Acrylic paint is a versatile type of water-based paint that can produce a durable, waterproof result. It is also an attractive choice for new artists because it is non-toxic, easy to work with, and easy to clean up.
The best part is that you can find acrylic paint for an affordable price in almost every arts and craft store! For those who love experimenting, you’ll be glad to know that acrylic paints are suitable for a wide variety of surfaces, from canvas fabric to wood.
So can you paint glasses with acrylic paint? Yes, you totally can! This versatile paint can make a variety of decorative glass items (like mason jars, bottles, and even windows) look stunning. However, without the proper application technique, acrylic paint can drip when you apply it, and the result may not last very long.
In this article, let’s learn all about painting glasses with acrylic paint, what you can do to create the perfect result, and how you can preserve the colors for a long time.
What Type of Acrylic Paint Works With Glass?
Thanks to its non-toxic nature and durable properties, acrylic paint is a popular option for when you want to paint with glass.
Because glass is non-porous, you should opt for a type of paint that is designed to work with non-porous surfaces, which is why an enamel-based acrylic paint would be the best thing to use. This won’t really limit your choices because enamel-based acrylic paint comes in a wide variety of colors and finishes.
When choosing the paint to use on glass, there are a few things to consider, especially the type of project you are working on and what kinds of effects you want to achieve.
Let’s take a look at some of those considerations below.
One of the most important factors that you should consider when choosing paint is whether it is transparent or opaque. The more opaque a type of paint is, the more pigment it packs.
Opaque paints will block out light, while those with transparent qualities will allow the light to shine through. If you want the glass to still look like glass, then using a transparent type of paint (or thinning out the paint) will be the way to go.
When exposed to sunlight, the pigments can sometimes fade away. If you want the colors to last, you can opt for a lightfast, UV-resistant paint that will still maintain its color after some use.
If you are painting your windows, for example, the glass being exposed to sunlight is unavoidable. In that case, using UV-resistant paint can make a world of difference, especially after a few years.
Acrylic paints often come in tubes, and the paint often has very high viscosity. This is great if you want to paint on canvas, but if you prefer a runnier consistency, you can consider thinning out the paint.
Of course, a runnier consistency also means that the paint is more prone to dripping, so you can consider this issue when painting.
If you are using two different colors (or two different acrylic paint brands), it’s important to keep the consistency of the paint the same while painting. If you are using paint of different consistencies, the result may come out textured and uneven.
Acrylic paint comes in a variety of finishes that you can choose from to achieve the ideal final look. This includes glossy, matte (both of which are very opaque), as well as frosted (which is more transparent). In addition, crystal gloss enamel paint can produce a glossy and frosted effect.
If you want to create a stained glass effect, then you can use water-based acrylic paint and glass liner to create your design.
Materials Required For Acrylic Paint On Glass
In addition to your acrylic paint of choice, you will also need the following tools and materials to paint your glass.
The right paintbrushes can make a world of difference when it comes to painting on glass, especially if this is the first time that you are working with this media.
Ideally, you should have brushes with varying sizes and shapes on hand, especially if you want to create designs on your glass. The size and shape of the brush will determine the type of effects that you’ll create and how detailed they will be.
In addition, you should also consider what kind of paintbrushes you have, because that will also affect the look of the paint. Here are some of the options:
- Synthetic brushes can leave visible brush marks on the surface, so they are not great for covering large areas. However, they are great for details.
- Natural brushes are more durable and can create a smoother finish, which makes them great for applying base coats and broad color blocks.
You can paint almost every type of glass surface, but the type of glass you use can affect how you will need to seal and use it. Generally, you can seal paint on glass by using a sealant or baking the glass at a high temperature.
One of the most critical factors that you should consider when painting glass is its coefficient of expansion (COE). This is how much of its surface area will expand and contract when it is heated.
This is important to consider if you’re baking a piece of glass to seal the paint. If your glass cannot handle high heat, you should not seal it by baking because it will most definitely crack.
When in doubt, you should only bake smaller glass items, as bigger glass items need a much higher temperature to effectively seal it, and this can only be achieved by using a professional kiln at a pottery workshop.
Although acrylic paints can work on glass, an acrylic medium is recommended to add strength and tooth to the paint. Using an acrylic medium will allow the paint to grab onto the non-porous glass surface and allow the result to last longer.
Clear Medium or Paint Thinner (Optional)
If you want to thin the paint consistency to create a transparent effect, it’s best to use a clear medium rather than a paint thinner.
Since glass is non-porous, a clear medium will maintain the strength of the paint’s formula and allow it to stick to the surface. If you are using enamel paint, then a paint thinner such as mineral spirit will be required to thin the paint.
Primer isn’t required when painting with acrylic paint on glass, but if you want the paint to be completely opaque, you can use gesso to prime the surface.
This will show up as white base paint that you can layer your acrylic paint on, so it will require less paint to cover the entire surface of the glass.
As we’ve mentioned, there are two main ways to seal paint on glass: using a sealant or baking the glass.
If you are opting to use a sealant, just know that your glass isn’t going to be food-safe, which means that you cannot use it to handle food or drinks.
If you are painting a design on your glass with materials other than acrylic paint, you may want to consider the following tools:
- Glass outliner to create a stained glass look
- Glass paint markers for calligraphy or detailing work
- Stencil/stencil tape to help you create designs and patterns before painting – the stenciled area will be blocked off
In addition to the tools mentioned above, make sure you have rubbing alcohol and some cotton balls on hand to clean the glass before painting. If you are mixing paint, a palette can come in handy as well.
When painting on clean glass, you should always wear latex gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints on the glass. The natural oil on your skin can also affect how the paint sticks too, so it’s best to wear gloves when painting.
Tips For Creating Designs When Painting On Glass
There are so many ways to create beautiful designs when painting on glass. Below are some of our favorite tricks:
1. Tape Designs on the Inside of the Glass
If you have a complicated design that would be pretty difficult to create on glass, why not sketch it out on paper first, and secure the design on the inside of the glass before you can paint?
Glass is transparent, so you can see your design pretty easily, which makes painting complicated designs a lot simpler!
2. Use Stencil Tape Liberally
When creating straight lines, stencil tape is your friend. Just make sure to peel off the tape while the paint’s still wet, so you’re not accidentally cracking parts of the design.
3. Use Pencil Erasers As Stamps
If you want to make small dots, why not use the eraser on the end of your pencil? You can pick up a small amount of paint (make sure not to use too much, or the paint will drip) and ‘stamp’ it on the glass to create your design.
4. Fix Mistakes With Water Or Rubbing Alcohol
Acrylic paint is water-based, which means cleaning up is pretty simple. If you accidentally mess up your edges, the good news is, you can easily wipe it away with a damp cloth.
If you really need to get into the small details, you can also use a damp Q-tip to do the trick. If the paint is a little bit more stubborn, rubbing alcohol can also be an effective paint remover.
How To Paint Glasses With Acrylic Paint
There are a number of ways to paint glass; you can either follow a stencil design or paint freehand. Regardless of the method that you use, there are still some basic steps that you will need to follow to ensure that the result is beautiful and long-lasting.
1. Cleaning The Glass
Acrylic paint can adhere to almost any clean surface, with an emphasis on ‘clean.’ Before you can paint your glass, you will need to make sure that the surface is completely clean, which means no dust or grease. Otherwise, the paint may have a difficult time sticking to the surface.
Before painting, you should wash the glass thoroughly with dish soap and water. Then, dry it with a microfiber towel (be mindful of any lint or fibers on the glass).
If you have gloves, you should wear them to avoid leaving fingerprints on the glass. Then, use a cotton ball dabbed in rubbing alcohol to wipe down the entire painted surface.
2. Sketching Your Design And Priming
If you want to leave any blocks unpainted, the first step would be to use stencil tape to block off those areas. For drinking glasses, it’s recommended to tape off the rim of the glasses (the area that your mouth will touch) so that you don’t accidentally consume any paint chips.
After that, if you are opting to use a primer, go ahead and apply a light layer of primer all over the painted areas.
With your paintbrush and paint of choice, start laying down your design. This is where your creativity can really shine. Go ahead and use the tips mentioned above to create your design on the glass.
If you want to apply more than one coat (or more than one color) of paint, make sure that the first layer (or color) is completely dry before adding another layer. This will ensure a clean and crisp finish for your design.
4. Drying And Sealing
Leave the glass out in a dry and warm area to dry. Depending on the type of paint used, the drying time of acrylic paints can take anywhere from an hour to a week! Enamel paints, for example, take seven days to dry completely.
You can start using your glass when the paint is completely dry, but if you want the colors to last longer, it is recommended that you seal the paint to create a permanent result.
How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Glass
There are two main ways to seal acrylic paint on glass: using a sealant or oven baking. Let’s take a look at each method below.
1. Using a Sealant
Similar to when you paint furniture or your counter, using a sealant can protect the painted surface and maintain the paint’s appearance.
You can use a brush-on or spray-on sealant to apply a clear coat over the painted surface. Acrylic sealant or varnish are both great topcoats for painted glass.
You will need 2-3 coats of sealant to properly protect your painted surface. After applying the first coat, wait for about 20 minutes before applying the next coat. Make sure to cover the entire painted area each time you do to get an even result.
Afterward, allow the sealant to cure completely, which will take about 24 hours before you can wash and use your glass. Since most sealants contain VOCs, it’s best to work in a well-ventilated area away from children or pets.
Although sealant is a great way to ensure that the painted glass maintains its appearance over time, one downside to this method is that your glass will not be food-safe. You will not be able to use your glass to handle food or drinks if you use a sealant to seal your painted surface.
Oven baking is a great way to seal acrylic paint on glass – in fact, some acrylic paints have instructions that tell you how to seal them by baking, so you can check the labels first.
If not, you can still safely bake your painted glass at 300 – 350°F to seal it. You should place your glass in the oven when it is still cool to allow the glass to warm up as the oven warms up; that way, it will adjust to the increasing temperature and won’t crack.
Then, you can start the timer for 30 minutes once the oven reaches 300°F. After the timer’s up, you should wait for the glass to cool down completely before removing it from the oven.
Then, it will take up to three days for the paint to cure completely before you can use the glass.
One thing you should note with oven baking is that it will not work if the glass is cracked or chipped. The high temperature will definitely crack the glass and ruin your entire artwork.
Similarly, oven baking will also not work with recycled glass. This is because recycled glass is a mixture of many, many types of glass materials and soda ash, which has a very low COE and can crack when it’s met with high heat.
3. Maintaining/Cleaning Your Acrylic Painted Glass
Enamel-based acrylic paints are durable, so they can be washed in the dishwasher. For other types of acrylic paints, it’s best to handwash the glass item to avoid damaging the paint.
If you are handwashing, you should not scrub the glass because that can still remove the paint. When in doubt, you can refer to the washing instructions that come with your glassware to ensure the best result.
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