Spray Painting Glass - 5 Tips for Success

4 Materials
1 Hour

Stumped on getting a great finish with spray paint for glass? Get the deets with these five simple tips that will land you success with all your glass projects.

Spray painting glass seems like a simple way to transform lots of things, but if you’ve ever tried to spray paint glass and got less than stellar results, read on!

The first few times I attempted to spray paint glass didn’t exactly load me up on spray painting confidence. In fact, it pretty much wrecked my train.

It seems easy enough, right? Park your glass piece on your paint mat, grab a can of paint and shoot.

Uneven, grainy, splotchy glass was my result – nothing like what I had in mind. 

Not to be deterred, I kept at it and learned a few tricks along the way that made all the difference.  Save your trash (and your wallet) from learning from the same mistakes with these 5 easy tips – that make all the difference.

  • Use Good Quality Paint

I’ve learned from experience that cheap paint gets you…cheap results.

Saving a buck or two is useless when your project ends up in the trash – which really ends up costing more anyway.

Buy a good quality paint and eliminate a common problem right from the start.  I’ve used Rust-Oleum for years and now use it almost exclusively for spray paint projects. Some people swear by Krylon, and there are other brands out there as well. 

Do a little research to find out which brand(s) best suits your needs. 

  • Wash, Dry, then Wipe Well with Alcohol

Even if your glass looks clean, it will still benefit from a quick wash with mild dish soap and water. It may be tempting to skip this step (I’m tempted), but if it’s been sitting anywhere for much time at all, it’s probably a teeny bit dusty. 

After washing, be sure to dry your glass thoroughly. Sound like a no-brainer? Think sliding paint… 🙂

This last pre-step is something I learned several years ago before one of the first  glass projects I shared on the blog. It’s simple but makes a big difference – give your dry glass a good rub-down with household alcohol.

It clears away any remaining streaks and your fingerprints!

Finger oils are tricky and don’t seem like that big of a deal – until you notice a few dim circular spots on your painted glass. 

Once you wipe it down, be sure you don’t touch it again and handle only with a lint-free cloth.

  • Shake and Pre-Spray

Do you know how long it’s actually recommended you shake a new can of paint? One minute!

That may not sound like a long time, but if you’re just standing there shaking a can, it can seem like 5!

It’s kind of like the time the dentist gave our kids a sand-filled 2-minute timer to use when they brush their teeth. Those must have been the longest two minutes ever! (And made us realize we didn’t even come close to brushing our teeth long enough.)

Just shake for at least a minute anyway.

I know you’re eager to get to your project, but the little extra time you spend getting that can of paint ready – which, by the way, may have been sitting still on a shelf for months – will pay off with beautiful results. 

And don’t aim the first squirt at your glass. Give it a few test sprays on your paint mat first (I use a big broken-down cardboard box) to make sure it’s coming out in even sprays.

  • Hold the Can at the Right Distance

You want a good distance between the paint can and your glass.

12-15 inches worth of distance. 

Anything closer and you’re likely going to get splotches of paint, that will be hard to even out. 

It may seem like you’re not making much progress, but painting glass takes quite a few coats. You’ll get there. 

  • Use Thin Coats and Dry Thoroughly Between Them

Don’t try to cover the entire piece on the first coat. Or even the second. 

Take your time and slowly build the coverage by using very thin coats. It’s a sure way to head off runs and you’ll get a smooth and gorgeous finish with several thin coats – something you just can’t do with a couple of thicker coats. 

And do be sure to let each coat dry completely before adding the next. 

I gave each of my glass pieces at least 4 coats.

And that’s the easy – but informed – way to spray paint glass!

For more great DIY tips and projects, click the link below to visit the blog.

Happy spray painting,


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  • Panic Mo Panic Mo on Oct 06, 2019

    I thought that you were supposed to paint glass on the inside... I suppose it works this way as well? Should I spray a clear topcoat too? Thanks!

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