How to Prepare Slippery Surfaces for Decorative Painting

Painting Group Which I was
Ringo Ichigo/Flickr

The keys to successful decorative painting on slippery or smooth surfaces such as glass or ceramics are a thoroughly clean surface and the right paint.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: On going

Here's How:

  1. Regardless of what type of slippery or smooth surface you're going to be painting on, you need to start with a thoroughly clean surface. So wash it with warm soapy water. If there is an oily film on the surface, or glue from a label, wipe it off with some solvent on a cloth, and then wash it in warm soapy water.
  1. Painting on Glass: Paints created specifically for using on glass can be applied to the clean glass (check the drying instructions; some need to be heat set in an over). Create a slightly rough surface or tooth for acrlic paint to adhere to by first painting a layer of water-based varnish (apply another coat over the paint to protect it). Applying glass etching cream (which will make the glass slightly opaque or frosted-look) before using acrylics also works.
  2. Painting on Plastic: Wash the object in warm soapy water to remove any grease. To help the paint adhere, sand lightly with fine sandpaper or spray with a matte fixative (which creates a slight tooth when dry).
  3. Painting on Terra Cotta: Wash in warm soapy water and leave until thoroughly dry before painting. (If you're in a hurry, leave it in a warm oven that's turned off for a few hours.) Seal the surface with several coats of gesso or primer. Paint with acrylics and seal with a water-based varnish. Spray paint will also work.
  1. Painting on Wood: Ensure the surface is clean of grease and dust. Sand lightly to create a tooth, and apply several coats of gesso or primer before painting. For more details, read Painting on Hardboard.


  1. To create an opaque surface on glass, apply a neutral or background color before painting the design.
  1. Wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water so you don't transfer grease onto the surface you're painting.