Kinds of Paint to Use on Glass

Updated February 21, 2017

Painting glass is not difficult. However, it is different than painting in sketchbooks. With lots of alternatives to choose from -- from customary oil paints to glass paints -- it can be tricky to select the right paint. To ease your way, consider factors such as colour choice, lucidity, durability and ease of application.

Water- vs. Non-Water-Based Glass Paints

Glass paints come in two types: water-based glass paints and non-water-based glass paints. Water-based glass paints are recommended for use by beginners or children as they can be diluted with water easily. Moreover, these paints make it easy to clean tools and paint spills, and they take about 30 minutes to dry. By contrast, non-water-based paints are more durable. The downside to this quality is that these paints are more difficult to dilute, require the use of ceramic thinner to clean tools and paint spills and take longer to dry, or about 2 hours.

Acrylic and Enamel Paints

For decorative purposes, use enamel paint, acrylic paint or acrylic enamel paint on glass. Enamel paint provides a wide range of colour options and the ability to mix or blend, while acrylic paints can be thinned with water to produce a paler shade. However, once dried, acrylic paints can flake easily. Thus, it is important to cover them with a protective layer of clear finish. These paints are dishwasher- and microwave-safe, are durable and can withstand daily washing and sponging.

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paints are often used for painting stained glass pieces. These paints too can be mixed and blended to achieve the right shade. As these paints contain oil-turpentine, they must be fired at low temperatures as otherwise they would flake or burn up.

Paint Markers

When you wish to sketch or write on glass, you can't beat a paint marker for precision. The tips on these markers come in fine tips, wide tips and brush tips. Some paint markers are filled with non toxic, water-based, thermo-hardening agents, which help them adhere better to glass.

Glass Paints

Squeezable paint tubes, specially intended for glass painting, are another option worth considering. These paints work best on non-porous surfaces (like glass). The paints are transparent and dishwasher- and microwave-safe.

Seeing is Believing

Most paint types are available in a wide range of colours. However, not all colours appear the same once they are applied to the surface. When purchasing paint, ask for a factual colour chart painted on a sample piece of glass.

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About the Author

Tom Don has been a freelance writer and editor since 2005. He covers topics such as small business, health and fitness for various online publications. Don holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration and Master of Science in website administration from Johns Hopkins University.