How to Paint on Light Bulbs

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Painted light bulbs will transmit light in different colors and patterns. They can do wonders for a room and create an array of different effects. Placing paint on light bulbs is easy and inexpensive. Although the method of putting paint on light bulbs is largely the same, there are variations depending on whether the bulb is burnt out or not.

How to Paint on Light Bulbs
(Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Light bulb
  • Paint
  • Tack
  • Paint brush
  • White spirit
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sand paper
Step 1

Screw the bulb into a light socket to make sure it still works. Check to see if the bulb is 40 watts or less, and is clear. Remove the bulb from the socket.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 2

Prepare the glass for painting. Remove any traces of dust or grease from the surface of the bulb by using a solvent such as white spirit.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 3

Place a lump of tack on a table. Tack is a putty-like adhesive. Make sure the bulb is stationary by pushing its base into the tack.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 4

Use a brush to paint the bulb with a non water-based glass paint. There are two different types of glass paint. One is a water-based paint, and the other is non-water based. Do not used a water-based paint because it will evaporate off the bulb.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 5

Clean the paint brush with white spirit. Allow the bulb to dry for four hours, or preferably overnight.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 1

Prepare the glass for painting. Remove any dust or grease from the surface of the bulb with a solvent such as white spirit.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 2

Place a lump of tack on a table. Secure the bulb by pushing its base into the tack.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 3

Wipe the bulb down with rubbing alcohol, or gently swipe around the bulb with a fine-grand sandpaper. Both actions will help the paint adhere to the bulb. Let the bulb dry.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 4

Spray the bulb with a primer. This will also help the paint adhere to the bulb.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 5

Use a brush to paint the bulb with an acrylic paint. Decorate as desired. Apply a second coat if needed.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media
Step 6

Clean paint brush with white spirit. Allow bulb to dry completely for at least four hours.

Jeffrey Chen/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • It doesn't matter what wattage the bulb is once it is burnt out. If the finish appears streaked after painting, use a larger brush to give the bulb a stucco-type look. You can also apply paint to the bulb with a sponge.
  • Only use 40 watt or lower bulbs if the bulb's filament is still working. Higher watt bulbs will emit more heat and can make the paint run. Turn off the light switch before screwing a bulb into a socket after painting.

References

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