Can you get creative in something that seems trivial, like redecorating your home or your front yard? The answer is an obvious yes, but the bigger question concerns different ways of approaching a home renovation. And that’s where glow in the dark wall paint comes in.
In this article, I will go over glow in the dark paint in general, but the focus will primarily be on painting your walls with it. So, if you’ve ever needed an in-depth guide on glow in the dark paint, you’ve come to the right place.
You’re going to find out everything there is to know about this type of product, including how it works, how you can apply it and/or remove it, how safe it is, and where you can use it. Moreover, I’ll list some of the best options for walls that 2020 has to offer.
What Is Glow In the Dark Paint?
At first glance, the answer should be obvious. Regular paint does not glow in the dark, no matter where you put it. So, how does glow in the dark paint…well, glow?
To achieve this effect, paint manufacturers infuse the liquid with phosphors. When you expose this type of paint to some kind of radiant energy, it will emit light for a certain period of time.
Even though phosphor is related to the term phosphorus, we still use it to describe both phosphorescent and fluorescent lights.
How Does It Work?
As stated above, in order to get this paint to do its thing, you need to expose it to a particular type of radiant energy. Phosphors react to UV radiation, and the one source that constantly provides this type of energy is the Sun. You can also get UV lights from different sources, but I’ll cover that a little later; for now, let’s focus on application.
So, let’s say that you want to paint an object with luminescent paint, like a child’s toy. What is the best way to go about doing it AND ensuring that it glows for a while?
The answer is simple — coat the object in paint and leave it out in direct sunlight for several hours. Most people advise anywhere between three and four hours, tops.
Once charged, the object should glow in the dark for roughly the same time period that it was exposed to direct sunlight. So, if you want the paint to last, leave it out for longer than four hours.
But what about the walls? More precisely, what about the inner walls, the ones that are not exposed to direct sunlight?
Well, technically, they can be — simply move the curtains and raise the blinds. You’ll have as much sunlight as the room needs.
How Do I Apply It to the Wall?
There are generally two different ways you can apply luminescent paint onto the walls:
- Regular, solid one-color coating
- Painting a mural (or individual elements of one)
Both of these approaches have their own merits and flaws. For example, you can paint your whole room in a single color. Not only will it glow incredibly bright, but it’ll also be an awesome addition to any house party you’re planning.
If you have kids, they will love spending time in that ‘yellow room’ or ‘green room.’ More to the point, children who have a prominent fear of the dark can sleep easily with this paint on their walls.
However, having a single color is somewhat boring. If you’re the adventurous type, I suggest trying murals.
Painting individual segments of your room with an invisible luminescent hue can be incredibly fun. And that fun only increases when these segments shine bright at night.
Even the dullest white wall can come to life with luminescent hues.
But working on a mural is incredibly difficult, and more often than not, people tend to try to paint themselves, which can lead to catastrophic results. So, before you start working on your mural, consult an expert on painting and take their ideas into consideration.
The Best Glow In the Dark Paint Products in 2020
1. Aurora Bright Green Glow In the Dark Paint
Just take one look at this product, and you’ll know you’re getting potent stuff. SpaceBeams has been selling top-quality artistic items for years now, and this luminescent paint is right there at the very top.
The substance itself is made from non-toxic, biodegradable materials. Not only will it not harm the environment, but your own skin will be safe while you’re applying it. In other words, you can use it to do body painting and literally be the light of the party.
But how does it perform when applied to the walls? Well, it can shine bright throughout the night, and all it takes is a 10-second charge. Astoundingly, you don’t need to expose it to sunlight — a good UV lamp will do the trick!
Of course, Aurora Bright Green can cover more than just walls and your own skin. In fact, it was practically tailor-made for wood, plastic, metal, fabric, and glass surfaces. You can transform any part of your home into a phosphorescent playhouse in a matter of minutes.
However, there are a few setbacks to Aurora Bright Green. Personally, I’d prefer it if it wasn’t sold in such small quantities. You will need a lot of it to cover a wall, and buying multiple packs at once just isn’t practical.
However, it is a perfect solution if you’re doing murals or individual drawings on walls; it’s easy to apply, non-flammable, and shines brighter than most commercial options out there.
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2. UV Neon Black
UV Neon Black comes in a set of ten different, vibrant colors. This product is absolutely perfect for the artist in you; with so many different color choices, you can paint whatever you choose on your walls, ceilings, floors, wooden surfaces, and anywhere else indoors.
But that’s nowhere near the limit of UV Neon Black. You can freely apply it anywhere outside, too, be it on the wooden side of your home or the garden path beneath your front steps.
In order to get the full effect, make sure to apply two coats. A single coat will show fine enough under UV black lighting, but if you want your art to stand out in the darkness, the second coat will do the job.
Like Aurora, UV Neon Black has the disadvantage of not providing enough paint for covering an entire wall. Instead, use it for small-scale projects and individual drawings.
The paint itself is safe, non-toxic, and made from natural ingredients. It does dry faster than other options on this list, however, so make sure to apply it quickly when working on your art.
3. DecoArt DS50-3Glo
Most of the paints I’ve listed here are liquids or pastes. DecoArt DS50-3 Glo, however, is a spray — and quite a versatile one, if I may say so.
Using a spray might take some getting used to if you’re not someone who enjoys graffiti art. So, if you want to create impeccable art, you can simply make cardboard stencils and ‘fill in the gaps,’ so to speak. When you want to let your creativity loose, though, grab a can of DecoArt and start spraying away.
Aside from being non-toxic and easy to apply, DecoArt also has one more interesting property. Namely, you can use it on its own, but if you need to, you can mix it with other transparent acrylic paints. And no matter how you apply it, you can expect the coat of paint to recharge during the day.
Naturally, there are some limitations to DecoArt Glo. While you can apply it to fabric, walls, wood, metal, etc., you shouldn’t use it on skin. The ingredients are not toxic, but they’re not exactly safe either.
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4. Neon Nights
Right off the bat, Neon Nights has run into a stumbling block; if you want a product that you can use on your skin or your clothes, then this set of eight UV colors isn’t for you.
However, that doesn’t stop it from being a spectacular set of paints for walls, wood, metal, and plastic, which is why it deserves a spot on this list.
Just like UV Neon Black, Neon Nights offers several different color choices. You can really experiment with your art and add some variety to each element.
And again, just like with UV Neon Black, you will want to apply more than one coat of paint and use a UV light to get the full effect. But interestingly, you can even see the faint glow of this product during the daytime, which just goes to show how powerful Neon Nights is.
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5. Astro Glow
Astro Glow has a lot of the same setbacks as the paints that were listed before it. It comes in a tiny bottle, making it unsuitable for complete wall painting, it dries rather quickly, and it’s not a product you can use on your skin.
Of course, there’s a good reason Astro Glow is right here with the other heavyweights. Not only is it non-toxic and non-flammable, but it’s water-based, so you can easily remove it from surfaces like metal, plastic, and wood.
Moreover, it will actually glow in the dark without the need for a UV light. So, if you want to work on small projects such as wall artwork and decorating individual objects, Astro Glow is the paint for you.
6. DayGlo Fluorescent Solvent-Based Paint
Now we’re moving on to the big stuff! DayGlo’s fluorescent paint comes in a nice, sizable tin that you can use to completely cover your walls and your ceiling with luminescence. It’s an amazing product for large-scale projects, and it comes in several different colors.
Of course, it’s not without its flaws. I know a few people who have used DayGlo, and they complain that it clumps easily. While that might be expected with most commercial paints out there, luminescent or otherwise, it’s still a problem that will take time and effort to address. And that’s the time and effort you don’t have if you’re rushing to get your home ready on time for Halloween or Thanksgiving.
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7. Art ‘N Glow
Art ‘N Glow’s paint is a bit of an anomaly. It’s possibly the only popular glow in the dark paint that is made by a small, locally owned business. And people online can’t seem to get enough of it.
The product itself is made from strontium aluminate glow powder and premium acrylic dye. And while this mixture does dry up too quickly when you open it, it’s perfect for mural painting and small projects. Not only does it glow spectacularly bright, but it will also stay that way for a very long time.
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How Can I Remove Glow In the Dark Paint?
Removing luminescent paint from glass, wood, plastic, and metal is relatively easy. Most of the time, the paint itself will be removed with a simple wash. Other times, you will need to get a bit creative.
But what about walls? Clearly, you can’t just wash off the paint because of how rough the surface is.
Well, sadly, the most effective way to get rid of luminescent paint is to either scrape it off or paint over it. Either way, you’ll need to get a new coat of paint on the walls.
The steps to removing luminescence from your walls are simple enough. First, try to remove as much of the paint as you can with fine sandpaper. Next, apply two coats of primer-sealer over the wall patches you’ve sanded.
Finally, pick a different, regular paint and either repaint the whole room or just the parts with the primer-sealer on them.
Can I Apply a New Coat of Regular Paint Over It?
I completely understand that the steps listed above involve a lot of tedious work. In fact, a lot of people who have used luminescent paint before usually ask me if they can simply paint over it.
Naturally, you CAN try this option. However, keep in mind that glow in the dark paint isn’t exactly a typical wall-covering material.
The phosphors that produce luminescence can be quite potent. In fact, they can continue to glow even if you cover them up with a thin coat of paint; all they need to do is recharge when exposed to sunlight.
So, in order to prevent that from happening, make sure to apply at least two coats of regular paint. That way, no UV rays can penetrate far enough to reach the phosphors.
Of course, you always have the option of applying wallpaper, but that’s a topic I might cover in-depth in a future article.
How Long Does Glow in the Dark Paint Last?
Just like with regular paint, luminescent colorants don’t last forever. Over time, glow in the dark paint will begin to fade, and the phosphors in it will start to lose their ability to recharge themselves with UV light.
When applying the paint itself, you’ll need to do your research on the product. Some luminescent paints are long-lasting, while others will literally get washed away hours after application.
Generally speaking, if you don’t open the can, the paint inside will retain its luminescence and recharging features for roughly three years. Of course, you need to make sure to keep the paint in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
When you apply the paint to the walls, it will last for about ten years. You can extend its life to 12 years if you add a paint sealer, though. Sealers will prevent the phosphors inside the paint from breaking down, making them more potent and active in the process.
Finally, there’s the post-charge time. Once your paint is well and charged by UV rays, it will glow in the dark for four hours. However, times may vary with different brands, so always make sure to learn more about the product before testing it out.
Phosphors in luminescent paint require frequent exposure to UV rays in order for the paint to glow properly. Otherwise, you will get a faint, eerie glow that makes your home look disturbing, to say the least.
As stated earlier, the best source of UV rays is sunlight, so if you need an object to glow at night, coat it with the paint of your choice and take it outside for a few hours.
Interestingly, if you were to paint the outside walls of your home, they’d be exposed to UV rays every day. You could then expect your home to glow at night for at least a decade.
Indoor wall paint is a bit tricky to recharge, though. The best solution is to allow as much sunlight into your home as possible in order to reach the phosphors.
That might not work if the room you’re painting has no clear access to a lot of sunlight, like a bathroom or a closet. But then again, you’re most likely not going to be painting these rooms in luminescent colors in the first place.
Can I Use Artificial Lights?
Lots of man-made UV lights can cover entire rooms. Depending on their size and type, you can cover rooms of any square footage.
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However, these lights are simply not as powerful as sunlight. In fact, more often than not, they will simply be glorified LED lights with a mild color palette.
Of course, sometimes, artificial UV light might work. Still, keep in mind that you would have to buy a specific product that can get recharged by it. If your home doesn’t get enough sunlight for some reason, and you need a man-made source of UV rays, make sure to pick the right brand of luminescent paint that you can recharge with anything other than sunlight.
The Safety of Glow In the Dark Paint
Readers often ask me whether glow in the dark paint is safe for them and their kids. To be perfectly honest, it’s about as safe as any other paint out there — if you’re careful, nothing will happen to you or your loved ones.
When applying this paint onto your walls, make sure to wear gloves, goggles, and other protective gear. The same goes for your kids; it’s not unusual for children to help paint murals in their rooms during a renovation. Doing it with luminescent dye will help you connect with them and have lots of fun in the process.
However, make sure that your child does not inhale or ingest the paint and that you both clean up after you’re done. In addition, ventilate the room so that any potential fumes might evaporate and not cause any respiratory problems for your family.
Where Can I Use It?
Indoor and outdoor walls are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to decorating your home with luminescent paint. If you want to get really creative, especially during the holiday season (Halloween, Christmas, etc.), you can cover other areas of your home with glow in the dark paint. Let’s list a few right now:
- Front porches
- Garden paths
- Garden ornaments
- Outdoor pools
- Swing sets, trampolines, and other outdoor playsets
- Dog houses
DIY Glow In the Dark Paint
While a lot of people opt to buy their own luminescent paint or use stickers, some prefer to make their own paint. And if you’re one of those people who enjoy a little DIY from time to time, you’re in luck.
There are several different methods of making your own glow in the dark paint out there, but I will list the two that work the best. They are easy to do, relatively quick, and will save you some money if you can’t afford the branded stuff.
Method 1: The Phosphorescent Powder Recipe
- If you buy it in large particles, you will get one basic color that will have a speckled look when you apply it.
- If you buy it in small particles, the finished result won’t be as vibrant, but it will have a smoother, sleeker look to it.
- When buying colorless powder, make sure that the paint you choose is compatible with it.
- If you want the end result to be invisible when you turn on the lights, use acrylic gel.
Once you’ve purchased all of the ingredients you need, proceed to the following steps:
- Put 1 part powder and 5 parts paint in one bowl or container.
- Stir the two until they are mixed well.
- Start painting.
Method 2: Highlighters and Water
As easy as it might be to get phosphorescent powder, buying a few highlighters (or reusing old ones) is the cheaper option. However, the end result will not be as bright or as durable as the phosphorescent powder solution.
Nevertheless, it’s still a cool idea for parties and special events, as well as redecorating children’s rooms and other areas of your home. The recipe is a bit more complicated than the previous one, though:
- Open the highlighter and remove the felt strip slowly.
- Put the felt strip into a bowl.
- Pour water into the bowl and let the color bleed out of the felt strip; pull it out once it turns white.
- Pour ½ cup of white cornstarch into the water and stir until it completely dissolves.
- Add some food coloring.
- Start painting.
There are so many different ways you can apply glow in the dark paint around the house, with your walls being the most obvious first step. It’s a fun activity for everyone in the household and an excellent way to make your holidays just a little more special. As long as you find the right product and follow all of the safety instructions listed on the packaging, you’ll have yourself a luminescent home that you can be proud of.