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How to Paint Mason Jars: Tips and Tricks!

Learn how to paint mason jars with these tips and tricks! I’ll show you how to distress, paints that work with the jars, and more.

How to Paint a Glass Mason Jar

If there’s one thing we love around here, it’s mason jar crafts. In particular, we’re really fans of painted mason jars. If you’ve never crafted with jars before, let me tell you something – you’re missing out.

A painted glass jar is a great craft project for many reasons. Glass jars are really easy to work with, especially for beginning crafters. If you’ve never made anything before, this is a great surface to start your crafting journey.

Secondly, these jars make amazing home decor, gifts, and decorations for a birthday, baby shower, wedding, and just about any other celebration you can think of.

Finally, the whole thing is cheap. Not cheap looking, but cheap costing. Because you don’t really *have* to use a mason jar. In fact the glass in your recycles – baby food jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc. – are all contenders for a little coat of paint.

If you do need to buy jars, you can buy them in bulk. Which is nice when you’re making gifts!

Let me be blunt – once you learn how to paint mason jars, you’re going to be hooked. Your house will be full of them, and everyone will get one as a gift. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Chalk painted mason jars

Paint a Mason Jar

In this post I’m first going to show you what you need, then explain the process. Then I will answer FAQs about painting mason jars. Finally, at the bottom of the post, is a printable tutorial card if you’re interested.

There’s also a video in this post showing the process. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Supplies You’ll Need

Here are the basic supplies you should have on hand if you’re going to paint mason jars. These are the basics. The sandpaper is only required if you are planning on distressing.

  • Glass jars
  • Paint colors of your choice – see the different types you can use in the question below
  • Mod Podge or other sealer
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls or cotton pads
  • 150 to 200-grit sandpaper
  • Paint brush

Basic Process

You’re going to do four things to bring your jars from plain to fabulous: 1) clean and prep, 2) paint, 3) sand (if you are distressing), and 4) seal. Really, that’s all there is to it. It’s just a matter of knowing how to do these things and the best paints to use.

I discuss the rest below, but for the painting portion, you can do one of two things. Paint the outside by using a brush or spouncer. Use thin coats and let dry between coats.

OR you can paint the inside by swirling the paint around until coated. Pour the excess back into the bottle. Then let the jar dry upside down on a piece of wax paper to drain the excess. Move the jar around frequently.

Important Note: For any glass jar that is going to hold water or other liquids, paint the outside only. Also none of the paints are food safe, so you’ll want to paint on the outside only of jars with unwrapped, edible gifts inside.

How do you prepare the jars?

No matter what paint you decide to use, you’re going to need to begin by cleaning your glass jars. Now, I’ve used mild soap and water and that works fine. BUT I find that the best chance of getting your paint stick comes with using rubbing alcohol.

You’ll want to take a cotton swab or pad and clean the outside of the jar. This step is crucial if you want the paint to stick.

You are removing oils from fingers – oils that repel paint. That is why you are cleaning the jars in this manner.

If you’re going to paint the inside instead of the outside or in addition to, you can swirl the rubbing alcohol around the inside of the jar and then pour it back into the bottle. You definitely still need to clean the inside if you want the paint to stick.

What kind of paint do you use on mason jars?

Here are the different types of paint you can use. Read carefully – you’ll need to prime for some of these options. Remember that glass is not porous like wood. It’s hard to get paint to stick sometimes.

You might need to prepare the jar so that the paint doesn’t scrape off.

Paint for mason jars

Acrylic Craft Paint (not multisurface)

Regular acrylic paint can be used, but it doesn’t stick well to glass without primer.

Chalk Paint

What I love about chalk paint is that you can paint it directly on glass without a primer. You’ll still need to clean the jars, but then you can paint the chalk paint right on the glass. It’s perfect for distressing and layering. Just let the first layer dry completely before adding the second layer.

Glass Paint

Made specifically for glass. Once you paint it on, you’ll likely bake it to cure. This usually involves baking for 20 – 30 minutes at 350ºF. Make sure to read the label for curing instructions.

Multi Surface Paint

This type of paint is a combination of regular craft paint and glass paint. I find this type of paint is finicky depending on the type of glass you’re working with. I always prime before using multi surface paint, though technically if you follow the curing instructions you shouldn’t have to. All I’m saying is it’s my experience that using a primer with multi-surface is better.

Spray Paint

The great thing about spray paint is that it gives your most even finish on glass of any of the paints. Many people love the fact that there are no brush strokes. This is the most high maintenance in terms of application though, and can’t be used in inclement weather if you spray outside. But there are some really, really cool spray paint finishes out there, so don’t make any mistake – this is an awesome option.

What type of paint do you choose for your mason jars? Well – that is up to you. It’s a matter of personal preference, so experiment!

I will say, chalk paint is the most popular based on crafts I see. But there’s no wrong answer here. I say try them all and have fun.

Painted Christmas gift jars

Do you need to prime mason jars before painting?

It depends on the type of paint that you use (see above), and sometimes, how cheap the glass is . . . . Let’s just say, it never hurts to prime your mason jars. Your mason jar won’t get ruined if you do prime, but there’s definitely a risk of paint chipping off if you don’t prime.

Our recommendation for priming mason jars is Rustoleum Spray Primer. It’s our favorite!

Can I spray paint a mason jar?

Yes. Make sure to read the label to see if your spray paint is appropriate for glass. If not, you may have to prime.

To spray paint, give the jar several light coats at about 10 inches away. Wait at least 15 – 20 minutes between coats on a dry (NOT humid) day. Do 2-3 coats then touch up later that day or the next day.

Can you paint mason jars with chalk paint?

Absolutely! FolkArt chalk paint is my favorite. You still have to wash the jars, but you don’t need to prep them with primer. The paint sticks really well.

How do you apply the paint?

You can use either a soft bristled paint brush or a spouncer/sponge. There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s just a matter of preference.

I like soft bristled brushes, but I don’t mind brush strokes at all. Having said that, a lot of times I use glass paint (especially stained glass paint) with a spouncer for a more even finish.

Obviously spray paint doesn’t require a brush, and that’s why some people love it best. They absolutely love the smooth finish. Remember, several light coats is better than a few thick ones.

Mason jar utensil holders

How do you get paint to stick to glass jars?

It’s all about cleaning the glass properly (with mild soap and water and preferably rubbing alcohol) and then priming if you need to.

How do you seal chalk paint on glass jars?

You don’t have to seal chalk paint on mason jars, but you can with your good old friend Mod Podge! Chalk paint has an ultra matte finish, but you can use Mod Podge Matte to get close. Plus if you’re decoupaging on top of the craft paint, Mod Podge is perfect.

If you aren’t decoupaging, you can still use Mod Podge. But you can also use clear wax made for chalk paint, or a clear spray or brush on finish like Minwax polycrylic. Just keep in mind that the finish of the sealer will be the finish of the final project.

How do you distress chalk paint on mason jars?

You’ll apply a layer of paint to the jar and let dry. Then paint a second coat onto the same jar and let dry completely. Using a piece of sandpaper, sand in random areas on the mason jar to reveal the color below. Sand more for more distressing.

Three mason jars painted gray blue and red

How do you permanently paint glass jars?

There are two ways I know of that provide a more permanent paint finish on a glass jar. First is using the glass paint and following the bake to cure instructions. Sometimes you can even wash the jar in the dishwasher, depending on the paint you use.

The other method is using spray paint. Let dry overnight and then put in the oven for 20 minutes on a low heat setting. This sets the paint and makes the item pretty waterproof (many readers swear by this!).

How do you waterproof painted mason jars?

There are waterproof sealers available at your local home improvement store. Having said that, I love VHT Engine Enamel. Be sure to observe proper sealing instructions for any sealers you use.

How do you make colored mason jars?

You can make colored mason jars with Mod Podge and a few drops of food coloring (stir it in). You can swirl it around on the inside of the jar or paint/spounce it on the outside.

There are also spray paints available that make a pretty cool beach glass looking finish on jars. I recommended checking them out.

How do you paint old mason jars?

Ideally you would remove the paint already on the jar, but sometimes that’s not an option. Simply sand down the surface as much as possible, remove the dust, and then prime over the top. Then you should be able to paint an old jar with ease!

Now that you know how to paint mason jars, you’re ready to try one, right? Take a peek at the tutorial below – save or print it. Then let me know what you think in the comments!

Yield: 2 jars

Paint Mason Jars

How to paint mason jars

Paint mason jars with this simple tutorial! Use chalk paint and learn how to distress.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 40 minutes
Dry Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $4


  • Glass jar
  • Chalk paint
  • Sandpaper
  • Mild soap
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Mod Podge Hard Coat or other sealer


  • Paintbrushes


  1. washing a mason jarWash your mason jar with mild soap and water or clean with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Blue chalk painted mason jarPaint your first chalk paint color on using a paint brush. Let dry.
  3. White painted mason jarPaint the second chalk paint color directly over the first color. Let dry.
  4. Painted and distressed mason jarsUse the sandpaper to sand away random areas on the side of the jar. Paint a coat of sealer over the top and let dry completely before using.

Did You Make This Project?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!

If you enjoyed learning how to paint a mason jar, I think you’re going to like these other craft ideas! Take a peek:

Joy Lyon

Wednesday 15th of March 2023

I am having problems with the chalk spray sealer causing bubbling. I allow my paint to dry for 24 hours before dealing with a light coat of spray sealer. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it bubbles up all over the jar and looks horrible!


Wednesday 15th of March 2023

Hi Joy! I'm not sure what chalk spray sealer is. Can you send me an email and let me know which products you are using together (with the brands)? Thank you!


Friday 24th of February 2023

Thank you for the in depth blog post - you cover lots of important topics on how to paint mason jars! Keep up the wonderful work!!


Tuesday 28th of February 2023

Thank you for the kind words!

Lori Mosley

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Hello. We are excited to do this for our ladies craft event. After applying chalk paint and distressing we would like to paint on some flowers but wondering what kind of paint to use on top of the chalk paint and also wondering how long it takes the chalk paint to dry. Thank you for any help. Love your blog.

Lori Mosley

Tuesday 31st of January 2023

@Amy, awesome! Thank you so much!!


Tuesday 31st of January 2023

Hi Lori! Thank you for the kind words! You can use either another chalk paint or any craft paint (like FolkArt or Apple Barrel) on top. I would make sure that it's glass friendly or multisurface in case people paint the flower colors directly on the glass. Regular craft paint will just chip off glass. Chalk paint takes 20 - 30 minutes to dry depending on the climate. BUT just grab a few hair dryers and keep them about 9 inches from the surface and you'll dry the jars in no time. Enjoy!


Wednesday 4th of January 2023

I cleaned my jar with rubbing alcohol and used the Folk art chalk paint to swirl around on the inside and painted the outside with a thin layer. I let it sit overnight to dry. It looked good! When I swirled the inside for a second layer the original layer of paint clumped together and came completely off. Anything I touched on the outside also came off. I’m using a small Atlas mason jar. I’m frustrated with my first attempt. Any suggestions?


Saturday 7th of January 2023

Hi Mary! That's very strange. I've never had or seen that happen to a mason jar. Would you be able to post a pic in the Facebook group? Then we can help. You can stay only as long to ask your question :)


Friday 12th of August 2022

Great tips on painting the outside of glass!! How do you get the paint to stick on the inside of a jar? Thanks


Friday 19th of August 2022

Hi Cathy I address that in the post: If you’re going to paint the inside instead of the outside or in addition too, you can swirl the rubbing alcohol around the inside of the jar and then pour it back into the bottle. You definitely still need to clean the inside if you want the paint to stick.

So you'll do that, then pour the paint into the jar, swirl around to coat, and then drain the excess paint back into the bottle. Once you've gotten most of it, turn the bottle mouth down onto a piece of wax paper. Move it every so often.

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