How to paint glass light shades

Updated February 21, 2017

Many people prefer glass light shades over other materials, because the glass acts more like a light enhancer than a shade. Depending on the light fixture, glass shades can be anything from a few large pieces of glass to many small pieces of glass, all of which produce slightly different effects. For a personalised touch, the glass pieces can be painted in any colour you wish. However, the process of painting glass differs from most other paint jobs.

Clean the glass with a glass cleaner according to the directions on the label of the cleaning product. Wipe the glass clean with a paper towel.

Shake each bottle of glass paint for at least five seconds to ensure the colours are mixed and have an even colour and consistency.

Dip a thin paintbrush in the paint of your choosing. If you wish to make intricate designs or a mosaic look, you should make outlines for the design with black paint first.

Brush the paint on the glass with smooth, even strokes. Work in small sections, no more than 2 square inches at a time, and let the paint air-dry for 10 minutes, or until dry to the touch.

Continue to paint in small sections until the entire glass piece is covered. Try not to touch the glass with your fingers while painting, because the oils on your fingers could affect the appearance of the paint.

Bake the glass in an oven for 40 minutes at 163 degrees Celsius, or follow the directions on the brand of paint you use. Be sure to place the glass in the oven before you turn on the oven, to ensure the glass doesn't crack from a quick temperature change. This will cure the paint, and make it more permanent.


If you want to use a pattern, you can tape the pattern to the backside of the glass, and trace it with a marker or paint. Glass light shades need to be painted on one side only, but you can paint both sides if you desire a darker, richer colour. If you're making outlines, use just enough paint so that the colour isn't translucent, but try not to make it so thick that it forms a bump on the surface of the glass. If the paint is thick, it's much more likely to chip or crack.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass cleaner
  • Paper towel
  • Glass paint
  • Paintbrush
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About the Author

Kenneth Coppens began his freelance writing career in 2008. His passions in life consist of extensive personal research on food, gardening and finding natural and eco-friendly alternatives to nearly all aspects of life.