any kind of glass surface including cups, jars, vases, mirrors or even a glass table tops! The tip to choosing a right design is going for those that provide bigger areas to paint and have clearly defined outlines, this is specially important for beginners.

Another tip to paint on glass is to move quickly and lightly. You don’t want to press too hard on the glass or you risk leaving imprints in the paint. If you notice that your brush is leaving brush marks on the glass, it means you’re pressing too hard. Try to lighten up your brushstrokes and apply less pressure to the glass to avoid this problem.

If your paint is too thick, it won’t spread easily across your surface and you’ll end up wasting paint. Thinning your paint with water is the easiest way to avoid this problem.

If you’re looking for a specific pattern or design for your glass you can use painters tape. Once the paint is dry, peel the scraps off and you’ll be left with a decorative pattern on your glass!

>>Check out painting glass ideas

Painting Glass Gurus

5. Let your paint dry

Regardless of the method you choose to paint your glass, allowing enough time for your paint to dry is an unskippable step. Make sure you are following the directions on the label of your paint.

Some brands call for letting 4 days before curing your work in the oven. Don’t try anything before as you may get bubbles in your paint or smudged areas. 

If you only want to let your project air dry, most glass paints are considered to be completely cured after 21 days.

6. Cure in the oven

Put your piece in the oven and set the temperature for 325°F. Allow for glass to heat gradually with the oven. Once the oven has reached 320°F, allow for 30 minutes and let it cool off INSIDE the oven. This step is optional but preferable, specially for glass paint that state on the label that you can do so.

Do not try to cure paint that does not specifically state is safe to do so.

Curing is a tip that, most glass gurus agree, will fix your paint making it nearly impossible to get scratches. Like we said, this step will allow your glass to be top of the rack dishwasher safe.

However, there is currently no paint in the market that is safe to use in the microwave or for direct contact with food.

Ideas to paint on glass

Windows

While this is an extra fun project, you may want to test your idea on a surface where you feel more comfortable making mistakes.  >>How to paint glass windows 

Vases

We all have one old vase in our home that could use some color. Learn how to get a sea glass effect visiting >>More ideas to paint glass vases

 

Jars

Mason Jars are excellent surfaces and not expensive at all. Learn how to achieve this technique >>Ideas to paint glass jars 

Stained Glass

While this is a whole ‘nother whale, Stained Glass is one of the most beautiful crafts out there. If you are prepared to invest a bit on the tools this is the way to go. >>Read Stained Glass 101: Supplies, patterns and inspiration for everyone 

Bottles

This is another great way to add some DIY flair to your table. This ombre effect is the creation of Flea Market Trixie. >>More ideas for painting glass

Mirrors

Another great way to add some color and style to your home. You can use mirrors in a variety of ways, including hanging them on a wall or setting them on top of tables as centrepieces. >>More ideas for painting glass

FAQs

How to make your own DIY glass paint?

For a stained-glass look, you can make your own paint by mixing any regular school clear glue with acrylic paint, food coloruing or alcohol inks.

Run tests to get to the right ratio of paint-glue that you want. The less paint you use the more see-through your paint will be.

What glass paint is dishwasher safe?

Paint that was made specifically for glass and that has been cured in the oven. There is no paint product that can be used in the top-rack dishwasher without having been cured in the oven first.

To cure, put your piece in the oven and set the temperature for 325°F. Allow for glass to heat gradually with the oven. Once the oven has reached 320°F, allow for 30 minutes and let it cool off INSIDE the oven before touching it.

How to cure glass paint in the oven?

Put your piece in the oven and set the temperature for 325°F. Allow for glass to heat gradually with the oven. Once the oven has reached 320°F, allow for 30 minutes and let it cool off INSIDE the oven. This step is optional but preferable, specially for glass paint that state on the label that you can do so. Do not try to cure paint that does not specifically state is safe to do so.

Curing is a tip that, most glass gurus agree, will fix your paint making it nearly impossible to get scratches. Like we said, this step will allow your glass to be top of the rack dishwasher safe. However, there is currently no paint in the market that is safe to use in the microwave or for direct contact with food.

Can you use regular acrylic paint on glass?

Yes, but unless you prime your surface with any regular primer such as Zinsser or Valspar your paint might peel off. However, there are paint specifically made for glass such as enamel paint by Americana, Multi-surface paint by Folk Art or Gallery Glass by Plaid. Those won’t peel off and you may even cure them in the oven for long lasting results.

Which glass paint is best?

Depending on the type of project and your creative needs, glass paint will provide different finishes, from extra glossy like enamel to those with a matte finish. There are also brands that have created paints for a stained glass look, such as Gallery Glass. The top reviewed glass paint on Amazon in 2022 are Arteza, Gallery Glass, Folk Art and Deco Art.

How to prep glass for painting?

Clean your surface with warm water and soap to disappear any dirt and fingerprints. Ideally you should also wipe your surface withy alcohol or vinegar for a spotless surface.

If you are using acrylic paint that is not made for glass, make sure you prime your surface before hand with any regular primer such as Zinsser or Valspar.Ca

 

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