Painting ceramic mugs is a great way to customize them. Nothing dresses up a plain surface like a bit of paint. It’s great way to take a tired old mug and make it look fresh and exciting – or make a beautifully unique gift.
But after you paint your masterpiece, you have to make sure it’s sealed. It would be a waste of all your work if it came off in the first wash, after all.
So how can you seal the acrylic paint on ceramic mugs after they’ve been painted? To seal acrylic paint on ceramic mugs, you may need a high-quality sealant or varnish made for acrylic paint to spray or brush over your work. Otherwise, you can “bake” the paint onto the mug by carefully heating it in the oven.
Why should you seal acrylic paint on ceramic mugs? How do I do it right? Let’s find answers to these questions and learn the different techniques you can use to seal your painted mugs.
Why Should You Seal Acrylic Paint On Ceramic Mugs?
Sealing your acrylic paint is an important part of painting a ceramic mug.
For one thing, it greatly increases the longevity of the paint. Acrylic paint is usually quite soft and while it will stick to ceramic, it can be peeled off over time especially if the mug is repeatedly exposed to moisture. So if you need to wash your mug in a dishwasher, you’ll need to seal the paint.
Acrylic paint can usually be sealed using acrylic sealants. While this will work for some glazed ceramic mugs, you might need to bake others in order to make them dishwasher safe. Some acrylic sealants can be used to add shine to acrylic paints that dry to a dull, matte finish. Other sealants offer a more matte finish.
Sealing acrylic paint can help to increase the color saturation and sheen of the paint. They also protect the paint and make the mug easier to clean.
How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Ceramic Mugs
To seal acrylic paint on your ceramic mugs you can use water-based polyurethane varnish products. If you’re wondering what product to get, you can check out our recommended list of sealants below. A decent quality varnish should be relatively thick. You can then dilute it a bit with water before applying it.
Varnishes are usually combinations of solvents and resins and form a thin, protective layer atop the acrylic paint. Before you apply the varnish sealer to your painted ceramic mug, make sure it is completely dry. Some varnishes come as sprays while others need to be applied with a paintbrush.
If you’re working with a spray varnish, you’ll need to shake the can vigorously for some time before you start spraying. Apply the spray at an even distance from the surface of the painted ceramic mug.
You might need to shake the can repeatedly during applications. Also, regularly check the nozzle to ensure that it hasn’t gotten blocked. You can keep a rag handy for cleaning the nozzle from time to time. Apply thin layers of sealant severally until the mug is properly coated with the varnish.
If you’ve gotten a non-spray varnish, then you’ll need to apply it with a clean, smooth brush. Apply long even strokes to the surface of the mug. Try to cover the mug with the varnish without leaving visible brush marks.
After applying a thin coat of varnish, you can leave it to dry before applying additional coats. Also, make sure to clean the brush and dry it thoroughly between coats. Once you’re done applying the varnish to your ceramic mug, you can leave it to dry in a dust-free area.
Different Types Of Varnish Used For Sealing Acrylic Paint
There are two major types of varnish that you can use for sealing acrylic paint on your ceramic mugs: water-based varnish, and solvent-based varnish.
1. Water-based Varnish (Polymer)
Water-based varnish products, also called polymer varnishes, are made from acrylic polymers. They offer a good amount of protection and are a great choice for sealing small items such as ceramic mugs.
These varnishes are cheap, easy to use, and cleanup friendly. They also tend to dry quickly and do not give off a strong smell.
Some water-based varnishes need to be thinned before they’re applied on a painted surface. You can use a paintbrush or a large sponge to apply the varnish quickly in thin layers. The varnish is usually milky white when applied but dries to a clear finish.
2. Solvent-based Varnish (MSA)
Solvent-based varnishes, also known as Mineral Spirit Acrylic varnishes, offer a tougher finish than their water-based counterparts. They’re easy to apply and have a clear look even when wet.
These varnishes must be thinned before use, however, with full strength spirits. These spirits tend to give off strong odors and can be quite difficult to clean up if you’re working at home.
Thus, water-based varnishes are better for use with DIY painted ceramic mugs. You can check out some of the options in our recommended list of sealants below.
How To Bake Painted Ceramic Mugs
Another way to make the paint on your ceramic mug permanent, while making the mug dishwasher safe is to bake the mug. Baking your ceramic mugs is quite easy and requires just a cool oven and some time.
Here’s how to bake your painted mug:
- Before you bake your painted ceramic mug, make sure that all the layers of paint are completely dry.
- Then, place the mug in a cool oven and set the oven temperature to 350ºF (177ºC). You’ll need to use a cool oven because the mug may shatter if placed directly in a preheated oven. The mug needs to heat up gradually to avoid breakage.
- Allow the mug to bake for 30 minutes. Once the timer rings, turn the oven off.
- Leave the ceramic mug in the oven and allow it to cool down completely before bringing it out. You can leave the mug in the oven for a couple of hours to let it cool completely.
Once the process is complete, your painted ceramic mug is good for use and can be washed in the dishwasher with no damage to the paint. However, you’ll need to avoid using abrasive sponges on the painted mug.
5 Great Sealants For Acrylic Paint On Ceramic Mugs
If you’re looking for the right sealant for your next exciting mug-painting project, we’ve got your back. Here are some great sealants which will do the trick.
1. Krylon 11-Ounce Kamar Varnish Aerosol Spray
The Krylon K01312 Kamar Varnish Aerosol Spray is an excellent sealant that you can use for your painted ceramic mugs. The varnish comes in an 11-ounce spray can and offers non-yellowing protection to acrylic paintings.
This sealant from Krylon is very easy to use and dries very quickly. The product conforms to the ASTM D4236 standards and is acid-free.
The varnish is available in different finishes including matte, glossy, satin, high-gloss, semi-gloss, dull, and white. It comes in at a really affordable price and has a lot of positive reviews from satisfied users.
2. Grumbacher Gloss Varnish For Oil & Acrylic Painting
The Grumbacher Picture Gloss Varnish also comes in an 11-ounce spray can and features a high-quality, non-yellowing varnish that can help protect your painted mugs while giving them a glossy finish.
Like the Krylon K01312 above, the Grumbacher Picture Gloss Varnish dries quickly and is very easy to use.
The Grumbacher Picture Gloss Varnish is a great option to consider if you’re looking for a high-quality acrylic varnish spray that dries to a glossy finish. It’s a bit pricier than some options, but it has a beautiful finish and reliable quality to recommend it anyway.
3. Liquitex BASICS Matte Varnish
If a non-spray acrylic varnish is what you’re looking for, then the Liquitex BASICS Matte Varnish is one of the first options you should consider.
The Liquitex BASICS varnish comes in a 250 ml (8.45 fl oz) container but you can also get a smaller 75 ml option. It’s best applied with a soft large brush.
The Liquitex BASICS Matte Varnish dries to a clear, non-yellowing matte finish. However, you can also get the Liquitex BASICS in a Gloss Varnish option.
The product is ACMI certified and conforms to the ASTM D4236 standard. It comes in at a decent price and also has nice customer reviews.
4. Liquitex Satin Varnish
If you’re looking for a varnish that dries to a nice satin finish, the Liquitex Satin Varnish product is an excellent option to consider.
However, the product also comes in different styles including gloss, matte, high-gloss, Soluvar gloss, and Soluvar matte. This varnish can be purchased in a wide array of sizes ranging from 4 ounces to as large as 128 ounces.
The 32-ounce Liquitex Satin Varnish comes in at a decent price and is ideal if you need a lot of varnish for large projects. The varnish is non-yellowing, lightweight, and non-toxic. The varnish is also low-odor, and very durable. It can be applied using a brush or spray, if available.
5. FolkArt Water Based Varnish
The FolkArt Water Based Varnish delivers an attractive, durable satin finish to painted acrylic surfaces. The varnish is available in two sizes: 4 ounces and 8 ounces.
The varnish is easy to apply with a brush and it dries to a clear, non-yellowing finish. It can be cleaned up while wet with some soap and water.
The FolkArt WaterBased Varnish is a high-quality acrylic paint varnish that will help keep the paint on your acrylic mugs safe while adding a nice satin finish.
Happy painting (and sealing)!