7 Best Paints for Windows
Want to transform window panes, glassware, vases and other glass objects? You can do it with paint, but not just any paint. Here's what to use.
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Buying Window Paint for Glass
Smooth, shiny, glass surfaces are non-porous and don’t have much “tooth,” making it difficult for regular paint to stick. Although many people claim traditional latex house paint works fine on glass, be prepared: It won’t last long. Like nail polish, after a while it will lift off and peel.
Katrena Luoni, a window display professional and senior visual designer at Design-O-Might, has painted lots of windows over the years. “It’s tricky business,” she says. That’s why she recommends choosing a paint specifically formulated with bonding agents, or a chemical compound that will securely adhere to glass, ceramic and porcelain surfaces.
Here’s how Amanda J. Morris, associate chair of Virginia Tech’s Department of Chemistry, explains the process:
“Paint for glass includes molecules known as adhesion promoters that have specific interactions with glass — mainly the [silicon dioxide] in the glass. In other words, these adhesion promoters stick to the glass like glue, and keep the other components in paint stuck as well. That is why regular latex paint can be scraped off a glass surface. It doesn’t have the adhesion promoters.”
Focus on these keys when buying glass paint:
- Type. Acrylic, lacquer, tempera, chalked, spray, pens or markers, etc.
- Preparation. For every painting project, prep is key. Clean glass surfaces of dirt and oils with soap and water and/or rubbing alcohol, then towel- and air-dry before painting.
- Application method. Via bristle or stencil brushes, sponges, sprayers or fingers. Note: Consider topping with a clear coat to seal and protect your work.
- Adherence. If the paint needs to be permanent, look for products containing bonding agents or that are bakeable to render surfaces resistant to heat, washing and scratching.
- Cost. A small bottle or pot of glass paint can range from $2 to $10. Commercial-quality paint costs more. “You don’t have to use expensive paint,” says Luoni. “I always go with reasonably priced products like DecoArt.”
Whether you’re looking to jazz up glassware or decorate your front room windows for an upcoming holiday, our roundup includes the right window/glass paint.
Best Value Window Paint
For budding glass artists on a budget, buying in volume helps. DecoArt Glass Paint offers a palette of eight colors, two fluid ounces each, that will save you around 24 cents per bottle compared to purchasing each separately. That may not seem like much, but if you have a big window painting project, it adds up.
And because DecoArt paints are mixable (red + white = pink), you can create a variety of custom hues, saving you even more.
Best Decorative Window Paint
Pebeo Vitrea 160 Glass Paint is a transparent lacquer favored by amateur artists and professional craftspeople alike. It was developed for use on glass, crystal, china, earthenware, metal, acetate, polyester and plexiglass.
Vitrea is mixable and comes in loads of paint colors and shimmery sheens. Apply in combination with Pebeo Vitrea 160 Paint Markers for outlining. Once your masterpiece is fully baked and cured (optional), it’s fade-resistant and microwave safe.
Best Spray Glass Paint
Add a semi-transparent privacy coating to a bathroom, bedroom or office windows, or glass shower doors, with Rust-Oleum Specialty Frosted Glass Spray Paint. This glass paint creates a custom etched look on nearly any glass surface.
The spray comes in white or sea glass green, with mirror-effect- and glitter-effect versions. Purchase a single 11-ounce can or a pack of six for big projects. Note: This product is for indoor surfaces only.
Best Glass Paint for Porcelain and Ceramics
For scratch-proof paint on stemware, glazed ceramics, porcelain dinnerware and more, we like Plaid FolkArt Gloss Acrylic Enamel. Highly pigmented for outstanding opaque coverage, water-based FolkArt is non-toxic and dries quickly.
“For painting wine glasses, cure by baking in a non-preheated oven at 350 F for 20 minutes,” Luoni says. For longevity, add a clear medium atop your design after it’s dried at least 24 hours.
Best Paint for Stained-Glass Windows
A top-seller at craft stores and on Amazon, Gallery Glass Window Color by Plaid is ideal for painting a faux stained-glass panel in an entryway or adding decorative stencils around a kitchen window. No commitment is necessary. When you’ve tired of a design or just want to switch things up, simply remove the paint with a Mini-Razor blade scraper and paint again!
One Amazon reviewer writes: “Perfect color for leaves and border design on my poinsettia painting. These are the best stained-glass paints I have worked with. Easy to apply straight from the bottle … no paintbrush needed.”
Best Chalk Paint for Glass
Add shabby-chic style to glass objects and glazed ceramics with this much-sought-after paint. Americana Chalky Finish for Glass by DecoArt produces a distinctively vintage matte finish with the stroke of a brush or dapple of a sponge.
Mixable to create custom colors, Chalky covers on most surfaces in one coat. To give your pieces a cool distressed look, scuff them with fine sandpaper. You can also pop them in the oven for a permanent, baked-on design that’s dishwasher safe.
Best Window Paint For Kids
Tempera paint has been around for centuries. Arista II Tempera Paint by Crayola, a brand synonymous with childhood, is a modern version that’s kid-safe, washable, low-drip, fast-drying and easy to use.
Each translucent color comes in an individual bottle with an air-tight flip-top lid for convenient dispensing. It’s a fun rainy-day activity to do with the family. And when your little Picasso is finished, clean-up is easy: Soap, water and a few paper towels.