How Do I Choose the Best Porcelain Paints?

Anna B. Smith

The best porcelain paints for patchwork are liquid epoxy based, while the best paints for artistic projects are a powdered form of water based enamel. Epoxy based paint creates a smooth finish which will bond with the existing porcelain surface. Water based enamels show brush strokes, painting direction, and overlap to form new colors. These characteristics are more desirable when creating portraits and landscapes on tile and china, and are not suitable when refinishing sinks or bathtubs.

Porcelain paint and a paint brush.
Porcelain paint and a paint brush.

The more functional versions of porcelain paints are often labeled as tub and tile paint. This product is typically a liquid epoxy based paint and can be brushed over the existing surface using any type of animal hair brush. Finishes which will be applied to an entire surface, such as a bathtub, should include a self-leveling compound to prevent runs and pooling along the surface of the painted area. Paints which will fill in cracks and crevices should include a bonding agent that will encourage adhesion of the patched area to the existing surface. This type of product is frequently sold in base white with color tinters for an additional price, so that do it yourself project leaders can perfectly match the color of the new paint to that of the existing porcelain area.

Porcelain paints give items a glossy finish.
Porcelain paints give items a glossy finish.

Porcelain paints may also be used to decorate blank ceramic surfaces artistically. Ceramic tile blanks, usually white or beige in color, are used in a manner similar to a canvas. Paint is applied using special tile painting techniques to create beautiful landscapes, portraits, or flowers as the artist dictates. These techniques can be applied to tea cups, serving platters, plates, kettles, and other forms of fine china.

The type of porcelain paints necessary to decorate china and ceramic tile blanks is typically sold in powder form. A wide variety of colors is available in small vials containing the powdered form of a water based enamel paint. They may be purchased from specialty craft stores or through the Internet from international suppliers. The powder must be mixed first with a mineral oil base to form a paste, which can then be loaded onto paint brushes and applied to the decorating surface. This type of paint is favored by artists finishing figurines, fine china, and porcelain tile blanks which will later be framed.

Some manufacturers of porcelain paints also provide a select number of colors in handheld liquid pens. The painted line produced by these pens is somewhat wide and broad, and generally cannot be used for fine detail work. Once the painting has been completed, the porcelain item may be baked in an oven for a short amount of time to encourage the paint to set and form a finish similar to glaze. This type of painting product is often used in casual settings to create family or classroom memorabilia from plates, mugs, and ceramic tile blanks.

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Discussion Comments


a visitor burned dime size spots into an epoxy vanity top with a curling iron.

i want to paint a flower to cover the burn marks. what paint will go on easy but stand up well in this bathroom sink area? --sally

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