The Best Permanent Markers for Your DIY Projects

DIY enthusiasts sometimes keep a stash of permanent markers on hand for everyday labeling tasks as well as for creative decor, craft, and art projects. Check out these recommendations to find the best permanent marker for your DIY projects.

By Carol Benton | Updated Mar 30, 2021 9:35 AM

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Best Permanent Marker Options


Look in most kitchen junk drawers, office desktop containers, workshops, or crafting spaces, and you’ll find an assortment of permanent markers. DIYers and creative people use them regularly for labeling, writing, planning, doodling, sketching, decorating, and embellishing numerous surfaces for a plethora of utilitarian and imaginative projects.

Permanent markers leave waterproof and long-lasting marks on paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal. Additionally, some inks are specially formulated to mark on glass, ceramics, stone, cellophane, and photos. Fabric markers produce colorful and permanent effects on clothing and accessories and resist fading from machine washing. Read on to discover the best permanent marker for your next project.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Sharpie Twin Tip Permanent Markers Fine & Ultra-Fine
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Amazon Basics Fine Point Tip Permanent Markers Black
  3. BEST METALLIC: Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers, Fine Point
  4. BEST FOR WRITING: Sharpie Permanent Markers, Ultra Fine Point Black
  5. BEST FOR DRAWING: Caliart 40 Colors Dual Tip Art Markers Permanent
  6. BEST FOR COLORING: Amazon Basics Fine Tip Permanent Markers Assorted
  7. BEST FOR WOOD: Sharpie King Size Permanent Marker Chisel Tip
  8. BEST FOR METAL: Arteza Permanent Markers Set of 36 Black Chisel Tip
  9. BEST FOR FABRIC: Sharpie Stained Fabric Markers Brush Tip Assorted
Best Permanent Marker


What to Consider When Choosing the Best Permanent Marker 

With the large variety of permanent markers available, DIYers can choose from an array of colors as well as writing tip sizes and shapes to suit their purposes. Before selecting the best permanent marker for projects, consider the type of surface as well as color and line. Continue reading to explore multiple factors for consideration when choosing suitable permanent markers for a variety of projects.

Surface Type

Most permanent markers work well on paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal. Some manufacturers state their general-purpose permanent markers provide long-lasting markings on glass, wood, stone, ceramics, cellophane, and photos in addition to paper, plastic, and metal.

On some plastic surfaces, the ink from permanent markers is actually semi-permanent, as users can rub it off with a bit of pressure. When writing on thin paper, the ink from permanent markers bleeds through the surface unless the individual uses thicker paper or places cardboard under the paper.

Some manufacturers offer permanent markers that are specially formulated for applications on glassware, ceramics, stone, and fabric.

Tip Size & Shape

Permanent markers feature felt writing tips (sometimes called “nibs” or “points”) in a variety of sizes. Fine points create lines about 0.04-inch wide, and ultrafine points draw lines ranging from 0.007 inches to 0.015 inches in width.

Chisel-shaped felt writing tips make both broad and thin lines. The broad, flat side of a chisel nib draws a line around 0.2 inches wide; however, by placing the pointed tip of the chisel on a surface, users can draw lines as narrow as 0.04 inches wide.

To make highly visible signs or to label large boxes, king-size permanent markers create the thickest lines. Ultrafine markers serve multiple everyday purposes, such as making handwritten notes and lists. On the other hand, medium-width, fine-point markers fill the needs of most DIYers for multiple tasks, as they offer precision and control as well as clarity and visibility.


Permanent markers consist of plastic barrels containing sticks of porous material (felt) on the inside. The porous material protrudes slightly at one end to create the writing tip (nib). Additionally, the material inside the barrel is saturated with ink consisting of color pigment, alcohol solvent, and resin. Permanent marker ink is nonpolar and insoluble in water.

DIY enthusiasts favor permanent markers to produce long-lasting results from writing, labeling, drawing, and creative projects. As the solvent from a permanent marker dries, its nonpolar and insoluble color pigment and resin are left behind on the surface.

Once dry, the resulting mark is waterproof, smudge-proof, and fade-resistant. Moreover, permanent markers inks dry almost immediately after application.


Permanent markers serve both utilitarian and decorative purposes. For example, they create labels for moving boxes, storage containers, tools, and athletic equipment that resist fading.

On the other hand, users achieve eye-catching results in myriad DIY, craft, and art projects when using some of the abundant choices of colored markers available on today’s market. Sold in sets, permanent markers feature a variety of colors, including primary, pastel, and metallics.

Storage Case

Some permanent markers, especially multi-colored sets, come in storage cases. The cases typically are made of tough, flexible, nylon material, and they have zippered closures. Storing markers neatly results in a tidy workspace as well as helping to preserve the markers. To help the markers last, replace the caps and store the markers vertically with the felt tips pointing downward.

Our Top Picks

This list of top picks in permanent markers was compiled after considering numerous choices from reputable manufacturers. The list includes markers of assorted colors as well as diverse writing tip sizes and shapes. Additionally, the list includes inks formulated for application on different surfaces, such as paper, plastic, metal, ceramics, fabric, and more.

Best Overall

Best Permanent Marker Options: Sharpie Twin Tip Permanent Markers

With two tips, these permanent markers offer the option to draw both fine and ultrafine lines. Sharpie markers deliver bold, black ink to multiple surfaces, including paper, plastic, and metal. The quick-drying black ink in these markers is permanent, water-resistant, and fade-resistant.

Permanent markers from Sharpie are AP (“approved product”) certified by the Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). Certification means these markers contain no toxic substances in sufficient quantities to cause harm.

Best Bang For the Buck

Best Permanent Marker

Offered at an economical price, this package of 24 permanent black markers from Amazon Basics deliver clean lines with fine writing tips. The richly pigmented ink creates visible, bold, black markings on paper, wood, plastic, stone, metal, glass, cellophane, and photos. Additionally, the ink is quick-drying, waterproof, smearproof, and fade resistant.

Amazon Basics ensures their permanent markers conform to ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials) Standard D4236, certifying that any health hazards and potentially toxic substances are clearly labeled on the package.

Best Metallic

Best Permanent Marker Options: Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers

The set from Sharpie includes vibrant, permanent inks in six colors, including metallic ruby, metallic sapphire, metallic emerald, metallic silver, metallic gold, and metallic bronze. They make highly visible marks on both light and dark surfaces. The permanent metallic ink in Sharpie markers dries quickly and resists both water and fading.

Use these metallic markers to decorate and embellish storage labels, journals, calendars, and signs. They leave permanent markings on paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, and glass. Moreover, metallic markers provide the ideal solution for DIY projects on black or dark-colored surfaces.

Best For Writing

Best Permanent Marker Options: Sharpie Permanent Markers

Create sharp, permanent black lines that measure 0.007 inches (0.20 millimeter) wide. These ultrafine point black markers from Sharpie leave clean, detailed markings on paper, plastic, and metal. This 12-count package allows individuals to keep an ample supply of the go-to writing instruments on hand. The permanent black ink in these markers produces vivid lines. It’s water-resistant and fade resistant as well as quick drying.

The markers are AP certified as an approved product by the Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI), which means they’re safe for children.

Best For Drawing

Best Permanent Marker Options: Caliart 40 Colors Dual Tip Art Markers

Dual tips and alcohol-based inks in 40 vivid colors make this set of markers a dream-come-true for artists. The markers are numbered for identification and housed in a zippered carrying case.

The set is ideal for sketching, illustrating, architectural design, landscaping design, and advertising rendering. Even non-artists may enjoy using these markers for coloring books, journaling, scrapbooking, and embellishing.

Each of the 40 colored markers features two tips. The broad, chisel-shaped writing tip draws lines that measure from 0.04 inches to 0.2 inches (1 to 7 millimeters) wide. Alternatively, the fine-point writing tip renders 0.027-inch (0.7-millimeter) lines.

The alcohol-based ink leaves smudge-proof, waterproof, permanent markings on most surfaces, including paper, ceramics, and plastic. Layer and blend the colors for added dimension. With an ergonomic triangular barrel design, these markers are easy to hold. However, alcohol-based inks bleed through paper unless the paper is very thick.

Best For Coloring

Best Permanent Marker Options: Amazon Basics Fine Point Tip Permanent Markers 24 Pack

Use Amazon Basics colored markers on paper, plastic, photos, cellophane, metal, stone, wood, and glass. The color choices include both bright and pastel hues, including red, purple, blue, green, black, and many more.

The ink in these markers is permanent, waterproof, smear-proof, and fade-resistant. For added convenience, the ink also dries quickly. The fine-point writing tips create clean, highly visible marks.

Conforming to ASTM International Standard D4236, Amazon Basics certifies that these markers are non-toxic, with any potentially harmful substances clearly labeled. They’re safe for use at home or in the office.

Best For Wood

Best Permanent Marker Options: Sharpie 15661PP King Size Permanent Marker

Big jobs call for extra-durable, permanent markings in large, clearly visible strokes. These king-size markers from Sharpie meet that need, as they hold a large supply of industrial-strength ink and feature broad, chisel-shaped writing tips. Adjust the writing angle of the chisel tip to create extra-wide or standard-width lines.

The permanent black ink is quick-drying, water-resistant, and nontoxic. These markers leave permanent markings on most surfaces, including wood, plastic, metal, stone, leather, and foil. They even work on wet or oily surfaces.

Best For Metal

Best Permanent Marker Options: Arteza Permanent Markers Set of 36

The permanent black ink in these Arteza markers yields waterproof, smudge-proof, and fade-resistant results on metal surfaces. Additionally, use them on paper, plastic, and ceramic surfaces.

Arteza incorporates Japanese chisel tips in these markers to deliver precision and control. Label metal tools and equipment or draw on metal signs with these versatile markers. Additionally, they leave clean, permanent markings on coffee mugs, cardboard boxes, and plastic crates.

Arteza markers are certified safe and non-toxic by the Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). They may be used around young children as well as adults.

Best For Fabric

Best Permanent Marker Options: SHARPIE 1779005 Stained Fabric Markers

To decorate and personalize clothing and other fabric items, this set of eight fabric markers in vivid colors delivers permanent, fade-resistant markings in black, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple colors.

The ink in these Sharpie fabric markers is formulated to adhere to a variety of fabric surfaces and to resist fading through numerous machine washings. Brush tips provide the control necessary for painting fine lines as well as filling large areas with color.

Use these fabric markers to customize and embellish hats, canvas shoes, T-shirts, tote bags, pillowcases, throw pillows, curtains, and more. Sharpie ensures they conform to safety standard D-4236 of ASTM International.

FAQs About Permanent Markers

When projects on the to-do list require highly visible, waterproof markings, permanent markers meet the need. Whether the tasks involve writing notes and lists, labeling storage containers, fabricating personalized gifts, or creating artwork, permanent markers are available to suit the purpose. The answers to the following questions may contribute additional helpful information.

Q. What kinds of projects are permanent markers used for?

In addition to labeling boxes and posting signs, DIYers use permanent markers to decorate and embellish coffee mugs, throw pillows, rugs and mats, rocks, glass vases, candle holders, canvas shoes, and more.

Q. Are permanent marker pens waterproof?

The ink in permanent markers is waterproof, which means that it won’t wash off with water.

Q. Is there a way to stop permanent markers from bleeding?

The ink from many permanent markers bleeds through writing paper of average thickness. To avoid the problem, use thicker paper or cardstock.

Q. What is the right way to store permanent markers?

Replace the cap and store the markers with the writing tips pointing downward. This method keeps the ink in contact with the writing tips (nibs).

Q. How long does permanent marker ink last?

The ink in permanent markers will last two to three years if the markers are stored in unopened packaging. Permanent ink markings, such as signs and labels, will fade over time, especially if they are exposed to UV rays.