Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Ceramic?


Acrylic paint is a versatile paint that artists and crafters use on many different materials and for many purposes. Since it is one of the most widely available paints out there, you may be wondering if you can use it on ceramic.

Just because acrylic paints are so versatile does not mean that they work perfectly for every purpose. If you use them on the wrong material or do not prep the surface, acrylics could fade or flake away, making all of your hard work go to waste.

You can use acrylic paint on some forms of ceramic. However, you have to check the texture of the ceramic first and the purpose that it will be used for.

Glazed Versus Non-Glazed Ceramics

Ceramic products usually come in two textures—glazed or non-glazed, or bisque, ceramics. A bisque piece is a ceramic item fired in a kiln at least once, giving it strength and stability, but it has not been covered in a shiny glaze. Bisque ceramics usually come in natural colors and are rough to the touch.

The process for making glazed ceramics is a little more complicated. First, sculptors fire the ceramics in the kiln once. Then, they apply a shiny glaze and fire the piece of ceramic pottery a second time. You can tell that a ceramic object is glazed by looking for a glossy finish or tapping it with your finger. If the object is hard and smooth, then it has been glazed.

You can use acrylic paint on bisque or non-glazed ceramics, but you will have trouble if you paint glazed objects. Acrylic paint adheres best to rough objects.

By contrast, glazed pottery is too smooth, and the paint will slide right off because it does not have anything to hold onto. The design may stick for a few minutes, but it will slide off if you so much as tap it with a finger.

How to Paint Bisque Ceramics

Once you identify a ceramic object that your paint masterpiece will stick to properly, then you can start painting. 

When using acrylic paint on ceramics, consider that ceramic is a very porous substance and absorbs paint quickly. This means that your artwork will stick to the surface, but if you use the wrong paint, it could result in a thick layer of film resting on top of the ceramic.

Start with a thin base layer. Either use a thinner acrylic paint or dilute the paint you were planning to use if you notice that the texture is too thick. Another way to get around ceramic’s unique texture is to use a medium base layer and then paint on top of it.

You will probably need several thin layers of acrylic paint to make your artwork last. Be patient as painting on ceramic is different from painting on canvas. Depending on the object’s texture, fine details may not show up as well, and you may even notice the paint bleeding.

Which Ceramic Objects Can You Paint?

Depending on the ceramic object you are working with, painting with acrylics may not be a good idea. 

Experts do not recommend applying paint to objects that will be near heat sources, such as a coaster for hot drinks. The proximity to heat can damage acrylics, which are not made to be baked.

You also should not use acrylics on dishes and items that will go near food, including mugs, plates, and bowls. As mentioned above, acrylic paint is sensitive to heat. Even after it dries, when it comes into contact with a hot object, such as cooked food, small bits of acrylic paint can flake off and mix with your food. Although acrylics will not cause severe health consequences, you should not ingest them.

Finally, avoid using acrylic paint for objects that will interact with water, including plant pots. Unlike glazes, acrylic paints are not waterproof.

Can You Seal Acrylic Paint on Ceramic?

If you want to paint your new plant pot or coffee mug, you can use acrylics as long as you create a protective layer that will seal the paint in place, even if it comes into contact with heat or moisture.

If you want to make your acrylic painted ceramic food-safe, you can cover it with a clear coat of acrylic paint, water-based varnish, or even mod podge. Once you cover the ceramic in the sealant, bake it in a kiln to cure the paint and keep it in place.

To make an acrylic-painted ceramic object waterproof, cover it with a durable topcoat such as epoxy. This adds a few extra steps to your painting process, but it makes your ceramic more durable.

What Paints Can Be Used On Ceramic?

While you can use acrylic paint on ceramic, there are a lot of caveats. If you want to try a different kind of paint or one that won’t require an additional sealant layer, you have a few options.

Latex and epoxy paints are good options for painting ceramics. Epoxy paint, in particular, is useful because you can achieve a good color and glossy sheen using just one product. You can also use oil-based paints, although you need to be careful when adding those to a kiln as the fumes can be unpleasant.

Conclusion

As with many other materials, acrylic paints work well on some ceramics as long as the texture and usage align with what acrylics can accomplish. Acrylic paint goes well on bisque, or non-glazed, ceramics, but it will not stick to the shiny, waterproof outer layer that glazed ceramic objects have.

Before painting a ceramic object, think about whether it will come into contact with moisture or heat. If so, you may need to add a sealant to the acrylic paint.

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