Painting on glass can be hugely satisfying. Modern glass paints are easy to use and tremendously versatile. With a little imagination, all kinds of everyday glassware can be turned into unique and beautiful art pieces.
This craft can be experimented with for a very modest initial cost. After deciding on the best paint for the glass projects you want to tackle, the only other things you really need are a good set of acrylic paint brushes and something to paint. While standard paint brushes are versatile tools, high-quality art brushes will make it easier to add detail to your DIY craft projects.
To help you select the best paint for glass DIY projects available today, the following in-depth guide may prove useful.
- BEST OVERALL: FolkArt Gloss Finish Acrylic Enamel Craft Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: B BEARALS Glass Paint, Stained Glass Paint 12 colors
- BEST FOR WINDOWS: Plaid Gallery Glass Window Color in Assorted Colors
- BEST FOR TILES: Pebeo Vitrea 160, Frosted Glass Paint, 45 ml Bottle
- BEST FOR LIGHT BULBS: Magicdo Stained Glass Paint with Palette,Transparent
- BEST FOR ORNAMENTS: Arteza Craft Acrylic Paint, Set of 20 Colors, 2oz
- BEST PAINT PENS: ARTISTRO Paint Pens for Rock Painting, Ceramic, Glass
- BEST SPRAY: Krylon K09035000 Stained Glass Aerosol Paint
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Paint for Glass
While most of these products share similar characteristics, there are a number of differences that can impact choice. For example, the best paint for glass windows isn’t necessarily the best for jars, tile, or ornaments. The following sections explain the key features that may help you select the best glass paint for your next DIY project.
Most of the best paint for glass for DIY and craft use is water-based acrylic. Standard acrylics are very versatile and can be used on paper, wood, canvas, and other materials. However, while they can be used on tile and glass, they may eventually get scratched or wear away on these materials.
Acrylic enamels have been developed to solve the problem. Unlike traditional enamels, which are solvent-based, acrylic enamels are still water-based. They can be used on everything from mason jars to light bulbs, and they dry with good scratch resistance. Most can also be hardened further by curing in a household oven (depending on the object painted). Acrylic enamels are nontoxic, though that does not mean food safe.
Solvent-based glass paints are frequently the choice of professionals because of their outstanding durability. They can be used on glass, ceramic, and metal surfaces. However, they are toxic, flammable, and produce unpleasant fumes. The use of a respirator is advised, and they are definitely not recommended for children. They are often considerably more expensive than their acrylic counterparts.
Tempera paints come in handy for short-term use on glass. They adhere reasonably well but can be washed off with little effort. This makes them popular for store window designs that will be changed on a regular basis.
Paint for glass comes in a variety of forms and sizes. While a 2-ounce bottle is probably most common, these paints can also be found in 0.5-ounce tubes similar to the way artist oil paints are supplied, right up to 11-ounce spray cans.
The 2-ounce bottles usually contain acrylic enamels and are sold individually or in sets. The latter is often an economical way to start. They generally contain enough paint to complete a number of small projects.
Glass paint in spray cans is great for covering large areas and comes in a variety of finishes, including those that mimic the texture of sea glass and metallic. It’s an interesting medium to explore if you want to cover a whole glass vessel.
Paint pens have foam nibs of various widths, allowing anything from a broad brush application to fine line detail. This design offers more precise control than most other paint products, making paint pens preferable to users less comfortable painting with a brush. Compatible with a variety of materials, paint pens provide versatility and convenience.
The way glass paint behaves, both when wet and dry, will have an impact on choice.
- A starter set of a dozen bottles of mixable paint can actually produce hundreds of different colors.
- Pigment strength and transparency are factors worth investigating. Some offer strong, bright colors even when highly transparent. Others appear like watercolors if a single coat is applied, but they get richer and more translucent with subsequent coats.
- Water-based acrylic paints are usually nontoxic, but few are food safe. It’s recommended not to paint areas that will come into contact with the mouth, like the rim of a glass, for example.
- While most acrylic enamel glass paints can be toughened by curing (more on that in another section), they offer limited weather resistance unless varnished or sealed with an additional product.
- Several surface finishes are available. Gloss is most common, but frosted and shimmer effects are also popular, as are metallic finishes. Spray paints for glass can mimic textures like sea glass or frosted glass.
Permanent vs. Temporary
Those considering glass paint for a temporary window display, such as in a store, might want to look into tempera paints (which are also very kid-friendly). They produce an opaque effect and adhere readily to glass, but they can be cleaned off relatively easily when it’s time for a new display.
Standard acrylics can be used as semipermanent glass paint. They don’t harden as well as acrylic enamels, so they can be removed if necessary. However, a sealer coat can be applied on top if a permanent fix is preferred.
Acrylic enamels are generally intended as permanent glass paint, as are professional solvent-based products. They aren’t indestructible, but can prove very durable.
Once allowed to air dry, which usually takes 24 to 72 hours, acrylic enamels are quite hard and can offer reasonable resistance to wear. However, durability can be dramatically increased by one of two processes.
The first is to use a spray-on or brush-on sealer. Two or three coats are applied, then left for 24 hours to cure. It’s worth experimenting with a single item before proceeding with a batch, as different sealers might affect texture or opacity.
The second method is to oven bake the acrylic enamel. Starting with a cold oven the glassware is raised to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, baked for 30 minutes, then allowed to cool naturally. After 72 hours, the piece should be tough enough to withstand being cleaned in the top tray of a dishwasher and will also be microwave safe. It’s worth checking manufacturer directions for specific product instructions. Some recommend slightly higher temperatures or longer durations. However, caution is needed as some paints, particularly sprays, are not suitable for high temperatures.
Our Top Picks
Having read about the various factors that can impact your choice of best paint for glass, it’s now time to look at some of the top glass paints currently available. While they all offer versatility, each has specific areas where they excel. For that reason, these paint recommendations are separated into different categories.
Both beginners and experienced crafters can enjoy FolkArt acrylic enamel paints. They have a thinner consistency than standard acrylics, making them easier to brush on. They provide suitable coverage and produce rich, vibrant colors with high opacity. They mix well, too, so this eight-piece starter set can produce virtually any color imaginable.
FolkArt acrylic enamels dry to a tough finish that doesn’t need to be sealed. Oven curing will further increase durability, though the manufacturer says it isn’t completely necessary. However, while dry to the touch in just a few hours, if not baked it will take 21 days to be dishwasher safe. FolkArt acrylic enamel paints are also effective on ceramics.
The B Bearals glass paint set contains 12 mixable colors in compact 0.84-ounce bottles. This allows those new to glass painting to try this fascinating craft at very little expense. These nontoxic paints comply with both U.S. ASTM D-4236 and European EN71-3 safety standards, so kids can join in the fun. It’s a versatile product that can be used on any glassware, with sufficient heat resistance for sunny windows or for painting light bulbs.
B Bearals acrylic paints have a smooth flow which reduces the appearance of brush marks. The bright colors can be enriched by adding subsequent coats. Paint reaches full-color fastness if air-dried for a week, or it can be left 24 hours then baked for 2 hours.
Gallery Glass window paint is thicker than most acrylic enamels, which makes it ideal for application to vertical surfaces like windows where it clings without running. It is water-based and nontoxic, so it is safe for use by children. While popular for window art, it will also adhere to any glassware.
This paint dries to a translucent finish, but it may appear milky at first while wet. Although dry to the touch in around 8 hours, this paint takes approximately a week to fully cure. The finish is semipermanent, meaning it dries like a skin that can be peeled and scraped away. This makes it an excellent product for storefront displays. Gallery Glass is available in over 30 colors.
Pebeo Vitrea 160 is a popular brand with artists both for the high quality of the paint and its versatility. These water-based, nontoxic acrylic enamels have a low odor and can be used straight from the bottle or thinned to produce higher transparency or blends. After drying for 24 hours, painted items can be baked for additional durability, making them safe for dishwashers and microwaves. In addition to glass, Pebeo Vitrea 160 can be used on all kinds of tile: china, glazed earthenware, porcelain, or terra cotta.
This formulation comes in 36 different colors and several finishes. Pebeo glass and tile paints can be intermixed to provide the artist with almost limitless possibilities.
Magicdo’s kid-friendly, nontoxic paints come as a set of 12 tubes, each weighing 0.4 ounces, that closely resemble artist oil paints. An easy-to-clean mixing palette is included so users can blend their own colors for greater creativity. An initial coat appears highly transparent, but additional coats will achieve a richer color if desired. These acrylic enamels meet both U.S. ASTM D-4236 and European EN71-3 safety standards.
Magicdo paints work well on all glass surfaces and many ceramics, too. Oven curing can be used to increase durability. This paint’s high heat resistance makes it a particularly good choice for use on light bulbs. However, light bulbs should never be placed in an oven, so those need to be air-dried for a minimum of 24 hours.
Those looking for maximum versatility may want to try Arteza’s high-quality acrylics. These nontoxic paints have high viscosity so they adhere well to any surface, though as a water-based medium they can easily be thinned if necessary. These intermixable paints offer artists the opportunity to make their own color creations.
Arteza quick-drying acrylics can be used on almost any material from paper, canvas, and leather to rock, ceramics, and glass. The large variety of suitable materials make these paints an excellent choice for all kinds of ornaments and DIY projects. This set of 20 colors in 2-ounce squeezable bottles offers particularly good value for beginners. Larger 4-ounce tubes are also available for those who paint frequently. They conform to U.S. ASTM D-4236 and European EN71-3 standards. However, they are not enamel and should not be baked.
Most people find pens much easier to control than brushes. So Artistro’s acrylic paint pens allow people of all ages and skill levels to create their own works of art. What’s more, they can be used to draw on almost anything, from paper and fabrics to stone and glass. Artistro colors have high opacity, so they retain their brightness even when used on dark bases.
If decorated items are suitable for baking, then Artistro acrylics can be cured in the oven for increased permanence just like other acrylic enamels. This set contains 12 markers with a medium tip and offers superb value. Fine and ultra-fine tips are available for those who want to create more precise lines.
Krylon spray-on glass paint comes in 11.5-ounce cans and can be used to quickly transform plain glassware. The entire item can be colored, or interesting effects can be created by masking areas with paper tape before spraying. The paint offers moderate transparency with an initial coat. To increase opacity, subsequent coats can be added with around 30 minutes between each. Full curing takes around 12 hours.
Krylon aerosol paint provides effective durability for a variety of indoor DIY and craft projects. However, it can only be air-dried and should not be used on windows in full sun or on light bulbs. Nine colors are available, and the product conforms to ASTM D-4236.
FAQs About Paint for Glass
This comprehensive look at the features to consider when choosing the best glass paint may have given you a decent understanding of these versatile art products. However, with the variety of uses and decorative effects possible, it would be no surprise if a few questions remained. Here are answers to several of the most common ones.
Q. How do you prime glass for paint?
While it’s not always necessary, primers can promote better adhesion. A variety of brush-on or spray-on products are available. It’s important to check compatibility with your colors. For example, an enamel-based primer should be used with enamel-based acrylics. The primer should dry for between 24 and 72 hours before applying paint on top of it.
Q. How do you seal acrylic paint on glass?
It can be done either by baking in an oven (manufacturers provide specific instructions on the curing process for their paint) or by applying a coat of sealer. Brush-on and spray-on versions are available.
Q. How do you remove spray paint from glass?
Small spots can be removed using acetone (most nail polish remover contains acetone). Apply with a cotton swab, leave for a minute or two, then wipe off with a damp cloth. Larger areas can be removed with white vinegar that has been heated (in a pan or microwave). There is a useful article on removing paint from glass here.
Q. How long does it take for glass paint to dry?
Air-dried glass paint needs at least 24 hours. If items are being oven cured for greater durability, they should be left for 72 hours before washing.