Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Glass?

Acrylic paint is a favorite option for many artists. Along with being affordable, acrylic paint is incredibly versatile, working well on a wide range of surfaces. However, since glass is particularly tricky, you may wonder, “Can you use acrylic paint on glass?”

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on glass. However, if you want the artwork to last, you’ll need to use the right approach. Along with preparing the glass, you might need an additive for your acrylic paint. Also, you’ll want to seal your work when you’re finished.

If you want to know how to approach your project, here’s a look at what you need to do if you’d like to use acrylic paint on glass.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Glass

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Glass?

As mentioned above, you can use acrylic paint on glass. However, acrylic paint generally works best on porous surfaces. Since that’s the case, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure the paint sticks and remains in place once it’s dried.

Generally, the first step is cleaning the surface of the glass. As with all surface types, dirt and grease can harm adhesion when you paint, increasing the odds of chipping or flaking.

Additionally, it’s usually best to choose acrylic paint designed to work on smooth surfaces. Otherwise, you may need an additive to make the paint more accommodating.

Finally, you’ll want to seal the paint. Otherwise, you can potentially just scrape it off. The reason is that the paint simply rests on the surface of the glass; it doesn’t absorb into the material. As a result, you can chip it away with relative ease.

Will Acrylic Paint Wash Off Glass?

Acrylic paint can wash off the glass in some cases. Soaking a glass with an acrylic paint design can cause the paint to essentially wash off. Primarily, this is because acrylic paint is water-based and glass is non-porous, so soaking can loosen it up significantly.

Using an abrasive cleanser or scrubbing pad can also wash acrylic paint off of the glass. In this situation, it’s the cleaner or pad essentially chips or scratches the paint away. Again, with the acrylic paint just sitting on the surface of the glass, aggressive scrubbing can effectively wash the paint off.

How to Get Acrylic Paint to Stick to Glass

Technically, acrylic paint will stick to glass even without preparation steps beyond a proper cleaning. However, it may be more likely to slip or drip while you work if you don’t go the extra mile.

For example, priming the glass can increase adhesion. However, covering the glass in primer may make painting on glass less appealing, as the goal is usually to allow the light to pass through the material, essentially illuminating the design.

Similarly, you could sand the glass lightly to improve adhesion. However, this can make unpainted parts of the glass appear cloudy. Plus, the resulting texture may not be pleasant to touch, which isn’t ideal if you’re working on drinking glasses or similar functional items.

Since that’s the case, sealing the acrylic paint onto the glass is typically an essential step. That allows you to forgo everything but a thorough cleaning while improving the longevity of the painted design.

Acrylic Paint vs. Acrylic Paint Pens for Glass

When deciding how to apply acrylic paint to a glass piece, you usually have two options. First, you can apply acrylic paint with a brush. Second, you can try acrylic paint pens.

The brush method is widely used and reasonably effective. It allows you to control more easily how much paint is applied with each layer, which could be beneficial to drying times and may lead to less cracking.

However, acrylic paint pens give you more control over where the paint goes, as you simply have to direct the tip. Plus, you won’t have to worry about textural issues like visible brush strokes.

Generally, when it comes to acrylic paint vs. acrylic paint pens for glass, it’s all about personal preference. Choose the most comfortable option, giving you the best final result.

However, make sure that the paint you select – whether in a paint pen or not – is designed for slicker surfaces. By doing so, you’ll get a smoother application on what can be a tricky material, ensuring your project comes out how you envisioned.

How to Prepare Glass for Acrylic Paint

Put on Gloves

Oils from your hands can transfer onto the glass, even after you clean it. Since that’s the case, you’ll want to avoid direct contact as much as possible. By putting on gloves, there’s a barrier in place.

Additionally, gloves can make the glass easier to handle. During the washing process, glass can get very slippery, increasing your odds of dropping the piece. Plus, even when dry, glass is slick, which could cause your hand to move across the material and into wet paint by mistake or could cause you to drop your project.

Wash the Glass and Let It Air Dry

In most cases, a gentle liquid dish soap is an excellent option for washing glass before you paint. It’s a mild option that doesn’t leave a residue. Plus, it’s effective at getting through dirt, dust, grease, and grime.

Give the glass a once-over and see if the surface is clean. If not, apply more soap and wash again. Then, set the glass piece down to air dry once it’s clean.

Wipe Down with Rubbing Alcohol

After the glass is dry, there may still be some residue on the surface. Fortunately, you can wipe that away with a soft cloth and rubbing alcohol.

Apply a bit of rubbing alcohol to a microfiber cloth. Then, go over the surface of the glass, gently rubbing any stubborn spots. If necessary, apply more rubbing alcohol as you work before allowing the piece to air dry.

How to Paint Glass with Acrylic Paint

How to Paint Glass with Acrylic Paint

Sketch the Design

Usually, you’ll want to begin your project by sketching the desired design on paper, not directly on the glass. If necessary, trace the shape of the glass onto the sheet first, allowing you to see how much room is available. Then, work on it until it’s precisely what you envisioned.

Prepare the Acrylic Paint

After getting your design ready, you’ll want to get your paint prepared. Depending on the acrylic paint you’re using, you may be able to use it without adding anything. However, some acrylic paints might require additives.

For example, overly thick acrylic paint may benefit from some thinning. That allows you to apply thinner layers, resulting in a better final look.

You may also want to consider acrylic glass medium. That improves adhesion on slick surfaces like glass, which could be a must depending on the paint you want to use.

Since acrylic paint dries quickly, you want to avoid pouring too much paint initially. As a result, you may need to prepare your first color, apply it, then prepare the next color to ensure it doesn’t dry up before you get to it.

Apply the Design

With your first shade ready, you can apply your design. How you approach, this may depend on personal preference.

For instance, you might want to use an acrylic paint pen to create the initial outline, as that might give you more control. Others may favor a brush, while others may prefer other markers or pens.

Use Thin Layers

Once the design is down, you’ll want to start filling in the design. Generally, it’s best to work in thin layers. That allows each layer to dry properly, which can reduce cracking. You can slowly build up to the final look, ensuring you don’t accidentally apply too much paint at once.

In many cases, thin layers also give you more options artistically. For instance, you can layer colors in unique ways to create highlights and shadows, imbuing the artwork with a sense of depth.

Let Paint Dry Between Layers

After you apply a layer, you want to give the paint time to dry. Precisely how long that’ll take depends on the paint you’re using. Some may be dry to the touch in 10 minutes, while others may take an hour or more.

Usually, you can find out about drying times by reviewing product information from the manufacturer. That will help you create a functional timeline. Just be aware that ambient conditions – like temperature and humidity – can alter drying times, so be prepared to adjust your wait accordingly.

Avoid Creases and Corners

Creases and corners can cause the acrylic paint to pool. Along with making the spot darker, that can alter drying times between layers. Plus, it may reduce the appearance of certain details on the glass itself, which may not be ideal.

In most cases, if you’re using acrylic paint, it’s best to avoid creases and corners altogether. If that isn’t possible, you’ll want to adjust your approach. For example, apply as little paint as possible to your brush and use a delicate touch.

Clean Up Mistakes

If you make any mistakes along the way, you’ll want to clean them up before the paint has time to dry. In some cases, a damp cotton swab is enough. However, you may need to use a paint remover if it’s being stubborn.

In most cases, it’s best to dab instead of wipe. That gives you more control and makes it less likely that you’ll accidentally disturb paint in spots you want to leave intact.

Seal When You’re Finished

After you finish applying all of the layers, you’ll want to let the piece dry. Then, you’ll need to seal it using one of the approaches below.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Glass

Using a Sealant to Protect Acrylic Paint on Glass

Varnish or glass protector spray can be a solid choice for sealing acrylic paint on glass. Generally, you’ll want to choose a brand compatible with acrylic paint. Additionally, you’ll need to review the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper application.

When choosing a sealant, you also need to consider the purpose of the glass piece. For instance, if it’s a drinking glass, you need a food-safe sealant. If it’s purely an artistic piece, that isn’t necessary.

Most spray-on varnishes and glass protectors go on pretty simply. You’ll usually want to apply thin, even coats as you work, ensuring you spray past the glass piece with every pass. Since that’s a common technique, you’ll need to ensure that your table and anything nearby are shielded from overspray before you begin.

Some sprays may apply enough sealant in a single coat. However, others may require multiple layers to offer sufficient protection.

Using the Baking Method for Acrylic Paint on Glass

If you’re concerned about using a spray-on sealant, you can try the baking method instead. You’ll need to make sure that the acrylic paint is bakeable, as not all of them are in that category. Additionally, you’ll want to confirm that the glass piece itself can handle the heat.

For bakeable paints and glass, you’ll place the piece in the oven while it’s cold. Then, turn the oven on and let the temperature rise to 350 degrees. Bake the piece for 30 minutes before turning off the oven.

Once the oven is off, don’t remove the glassware. Instead, keep it in the oven as the temperature cools. Usually, you’ll want to keep it there for at least 45 minutes. After that, leave the glass piece sitting at room temperature for 24 to 72 hours, depending on the curing time for the paint.

How to Choose Acrylic Paint for Glass

When choosing acrylic paint for a glass project, look for brands and lines that explicitly state they’re designed for glass. Usually, those will give you the best possible result. Plus, they may be easier to apply to slick surfaces, reducing the odds of slippage.

Otherwise, look for enamel acrylic paints. Those offer better adhesion, so they may be easier to work with if you’re painting glass. Plus, they are simple to seal, which could work in your favor.

You may also want to find acrylic paints that dry quickly. While acrylics are usually fast-drying by nature, some may take just 10 minutes to become dry to the touch, while others might take an hour. In most cases, the faster the drying time, the better when dealing with a material like glass.

Finally, opt for a thinner acrylic paint that’s highly fluid. Along with drying more quickly, they’re easier to work with on smoother surfaces. Plus, you’ll have an easier time applying thin layers, which is beneficial.

Can You Remove Acrylic Paint from Glass?

Yes, you can remove acrylic paint from glass. If the acrylic paint is wet, water may be enough to remove it. You can also try rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover, though you usually won’t have to go that far.

If the paint is dried, soaking the glass piece in water may allow you to remove the paint. Rubbing alcohol, acetone, or white vinegar could also work. You could scrape the paint off using a putty knife, paint scraper, or similar items.

Abrasive scrub brushes and cleaners can also get acrylic paint off of glass. You could potentially make your own scrubbing cleaner by combining baking soda and coconut oil or water to form a paste. Then, wear gloves and use small circular motions to scratch the paint.


Ultimately, you should no longer ask, “Can you use acrylic paint on glass?” In the end, using acrylic paint on glass is an option. If you prepare the glass and paint correctly and seal your work when you’re finished, you can create magnificent designs that will stand the test of time.

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