Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Ceramic Mugs?

acrylic paint on ceramic mugs

Here’s the good news: Acrylic paint is a perfect fit on ceramic mugs or tiles. Many naïve painters think acrylic paint only glosses on canvas materials. This is not true. Usually, apart from glass, ceramic is another material you would paint with acrylic.

To know how to seal acrylic paints on a ceramic mug, one needs to learn a few things. However, what happens is that to protect any paint design, the surface of the material to be painted usually informs the type of paint to opt for and the painting steps to choose. Some protective sealants come in spray form while others require the use of a paintbrush. What’s most important is that the sealant should be dishware and drink-safe.

If you choose to paint with acrylics but are wary of firing the unglazed ceramic materials, sealing the acrylic paint on a ceramic mug becomes a walk in the park.

You can use acrylic sealant or spray vanishes, including the popular water-based polyurethane (PUR), a plastic material. However, it would help if you allowed the acrylics to dry before baking. The good thing is that acrylic sealant is one of the best and safest protective sealants you can find out there. It is also drink-safe. On the flip side, using acrylic paint on a ceramic mug is water-safe only if you fire the mug in a kiln.

Let’s get into the fray.

2 Ways to Seal Acrylic Paint on a Ceramic Mug

Sealing acrylic paint on a ceramic mug is pretty easy, time-saving, and cost-effective. There are two ways to seal acrylic paint on a ceramic mug. You can seal with acrylics and water-based polyurethane glaze or bake using the conventional oven system (baking method). Sometimes, the two methods go hand in hand. Either way, you’re good to go.

Let’s get through each of these methods.

Method 1: Using Acrylic Sealant or Spray Vanishes

Using acrylics or water-based Polyurethane varnish is one of the modern methods to seal acrylic paint on a ceramic surface. The process is quite convenient and simple. But take all necessary precautions by wearing your hand gloves.

Materials needed

  • Newspaper
  • Acrylic coat/polyurethane
  • Painter’s tape
  • Kiln
  • Gloves

Step 1: Take the Mug from the oven 

Now that the ceramic coffee mug has been baked and cured in the oven, it’s time to apply a clear sealant to protect the mug and ensure it lasts a long time. It uses a thin portion of finely produced clear acrylic paint to seal works perfectly.

Please note that this step is optional for glazed ceramics. The truth is that acrylic sealant works pretty well on glazed ceramic mugs. The sealant is dishwasher-safe, and you won’t need to bake the mug before applying the sealant to it.

Step 2: Spread the Newspaper on the Floor

Next is to place the clean newspaper on a smooth, clean flat surface and spread it out. The essence of using the newspaper is to protect your workspace. You can use tape to tack the newspaper down at the edges. This will prevent it from interfering with your work if blown by the wind. 

Step 3: Place the Mug in the newspaper

Turning it upside down, place the ceramic mug on the newspaper. Make sure the mug sits at the center of the newspaper. Make sure you tape areas you won’t want the sealant to get to.

Step 4: Spray the mug

With your acrylic paint, start to seal the mug with the acrylic finish. Apply the sealant thinly and evenly to cover and coat every part (except the inside) of the mug.  As much as possible, do not let the protective sealant get into the inside of the ceramic mug. Also, avoid letting the varnish get to the top inch of the coffee mug where the lip will touch when sipping.

Step 5: Allow the acrylic to dry

After spraying the acrylic sealant, allow it to dry for about 15 minutes before removing it from the surface of the newspaper. Otherwise, it won’t stick or cure properly. While other sealants or spray finishes may take longer, acrylic protective sealant usually doesn’t take more than a quarter of an hour.

Method 2: Using Baking (Oven) Method

You need the oven method to make your ceramic mug safe for drinking. Here’s a step-by-step guide to using the oven method to seal your acrylic painted ceramics:

Step 1: Paint the Ceramic Mug

Apply the acrylic paint to the surface of the ceramic and allow the first layer to dry before painting the second coat. Allow the actual paint to dry for at least one hour before baking. Leave the mug for about 24 hours to arid—place in a cold oven. 

Step 2: Place and Pre-heat the Oven

After drying for at least 24 hours, it’s time to place the painted ceramic dishware in the oven. Just before you do that, pre-heat the oven. Don’t forget to set the temperature at a minimal level. The science behind this is that the ceramic mug needs to heat slowly. Otherwise, they may crack. To achieve this, therefore, you should place the mug in the oven only after setting the temperature range of 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 150-177 degrees Celsius).

Step 3: Bake the Ceramic   

After placing the ceramic mug and setting the oven temperature, turn the timer beeper on your oven. The timer alarm should be set to 30 minutes for proper baking. Baking takes some to cure the ceramic mug. Turn the oven off once the alarm goes off.

Step 4: Allow Oven to Cool

Allow the oven to cool for another one hour or so before you touch the mug. Leave the mug inside the oven through the cooling period of the oven. Doing this will achieve two things for you: the baking will properly come out excellent; the ceramic mug will also be dishware-safe.     


Why should I seal my ceramic mug with paint?

Sealing the paint of the ceramic dishware you wish to drink from should be a culture you should become used to. The reason is simple. Doing this will prevent the acrylic paint from quickly peeling off or flaking. The other side is that the peeling acrylic paint is water-soluble. When it gets into your water, the paint will dissolve and make the water unsafe to drink.

Additionally, adding acrylic sealant to your ceramic mug makes the item shine while providing a quality soft touch. Plus, sealant also enhances the acrylic paint’s color saturation.

Can I bake acrylic paint on a ceramic mug?

Yes, you can. The step is pretty simple. Apply the paint using the steps and allow it to dry. Place the ceramic mug in an oven. Switch your oven to about 177 degrees Celsius. Let the mug stay in the oven for about 10 minutes, then bake the mug for about 30 minutes. Bring it out and allow it to dry. By the time the ceramic mug is dried, the acrylic paint would have stuck to the mug.

Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof or Water-resistant?

Sealing acrylic paint on ceramic mugs doesn’t mean that water won’t penetrate the paint. However, the acrylic paint will withstand contact with or effect of water for a long time. Essentially, water won’t be able to wipe off the paint. Being a polymer, acrylic paint is a bit porous and so will soak up water gradually. Eventually, the paint will feel softer when you touch it before the water dries off. 

Are paint pens suitable for ceramics?

Absolutely! For your information, paint pens work pretty well on ceramic dishware. The paint pens also work on pottery and plastic, stone, paper, and glass surfaces. The good news is that the paint colors dry off very quickly but won’t flake easily.  In addition, they’re abrasion-free and water-resistant.

Final Thoughts

If, before now, you didn’t know how to seal acrylic paint on ceramic mugs, this article offers you a detailed insight into the process and other related questions. The good thing is that the DIY steps are fun, and the result is impressive and glossy.

You won’t need a professional to handle the job as the procedure saves you a lot of time and money. Plus, with an acrylic painted ceramic mug, you can boast of sending out lovely gifts and souvenirs. You can also check out some acrylics that are primarily suitable for unglazed ceramics. Overall, be on the lookout for dishwasher-safer sealants.

Although it may wear off due to constant washing, acrylic paint is non-toxic. However, ensure that the sealant you’re using on your ceramic mug is of high-quality material and designed to make your drinks safe for consumption.

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