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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

How to Paint Glass Jars

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Glass jars have many uses besides canning. Many people like to use them as vases for flowers, pencil holders, or simple decorations. While plain glass jars can look beautiful on their own, painted glass jars can add a touch of color to your home. You can even use specific colors of paint to match your home d├ęcor or an upcoming holiday.


[Edit]Painting the Outside

  1. Remove any labels, then clean the jars. Peel off any labels or price tags first. Wash the jars thoroughly with soap and water, then pat them dry. As an extra precaution, it would be a good idea to wipe them down with rubbing alcohol as well.[1]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 1.jpg
    • The benefit to using this method is that you can fill the jars with water, then add fresh flowers.
    • The drawback to using this method is that you may end up with some visible brushstrokes.
  2. Apply 2 coats of acrylic craft paint. Apply the first coat, let it dry, then apply the second coat. It should take about 20 minutes for the first coat to dry. You can do this with a paintbrush or a foam brush. Once the jar dries, you can flip it over and apply 2 coats of the same paint to the bottom.[2]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 2.jpg
    • Work systematically from top-to-bottom. Make your coats light to reduce brushstrokes. You can always add a third one.
    • Stick your hand inside the jar to turn it. This way, you won't get your fingers dirty or leave behind fingerprints in the paint.
  3. Allow the paint to dry overnight. Some types of acrylic craft paint are actually enamel-based, meaning that it needs time to cure. In most cases, you will need to wait 20 days. Check the label to be sure.[3]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 3.jpg
    • You can tell if the paint is enamel-based either by looking at the label or at the drying instructions on the back. If the instructions say that the paint needs to cure for several days, it's enamel-based.
    • If you are using regular acrylic craft paint, just let it dry overnight.
  4. Distress the jars with sandpaper for a rustic look, if desired. Lightly buff the threading along the top of the jar with 120-grit sandpaper. Use the same sandpaper on the bottom of the jar. Buff any raised areas using 100-grit sandpaper. If your mason jar has a raised design, such as the word "Ball," you can sand it using an emery board.[4]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 4.jpg
  5. Seal the jar with 2 coats of acrylic sealer. The finish you use is up to you. Use a glossy sealer for a shiny finish. If you distressed the jar, a satin or matte sealer would look better. A spray-on sealer will give you the nicest finish, but you can use the paint-on kind as well.[5]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 5.jpg
  6. Allow the sealer to dry and cure before using the jar. Because you only painted the outside of the jar, you can use it as a vase for fresh flowers. If the jar gets dirty on the outside, wipe it down with a damp cloth. Never scrub the jar or leave it standing in water, or the paint will come off.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 6.jpg

[Edit]Painting the Inside

  1. Clean the inside of the jar with soap and water, then dry it off. It would be a good idea to wipe the inside of the jar down with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils that may prevent the paint from sticking. If your jar has any stickers or labels, you should remove them at this point as well.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 7.jpg
    • The nice thing about using this method is that you get a clean finish without any brushstrokes.
    • The downside to using this method is that you cannot fill the jar with water and use it as a vase.
  2. Pour some acrylic craft paint into the jar. How much you pour in depends on the size of your jar; the bigger your jar is, the more paint you will need. A little bit of this paint goes a long way, however. Remember, you can always add more paint.[6]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 8.jpg
    • Plan on using 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 milliliters) for most jars. For an 8-ounce (240-milliliter) or smaller jar, use 1 to 2 teaspoons instead.
  3. Swirl the paint around inside the jar. Tilt the jar around this way and that. Turn the jar on its side, and roll it to help further spread the paint. Keep doing this until you get the paint coverage you want. You can coat the entire inside of the jar, or you can leave bare patches.[7]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 9.jpg
    • If you aren't getting the coverage you want, add another 1 to 2 squirts of paint.
    • If the paint is not moving, it is too thick. Add a few drops of water to the paint, stir it in with a spoon or skewer, and try again.
  4. Turn the jar upside down on a stack of paper towels. Cover your work surface or a tray with a waterproof material, such as wax paper. Lay down several sheets of paper towel, then place the jar upside down on it. The excess paint will drip down the sides of the jar and collect on the paper towel.[8]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 10.jpg
    • If you left bare patches, be aware that you will get streaks of paint on the unpainted glass. If you don't want this effect, leave the jar upright.
  5. Wait for the excess paint to drain. How long this takes depends on how big the jar is, how much paint you used, and how thick the paint was to begin with. This can take as little as a couple minutes to as long as a few hours.[9]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 11.jpg
    • Skip this step if you left bare patches. You'll simply have a thicker coat of paint on the bottom of the jar.
  6. Turn the jar right-side-up. If you want to, you can wipe excess paint from the rim of the jar using a damp cloth. If there is paper towel stuck onto the rim, scrape it off with your fingernail or an emery board, then fill in the bare patches using spare paint and a small paintbrush.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 12.jpg
  7. Allow the paint to dry. Most acrylic paint takes about 20 minutes to dry, but it could take longer for this project because of how much you used. Keep in mind that some paints sold in the acrylic paint aisle are actually enamel paints. In this case, the paints will need to be cured. Check the label for specific instructions.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 13.jpg
  8. Add a second color, if desired. You can repeat the process to add a second color to your jar. If you coated the entire jar the first time, the first coat will show through the jar and be visible on the outside, while the second coat will be visible only from the inside. If you coated the jar only partway, the second color will fill in the bare patches, giving you a two-tone effect.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 14.jpg
  9. Use the jars as desired, but don't let the inside get wet. Do not fill these jars with water, otherwise the paint will come off. Use only dry flowers or silk flowers.[10]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 15.jpg

[Edit]Trying Different Techniques

  1. Draw designs onto the jar with hot glue before painting it. Clean the jar first, then draw designs onto it using hot glue. Allow the glue to set, then paint over the jar, preferably with spray paint. Allow the paint to dry, then distress and/or seal the jar, if desired.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 16.jpg
    • You can draw simple designs, such as dots, swirls, or hearts. You can also write words instead, such as "Love" or "Witch Brew."
    • If you don't have hot glue, you can try using puffy paint instead. The raised designs won't be as prominent and they will take longer to dry.
  2. Paint delicate designs by hand using a small paintbrush. Apply just a single coat of acrylic paint; if you apply more than that, the edges of your design may become blurred or uneven. Depending on how thick your coat of paint was, your design could end up looking somewhat translucent, which could lend your jar a delicate appearance.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 17.jpg
    • Print out a picture that you like, then tape it inside the jar. Paint your jar using the picture as a guide, then pull the picture out.
  3. Use adhesive stencils to paint specific designs. Clean your jar, then apply your desired adhesive stencil. Apply 2 to 3 coats of acrylic paint to the inside of the stencil with a pouncer (a round, foam brush). Peel the stencil away, then allow the paint to dry. Seal the jar as desired.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 18.jpg
    • If you are using a paintbrush, apply the paint from the outside edges of the stencil inward.
  4. Use cut adhesive vinyl to create reverse stencils. Clean your jar first, then cut a shape out of adhesive vinyl or contact paper. Smooth the shape onto the jar taking care to avoid any raised designs. Apply 2 to 3 coats of acrylic paint, allowing each one to dry. Peel the stencil away, then fill in any chips using spare paint and a small paintbrush.[11]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 19.jpg
    • If you wish to seal your jar, do so before you remove the stencil.
    • Avoid painting over the stencil. This will reduce chipping when you go to take it off.
    • Draw the shape by hand or use a cookie cutter to trace it.
  5. Create a customizable jar with chalkboard paint. You can paint the entire jar with chalkboard paint, or apply it using a stencil/reverse stencil. Let the paint cure for several days. Prime the paint by rubbing chalk over it, then wiping if off. Draw a picture or write a message using chalk.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 20.jpg
    • For a twist, paint over the chalkboard jar with acrylic paint, let it dry, then buff the raised areas to reveal the black underneath.[12]
  6. Spray paint the jar if you are in a hurry. Make sure that the jar is clean, then set it upside-down on a newspaper in a well-ventilated area. Hold the spray can about away from the jar, and apply a light coat. Let the paint dry, then apply a second coat if needed. Seal the jar afterwards with clear acrylic sealer in a finish you like: matte, satin, or glossy.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 21.jpg
    • In general, it will take 30 minutes for the paint to dry in warm weather, and 60 minutes in cool.
    • Handle spray painted jars with care. The paint may get chipped or scratched easily.

[Edit]Decorating the Finished Jar

  1. Paint designs onto the jar after the paint dries. For a unique look, use a thin paintbrush. If you want polka dots, use a round pouncer to stamp the paint on. Alternatively, you can tape a stencil over the jar, paint inside the stencil, then peel the stencil off.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 22.jpg
  2. Use decoupage glue to add glitter to a painted jar. Paint your jar first, then let it dry. Use a wide paintbrush or foam brush to apply a layer of decoupage glue to the bottom quarter or third of your jar. Stick your hand into the jar, then rotate it as you sprinkle extra-fine glitter onto the glue. Tap the excess glitter off, then allow the jar to dry upside down. Seal the glitter with glossy acrylic sealer, if desired.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 23.jpg
    • If you painted the jar by hand, you can wrap tape around it to get a neater line. Peel the tape off before the glue dries.[13]
    • Do not use tape on jars that have been spray painted. This tends to remove the paint.[14]
  3. Wrap a ribbon around the jar for a decorative touch. For something more rustic-looking, use raffia or jute cord. You can wrap the ribbon around the middle of the jar or around the neck. If you added a stencil or reverse stencil to your jar, then you would definitely want to wrap the ribbon/raffia/cord around the neck so that you don't cover the design up.[15]
    Paint Glass Jars Step 24.jpg
  4. Fill stenciled jars with vase filler if desired. This is great for reverse stencils, but it could look nice with regular ones too. Use enough vase filler so that you can see it peeking through the bottom of your reverse stencil.[16] If you used a regular stencil, fill the jar as much as you want.
    Paint Glass Jars Step 25.jpg
    • Glass marbles make great vase fillers, but you can use colored sand as well. You can find these in the floral section of an arts and crafts store.


  • Cleaning the jars is important, otherwise the paint will not stick.
  • If you can't remove the labels, soak the jars in warm water, then scrub the labels off.
  • Some people find it helpful the coat the jars with paint primer first.
  • If you wish to make tinted jars, check out: How to Tint Bottles and Jars.
  • You can use these techniques on other glass items as well.


  • Do not soak jars that have been painted on the outside.
  • Do not pour water inside jars that have been painted on the inside.

[Edit]Things You'll Need

[Edit]Painting the Outside

  • Glass jar
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Clear, acrylic sealer
  • Paintbrush or foam brush
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • 100- and 120-grit sandpaper (optional, for distressing)
  • Emery board (optional, for distressing)

[Edit]Painting the Inside

  • Glass jar
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towels
  • Wax paper
  • Tray


[Edit]Quick Summary

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