What Types of Paint to Use on Glass

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Painting on glass can result in some beautiful and inspiring crafts, as long as you use the right paint for the job. Several options are available, depending on the look you want to achieve and the types of tools you prefer to use.


Non-toxic paints are not the same as food-safe. Read the manufacturer's label carefully to determine whether it's safe to use a particular paint on glassware or plates that will be used for food or beverage service. Use items painted with non food-safe paints for decorative purposes only.

Enamel Glass Paint

Enamel paints work on glass as well as on other smooth or shiny surfaces like metal or ceramics. Choose opaque or transparent enamels; transparent makes the piece look like solid-colored glass, but the color will change when you put different-colored liquids or items inside. Enamel paints are often meant to be air-dried for one to several days before you cure them in the oven, although heat curing is optional for some brands. Apply enamels with a small, soft brush, or sponge on the paint for a textured effect. Colors can be mixed as long as you stick with the same brand.


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Acrylic Glass Paint

Acrylic paints that are specially formulated for glass, crystal and plastic are usually transparent and meant to mimic stained glass. Some brands need to be oven-cured for better durability. Like enamels, acrylics can be painted on with a brush that's soft and pliable, or sponged on. Colors can be mixed together if the same brand line is used, and you can also blend the paints as you work, just as if you're painting on canvas.

Glass and Tile Medium

Glass and tile medium is applied to your glass piece all over, like a primer. When it dries, it creates a surface with enough grip to hold any type of regular acrylic paint. The result looks like frosted glass with the colors applied over the frost, so your work will be opaque, not transparent, if you choose this method. It also can't be washed for risk of damaging the finish; wipe dust with a dry or damp cloth. Apply the medium with a large, soft brush or sponge and your design with a smaller soft brush.


Oil Glass Paint

Oil- or solvent-based paints are not as popular for glass as other types of paints, but if you like working in oils, you may prefer them. Colors are either transparent or opaque, and they may appear vibrant and high gloss. The finished piece can be gently hand-washed since oils don't easily come off in water. Use a soft brush for application and clean up with solvent rather than soap and water.


Glass Paint Markers

Glass paint markers make application easy since you can draw or write with precision, which is difficult with a brush. Some brands need to be heat cured and can only be mixed with paints that cure at the same temperature. The colors are generally transparent, and the final result is long-lasting -- sometimes even dishwasher safe.


  • Wash your glass thoroughly with soap and water, rubbing alcohol or vinegar, and dry it completely before you start painting. This will remove any dust, grease or dampness that can impede the painting process.
  • Wear latex gloves as you paint to prevent oils from your hands getting on the glass.
  • Place some white tissue paper or cloth inside your glass piece as you work so you can see your design more easily.


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