How to Get the Best Painted Glass Results

There are several types of glass painting, ranging from painting glass jars for arts and crafts to painting home window glass. All forms require specific processes, techniques, and paints to achieve the best results. 

As professional house painters here in Raleigh, NC, we will highlight glass window painting and include techniques for other painting methods as well. 

Painting a Glass Window

Like any other surface, glass must be free of oil, dirt, and other contaminants. To remove grime, use a glass cleaner, surface degreaser, or ammonia. Remember, hot water is better for cleaning glass than cold.

The surface must be dry, and painting with minimum moisture in the air is also ideal. Dry conditions will help the paint stick and dry faster.

You cannot paint over window tint containing polyester or Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) films because the chemicals in wet paint will cause the window film to discolor and delaminate. Also, if you paint the window from the inside, it will last longer and reduce exposure to the elements. However, the sun’s ultraviolet rays will cause paint to fade.

Sanding the window is required if you want the paint to stick long-term. However, once the window is sanded using the proper 300-grit paper, the scratches are not removeable. 


The next step is to prime the surface. If you use exterior acrylic paint to coat the window, apply a premium bonding primer first. Rustoleum multi-purpose primer and Benjamin Moore sticks are the best primers for painting window glass yourself. Applying spray primer from an aerosol can provides the smoothest finish.

Tools Needed for Window Painting

There are a few essential tools to purchase for the project. The total cost of the tools needed will be less than $200. We recommend buying the cheapest tools if this is a one-time project. Make sure the paintbrush is high quality to make the job much easier.

  • Painters Tape
  • Masking Paper
  • Nylon Paint Brush for Art or House Painting
  • Nose Mask
  • Gloves
  • Drop Cloths

Home Window Glass Paint Types

When painting glass for a temporary occasion or a fun design, you can use thinned exterior house paint. Of course, stained glass lasts the longest because pigments are mixed and baked into the glass. So, painting glass after it’s formed will not last as long as stained glass.

However, using glass-specific enamels lasts far longer than conventional acrylic house or art paints. House paints are designed for wood, plastic, and more breathable materials. Since glass does not transfer moisture, enamel paints specific to glass surfaces perform best and last longest.


Solvent-based enamel paints dry slowly but provide strong surface adhesion and long-lasting durability. Solvent-based enamels are best for exterior windows and surfaces subject to moisture or constant human contact. 

If the design is temporary, use acrylic paint with a satin, semi-gloss, or gloss finish. Never paint glass with flat exterior house paint.

Best Paint Brands:

  • Krylon
  • Rustoleum

Paint Options:

  • Sea Glass
  • Chalked (white, charcoal, clear, and more colors)
  • Frosted Glass
  • Mirror Affect

Removing Paint From Glass Surfaces

Removing exterior house paint from glass is easy, especially if it’s new or wet. If you have painted a window and accidentally got paint on the glass, it’s easiest to remove after the paint has dried. Once the paint has dried, the only thing needed to remove paint from a window is a window scraper or razor blade.

The best way to remove dried paint from a window is to apply a solvent or paint stripper and then scrape the paint with a window scraper once the paint has become loose. 

Acrylic paint is more flexible when wet, so if you have a lot of paint to remove, it will help to do it on a rainy day. Oil-based paint will require paint thinner or acetone to soften it enough to scrape it from the glass.

Tip: Don’t press on the glass too hard when scraping the window. It could crack or damage it.

Painters Incidentally Leaving Paint on Window Glass

Depending on the painter, paint type, and weather conditions, sometimes windows get stuck. However, a good painter should always check the windows to ensure they are clean and working freely.

The best finish work involves detailed cleanups, and there’s nothing worse than unwanted paint on a window. Whether the window has overspray or a little trim paint got onto the edges of the glass, painters should use a window scraper with a sharp and clean blade to remove the paint. New window scraper blades ensure the glass is not scratched and make removal much more manageable.

It is easy to free a stuck window when the paint is fresh, but it is also important to open your windows periodically once they have been painted. Opening the windows will prevent them from sticking to the sill before the paint cures.

Artistic Glass Painting

If you are painting drinking glasses, jars, or dishes, a painted surface should never come into contact with food. 

Painting glass for art is different from painting windows. For glass, each coat must be applied thinly. The applicators will also differ for the most artistic designs. 

Tools Needed for Artistic Glass Painting:

  • Brushes: Avoid using a synthetic brush. Use natural soft-bristle brushes; they are more pliable and leave fewer brush marks.
  • Roller: A paint roller is the best tool for spreading paint evenly across a large area.
  • Sponges: If using a stencil, a sponge creates a textured finish and the most artistic designs. Heavy applications will create more texture.
  • Stylus: A stylus pen works best for detailed and artistic designs.

Best Paint Brands:

  • FolkArt Enamel
  • Magicdo
  • Maker’s Studio Ceramic
  • Pebeo Vitrear Frosted Glass

Paint Types:

  • Tempera Paint 
  • Chalk paint 

All Things Considered

Incorporating paint and glass can be complicated when you lack experience, but it’s really not hard at all. With proper application methods and products, nearly any hard surface, even glass, is paintable.

Call us if you live in Raleigh or around the Triangle area and need an experienced painter who ensures all paint is applied where it belongs and has the expertise required for more complicated tasks.

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