Many of us grew up with glow-in-the-dark stars stuck all over our bedroom ceilings or walls. There’s something magical about turning off all the lights, but still having a gentle glow in the room.
If you want to recreate that same feeling in your current home, you don’t need to buy those stars again. Instead, you can paint a wall, part of a wall, an accent piece, and more with glow-in-the-dark paint.
It might be difficult to choose which part of your home to paint. You don’t want to choose a well-trafficked area that gets seen by a lot of guests if the paint is just going to fade in a matter of months.
So, how long does glow-in-the-dark paint last? How long glow-in-the-dark paint will last varies based on a number of factors. In an unopened can, it can last anywhere from 2-5 years. Painted on a wall, it can last around 10 years or more. Proper sealants can extend the life of an object or surface with glow-in-the-dark paint.
In this article, we will explore the different lengths of time glow in the dark paint lasts depending on how it’s stored, what it’s been painted on, whether it’s painted inside or outside, if a sealant has been used, and even how to remove it if you’re no longer happy with the look.
Let’s get painting!
How Long Does Glow In The Dark Paint Last?
Glow in the dark paint gets its glow from the phosphors that have been mixed in with the paint. These phosphors react with the radiation they receive from UV light and emit a glowing effect.
It’s important to reiterate that glow-in-the-dark paint works based only on UV light. This means that when using this paint, you want to use it in a room or on an object that gets a lot of natural light.
Glow in the dark paint does not get a charge from LED lights. It can get a charge from fluorescent lights, but it’s a duller reaction and probably not the bright and saturated look you’re after.
When choosing where to use your glow-in-the-dark paint, keep this information in mind. You’ll want to evaluate the amount of sunlight available based on the number of windows, the location of the windows, or the location of the object outside. Beyond this, there are several other factors to consider. We’ll list a few below.
Opened Vs Unopened Can
Glow in the dark paint is manufactured and packaged in a way that is designed to last quite a while. You wouldn’t want to buy a brand new can of glow-in-the-dark paint only to have the phosphors inside lose their UV absorption abilities after only a few months.
Unopened, a can of glow-in-the-dark paint can last anywhere from 2-5 years. So if you pick up a can, then get sidetracked by a group of other projects, don’t fret. Your paint will stay good for quite a while!
Of course, opening the can lowers the shelf life, just as it would with any paint. The exact length it lasts after opening is difficult to pinpoint, but we recommend being prepared to use as much as possible when you open a new can.
Painted On A Wall
In general, the standard lifespan of glow-in-the-dark paint when applied to a wall is ten years. It can certainly last longer, especially if a sealant is applied, but the general expected life of glow-in-the-dark paint before it starts fading significantly is 10 years.
Glow in the dark paint can be used either as a solid color, or as part of a mural. Solid color walls are fun for an accent wall, or as a sort of night-light for a child’s room. Murals are often more popular, as they allow for greater artistic expression with the added fun of truly highlighting an image.
A proper sealant can increase the lifespan of your glow-in-the-dark paint to about 12 years, if not more. You can use any type of paint sealant or varnish found in the paint aisle of your local hardware store.
When charged properly in UV light for around 3-4 hours, the paint should glow for equal that amount of time in total darkness. The longer it charges with direct UV light, the longer it glows.
When applying the paint to walls, make sure you are using multiple thin layers. Trying to lay it on thick to avoid doing too many layers can actually leave your paint looking uneven and mottled. It’s best to apply several thin layers until you achieve the desired brightness.
If you’re hoping to use your glow-in-the-dark paint outside as an accent to your patio, deck, or outdoor furniture, there are specific factors to consider. You want to make sure your paint can withstand the kind of weather and debris it will come in contact with.
There are various brands of glow-in-the-dark paint that are specifically designed for outdoor use. We recommend finding one of these to increase the life expectancy of the paint on your project.
Generally, because the outdoors can be a harsh environment, glow-in-the-dark paint may only last months. This time can be extended to years if you’re using a good quality outdoor paint and a topcoat to seal it in.
Unlike indoor walls, when using glow-in-the-dark paint in an outdoor setting, you want to use thick layers. This will help the object really absorb that UV radiation and glow brightly at night. It will also build up a nice, thick coat that’s less susceptible to scratches and imperfections.
The sealant is vital when using glow-in-the-dark paint for outdoor use. Think of it like using a topcoat of nail polish over your color. Your color polish will last about a week just fine, but adding the top coat extends the life of your manicure for at least another week, if not longer!
This is because you’re protecting your color. The top coat is what’s taking on the scratches and blemishes, while your color remains safe underneath the protection of the sealant.
Painted On Rocks Or Other Objects
If you’re looking to bring a pop of color and light to your landscaping, you may be considering painting some rocks with glow-in-the-dark paint.
Our best recommendation for making your glow-in-the-dark paint last a long time on rocks is to find a brand that explicitly lists this as a feature of the paint. There are certain brands that market specifically for use on rocks, and you’ll want to find one of those.
The great thing about glow-in-the-dark paint on rocks is that it can glow a long time! There are some brands that can glow for 8-10 hours with only a 10-20 second charges under a strong black light.
To really extend the lifetime of the paint on your rocks, be sure to wash the rock thoroughly with soap and water first. Dry it completely, then apply the paint in several thick coats. After painting, add your sealant.
Your rocks should be good to go for years to come!
How Can I Remove Glow In The Dark Paint?
The best way to get rid of glow-in-the-dark paint is to either scrape it off or simply paint over it.
If you want to scrape it off, start with fine sandpaper and try to remove as much as possible. You can also try a bit of acetone or isopropyl alcohol. After scraping, you’ll want to apply a couple coats of paint primer before finally painting over with your new desired color.
Alternatively, you can always simply paint over the existing layers. Depending on what colors you used, you may need to paint several coats of your new paint in order to truly cover up the glow-in-the-dark paint underneath.
Why Isn’t My Paint Glowing?
If your paint isn’t glowing, it most likely isn’t getting enough UV light. Even if you’ve placed it strategically in a room with a window, it could be that the window isn’t positioned well to get a lot of light.
Another problem could be the type of paint you purchased. Your paint may use other agents rather than phosphors that need a different type of light (other than UV light) to charge and glow.
An additional factor to consider could be that your background surface is too dark. Light colors reflect light, while dark colors absorb light. If you used glow-in-the-dark paint on a black, navy, or other dark-colored background, the light may be getting absorbed rather than reflected.
It’s recommended for best results to use glow-in-the-dark paint on a lighter surface, such as white or yellow. It may not look very striking during the day, but at night, it’s sure to impress.
Up Next: Best Outdoor Glow-In-The-Dark Paints