How To Prepare Glass for Painting

Painting on glass is a novel idea to spice up the look of an otherwise ordinary-looking glass object such as a plain mirror, a glass mug or water and wine glasses that you have picked up somewhere and for which you have no coordinating pieces. These painted glass items can be used as a decoration by itself or use it as a vase, candle holder, a pen holder, a decorated holder for odds and ends and as a gift. There are many paints available today that are especially formulated for painting on glass surfaces. With the right tools you can create small sun catchers and stained glass for a special area in your house. Glass has a very smooth surface that does not allow paints and other liquids to adhere to it. You need to prepare the surface and get it ready to be painted on by following these simple steps.

  1. Thoroughly clean the glass that you are going to use. Immerse it in warm, soapy water to remove dust, water scales and fingerprints. Wear rubber gloves to remove the glass from the water and rinse it carefully, taking care wash off all soap residues.
  2. Allow the glass to air dry or use a chamois cloth to remove the water. Once the glass is dry, inspect it very carefully and wipe any trace of dust or fingerprint.
  3. Pour some strong white vinegar in a small container. Dip a piece of clean, lint-free cloth on the vinegar and wipe the entire glass surface. This will create a tooth for the paint to adhere to. Allow the glass to completely dry before you start painting. Use rubber gloves to avoid adding fingerprints and body oils to the clean glass.
  4. Alternately you can use a commercial solvent like paint or varnish thinner or even acetone to prepare the glass. Just make sure that you let the glass dry first before you paint it. Pure isopropyl alcohol can also be used as an abrading agent to provide a rough surface for the paint to cling to.
  5. Another way to prepare the glass surface is to paint it with a coat of water-based varnish to provide a rough surface where the paint can adhere to. You can also apply a light coat of glass etching cream. This will make the glass look opaque and frosted. Make sure that this is the effect that you want before using glass etching cream. It can provide variety and a different look to the glass though and can contribute to the overall effect of your painting. You can even use this in selected areas to be painted for textural difference.
  6. Use a very fine carbide sand paper to lightly scratch the glass surface that will be painted. This will make the surface rougher without making the glass opaque or frosted. Be sure to wipe the whole glass surface again after you have finished sanding. You can even use this to outline your design on the glass, though it will take a steady hand and some precision to do this.

Take the time to experiment on what type of solution works best for you when you want to prepare glass for painting. It can be a combination of methods to achieve different desired effects. Practice using the different methods on a glass bottle or cup and see which ones are more effective at making the paint adhere to the glass surface.


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