What Kind of Paint for a Glass Lamp Base?

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Paint a glass shade to match your lamp base.
Paint a glass shade to match your lamp base. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Lamps go in and out of fashion, but classic shapes, such as ginger jars, may only need a color pick-me-up to stay in your favor. If you own a glass lamp that no longer aligns with your decor, you can change the look with paint. If you can’t disassemble the lamp base, wrap the hardware with painter’s or masking tape before you paint.

Spray Paint

Most spray paint adheres to glass, and some manufacturers create special glass spray paint. Textured spray paint applies with splotchy blobs and bits that resemble speckled stone. Faux etching paint leaves a matte finish similar to acid-etched glass. Metallic spray paint can make your glass lamp base mimic different metals, or a feather-light coat can simulate translucent minerals such as amber-toned mica or smoky obsidian.

Spray Paint Techniques

Apply spray paint outdoors in moderate weather, or wear a dust mask and spray in a well-ventilated room. Light, sweeping sprays help prevent runs and let you build up the coverage gradually. If you can unscrew and remove the lightbulb base and other hardware, spray the interior of a clear glass lamp base for a more durable result that cleans up like any other glass object. Apply stickers or masking tape to the lamp to create patterns. Spray over the stickers, and peel them off after the paint is dry to reveal the designs.

Stained Glass Paint

Some stained glass paints are available in bottles with squirt nozzles, and others use a plastic tool to spread the paint over the surface. While a clear glass lamp base yields a more customary stained glass look, stained glass paint over a colored lamp base gives deeper tones with a translucent overlay of color. Stained glass leading forms the design outlines or borders, and colorful paint fills in the spaces. Liquid leading lets you paint the stained glass borders freehand. Self-adhesive leading strips make clean, straight borders without the mess of liquid leading.

Stained Glass Paint Techniques

After the leading is in place, fill in the spaces with stained glass paint. If your paint has a nozzle, squeeze the bottle slowly and use the tip to swirl and spread the paint to fill the spaces. If your paint is in a jar, apply and spread it with a stained glass paint spreading tool, which looks similar to a small spoon. Authentic stained glass has a wavy surface. Use this to your advantage, as a perfect coat of paint will not look realistic.

Acrylic Enamel Craft Paint

Ordinary acrylic enamel craft paint, available in a vast array of colors, adheres to glass. The opaque colors are ideal for painting flowers and other designs or a solid, all-over color to your glass lamp base.

Acrylic Enamel Craft Paint Techniques

Remove the hardware from your lamp base, and use a fine-bristle paintbrush to apply the paint to the glass evenly. Place the lamp base in a cold oven, then set the temperature according to the craft paint instructions to bake the paint and make it durable. Raising the temperature slowly until it reaches 350 degrees and baking for 30 minutes will help prevent glass breakage. Dishwasher-safe enamel craft paint is another option, and it doesn’t require baking.

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