The Complete Guide to Glass Painting for Beginners
Glass painting is an affordable rewarding hobby that helps keep old glass out of landfills. You have to use proper techniques to ensure that the paint adheres to the glass surface and use methods that help you achieve your desired outcome.
Learn how to paint glass using the best methods, tools, and materials needed for glass painting, the best brands of glass paint, and 15 fun glass painting projects.
Tools and Materials for Glass Painting Projects
Painting on glass requires special paints and methods, so the paint does not peel off. If you are painting glassware and ceramics for eating and drinking, make sure to get a food-safe paint that will cure once applied.
Start by deciding what type of glass object you want to paint. This could be wine glasses, glass jars, picture frames, glass panels, mirrors, or glass windows.
Types of Glass Paints
You want to use the right paint designed for painting glass, ensuring that the paint bonds with the glass surface. The types of glass paint are:
- Glass spray paints. Spray-painted glass has a warm and rich texture that provides a consistent and even opaque coverage. Glass spray paint comes in a wide array of textures and colors, including metallic tones. Make sure to use a brand of spray paint designed for glass painting.
- Solvent-based paints. Solvent-based paints are permanent and are more vibrant than acrylic enamel paints. Although solvent oil-based paints have a more professional finish, they are high in fumes, so use in a ventilated area.
- Enamel paint. Enamel paint is water-based paint that uses a formula for sticking to the glass. The paint must cure for it to adhere to the glass surface. Enamel is excellent for painting glass dishware.
- Acrylic paint. Not all acrylic paint is for glass painting. Make sure to find a brand, such as Folk Art, marked for glass application. For best results, use an enamel-based primer before applying acrylic paint on glass.
- Paint pens. Paint pens allow for more control when doing fine paintwork, and are great for painting dots. You can find acrylic paint pens and oil-based paint pens.
Glass Paint Supplies
You can find most of these supplies at your local craft store. Some of the glass painting supplies you may need are:
- Foam brushes
- Flat brush (always choose a soft brush for painting glass)
- Stencil tape
- Masking tape
- Adhesive stencils
- Craft knife
- Paint tray
- Rubbing alcohol or white vinegar for cleaning
This is not an exhaustive list but it will get you on the road to start painting glass.
Glass Paint Methodology
There are a few specific methods to use when painting glass. Choosing the right methods depends on the look you want to achieve, such as full coverage, transparency, or texture.
Spray Paint Glass
Spray painting glass takes good technique to get that flawless spray paint finish. Although you can use any spray paint on glass, your finish will come out better, and the paint will be more likely to stick if you use glass spray paints.
Use glass-specific spray paint that adheres to glass or slick surfaces. Wash the glass and let it dry before you spray paint. Shake the can for one to two minutes and shoot a few sprays on cardboard or newspaper before spraying your glass object.
Hold the spray paint can about 12 inches away from your glass object, and spray in even sweeping motions. Spray light coats that slightly overlap each other. Use additional coats as needed. Always make sure to spray paint in well-ventilated areas. Never spray paint in your craft room.
Hand Paint Glass
Glass surfaces tend to show brush strokes, so always use a soft-bristled brush when painting glass. This brush type is softer than regular brushes and reduces brush strokes in the paint.
Dip the end of the brush into the paint without overloading it. Start with brushing a thin layer onto the glass.
Enamel paints look thin at first which can create a transparent look or will thicken as you add more layers. Make sure to let every layer dry before adding the next. Add three to four layers of paint to get a nice, smooth coat. Use smaller brushes for fine details and to create small polka dots.
Frosted Glass Technique
You can achieve a frosted look on any glass surface by using etching cream. Etching cream textures the glass through a chemical process that takes about 40 minutes to complete.
Mask off any part of the glass that you want to remain smooth. You can cut shapes into the masking tape or use stencils. Smooth the etching cream onto the surface in an even layer.
Let the cream sit for 30-40 minutes, and wipe off with a paper towel. Rinse the glass with soap and water. You can also use contact paper to make designs and patterns on glass panels and windows.
Glass Paint Brands
Several paint brands have specific formulas for painting glass. You can find the major glass paint brands at craft stores, hardware stores, or order online.
- Folkart enamel paint – this paint line is designed for application to glass and ceramic and provides a scratch-resistant gloss finish. You can bake the glass to cure the paint, or use the air-dry method and allow your painted surface to cure for 21 days.
- DecoArt’s glass paint – DecoArt glass paints come in opaque satin or metallics. The paint glides onto smooth surfaces, showing minimal brush strokes.
- Krylon ColorMaster – this is the best spray paint for glass painting and adheres to glass surfaces, along with any shiny surface. You can find glossy, matte, and metallic finishes.
- Armour Etch – This etching cream is a fast-acting compound for small etching projects like glassware patterns. Do not use this cream to etch large swaths of glass.
There are many more glass paint brands on the market, but these mentioned have the best reputation and are in an affordable price range.
15 Unique and Creative Glass Painting Projects
Glass painting craft projects are an affordable way to express your creativity. You can use glass objects from around the house, recycle glass bottles and mason jars, or spruce up glass windows and mirrors. Transform glass with these inspirational projects, or use the techniques to help you get started.
Paint Dripped Milk Glass Vase
Create an artisanal look by transforming a translucent vase into a stunning milk glass vase with paint drips. Drip acrylic paint into the inside rim of the vase and let it run down.
Use a foam brush to cover any gaps in the paint. Allow dripped paint to air dry and peel off any excess paint drips.
Once dry, pour latex paint into the bottom of the vase and swirl around until the paint coats the entire inside surface.
Anime Glass Painting
Bring your favorite characters to life by glass painting anime style – it’s easier than you think. You can get a ton of glass painting anime ideas on TikTok. Print your anime character and tape the image to the back of the glass panel. Trace the image with a black permanent marker. Once traced, remove the image, flip the glass pane, and fill in the picture with paint.
Black Chalkboard Painted Glass
You can turn any framed glass into a versatile chalkboard surface. All you need is chalkboard spray paint, an old picture frame, fine-grit sandpaper, and masking tape. Start by sanding the entire surface with your sandpaper.
Then, mask off the frame with tape. Spray the chalkboard paint onto the sanded glass surface in light, even strokes. Let each thin layer dry, and keep applying paint layers until you have achieved desired thickness. Remove the masking from the frame before the paint dries.
Frosted Glass Privacy Window
Contact paper is an easy way to add privacy to a glass door or window without losing natural light. Select an appealing pattern that is repeatable yet is easy enough to adhere to the surface.
Intricate patterns can be hard to remove from the backing and may not lay right.
Cut a template out of cardboard and trace the template onto the backing of the contact paper with a sharpie. Adhere the contact paper shape onto the window by peeling the paper backing off.
Place the rest of the shapes on the window, creating a uniform pattern.
Hand-Painted Glass Flower Vase
This DIY hand-painted vase project repurposes any glass container, such as a glass pitcher, old vase, or jar. You can make this project as simple or as complex as you like.
Start by spray painting glass container, applying several coats until you have an even finish.
Then, paint details onto your vessel with a short-bristled paintbrush with latex paint. Hand painting creates an eclectic finish, but you can also use stencils for a cleaner painted look.
Easy Faux Stained Glass Effect
Get the look of stained glass without the expense. You can use this glass painting technique on mirrors, glass windows, and even photo frames. Start by choosing a simple template such as a butterfly or flower.
Lay your glass panel over your chosen template. Add black paint to a bottle of white glue. Trace the pattern with the colored glue and allow it to air-dry overnight. Next, prepare your filler paint by adding one to two drops of acrylic paint to clear glue.
Fill in your “stained glass” with the paint mixture using a blunt paintbrush.
Paint Dipped Picture Frames
Dipping eclectic paintings in bold colors give old framed pieces a modern twist. You can find framed pictures for cheap at the local thrift store.
Run masking tape through the middle of the picture frame. Use a level and measuring tape to ensure evenness.
Brush acrylic glass paint onto glass with even strokes. Paint two coats for full coverage.
Two-Toned Glass Bottle
This technique combines translucent and opaque glass painting styles. Pour sheer glass paint into the bottle and swirl around, coating the inner glass.
Mask off the half you just painted, and brush on opaque paint.
Once dry, peel off the tape, and you have a beautiful two-toned tinted glass bottle.
Sea Glass Miniature Painting
Painting sea glass is a unique canvas for miniature paintings and is a fun craft for the kids. Use acrylic enamel paints and clean your sea glass with soapy water.
If you are painting an object, trace it onto the sea glass with a pencil. You can erase any pencil marks off the glass.
For children, let them paint glass however they choose, and you can teach them how sea glass forms while they are painting.
Etching Words into Glass Bottles
This colorful glass etching project requires a flower vase, etching cream, paintbrush, spray paint, and vinyl letters. Decide on a fun slogan for your vase, such as “Blooming Good.”
Wash the glass bottle with soapy water. Make sure to remove any remaining soap film with rubbing alcohol or white vinegar.
Brush etching cream onto the entire vase and let it sit for 30 minutes. Place vinyl letters on the vase, spray the vase with spray paint glass, and remove the letters.
Etching Patterns into Glass
Etching glass is a simple process that you can use on vases, mirrors, and glass jars. You can etch any shape or pattern onto glass by creating custom templates.
Use masking tape and cut shapes out of it, such as diamonds.
Place the pieces of masking tape onto the glass. brush etching cream into the open shapes on the tape and let the cream dry. You can also reverse the process by masking off the shapes and applying the cream to the glass.
Ceramic Plate Painting
When painting plates, make sure to use food-safe paints that won’t peel off. Ceramic paints will bond to the plate surface and are safe. Ceramic plates work best for this project, but any oven-safe plate will work.
Design your plate using freehand painting techniques or use stencils.
Once you have your plate painted to your liking, place it in a cool oven and set the temperature directed by the paint manufacturer. Allow the plate to bake for 40 minutes and cool.
Recycled Painted Glass Planter
Repurpose old clear glass containers such as glass jars, candle holders, and mugs to make unique planters. Make sure you choose a plant that can live in a small container that does not drain. Mask off the glass where you don’t want paint. Then spray paint glass and let air dry. Use two coats for a flawless spray paint finish.
Coastal Themed Glass Bottle Centerpieces
Coral, shells, and driftwood adorning glass bottles bring a coastal theme into your home. You can use glass bottles found in your local thrift store or recycle glass bottles from around the house.
Pour translucent paint into the bottle and swirl for full coverage. Put the bottle upside down and allow all paint drips to run out.
Use E-6000 glue to adhere beach finds to the top of the bottle lid. Add some twine for embellishment.
Paint Dipped Wine Bottle Vases
Dipping wine bottles in paint is a great way to recycle old wine bottles. Use them for room accents or single-flower vases.
The technique does not require dipping the bottle into paint but uses spray paint and a masking method. Start by spray painting your first color to the bottle with even steady strokes.
Allow to dry, and then mask off the portion of the color you want to show.
Spray paint your second color and allow it to dry. You can apply as many color layers as you like, just make sure to let each layer of the paint dry first.
New Years Polka Dot Wine Glasses
Adorning wine glasses with small polka dots adds festiveness for the holidays. This easy DIY painted glassware project makes for great gifts.
When painting glasses, leave 3/4″ from the rim free of paint. Start by cleaning your wine glass with a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Dot paint onto glass with a small paint brush or paint with an acrylic paint pen.
Seal paint with a dishwasher-safe gloss acrylic sealer.
Finished wine glasses are top-rack dishwasher safe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Can normal paint be used on glass?
Since glass is not porous, ordinary paints won’t stick to glass. Normal paint will dry on glass but will wear off over time.
How do I remove paint from glass?
Remove glass paint that has dried with a razor blade and craft knife. If the paint is still wet, wash it off the glass surface with soapy water.
What do you put on glass before painting?
Most glass-specific paints do not require anything before applying glass paint. You can use an enamel-based primer for better results or if you want to try normal paint.
Can you paint glass with a roller?
You can paint glass with a roller, but you need to use the right type of roller for a smooth finish. Mohair rollers should work well.
How do you paint straight lines on glass?
You can paint glass using straight lines with masking tape. For painting a line in the middle of an object, use a measuring tape and measure both sides for evenness. You can also use a level.
Final Thoughts on How to Paint Glass
Painted glassware is not microwaveable and will cause the paint to burn. Do not soak painted items in water. Wash the painted glass with mild soapy water.
Always read instructions on the manufacturer’s label on how to use the glass paint, and make sure you are in a ventilated area when using paints with fumes.
As long as you follow good techniques and use the right paints and tools, you can create stunning painted pieces that will last a lifetime.