What’s the Best Way to Paint a Mason Jar?


What is the best way to paint a mason jar? You ask, I tell. Mason jar crafts have gotten so big lately and while I’m a big fan of collecting the the vintage versions of them, I can’t say I’m a fan of every fad that comes along. But some ideas are too good to ignore. So I am going to be talking about them here.

It’s not only fun but your jar or jars will be great to use for decorations, parties and celebrations, or you could turn them into luminaries or lamps. So many possibilities… So let’s dive in now!

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best way to paint mason jars

Preparing Your Jars

Be sure and line your workspace with something protective other than paper. I used to save newspaper as a protective tool, but I don’t use it directly under three-dimensional objects like jars, as the paint that forms around the bottom of the jar or the rim may leave an unsightly ring behind and mar the finished paint job.  I know you don’t want to waste time trying to pull a freshly painted jar off a piece of paper that it’s stuck to -ugh! So best to use aluminum foil or wax paper instead.

Next thing to do is to get a tool for application like a cosmetic sponge (I used to use cotton balls, but they always leave fuzzy-wuzzies behind on everything .) A cosmetic sponge works great for this – dab it with some rubbing alcohol and go all around your jar. This will make the paint surface optimum, plus remove any smudges or fingerprints on it.

prime before you paintPriming Your Jar First

This is the next big step. You want to apply a white base coat of gesso or primer so your paint work will look its best, and there won’t be unsightly streaks or transparent spots left behind. The paint application will go on smooth as silk when you start with a good coat of primer.

So be sure to do that first. You can use a sponge applicator like I do or a wide bristle brush. Let it dry for several hours.

One small exception to the “prime first” rule….Actually, two. If you are looking to paint your jar(s) on the inside, disregard, you won’t need to do this. Also, if you are looking to do a stained glass kind of  effect, this won’t be necessary either.

Now on to the fun part – let’s look at the different styles that are popular now with mason jar craft enthusiasts!

Spray Painting

Using spray paint is one popular way to paint mason jars. It can work well – I’m not a spray paint junkie, but sometimes it’s fun…just remember, it’s an outside job, literally speaking, so take it outside. You can spray on a solid color or do a two-tone effect. Metallic colors can look very nice, like silver or rose gold.

Here is a good example. To get the two toned look, apply a piece of tape (be sure it’s painter’s tape, NOT masking tape – the latter is bad to leave residue behind.) around the middle of the jar and apply paint below it. Easy! And so elegant too. A number of these jars would be great to use to decorate for weddings, showers and other celebrations to add a touch of class.

Photo credit: Image by vickibarone

Painting in the Rustic Look

The “distressed” look is very popular among the farmhouse enthusiasts, and even though I don’t go for that look on my own (I’m into real vintage collectibles – not just getting “the look” but that’s just me.) I did however want to try it out. I have a large 64 oz jr that may be antique or vintage that I inherited and figured I’d try my hand at this. It looked fun to do, too.

I would choose a pastel color or one that is kind of muted and neutral – think light gray, light turquoise, peach or seafoam green – something that equates to “vintage”. Bold, brighter colors make you think of modern and contemporary. Here are some good colors and finishes that would work well for getting the vintage look.

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Both the paint kind I use and what’s known as “chalk paints” are very effective for this technique. Chalk paints, as their name implies, already have a matte look to them, and they come in more conservative colors which would bode well for this project.

painting ball jar rustic

I chose a yellow ochre shade, and applied about three coats , one by one. You will need to do the same, to get the distressed look with sandpaper, which you’ll see where this is going in a moment, so you need to apply multiple coats, let them dry in between. I’d wait a day if you need to before getting to the “distressing” part.

shabby chic mason jar painting

Take some medium grit sandpaper or you could also use a medium-coarse grit emery board like I’m using here. Rub over the raised letters on the jar, where you see the words “mason” or there could be another wording. Pretty soon you will see bits of paint fleck off and semi-reveal the layers of paint underneath.

That’s the shabby chic look guys! You can afterward apply some spray on sealant to preserve it, I would use matte or satin, not gloss, to preserve that rustic look, and adorn it with something like a raffia tie or jute cord.

mason jar distressed look


Drip Painting

Another look that’s really cool is the “drip” effect. This can be done after you have the base coat on it. Try to choose a color scheme that will complement the base color. You can also thin the paint a little or add a blending agent to it to increase the flow.

The effects you can get here can be really stunning…

Elevate the jar on top of something so that when the paint runs down it will not leave puddles behind. Squirt the paint around the neck or bottom of the jar and let it naturally drip down the sides, creating a unique special effect.

Adding a Solid Color to the Inside

This is if you just want to paint it on the inside, a good idea for a centerpiece or other project, like a lamp. (Ever seen those?) This is not to be confused with “tinting” (a whole other concept). To do this you apply paint to the jar starting out by squirting the amount into the bottom, then tilt the sides to spread it around. After all sides are well covered, turn it upside down to allow the rest of the paint to drip out naturally.

Image credit: Image by amandarachlee

You could also use this method and partially cover the inside or bottom, it will take more care and caution to do so, but you could end up with a beautiful two-toned look that would be great for home decor or party centerpieces.

Well, these are the main ways you can paint a mason jar like a true artiste., I’m sure there are others, but these I found seem to be the most popular. hope you will have fun with at least one of these! Which of these are YOU going to try?

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