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Can Gesso Be Used on Glass?

Most commonly used as a primer for canvas, gesso is an acrylic-based product that can stick to just about any surface. Gesso will normally come in white, which is perfect for when you are painting on a canvas. However, white might not be the best option when you are using it on glass, unless you plan on painting the entire area or both sides of the glass.

So, can gesso be used on glass? Yes! Clear gesso is the solution to the problem of white gesso showing through the back of the glass. A gesso that is clear has all of the awesome qualities of regular gesso without the color. Adding a layer or two of clear gesso can help you reach your art goals.

Since glass is clear, a white coating underneath paint will show through and take away from your art. When you use a clear primer on glass, you will have a much better end result than you would with a white primer. You can also use the classic white gesso to prime your glass surface, and in this article we go over everything you need to know to properly use gesso on glass. Let’s read on!

How Do You Apply Gesso to Glass?

The very first thing you will need to do is clean the surface of the glass. Use some soap and warm water to remove any fingerprints and oil that might be on the glass. These can prevent the gesso and the paint from sticking to the surface or applying evenly.

It is best to wear latex gloves during the cleaning process, so you don’t get any more fingerprints and oils on the surface. For an even more thorough clean, you can use some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. You can do this after or in place of soap and water.

My top recommend clear gesso is Art Supply Clear Gesso. This gesso works for acrylics, oil paints and much more, so that’s a plus!

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When the glass is clean and ready to go, you will need to tape off any areas that you don’t want to paint or that might come in contact with your mouth. Although gesso is non-toxic, as well as most paints, it has the ability to chip with repeated use. 

The best tape to use is painter’s tape. Make sure you cover at least the top inch of the glass to prevent getting any gesso or paint on it. In addition to taping the top, you can use the tape to create a stripe design on the glass. 

If you want to use regular white gesso, I recommend using Mont Marte Premium Gesso. This gesso is also universal, so it can be used with different types of paint mediums. I usually use Mont Marte Gesso on my acrylic paint and oil paint projects.

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When you have the tape placed, you can apply the clear gesso. You can apply one or two layers of gesso to the glass with a paintbrush or a sponge, whichever you have handy. If you are applying more than one coat, you will need to make sure you give each layer a proper amount of time to dry.

It is recommended that you wait at least an hour between coats to make sure no bubbles form in the prior layer. Paint thin layers, as bubbles also have the tendency to form in gesso when painted on too thick.

As soon as you have all of your layers of gesso painted and completely dry, you can start to paint over it with the paint of your choice. The best option is acrylic paint because gesso is an acrylic based product. They will work best together since they are made from similar ingredients.

For my top recommend acrylic paint to use with your gesso, I always use Arteza Acrylic Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing!

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Does Gesso Work on Glass?

Gesso works really well on most surfaces, including glass. There are three main ingredients that gesso is made of: acrylic polymer, titanium dioxide, and calcium carbonate. This mixture of ingredients makes it possible for the product to stick to a wide variety of surfaces.

In shorter terms, gesso is made with a white powder and a binder to allow paint to adhere to any kind of surface with ease. While it can be helpful to use gesso on glass, it isn’t always necessary. If the paint you are using is made for glass, then you won’t need any kind of primer.

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If you are just using regular acrylic paint or any other kind of paint, adding a clear gesso can make the paint stick easier instead of trying to slide off the surface. This will help if you are trying to paint intricate details on the glass. It is less important if you are painting one solid color but can still be beneficial.

Since glass is clear, it is best to use a clear gesso in place of the regular white gesso. Unless you plan on having a white background for your art on the glass, white gesso can ruin how your finished product looks on both sides of the glass.

Is Mod Podge the Same as Gesso?

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Mod Podge and gesso are not the same thing and can’t use them in place of each other. While the two products are both technically adhesives, they work differently and are far from being made of the same materials.

Mod Podge is a product that is called a decoupage medium. It has the ability to work as a glue, a sealer, and a finish for crafts. The formula has several different ingredients that make it sticky and glue-like. Gesso is also an adhesive, but it isn’t glue-like. Gesso also can’t be used as a sealer.

Mod Podge dries clear, and gesso dries white unless you have a clear gesso. Gesso is mostly used as a primer for surfaces like canvas, wood, paper, and may other surfaces. Mod Podge is made with polyvinyl acetate glue and is thinned with water.

Mod Podge makes a great top sealer for art projects, especially ones used with kids. It doesn’t make a very good primer and should not be used in place of gesso. It doesn’t have the same ability to harden or create an ideal surface for paint to stick to.

Is Gesso Water Resistant?

When gesso dries, it is lightweight and water-resistant. It also doesn’t yellow over time, so this can help with the colors staying true in your painting. Gesso is water-based, so you can’t expect it to be fully waterproof. 

Due to the water-resistant tendencies, gesso will be fine if exposed to a little bit of water. It is not a good idea to put a glass with gesso on it in the dishwasher. It is better to hand wash so you can control the amount of water that is touching the surface.

Since gesso is water-based, it can easily be reactivated when it comes in contact with water. To prevent any mishaps, it is best to use a sealer on the glass to protect both the painting and the gesso. There are waterproof sealers that you can buy for maximum protection.

A waterproof sealer is essential if you are planning on using the glass frequently. While you can wash it by hand to control the amount of water that comes in contact with the surface, it is not ideal for constant use and washing.

I recommend using Mod Podge Dishwasher Safe Sealer, for anything that you need to waterproof. This sealer is great for mugs, ceramics, and any other painted project.

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Final Thoughts

When you paint on glass, you want to make sure you do it in a way that protects the painting and makes it last longer. Using gesso as a primer for glass is a great option, as long as you use a clear formula. Using a white formula can impact how your end product looks when it’s finished.

Applying gesso to glass is a simple process. You just need to clean the glass, tape of parts that you don’t want the gesso on and let it dry before adding any paint. It is recommended to apply to layers of gesso for the best adhesion possible.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your gesso goes on smoothly, and your painted projects turns out great. Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

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