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Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Ideas (10 Tips to Inspire)

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Need a creative way to illuminate your patio stones? Glow-in-the-dark paint might be the trick.

Glow-in-the-dark paint for walls is all the rage right now, and it’s not just for kids. Also known as luminous paint, this amazing product can bring objects to life in the dark, elevating home décor in so many ways.

From wall art to outdoor applications, here are some glow-in-the-dark painting ideas that you’re bound to be inspired by!

Glow-in-the-Dark Painting Ideas

  1. Rock Decorations
  2. Concrete Paver Stones
  3. Fairy Jars
  4. Art Pieces
  5. Furniture
  6. Wall Murals
  7. Lawn Decor
  8. Baby’s Room
  9. Home Decor
  10. Halloween Decorations


How Does Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Work?

Glow-in-the-dark paint for walls goes by many different names, but those names actually depict the exact nature of the paint. To understand how glow-in-the-dark paint works, you first need to know about the three existing categories.

Fluorescent Paint

This glow-in-the-dark paint becomes visible at night when exposed to longwave UV radiation. This type of radiation is found in natural and artificial light, but you need a black light to expose it.

In fluorescent paint, glow-in-the-dark chemicals absorb ultraviolet radiation that isn’t visible to the naked eye. The chemicals then release longer wavelength visible light of a certain color. Human eyes see this light as a unique “glow” of fluorescence.

Fluorescent paints come in both “visible” and “invisible” varieties, so they can be used in both visible and hidden places. Visible fluorescent paint also has visible light pigments, so it looks a certain color when it’s lit by white light. When it’s lit by black lights, the color looks even better.

If you use invisible fluorescent paints, they will look clear or pale in normal lighting but will glow under UV light. Because this type of paint doesn’t show up in normal light, it can be used to make a lot of clever things.

Radioluminescent Paint

Radioluminescent paint is a paint that glows on its own. It’s made from a mixture of radioluminescent phosphor chemicals and radioactive isotopes.

The radioisotope is constantly breaking down and emitting radiation particles. These particles hit molecules of phosphor, causing them to emit visible light.

Until the radioactive isotope has been broken down (or the phosphor has worn off), radioluminescent paints will glow even when they aren’t exposed to light. This could take a long time.

Phosphorescent Paint

This is also known as “glow-in-the-dark paint.” Phosphors like strontium aluminate or silver-activated zinc sulfide are used to make it. It usually glows in a pale green or greenish-blue color, but it can also be brighter than that.

Similar to how fluorescent paint makes light, the process that makes it happen is the same, but the visible light doesn’t go away after it has been exposed to light.

These paints have a lasting glow that lasts for up to 12 hours after being exposed to light. Over time, the glow fades. You’ve seen it used in those glow-in-the-dark star-shaped decorations meant to go on the ceiling of a child’s room.

How Long Will Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Last?

Glow-in-the-dark paint can last three to five years if it hasn’t been opened. It can radiate light for up to 10 years after being applied to something. And even upwards to 12 years if you seal it with a clear coat.

Fluorescent paint will actually glow indefinitely if it’s exposed to blacklight. But phosphorescent paint will only glow for three to four hours after dark.

Is There a Permanent Glow-in-the-Dark Paint?

Glow-in-the-dark paint doesn’t last forever, and there’s a valid scientific explanation for that. Think of the phosphor inside the paint like the batteries on a solar panel light.

These rely on natural or artificial UV light to charge to glow at night. In time, these particles lose their ability to hold a charge.

The Bottom Line

Paint manufacturers claim their glow-in-the-dark paints will last forever. But there’s no actual evidence to back this up.

What Paint to Use for Glow-in-the-Dark

Looking for products to bring your glow-in-the-dark paint ideas to life? Here are a few suggestions to help you get started.

Neon Nights Paint

It’s easy to think that traditional phosphorescent paints and blacklight paints are the same. But they serve two different purposes.

If you use UV black lights, this set of Neon Night Paints will look like neon. It will not glow-in-the-dark, but it will look brighter. This paint set comes with eight colors meant to be used on walls or art projects.

TULIP Dimensional Glow Fabric Paint

Great for clothes and costumes, this TULIP Glow Fabric Paint comes in six different colors. You can use them to make complicated designs that stick to cotton, denim, and on canvas.

They can also work on a hard surface. Bottles that can be squeezed make it easy to apply the correct amount of product, and means brushes or other tools aren’t needed.

FolkArt Neon Glow Acrylic Paint Set

If you’re searching for quality phosphorescent paints, I recommend this one from FolkArt. It includes four colors that glow-in-the-dark and four neon colors that glow during the day. Each has a creamy texture that makes it simple to distribute for equal coverage.

Rust-Oleum 267026 Glow-in-the-Dark Spray Paint

Yes, Rust-Oleum also makes glow-in-the-dark spray paint. When activated, it lasts between four and eight hours. For the best results, apply a coat of white primer first. Did I mention it’s also good for outdoor use?

Glow-in-the-Dark Painting Ideas

Just to get those creative juices pumping, here are some gorgeous ideas using glow-in-the-dark paints.

1. Rock Decorations

With glow-in-the-dark paint, it’s incredibly easy to turn a trivial object into one that looks amazing. Notice how easy it is to play with colors and patterns that are visible in the dark.

The best part is that the more rocks you gather, the more opportunities you have to create some incredible pieces.

2. Concrete Paver Stones

Imagine going outside at night and seeing your entire walkway illuminated like this. Painting concrete pavers using glow-in-the-dark paint really brings that sparkle of fairytale right outside your own house.

And don’t worry if you’re not able to draw mandalas by yourself, as there are plenty of stencils you can find in art and craft stores.

3. Fairy Jars

Sure, it’s always a fun and cheap idea to put some fairy lights inside a mason jar to create beautiful decor pieces. But let’s face it: having to buy replacement batteries constantly is a nuisance.

With glow-in-the-dark paint, you can turn pretty much any glass or transparent recipient into a nocturnal decor piece.

4. Art Pieces

Art is such a subjective matter that pretty much anyone can create an art piece. Sure, it might not sell like NFTs, but it’s something to hang on your wall and be proud of.

This is a great visual of how amazing glow-in-the-dark paint would be for making something space-themed. But the themes are actually limitless.

5. Furniture

I’ll be honest: with all my experience and research on several DIY topics, I never imagined furniture painted with glow-in-the-dark paint could look so good.

When I look at this bed, it almost makes me feel like I’m floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean. For some, it might be scary, but it’s kind of romantic. Quick, someone hide my bedroom furniture!

6. Wall Murals

Who needs wallpaper when you have paint that glows in the dark? If you’re ready to take your bedroom decor to a whole new level, just combine glow-in-the-dark paint with a wall.

Let your imagination run rampant with this one, especially since the entire wall is your canvas. Going with a galaxy-type theme is common, but just think about what you would want to see when the lights go out.

7. Lawn Decor

With glow-in-the-dark paint, it’s pretty easy to turn your lawn into something out of a fairytale. From flower pots to the tables in your gazebo, pretty much anything can be turned into a glowing masterpiece. Add fairy lights for an even more magical effect.

8. Baby’s Room

If you want your nursery to feel extremely cozy and welcoming, you can use glow-in-the-dark paint on walls or decorations across the room.

For instance, you can draw your own starry sky for your baby to gaze at. The beauty of this setup is that even when your baby transitions to a toddler, the magical sparkly stars and moon will still be there to decorate their room.

9. Home Decor

Here is yet another example of how glow-in-the-dark paint can further enhance the beauty of an object because it makes it visible even at night.

And when you’re willing to paint playful and intricate surfaces like these, the silhouettes are even more striking. You can paint pretty much anything you’d be willing to see in the dark, from vases to mirror frames.

10. Halloween Decorations

Here’s the thing about glow-in-the-dark paint: it is so versatile that it can be utterly romantic or insanely creepy, depending on how it’s used.

While we’ve gazed at plenty of gorgeous decorative objects and paint application ideas, here’s one that’s bound to give you the chills.

If you’re looking to step up your Halloween decor game, glow-in-the-dark paint might have that unique touch you’re looking for.

How to Make Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Brighter

  • Bring the objects closer to a light source. Some glow-in-the-dark paints need to be charged. The more light, the brighter the glow at night.
  • If you apply the paint on a lighter background, it’s bound to be brighter.
  • Apply a few coats of paint to get a nice and thick (and bright) consistency.
  • Consider charging the paint with black lights or UV flashlights.

FAQs

Before diving too far into your new project, consider some key points.

Can I Mix Glow-in-the-Dark Paint With Normal Paint?

You can mix glow-in-the-dark and regular paint, but why would you? It’s better to apply your glow-in-the-dark paint over other layers of paint (preferably lighter in color).

Does Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Need a Primer?

Glow-in-the-dark paint will definitely leave you with a better result if you apply a coat of white primer before slapping on the actual paint.

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Can You Put a Clear Coat Over Glow-in-the-Dark Paint?

Yes. In fact, some clear topcoats are designed as being particularly effective when applied over glow-in-the-dark paint.

Does Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Wash Off Clothes?

It depends on the type of paint and material in question. Most glow-in-the-dark paints can be washed off some pieces of fabric, while others (those with a more porous nature) might be more difficult to clean.

Why is My Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Not Glowing?

When light (natural or artificial) shines on the painted object, it charges it. It will glow better if the light is close, direct, and strong. Any shadows, blocking of light, or inconsistencies in light during charging (like when the sun goes down slowly) will make the object less likely to glow.


Ready to Light It Up?

Glow-in-the-dark paint for walls can be used in a variety of ways outside of what it’s meant for. It’s perfect for bedroom walls or outdoor decor and can even be used as body paint (note that it should be specifically labeled for that!).

You can bring your own twist to these glow-in-the-dark painting ideas and create something truly unique and personalized.

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About the Author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author and Award-Winning Interior Designer. Using her years of hands-on experience, she now writes about design and DIY. She currently resides on the rocky East Coast of Canada with her family and slobbery bulldog.