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How to Paint on Glass

A flower painted on a wine glass

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Painting on glass can be intimidating as it has a smooth surface compared to other paint surfaces such as brick, cabinets, wallpaper, or stained wood. It also employs a different technique to painting in terms of paint and tools used.

You’d be surprised to learn that painting on glass is quite simple, even for beginners, if you follow the steps closely. Various glass surfaces can be painted, from windows to glassware.

So, if you are ready to embark on your next DIY adventure, continue reading our guide on How to Paint on Glass.

How to Paint on Glass: What to Consider Before you Start:

Each glass has its coefficient of expansion, labeled as COE. If you will be baking the paint onto the glass surface, ensure the paint is flexible; this will stop any cracking during the baking process.

Don’t go for recycled glass as it has different glass materials, each having a different COE. This may cause them to expand at different rates when baking, causing them to break.

Glass painting is more of an art than traditional painting, but you must consider a few criteria before learning how to paint on glass. Below we will guide you through choosing a paintbrush and paint type.

Choosing the right Paintbrush:

Depending on the style of brush you use, you can achieve different looks when figuring out how to paint on glass.

?Remember: Having the right paint for the job will not give you a good finish without the right paintbrush.

Paintbrushes used to paint glass are mostly soft-bristled to reduce the number of strokes needed to apply the paint. They also come in many variations, with many being less than one inch.

For a good painting experience, invest in good paintbrushes. Don’t just go for the ones you buy for your kid in kindergarten.

Use wider paintbrushes to apply the paint and narrower brushes for detailing.

  • Synthetic-bristle brushes

These brushes are suitable for small-scale, detailed painting, but they leave brush marks in the paint coat.

A synthetic-bristle brush is a good option if you plan to achieve a rough look.

  • Natural-bristle brushes
natural bristle paintbrushes for article how to paint on glass

These brushes offer a smooth application of paint on the glass surface and can be used for larger surfaces. They can achieve this without showing as many brush marks as synthetic-bristle brushes.

  • Sponge brushes

These include daubers and spouncers. They leave behind a textured look and feel.

Spouncers are longer than daubers, while daubers are thicker than spouncers. You can use application sponges in place of these items to achieve the same goal.

  • Stylus

A stylus is used to make polka-dot designs on the glass surface. To have bigger dots that become smaller as you paint, touch the stylus on the surface, moving till the paint ends.

When using a stylus, always keep it pointed up to prevent smearing. You may add a complementary twist as you lift it to have even dots.

Different Types of Glass Paint:

Glass paint is unique compared to other paint options. Your choice of paint depends on whether you are painting a big piece, doing small details, or both.

?Bear in Mind: If you plan to paint food glassware, always look for non-toxic paint.

  • Enamel paint

These paints have a shiny appearance once dried. Enamel paints are available in various finishes such as matte, opaque, glitter, and gloss.

Gloss enamel paints are thick, and they give an opaque finish.

Frosted enamel paints give a lighter coat, while crystal enamel paints are less translucent.

  • Acrylic paint

Acrylic paint meant for glass has a chemical additive that adheres to the non-porous glass surface. Look for one meant for glass, as other acrylic paints don’t grip the glass surface.

  • Oil-based paint

These contain organic compounds that bind well compared to water-based paints. They give a saturated color but contain VOCs, which are toxic and harder to clean.

  • Spray paint
Spray paints adhere well to glass surfaces

Spray paint adheres well to the glass surface, and you can add a few coats for a saturated finish. When working with spray paint, make sure you are in a properly ventilated room and wear a face mask.

Other paints, like chalk paint, can be added to the spray paint finish to add to the design.

  • Markers and pens

These are easy to work with, especially if you are doing a DIY project as a beginner or with kids. Oil-based markers give a more permanent finish, and you can also use them to add designs to other paint finishes.

You can choose various marker sizes, and they also save you cleaning time. They are more like a 2 in 1 because they are both the brush and the paint.

Guide on How to Paint on Glass:

Clean the glass surface

Thoroughly cleaning your area is essential, and you should aim to remove any dust residue or oil. If there is dust and grime on your glass, it will affect your adhesion levels, and your paint will eventually peel.

Ensure the area you are working in is free of dust. If your area is overly dusty, the particles will settle on the glass’s surface.

Using warm soapy water wash your glass thoroughly; this should remove most of the stains on your glassware. Once cleaned, rinse the glass with warm water and allow it to completely dry.

Using a cotton cloth, dip it into white vinegar or rubbing alcohol and wipe the glass surface. The vinegar or alcohol will help to remove any remaining soap film.

?‍?Experts Tip: You should use latex gloves when cleaning your glass because your fingers contain oil that gets left behind as fingerprints.

Prepare the surface

Using your painters’ or masking tape, cover any areas you don’t plan to paint. If you are painting drinking glasses, protect the rim where the mouth goes. Painting the edge of glassware used to drink may cause the paint to chip off.

You can also use masking tape to create creative designs by covering off parts of the paint surface. Make sure that the tape is pinned to the glass surface.

?Keep in Mind: It is advisable to remove the tape before the paint has dried up. This is to prevent chipping at the edges of the paint.

You can fix some chipped parts by scraping them with a knife-edge after the paint has dried.

Add a Basecoat

If you are painting the whole glass surface, add a base coat. If you want to go for an opaque look, you can use gesso as a base coat.

Ensure the base coat is dry before adding another layer of paint to prevent the paint layers from blending in.
Let the base coat dry for at least an hour before painting. Some paints have a dying period of a few days, so make sure you know the drying time.

?Insight: This step can be skipped if you are only painting part of the glass surface.

Paint your Glass

Outline your design before painting. Below are three simple methods you can use to outline your design:

1. Use a marker to draw your design on the glass. Don’t worry about the marker stains, as they can be covered up by the paint or washed off easily.
2. You can also draw on the inside of the glass and trace it over the side you want to paint. Keep in mind that doing this inverts the design.
3. You can also draw your design on a piece of paper and tape it on the other side of the glass. This works if you are painting on transparent glass rather than an opaque or frosted piece of glass.

Carefully dip just the tip of your brush into the paint, keeping a minimum amount of paint on the brush. This is to avoid drip marks as you paint.

Paint the glass from top to bottom, or paint your design in a way that you’ll get to cover up your drip marks as you go. Don’t paint over the same area many times for glass surfaces, as you’ll end up removing the wet paint.

Paint in layers. Don’t be tempted to add more paint when your layer looks off, as this may cause the semi-dry paint to peel off.

Allow the layers to dry before adding more layers. Depending on your paint type, it may take up to 3 or 4 layers to achieve your desired color.

Complimentary Designs

Now that your paint has dried, you can use other paint options like markers to add complementary designs.

Brushstrokes may be reduced by painting thin layers, using a good brush, or baking the glass in an oven. Baking may not be possible for immobile glass surfaces, and you may have to rely on the other options.

Using the edge of the masking tape, paint along it to give it a straight line. Detach the masking tape before the paint dries.

Use the other end of the brush or a stylus to paint dots. Apply a small amount of paint and lightly touch the surface while rotating.

You can use a sponge, dauber, or spouncer to get a unique design on the glass surface. Don’t apply too much paint to the brushes, as this may completely cover up the intended design.

✍️Remember: It is essential to clean your brush as you switch between layers to prevent unwanted paint mixing on your glass. Cleaning your brushes also keeps paint from drying in them.

Wipe off any excess paint on the paint tray. Dip the paintbrush in the appropriate solvent for the paint and stir.

Curing the Glass

Take a look at the curing instructions on your paint bottle, as some paints may require a minimum drying time, while some may require you to cure in the oven.
Either way, we recommend that you leave your glass to dry for at least 24-hours.

Curing in an oven
When discovering how to paint on glass, it is essential with some paint types that you heat your glass. Heating the glass will prevent any unwanted shattering over time.

Place the glass in the oven and heat it until it reaches the temperature specified on the paint container.
Allow the glass to bake for approximately 30 minutes before turning off the oven and allowing it to cool completely before removing the glass.

After the glass has cured, it is recommended that you hand wash them rather than using a dishwasher.

How to Paint on Glass: Tips

  • Ensure no chips or cracks are on the glass, as it will break when baked.
  • When using a chemical sealer on the painted surface, don’t bake food glassware in an oven.
  • When painting light colors, you can place an opaque object on the other side, giving you a deeper color to highlight your paint.
  • When painting food glassware, avoid painting the rims of the drinking glasses and the middles of glass plates.
  • Painted glassware isn’t microwave-safe!
  • You can use the reverse painting technique to paint glass surfaces.


How Do I Paint on Painted Glass?

If your glass surface had some paint before, you could remove it without damaging the glass surface.

Use the appropriate solvent for the paint. Try warm water with dish soap, and if this doesn’t work, you will have to use mineral spirits like turpentine to remove it altogether.

Can I Use Regular Paint on Glass?

In contrast to most other materials, glass has a non-porous surface on which regular paint is intended.

Regular paint is thick and will not adhere well to the surface of the glass.

Make use of paint that has been specially formulated to adhere easily to glass surfaces.

How Do You Get Paint to Stay on Glass?

Sealing the paint on your glass is really important, as well as using the correct supplies. For your paint to last an extended time, you should use permanent paint or apply a sealant to your finished piece.

Using a gloss finish over matte will provide your glass with a better-finished look.
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