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Comparison | Painting Mason Jars

Painting-Mason-JarsMason jars are very trendy lately, and painting them has been catching on as well. But they aren’t the easiest surface to work with…how do you know what to use? I decided to buy a box of pint mason jars, experiment with various paint mediums, and share the results with Craft Critique’s readers to find out!

After experimenting over the course of doing this project, I learned a few tips that help to improve the results when painting mason jars.

The first thing I learned was that priming the jars can help with both the application and the final appearance of the paint if you are using an opaque paint (obviously for a transparent color, the priming would show). I used Krylon ColorMaster Primer in White to prime most of the jars that I painted below, placing them upside down on a scrap piece of 1×2 and standing outside to spray them. Then I propped the 1×2 against the side of my desk while the jar dried. One coat of primer was sufficient to provide a base for painting over.

After priming, then you are faced with how to apply the finish coat of paint. A lot of paints have instructions that say to apply with a brush. After trying several different methods, my preferred method became to use a large sized spouncer, applying the paint by smoothing thin coats from top to bottom while holding the jar upside down on my other hand and rotating it around as I worked. At the very end I would paint around the threaded part of it, leaving that part clean until then to avoid messing up my hands.

But what paint should you use? It depends on what effect or look you want to get on your mason jar.

Folkart Acrylic

Mason Jar Folkart AcrylicMason Jar Folkart Acrylic closeThe jar above used Plaid’s Folkart Acrylic Paint in Bright Baby Pink. It is a nice thick acrylic paint compared to many on the market, providing amazing coverage and control. In some lights, the coverage appears fine, while it appears spotty in others. The overall effect is very rustic, with visible graining from the spouncer.

Opaque/Transparent: Opaque
Application: primer, two coats with large spouncer
Surface: exterior
Finish: matte
Waterproof: no
Uses: Vase, Storage

Krylon Premium 18kt Gold Plate

Mason Jar Krylon MetallicMason Jar Krylon Metallic closeThe finish I got with the Krylon 18kt Gold Plate Spray Paint is downright gorgeous. I used the same spray technique – with a 1×2 as a prop – that I used for the items that I coated with spray primer (that wood is very colorful now). The resulting finish is virtually flawless, showing only imperfections in the actual glass underneath. This finish would make a beautiful addition to a party table or home decor but there is one major drawback – the cost. With a retail price of around $6, this paint isn’t cheap, and it feels like I’ve depleted over half of the can finishing just this one jar.

Opaque/Transparent: Opaque
Application: sprayed three coats
Surface: exterior
Finish: metallic
Waterproof: no
Uses: Vase, Storage

DecoArt Americana Decor Chalky Finish Acrylic

Mason Jar Americana Decor Chalky FinishMason Jar Americana Decor Chalky Finish closeThe Americana Decor Chalky Finish paints seem to primarily be marketed to use on cottage-style furniture in the burgeoning DIY market, but they can also be used on surfaces like metal and glass. This paint is water-based and has a wonderful soft feel when you run your fingers over the dried finish. It distressed easily with a piece of sandpaper to complete the antique, shabby look for the jar (and showing off the logo in the process). It’s also a fairly cost-effective option. A small-looking 8oz jar retails for $6-8, depending on the outlet, but this thick paint spreads and goes a long way so a single jar will get you loads of coverage. I barely made a dent in mine doing this jar and two failed previous versions.
Opaque/Transparent: Opaque
Application: sprayed primer, painted three coats with spouncer
Surface: exterior
Finish: chalky (matte)
Waterproof: no
Uses: Vase, Storage

Martha Stewart Crafts Vintage Decor Paint

Mason Jar Martha Stewart VintageMason Jar Martha Stewart Vintage closeThis new Vintage Decor paint by Martha Stewart, which just launched in-store at Michaels Stores and on HSN, has a chalky finish. It’s not as soft of a finish to the touch as the Americana chalky paint, but the coverage is excellent with very minimal visible brushstrokes. It distressed very nicely to reveal the logo. The 8oz bottle isn’t cheap at $9.99, but this paint spreads for huge coverage. You’ll get many jars out of a single bottle.

Opaque/Transparent: Opaque
Application: sprayed primer, painted three coats with medium spouncer
Surface: exterior
Finish: chalky (matte)
Waterproof: no
Uses: Vase, Storage

DecoArt Americana Crystal Gloss Enamel

Mason Jar Americana CrystalMason Jar Americana Crystal closeThis Americana Crystal Gloss Enamel is the first of three paints that I tried that are designed to be transparent, but all three achieve different looks. The Crystal Gloss shows a lot of brush strokes. If you don’t want to make them a feature of the design (such as in the product samples on the website) the only way to minimize them I found is to apply very light coats of color. This minimized the brush strokes to where they weren’t visible unless you picked up the item to examine it closely. After three coats, I got a pale tint, almost a pink version of the traditional blue or green Ball jars. A 2 ounce bottle retails for about $3 and despite its small size goes surprisingly far. Several jars like this could be tinted from one bottle.

Opaque/Transparent: Transparent
Application: painted three coats with large spouncer
Surface: exterior
Finish: gloss
Waterproof: yes, if baked
Uses: Vase, Storage, candle light

Martha Stewart Crafts Glass Paint – Liquid Fill Transparent

Mason Jar Martha Stewart GlassMason Jar Martha Stewart Glass closeThis Liquid Fill glass paint offering from Martha Stewart can be used several different ways, but I chose to apply it using the drip technique. I applied the paint around the rim of the jar and then waited for it to drip to the bottom. I found this method used a lot of paint when I did it (I don’t think I could get a second jar out of the bottle). It also took some practice to get the paint applied without visible drips. Where it worked perfectly, the finish is beautiful and vibrant. Since this paint can be baked, the finish is also dishwasher safe and can be use for applications like candle holders. At around $3 for a 2 ounce bottle that doesn’t go far, this isn’t the cheapest way to paint a mason jar, but it is a great option for  dishwasher safe finish if you can master the drip method.

Opaque/Transparent: Transparent
Application: one coat with drip technique
Surface: exterior
Finish: gloss
Waterproof: yes, if baked
Uses: Vase, Storage, candle light

Mod Podge Sheer

Mason Jar Mod Podge SheerMason Jar Mod Podge Sheer closeThe biggest surprise about the new Mod Podge Sheer colors paint is the smell, which I found quite overwhelming at times. This paint is not waterproof, and the recommended application is via a drip technique inside the item being painted, making jars painted with it not ideal for uses like vases or even storage (as items might chip the paint). Using a secondary container such as a water bottle to hold water inside of the jar, would allow the painted item to hold water, but requires an extra step and the bottle would be somewhat visible. All of that said, however, this paint gives amazing vibrant color, and this is not the best application for this paint. A better use for Mod Podge Sheer than mason jars would be for tinting glass holiday ornaments or decorations. Although not heat proof, this paint could be used on a container to hold a battery-powered tea light. At $5 for a 4 ounce bottle, it’s a relatively affordable option although you have to be careful doing the drip method or you will use a lot of paint.

Opaque/Transparent: Transparent
Application: one coat with drip technique
Surface: interior
Finish: gloss
Waterproof: no
Uses: Storage

Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Chalkboard Acrylic Paint

Mason Jar Martha Stewart ChalkboardMason Jar Martha Stewart Chalkboard closeThis chalkboard paint by Martha Stewart Crafts has a lovely semi-gloss finish that showed few brush strokes, and it was an absolute delight to work with. It went on so smoothly and finished perfectly – I’m tempted to reach for this anytime I want a nice semi-gloss finish. It just went on like butter. However, when it came to this specific application on glass, the surface’s durability was an issue. On the glass surface, the paint would not stand up to being conditioned with chalk to turn it into a true chalkboard finish. It distressed and chipped during my attempts to chalk it. So, if you want a beautiful finish, reach for this paint – but don’t expect to be able to chalk it on a glass application. I would definitely try this on a surface that has more tooth to hold the paint, like wood, though. If all you care about is how it looks, though,the price of $6 for 6 ounces – which goes a long way – makes this a pretty economical choice in cost per coverage.

Opaque/Transparent: Opaque
Application: spray primer, applied four coats paint with large spouncer
Surface: exterior
Finish: semi-gloss
Waterproof: no
Uses: Vase, Storage

Krylon Chalkboard Spray Paint

Mason Jar Krylon Chalkboard Mason Jar Krylon Chalkboard closeThe strength of spray paint for this project is shown again with the Krylon Chalkboard Paint. This finish came out virtually perfect and very even after just two coats. However, like with the Martha Stewart Chalkboard Acrylic, I had difficulty chalking this paint to prep it for use as true “chalkboard” without damaging the paint, despite this paint’s long track record on other surfaces. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this paint again but just know that on glass the finish is more decorative than useful. This paint retails for about $7.50 for a 12 ounce can that still feels completely full after doing this first jar.

Opaque/Transparent: Opaque
Application: two spray coats
Surface: exterior
Finish: semi-gloss
Waterproof: no
Uses: Vase, Storage

So, what options have you tried for painting mason jars? I’d love to hear about your results! Post them in the comments!

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3 Responses to Comparison | Painting Mason Jars

  1. Marsha September 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    Boy you have been busy!!!
    Just note for your readers.
    That I did ask the manufacturer of my gas oven if I could bake my mason jars ( whether painter or tinted ) most definitely not.
    I did go to Michaels and bought a ready made Chalk Paint.
    I made them into the mason jars into drink jars with lids and a hole for a straw.
    For an added touch I wanted to add some black Chalk Paint so the person could identify their jar, or write something on their jar.
    I only did the lid, and a medium size oval on the glass.
    It is most definitely not waterproof.
    What a shame.
    Had to wash it all off.
    Although I still love the jars, and will find another use for the Chalk paint.
    Thank you for all your time, I do appreciate it.
    Marsha

  2. Marsha September 17, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    Boy I wrote that poorly.
    So sorry.
    My husband was asking me questions.
    I got distracted.
    I had the Mason Jars already at home.
    My project was to make them into drinking jars with lids, and a hole for a straw using a rubber grommet.
    The rest is in the above statement.
    Again thank you so much for all your information, past and present.
    I too have done crafts since a young child.
    I have taught young and old.
    And I find that to be creative is one of the most satisfying things in life.
    Marsha

  3. Maria
    Maria September 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    I love this project!