How to Paint Glass Jars {and other slick surfaces}

Imagine yourself in this scenario…

You see a chalk-painted mason jar project on Pinterest (cause that’s where all awesome project ideas start, right?!). You want that chalky goodness look NOW, so you run out to your local craft store, buy out all their glass jars, grab some paint off the shelf and rush home to get started.

BUT…as you start painting, it's just not looking like the picture you saw online…maybe it's streaky, or perhaps the paint is not adhering properly, or maybe when you go for the second coat, the first coat is peeling off with it — yikes!  What was supposed to be a fun project has now turned into a frustrating waste of time…

This is a scenario that I hear all too often…well, maybe not ONLY when painting glass jars, but painting any surface that is slick or super glossy.  Surfaces like laminate, varnish, glossy polyurethane, etc…

The good news is, it does not have to be a frustrating waste of time!  Let’s talk about how to paint glass jars and other slick (or difficult) surfaces…

First, in the spirit of full transparency, I must disclose one thing…

The tips I’m about to share apply to our Chalky Finish Furniture Paint.  There are hundreds of different kinds of paints out there and all paints are not (I repeat, not) created equal…so if you’re using a different kind of paint base, brand, products, etc… I can’t promise these tips will work with your project.  But there’s no harm in trying; after all, DIY discovery can be fun!

A glass surface could be mason jars, and old barn window, whatever your creative mind can think of!  For laminate surfaces, think of those IKEA cubbies or a surface that is not real wood but (often) is particle board topped with a slick, plastic looking, surface that may have the ‘look’ of wood. If your piece is SUPER glossy (like, you can see your reflection kind of glossy), then it could be varnish or a gloss polyurethane finish….so follow these tips for the best experience.


{Colors used: Mauvelous & Swiss Vanilla}

The key tips fall under surface preparation, application and protection…here we go!


Wipe the surface with an alcohol wipe to make sure it is free from oils, dirt, etc.  Then, scuff it up with a 120-220 grit sandpaper.  Just scuff it enough so the paint will have more of a ‘grip’ to work with.


Apply Chalky Finish Furniture Paint using a synthetic bristle brush (or a sponge brush works on smaller surfaces), making sure you apply a THIN first coat. It’s OK if you see ‘streaks', meaning the original surface is showing thorough. The first coat is all about proper adhesion – and too thick of a coat can lead to adhesion and second coat application problems.

Now comes patience….it is ESPECIALLY important to wait for the first coat to be dry before even thinking about the second coat.  Walking away for an hour or two would be a good habit to get into.

Once the first coat is completely dry, apply the second coat. It is HUGELY important to make sure your brush stays wet with paint the entire time. If the brush starts to ‘drag’ rather than ‘glide', that means there is not enough paint on the brush.  If your brush is dragging, you risk it not adhering properly and this is where the first coat may be ripped up from the dragging brush.


{note: the second coat in this picture was still wet, which is why it looks glossy...but it dries to the wonderful chalky finish look we all know and love}

A third touch up coat may or may not be needed. It will depend on the surface you’re painting and the look you are going for. If you have the coverage you want, let the second coat dry and move on to protecting it (if you wish to distress the finish, do that prior to protecting it).

If a third touch up coat is needed, same rules from the second coat will apply.  However, the only difference is you will want to focus primarily on the spots that need the additional paint, rather than another coat all around – applying all around would just be wasting Chalky Finish Furniture Paint…and who wants to do that?!


Anytime a slick/difficult surface is being painted, I always recommend protecting it with our Protective Finish. A protective coating will provide ultimate protection and will help slow the process of everyday wear and tear.  


Before I leave you, here are a few other guidelines to follow when painting glass and other slick surfaces with Chalky Finish Furniture Paint….

Respect the cure time. 

Chalky Finish Furniture Paint and Protective Finish (and all other art/home décor paints) have a cure time.  Cure time is the process in which the paint is developing into it’s most durable state.  Just be gentle the first 30 days (light use only) and that will help in the long run.

Paint in proper conditions.  

I admit…. even I have slapped a nice fresh coat of Chalky Finish Furniture paint on an old wood dresser in 30-degree weather (no, it was not fun or comfortable, but it has happened) …which couldn’t be more against the world of painting rules.  Especially when dealing with slick surfaces, make sure you are painting in proper weather conditions including; temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees and not in direct sunlight. Not following these rules can lead to application and adhesion problems. Extreme humidity (ie: painting outside just after it has rained a ton) may also lead to adhesion problems on slick surfaces.

For additional reassurance, use a primer first.  

Yes, it’s true. While I love love love that most projects do not require a primer, painting slick surfaces is a scenario where a primer could be helpful. Its not always required on slick surfaces, but it certainly won't hurt! 

That’s all for today!  As always, if you found this article helpful, please share it using the icons below, so you can help someone else who may have the same questions!  And feel free to leave additional questions or comments below :)  


Until next time,


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