Best Paint for Ceramic – Guide to Painting Pottery and Porcelain

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Ceramic painting is a great way to add a splash of color to old tile or even a plate! You can get creative and paint interesting patterns and designs. Create personalized gifts for a loved one by painting their name on a ceramic vase! The possibilities are endless! Before using any old paint for ceramic painting, it is best to gain a bit of understanding of the different types of ceramic. It is also important to understand a bit more about the different types of paint for porcelain. In this article, we will cover all of the above and show you how to paint ceramic!




Types of Ceramic

Before we go slapping any old paint to ceramic it is best to figure out what type of ceramic you are working with. This is because different ceramics will react differently to paint. In this section, we will investigate the main types of ceramics. From ceramic floor tiles to dinner plates and porcelain vases – most of these have been glazed and fired in a kiln at a very high temperature. Before we take a look at the best paint for ceramic and how to paint ceramic, let us take a look at how glazing and the kiln affect the surface of the ceramic. Read on to find out more!

Brightly Painted Ceramics


Greenware Ceramic

Greenware can break very easily! This is because it has been air-dried and has yet to be fired in a kiln. At this stage, greenware is delicate and needs to be handled with caution. This is why you should rather avoid using greenware as a finished piece. Because greenware has yet to be fired in a kiln, it is not waterproof and will probably soften if you apply wet paint to the surface.

Greenware Ceramics


Bisque Ceramic

Bisque is greenware that has gone into a kiln to be fired. Firing greenware once in a kiln turns it to bisque, which makes it much stronger! Bisque is very hard and porous which makes it ideal for painting! The porosity of bisque offers a surface profile that absorbs paint readily and increases the adhesion of the paint.

Unpainted Bisque Pottery


Glazed Ceramic

Glazed ceramic is greenware that has been fired once in a kiln turning it into bisque. A colored glaze is then applied to the surface of the bisque and then it is fired again in a kiln at a higher temperature than the first. This results in a ceramic that feels much like glass. It is waterproof and much stronger than both greenware and bisque! Glazed ceramic lacks porosity which makes it difficult to get paint to bond to the surface. However, with a bit of preparation and the correct paint, you will be well on your way to painting glazed ceramic!

Various Glazed Ceramics


Types of Paints for Ceramic

You may be trying to figure out what kind of paint to use on ceramic plates. It used to be that the only way to paint ceramic was to apply a colored glaze and then fire the item in a kiln. With recent advances in paint technology, painting ceramic is much easier! Selecting the correct paint can mean you can easily paint glazed ceramic plates in the comfort of your own home!

Glazes for Painting Pottery

It is important to know that not all ceramic paints are food-safe. Painted ceramic plates should be used for decorative purposes or painted on areas that do not come into contact with food or drink. When painting ceramic mugs keep the paint on the outside of the mug. This will prevent the paint from breaking down in hot liquids. To be safe, always choose food-safe paint for ceramics.


Paint Markers for Ceramic

Ceramic paint markers are growing in popularity. These paint markers are extremely easy to work with! The spring-loaded tip releases the paint as it makes contact with the surface of the ceramic. Ceramic markers come in a wide variety of colors and are ideal for decorating plates, mugs, vases, and other small ceramic items.

Paint Ceramics with Markers

Once you have created your design you will need to allow it to dry before making it in your oven. The temperature and the amount of time will depend on the manufacturer. The baking of the paint increases the adhesion and creates a coating that will be difficult to remove!

Painted Porcelain


Gloss Enamel Paint for Ceramic

While these paints may not be food-safe they are great for decorative pieces! Some manufacturers have products that contain glitter. Some manufacturers offer textured gloss enamel paint as well as transparent and opaque paint.

Enamel Paint for Ceramic

Furthermore, there is a wide selection of colors to choose from! Gloss enamel paints will need to be cured in the oven once they have been air-dried. This will increase the durability of the coat of paint. Just like ceramic paint markers, the oven temperature and time will vary between manufacturers.

If you want your paint to be as durable as possible, then bake-on paint for ceramic is the best choice!


Acrylic Paints for Ceramic

It is advised that you do not bake acrylic paint in the oven. These types of ceramic paints are non-bake paint. Acrylic ceramic paint is not food safe so it is best to use these paints on decorative pieces only.

Acrylic Paint for Ceramic

These paints can easily be applied using a paintbrush or a roller. For best results, it is advised that you spend some time preparing the surface of glazed ceramic. A light sanding should do the trick, and applying a primer will increase the adhesion of the paint to the ceramic. If you are applying acrylic paint to unglazed bisque it is best to apply a primer first. This will increase adhesion as well as save paint.

Ceramic Markers Gloss Enamel  Acrylic
Easy application Requires application with a brush or roller Requires a primer
Requires baking Requires baking Non-bake
Durable Durable Moderate durability
Food safe Not food safe Not food safe




Best Paints for Ceramic

Now that we have covered the types of paints and the types of ceramic surfaces, it is time to take a look at our top picks! You may be feeling overwhelmed with the wide range of ceramic paints on the market. This section aims to narrow down your search by introducing you to some of the most popular and highest-rated paint for porcelain and ceramic.

Painting Bisque Pottery

You may have some pottery to paint. You may be wanting to apply acrylic paint on ceramic or you may be looking for the ideal paint for porcelain. The following products will help you to do it all! Keep reading to learn more!


Best Paint Markers for Ceramic: NUTOP Water-based Paint Marker Pens

Nutop water-based marker pens are extremely versatile. You can use them on stone, glass, metal, fabrics, and even ceramic! This kit comes with 24 vibrant colors that will satisfy your creativity! These markers are water-based and environmentally friendly. The valve action nib provides smooth flowing lines of paint by simply applying pressure to the nib.

When using these paint pens on ceramic, you will need to bake the ceramic in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degree celsius) after painting and allow the paint to dry. This makes for a permanent and durable coat of paint that will last! Once cured the painted ceramic is dishwasher and oven safe!

NUTOP Water-based Paint Marker Pens
  • Permanent water-based ink is dishwasher- and oven-safe
  • Suitable for surface types ranging from ceramic to rubber
  • Non-toxic and environmentally friendly (ASTM D-4236 certified)
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  • Ideal for glazed ceramic
  • Convenient
  • Durable
  • 24 vibrant colors
  • Water-based
  • Not ideal for large projects
  • Requires an oven to cure


Best Gloss Enamel for Ceramic: FOLKART Enamel Gloss Paint for Glass and Ceramic

FOLKART is a trusted brand in the world of arts and crafts and its gloss enamel offers premium quality! This set offers 16 colors including lime green, Parisian pink, and silver! These non-toxic paints work on glazed ceramic and glass. Folkart’s Enamel gloss is easily applied with a brush and once cured it is scratch resistant and dishwasher safe. The paint is cured by heating it in your oven for 30 minutes at a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degree celsius). This set is ideal for decorating ceramic mugs, vases, plates, and much more!

FOLKART Enamel Gloss Paint for Glass and Ceramic
  • Enamel acrylic paint oven-cures to a durable gloss finish
  • Scratch-resistant and dishwasher-safe on glass and ceramic
  • Easy clean-up with soap and water while product is still wet
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  • Ideal for ceramic
  • Non-toxic
  • Durable
  • 16 colors
  • Not ideal for large projects
  • Requires an oven to cure


Best Non-Bake Acrylic Paint for Ceramic: GOTIDEAL Acrylic Quick Drying Multi-Surface Paint Set

This Gotideal acrylic paint set offers an array of 18 colors! Each color comes in a 3.4 oz bottle. They are packaged in a sturdy box, which keeps the paint bottles accessible and organized. This non-toxic craft paint bonds to fabric, canvas, wood, clay, and ceramic surfaces! These paints are easy to mix and blend your colors and have a smooth consistency that is easy to work with. This premium non-bake acrylic paint is quick-drying, which allows you to apply multiple coats in a relatively short space of time. These paints are water-based, which means cleanup is easy!

GOTIDEAL Acrylic Quick Drying Multi-Surface Paint Set
  • Paint consistency ideal for easy mixing and blending
  • Highly durable and quick-drying non-toxic formula
  • Suitable for surface types ranging from ceramics to wood
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  • 18 colors
  • Non-toxic
  • Versatile
  • Water-based
  • Ideal for painting Bisque
  • It may not be durable as bake-on paint
  • Not ideal for larger jobs



How to Paint Ceramic

Now that you have selected your ceramic paint you are ready to get painting! Painting a design on a vase is very different from painting tiling. For this reason, we will cover a few of the different methods for painting ceramic. Below is an overview of some of the methods for painting on glazed ceramic. Bear in mind that it is best to read the paint manufacturer’s directions. This will ensure you get good results from your chosen paint. Keep reading to learn how to do ceramic painting!

Best Paint for Porcelain


Using Bake-On Ceramic Markers

Using ceramic paint markers is the easiest way to paint glazed ceramic! Ceramic paint markers are especially good for painting fine and detailed artwork like floral designs or geometric shapes. This is because the fine valve-action nib lets out a narrow line of paint that is easy to work with. Ideally, you will want to select plain white ceramic mugs, bowls, or plates to paint. Avoid using items that already have decorative designs painted on them. Existing designs on ceramic will detract from your artwork.

Different Glazed Ceramics

Firstly, make sure your ceramic is clean and free from grease or dirt that may prevent the paint from bonding. This can be done by washing it with dish soap and warm water. Alternatively, use alcohol wipes. Use a number two pencil to draw the outline of your design onto the ceramic. This can help you to avoid any messy mistakes you may make.

Prepare Ceramics for Painting

Before you use your paint marker on ceramic you should shake the marker to make sure that the paint is mixed. Once the paint in the marker is mixed, you can get it working on a piece of paper. Press down on the tip to encourage the flow of paint.

Once the paint is flowing adequately from the marker you may begin to paint over your pencil design. You will need to apply constant pressure to the ceramic with the nib of the marker. This will keep the paint flowing. If you happen to make a mistake you can remove the wet paint with a clean damp cloth. A wet wipe works best!

When you are happy with your artwork, leave the paint to dry for 24 hours. When the paint is dry, place your ceramic item in the oven and set the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven reaches 350 degrees you should allow it to cook for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes is up, switch off the oven and allow the ceramic to cool while still inside.

Cure Ceramic Paint in Oven

Be aware that reducing the temperature of hot ceramic too quickly can cause it to crack! So don’t give in to the temptation to remove your item from the oven before it has cooled down completely.


Using Bake-On Gloss Enamel

Bake-on enamel gloss is an ideal paint for porcelain. It is best to select a plain white piece of ceramic or porcelain to paint your design onto. Before you begin painting, it is advised that you clean your ceramic item thoroughly. Any grease or dirt may impair the adhesion of the paint to the ceramic. You can use warm water and dish soap or simply wipe the ceramic with alcohol wipes.

Sanding Ceramics for Painting

There are many ways to create designs on ceramic using gloss enamel. A simple method is drawing your design onto the ceramic with a soft graphite pencil. Once you are happy with your pencil outline, you can then paint over with a paintbrush.

Another method is to use painter’s tape to create straight stripes. Lay down the painter’s tape to create an exposed line of bare ceramic. You will then paint over the tape and the ceramic. When you peel away the tape you will be left with a nice clean dead-straight line!

pottery decorating with paint

You can use this method to create borders or other geometric patterns. Always be sure that the painter’s tape is completely flat and that there are no folds or wrinkles. Paint can easily creep underneath these imperfections and ruin your design!

Using adhesive vinyl stencils is another great way to create perfect and complex designs. You can buy these stencils from a craft shop or cut your own using a Cricut vinyl cutter. Again, you will need to place this vinyl stencil down flat to prevent paint from creeping underneath your stencil. When ceramic paint with gloss enamel, you can use paintbrushes or paint rollers. Be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the best advice regarding application and baking times.

Stencil Paint on Ceramic

Once you have created your artwork on the ceramic you will need to leave it to dry for at least 24 hours. Once the paint is dry place your ceramic item in the oven and heat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it bake for 30 minutes and then switch the oven off and allow your epic to cool while inside the oven. Once your painted ceramic piece has cooled down it is ready to be used!


Using Acrylic Paint on Ceramic Tile

Painting over glazed wall tiling can add a splash of color to a room without having to install new tiles! The most important thing is to make sure the tiles are completely free from grease, grime, mold, and mildew. It is best to repair any chipped and damaged tile and grout before painting tiles. The best method for washing tile and grout is TSP soap. Trisodium phosphate can irritate the skin and eyes so it is best to open the windows and doors to encourage airflow.

Paint for Ceramic Tiles

To be safe, it is recommended that you don protective gear such as goggles, rubber gloves, and a respirator. Scrub the tiles with a scrubbing brush using the TSP soap and rinse the surface thoroughly. Allow the tiling to dry for 24 hours before painting.

Sanding the tiles with 220-grit sandpaper will create a surface profile that the paint can latch onto. This will improve the durability of the paint. Once you have sanded the tiles you will need to apply an acrylic primer before you paint.

Clean Tile Before Painting

You may need to cut in the grout and the edges of the tiling with a paintbrush before moving on to a roller. When the primer is dry you can give it a light sanding and paint the next coat. This will help you to get a smooth finish. Just be sure to remove all the dust with a clean cloth before applying the second coat.

Once you have successfully primed and prepared your tiles you can apply the acrylic paint. You may need to apply more than one coat to achieve a smooth and even finish. It is important to bear in mind that this method is not recommended for high-traffic areas like floor tiles.



Tips and Tricks

  • When baking paint onto ceramic, heat the ceramic item in the oven and then let it cool down slowly while still in the oven. A hot ceramic item that cools down too quickly can crack and break.
  • If you are not confident with using paintbrushes to create designs by hand you can use stencils! Vinyl stencils can be purchased at most craft shops and are easy to use! Just be sure to lay the stencil flat and firmly to prevent paint from creeping in underneath.
  • When painting porous ceramic such as bisque use a primer. A primer will not only help you to achieve the best paint adhesion but will also prevent the ceramic pores from absorbing excess paint. This will help limit the amount of paint needed!
  • When painting non-bake acrylic over glazed tile you should roughen up the surface of the shiny ceramic to encourage the bond of the paint to the ceramic. 220 grit sandpaper will do the trick. Applying a primer before painting is also recommended!
  • When using bake-on ceramic paint always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will assist you in getting the results that you are looking for!



The best paint for ceramic is based largely on the type of ceramic you want to paint. Bisque ceramic is very porous and will require a primer to achieve the best paint adhesion. The best paint for porcelain or ceramic that is glazed is bake-on paint. These types of paints come in convenient paint markers which are very easy to use. Bake-on gloss enamel is another form of ceramic paint that requires the use of a brush or roller. Once cured in an oven, these types of paints are durable. Best of all, these paints come in a wide range of different colors!



Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Best Paint for Ceramic?

The best paint for glazed ceramic is gloss enamel. This paint requires you to bake your ceramic item in the oven. This will strengthen the bond of the paint to ceramic. These paints are ideal for hand painting designs onto mugs, plates, bowls, and vases.


Can I Use Acrylic Paint on Ceramic?

Painting ceramic with acrylic will work. For the best results use a bake-on gloss enamel. If you are using regular acrylic you will need to prep and prime the surface of the glazed enamel. You can do this by sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and applying a primer to the ceramic before painting.


What Is the Best Paint for Porcelain?

When it comes to the best paint for porcelain the best paint is enamel. Choose an enamel paint that requires baking. These types of paint resist scratching, chipping and are waterproof. Another option is using two-part epoxy paint.


Do I Have to Bake the Paint?

When it comes to ceramic painting It is not entirely necessary to bake the gloss enamel paint. However, it will increase the durability of the paint. If you do not bake gloss enamel paint it will be susceptible to chips and scratches.


How Do I Clean Glazed Ceramic?

Before painting ceramic, it must be clean and free from any grease or grime. These impurities can impair the bond of the paint to the ceramic. Use hot water and dish soap to wash the ceramic. Alcohol wipes are also ideal for removing grease and oils!