If you are working on redecorating the indoor or outdoor of your home and want to do something a little different, then using glow-in-the-dark paint can be a great solution for you. Allowing people to be creative, there are so many possibilities when it comes to what projects you can complete.
Glow-in-the-dark paints are available as either fluorescent or phosphorescent and are great for including in murals, signs, or accents on your walls. However, you may be wondering how long the paint will last before the glow begins to wear off and fade.
In the can, glow-in-the-dark paint tends to last between three and five years but when applied to a surface and left to dry, it can glow for around ten years with some paints even lasting twelve years if a clear topcoat has been applied to preserve the integrity of the pigment.
In this guide, we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about glow-in-the-dark paints by delving into the different kinds of paint you should consider as well as how you should apply the paint and what you need to consider when conducting your own research.
What is Glow-in-the-Dark Paint?
Glow-in-the-paint is exactly how it sounds – it is paint that glows in the dark or when exposed to blacklight or UV lights. Despite its modern-looking appearance and aesthetic, glow-in-the-dark paint has actually been used for hundreds of years although the colors available then would only be those that occur naturally in phosphors rather than additional colorings.
Therefore, the only colors that could be used when glow-in-the-dark paint was first established were blue, green, and yellow. Other colors were possible to find but they didn’t have the same level of pigmentation and vibrancy and therefore didn’t glow for as long.
Nowadays, it is possible to have any color of glow-in-the-dark paint thanks to the use of artificial coloring which can be added without affecting the quality of the brightness. However, the best results tend to be green, blue, and yellow since they naturally have phosphorescent qualities in them.
The great thing about glow-in-the-dark paint is that it can be used on an array of different surfaces making it highly versatile and ideal for all kinds of projects.
Depending on what brand and type of paint you can use glow-in-the-dark paint on wood, metal, plastic, and fabric, among many other surfaces which lends itself nicely to all kinds of projects. Glow-in-the-dark paint can even be safe for the skin depending on what brand you are using.
There are two different types of glow-in-the-dark paints which are fluorescent and phosphorescent and sometimes there are options that combine both kinds of paints. The former is great for those who want to see slight coloring during daylight hours as it will appear a paler shade of the color used.
A fluorescent paint glows when exposed to blacklight or UV light whereas phosphorescent works completely differently. Phosphorescent paints charge up during the day and are completely invisible during this time before glowing in the dark automatically making it great for those who want to keep the glow-in-the-dark details hidden until nighttime.
Is Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Safe to Use?
Due to its luminous nature, there is a lot of concern revolving around glow-in-the-dark paints. This is because they used to contain radioactive elements in the past to make the color stand out more. However, due to modern safety regulations, there are absolutely no radioactive elements contained in any glow-in-the-dark paint that you purchase.
This is to ensure complete safety when using it so you don’t have to worry about any side effects or long-term damage. However, it is important to note that when applying the paint, you should make sure you are wearing the appropriate safety equipment such as safety goggles and a mask, especially if you are using an aerosol spray.
How Long Does Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Last?
How long glow-in-the-dark paint lasts depends on a variety of different factors. When it comes to fluorescent glow-in-the-dark paint, you’re more likely to have consistent results as they glow when exposed to certain lighting.
However, phosphorous paints are different as they contain natural particles that make them glow. If left unopened, phosphorous paint can last between three and five years with a strong glow, and once applied to a surface, the glow will last for around ten years.
However, if you use a protective topcoat primer as a final layer once the glow-in-the-dark paint has dried, you can expect the glow on the paint to last around twelve years as it will be able to maintain the pigmentation.
Another factor that can affect how long your paint will glow is whether the paint has been applied indoors or outdoors. If you have used your paint indoors then it is more likely to last a long whereas those who have used it outdoors can expect their paint to fade in a shorter amount of time because it will be exposed to harsh conditions, even if there is a topcoat applied.
Glow-in-the-dark Paint for Walls
With so many glow-in-the-dark paints available on the market today, it can be overwhelming to know which one is going to be best for your project. Bear in mind that the paints can vary between fluorescent and phosphorescent and some may even contain a combination of both.
The versatility of glow-in-the-dark paints can also come as water or oil-based paints that are stored in cans whereas there are other options such as aerosol sprays. The best option is the SpaceBeams Aurora Glow in The Dark Paint which provides a vibrant green coloring when there is no light while also remaining visible in a pale shade when exposed to light.
It can be used on a variety of different surfaces including wood, metal, fabric, plastic among many others making it brilliant for any kind of project. When used on a white or light surface, the color will be more pigmented and vibrant when it glows compared to darker backgrounds.
You can use this paint both indoors and outdoors; however, bear in mind that if you do use it outdoors then it is best to add a layer of topcoat primer on top of it to preserve the integrity of the coloring and pigmentation.
Acrylic Fluorescent Wall Paints
Acrylic fluorescent wall paints can add a great touch to any home and are formulated to provide a bright glow when exposed to UV lights or blacklights. Great for indoor and outdoor use, the acrylic nature of the pants means that you can apply these paints to all kinds of surfaces.
For the best results, apply the paint over a white or light background so the colors can stand out more, and when applying paint outdoors, apply a top coat over the paint once it has dried to provide plenty of protection. Here are some of the best options that you can use:
DayGlo Fluorescent Enamel Paint
The first option that you should consider is DayGlo’s Fluorescent Enamel Paint which is available in nine different colors and has been made with an advanced formula that makes it perfect for small and large projects. The integrated topcoat sealer means that the paint is more protected when used for outdoor projects.
Highly versatile, you can use this paint for a variety of different projects especially murals and it is great for covering block areas as well as intricate details. Ideal for using over oil-based primers, you can add extra protection to this paint by applying a clear topcoat to help preserve the vibrancy of the color.
Rust-Oleum 1932830 Fluorescent Spray
The second option is the Rust-Oleum 1932830 Fluorescent Spray which is great for those who want to cover larger areas quickly. Available in five different colors, this paint dries quickly and can be used on a variety of surfaces including wood, metal, concrete, and plastic among many others.
Bear in mind that whether you are applying this paint indoors or outdoors, you should always ensure the area is well-ventilated and make sure you are wearing proper safety apparel including a mask and safety goggles.
What Do I Need To Consider When Purchasing Phosphorescent Paint?
When purchasing phosphorescent paint, there are certain factors that you need to consider before making your purchase. This will ensure that you are not disappointed in your purchase whilst also knowing what to expect from the product.
Always think about what you are using the paint for, how much paint you will need, and the pigment color. Once you have thought about these aspects, you’ll be able to make a fully informed decision with confidence.
What you are using the paint for
The first thing to think about is what you are going to be using the paint for. Most people who use glow-in-the-dark paint want to create a colorful mural and it’s important to consider whether this will be painted indoors or outdoors.
If your mural is going to be inside then you don’t have to worry too much but if you are planning to paint outside, then you’ll have to consider purchasing a paint that can withstand all kinds of harsh conditions.
How much paint you will need
Another important factor is knowing how much paint you will need, especially if you are working on a larger project. Make sure that you apply thin layers of paint rather than one thick layer as this will ensure that the consistency and brightness of the paint will stand out more and have a smoother finish.
Pigment in the color
The third factor that you should consider is the pigment in the color. The stronger the pigment, the brighter and more vibrant the paint will be. Blue, green, and yellow occur naturally in phosphorus powders but any color pigment can be added so you can ensure that the paint is the exact color you want.
Choosing a paint that has a high number of particles per ounce means that the paint will glow for longer periods of time and be more vibrant in the result.
How To Apply the Paint on Walls
Once you have done your research and chosen the right paint for you and your project, it’s time to actually start applying the paint onto your walls.
In this section, we’ll be delving into everything you need to know about using the paint properly so you can have the best results with the smoothest finish.
How Does the Paint Actually Work?
Knowing how the paint actually works is important as it will mean that you apply the paint properly and will be able to get the best results. Here are some points that you need to remember when it comes to how the paint works:
- The color will appear more vibrant when painted on white backgrounds compared to darker walls.
- Make sure you apply a couple of thin layers of paint rather than one thick layer and ensure that the paint is dry before reapplying. You can use a hairdryer if you want to speed up the process.
- Using a smaller brush will help with any details you want to paint an intricate mural. Starting from the middle and working your way out will create a more consistent appearance.
- The phosphorescent paint may appear clear when you apply it so make sure you have a UV light to hand so you can keep an eye on what you are doing.
- If you want to create even shapes then using stencils can create crisp edges and better shaping.
- Phosphorescent paint charges naturally in daylight so is the best choice for outdoor use or on surfaces indoors that are exposed to plenty of natural sunlight. It can take around three to four hours for phosphorescent paints to charge and then they will glow by themselves when it is dark.
Make Your Own Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
If you are strapped for cash or cannot find the perfect paint that you had in mind, you can make your own paint. You will have to start by purchasing phosphorescent powder which can be found in any hobby or hardware store as well as online.
There is a wide array of different colors and textures that you can choose from to ensure that you pick the perfect option for you. When you are doing your research and making your decision, it’s important to ensure that the powder can be used with the paint that you want to use whether it is water or oil-based.
Fluorescent solutions will be seen in daylight more than phosphorescent options but the latter glows by itself after charging during daylight hours. The best way to make use of the brightness of the powder is to ensure that the paint has been applied onto a white background beforehand which will enhance the pigment.
The more finely ground the powder is, the smoother the finish will be. This is because larger granules can result in a rougher texture which may appear speckled or uneven.
It’s important to remember that when you mix the powder in with the paint, it won’t dissolve meaning that it will remain suspended in the mixture; however, it is important that you mix them together thoroughly in order to ensure that the mixture is evenly distributed and consistent.
Remember that the more powder you add to the mixture, the stronger the color will be and therefore is more likely to glow brighter. If you want your mixture to be completely invisible except when it is in the dark, you can use solutions such as clear coat or gel but ensure that you apply a couple of thin layers rather than one thick layer.
For those who want to make paint that only glows when exposed to blacklight or UV lights, there are several ways that you can make your own mixture to ensure that it does so. Here are just some of the most common methods that you can use:
The first thing you can use is a fluorescent powder which is most commonly used out of all the options. This is because there are options for both water and oil-based paints meaning that you can make the perfect mixture for yourself.
Always follow the instructions given on the pack that you purchase but the average solution usually has a ratio of 1 to 10. The best way to ensure consistency in your mixture is that placing the lid on top and shaking the can of paint.
Remember that painting on a white background will make the colors more vibrant which can be a downside to the invisibility as you may be able to see slight coloring during daylight if you do paint on a white background. If you haven’t painted on a white background, then you should be able to see the coloring at all.
The second option you can consider is using a highlighter which requires you to remove the felt strip and immerse the strip into a jar of water. Once the color has been worked out of the strip, you can get rid of the felt and then dissolve some white cornstarch into the liquid until it becomes thicker in its consistency.
You can add some coloring to reach your desired color which will then combine with the highlighter’s fluorescent particles to create your own blacklight paint.
Lastly, you can use laundry detergent if you want a cheaper solution and want to incorporate household materials. It may seem strange but laundry detergent brightens clothes through phosphorescent particles which is what makes it great for a DIY blacklight paint mixture.
Simply create your mixture by pouring some powder into a bowl and then shine your blacklight or UV light onto the powder. You’ll know if it contains the particles as it should glow. When you find a detergent that does glow, simply stir a tablespoon of it into some water-based paint whilst shining the blacklight on it.
Keeping adding detergent until you reach the desired brightness of the mixture and make sure that you keep a note of how much paint and detergent you are using in your mixture so you can ensure that you make another batch if needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does glow-in-the-dark paint work forever?
Glow-in-the-dark paint is not formulated to work forever meaning that you shouldn’t expect it to maintain the same level of vibrancy as times go on.
Depending on the quality of the paint, where you have painted, and what surface you have painted on, glow-in-the-dark paint can maintain its luminous qualities for around ten years and for twelve years if a protective topcoat primer has been applied.
Can you see glow-in-the-dark paint during the day?
When it comes to visibility during daylight hours, glow-in-the-dark paint can differ in the results depending on what kind of paint you use. Fluorescent paint can appear to have a pale coloring during daylight hours and brings bright and vibrant when exposed to blacklight or UV lights whereas phosphorescent paints will appear completely invisible during daylight hours as the particle absorb the sunlight rays to charge up and then they will glow for around three to four hours naturally when it gets dark.
How bright your glow-in-the-dark paint will appear depends on the background as well as paints applied to white and light backgrounds will produce a stronger color while at the same time allowing the colors to hide during the day.
Can you put a clear coat over glow-in-the-dark paint?
Not only can you put a clear topcoat over glow-in-the-dark paint but it is actually an advisable step, especially if you are working on an outside project. This is because the topcoat will help to preserve the pigmentation and integrity of the color whilst also ensuring that the paint itself won’t be damaged by any harsh conditions.
Always make sure that the glow-in-the-dark paint has completely dried before applying any clear topcoat and ensure that you apply it in thin layers so as not to overwhelm the paint underneath and create an inconsistent texture.
Can you add food coloring to glow-in-the-dark paint?
If you are struggling to find the perfect color for your paint, you can add food coloring to your mixture in order to create that perfect shade that will work best on your project. Make sure that you add a little bit at a time as you’ll be able to control the shade.
To conclude this guide, it’s important to remember that glow-in-the-dark paint varies when it comes to the quality which in turn will affect how long it will glow for. The highest quality phosphorescent options will glow for over 10 hours when charged whereas fluorescent paints glow when they are exposed to a UV light or a blacklight.
Knowing the differences between each kind of paint will help you to determine which one is going to be best for you.
The main difference to remember between the paints is that phosphorescent paint charges during daylight and is invisible when not glowing whereas fluorescent light doesn’t need to charge but glows when under certain kinds of light as previously mentioned.