For those who want their walls to have a unique appearance, glow-in-the-dark paint is one way to express creativity.
As a matter of fact, the glow of glow-in-the-dark paints does not last forever if you have applied them on your walls indoors or outdoors. This means you cannot expect to keep the objects shining forever if you apply the paint once.
When chosen wisely and applied properly you should expect your glow-in-the-dark paint to last about a decade before it needs a new coat.
That said, while the real glow does not last forever, the paint can be recharged and made to glow again in various ways.
That’s the quick snapshot. Here in this article, I will help you get a few more details while walking through all the things you need to know about these fun paints, along with a few questions you may have in mind about them.
The Lifespan of Glow-in-the-Dark Paints
Glow paints for walls, typically infused with phosphors, are energized by ultraviolet or UV light.
Since UV light is part of sunlight (and even the artificial lights from light bulbs), it provides the energy that charges the phosphor, resulting in a glow that lasts for hours between charges.
However, phosphors will eventually lose their ability to hold a charge, so they wear out with time. This means you will need to add a new coat of luminescent paints every so often.
How long the charge will last depends on how often the phosphors have been exposed to UV light.
|Glow Paint condition||Average Life|
|Unopened tube or container||3-5 years|
|When applied on the surface indoors||8-10 years|
|When applied with a primer and top coat sealer||11-12 years|
A typical can of glow-in-the-dark paint will be good for up to three years on average.
As long as the paint is not exposed to sunlight, the phosphors will remain in good shape for up to five years with high-quality brands.
Paint after application
Night glow paint may last up to 10 years on a good, smooth surface.
If you add a clear coat sealer that helps prevent the phosphors from breaking down, the lifespan may increase to 12 years.
However, at some point, it will begin to fade.
Paint after recharging it once
When you first charge the paint with sunlight, it should glow in the dark for up to four hours.
This means that if you put an object with glow-in-the-dark paint outdoors, you will need to keep it out for the time recommended by the paint manufacturer.
How to Charge Glow in the Dark Paint?
Phosphors have been used in paints for quite some time, most notably by the military before they made their way to the civilian world.
Glow-in-dark wall paint is a kind of luminous paint that’s infused with phosphors to trap sunlight and glow for hours afterward in the dark.
However, properly charging your paint is important so it does give off that eerie glow.
Here are a few ways by which it can be done.
1- Sunlight or Solar Power:
Many people have in mind whether they can use solar power to charge glow-in-the-dark paint or not.
Unlike most artificial light with little to no UV, sunlight is generally the preferred method of charging the phosphors.
And believe me, it’s pretty simple, and it does work.
You just need to place the object with glow-in-the-dark paint outdoors in the sunlight for three to four hours. And that should fully charge the paint so it will glow that long at night.
There are other methods you can use to charge the paint as well. And that’s…
2- Artificial Light:
Admittedly, artificial light does not have nearly as much UV light, which means that sometimes it will work, and at other times it might not.
LEDs, for example, will probably not work, especially on an invisible glow-in-dark wall paint that is meant to be charged by sunlight.
Cheap or even average glowing paint will also probably not work when charged in this manner.
So, you should always check the instructions on the side of the paint before purchasing. That will tell you what is needed to charge it and how long you should expect it to last.
Can I Use Luminous Wall Paint Outdoors?
Absolutely, you can use glow-in-the-dark wall paint outdoors because, most of the time, it’s designed to be charged by the sun’s UV rays.
This means you can cover your exterior walls, rocks, sculptures, or other objects with paint and watch them glow at night.
There are specific items you may want to see at night, such as the edge of sidewalks, the concrete driveway, wooden fences, painted warnings on buildings, or objects that are suspended and can be run into accidentally.
You can easily see and avoid them – by using waterproof glow paint on them at night.
Few Other Creative Uses To Use The Glow Paint Outdoors
If you do not want to use glow-in-dark UV paints year-round (on your decorative walls), you may use them only for certain times of the year, such as Halloween.
Halloween is the holiday most commonly associated with glow paint, although Christmas is another bright, colorful holiday when it can be used.
You can create many spooky ghosts and monsters using this type of paint on the body. Or to spray paint specific objects for art and craftwork.
Keep in mind that if the use is temporary, you may want to use water-based paints that can easily wash off. Or, you can purchase paper or other temporary covers to be painted and removed when no longer needed.
Tips for Choosing The Best Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
Whether you want to paint the fresh walls of your room or renovate the old walls in your kid’s room, there are options available.
In most cases, glow-in-the-dark paint applied to walls is generally done in the form of a painting or mural.
While you can paint a wall a solid color, it is far more creative and interesting to create a mural instead, combining different colors of glow-in-the-dark paint to glow them bright.
This can be a good option for those who want to save themselves from the hassles of repainting and the high costs involved.
Well, when buying from the market, there is no hard and fast guideline for choosing the best glow paint since it will depend on how you want to use it.
A few things that you may need to consider are:
The first tip is if you want the paint to be permanent (or at least longest-lasting like Aurora), use an acrylic-based version that’s waterproof.
A water-based version is recommended if you want it to be temporary (like body paint).
While blue, orange, and green are the most common colors, you can find many others (like invisible) when searching for the right glow-in-dark paint.
This means that it’s best to know what you want before you start your search.
c) Use Tubes:
While glow-in-the-dark spray cans have their uses, it’s generally easier to fill or buy tubes with the paint so you can apply it the way you want.
You can even purchase a set of colorful tubes specifically for painted bedroom walls, which are affordable.
Can You Make a DIY Glow in the Dark Paint at Home?
Want to make some glow-in-the-dark paint that looks cool but unsure how it’s done?
Well, you’re in luck because it’s relatively simple, and we have two different options that you can use.
All you’re going to have to do is decide which one of these options you like best and just get going.
The first method to make DIY glow-in-the-dark paint requires more specialized ingredients, but it’s still going to be easy to get through.
The second is to use ingredients that you likely already have lying around your house anyway.
1- Using Phosphorescent Powder
The phosphorescent powder is basically a glow-in-the-dark powder. They come in different looks and colors and can be bought online or at craft stores near you.
If you choose a large particle pack, you’ll get a bright color with a speckled look. Smaller particle packs create a less vibrant glow but look more smooth when finished.
You’ll also need to choose a paint that you will use as the base for your phosphorescent powder. Make sure that the paint and the powder you choose for mixing are compatible.
An acrylic gel is excellent for paint if you want to appear invisible when the lights are on. Acrylic or tempera is good if you want to have a color.
- Mix 5 parts paint to 1-part powder in a small bowl or container
- Stir together until well mixed (mixture will not dissolve together)
- Paint and decorate your walls with your freshly prepared luminous paint
Besides the paint, you can also mix the glow powder in various other mediums such as wax, caulking, ceramic glaze, plastics, glue, epoxy, etc.
2- Using a Highlighter and Water
Another simple method of getting UV paint in a relatively unique (but inexpensive) way is to use a highlighter and some water.
Choose a highlighter that you like the color of and get started.
- Remove the felt strip from the inside of a highlighter.
- Put the felt strip into a bowl or small container and run water over it until the color has all bled out.
- Mix ½ cup of white cornstarch with the water until the cornstarch dissolves.
- Add a small amount of food coloring to get your desired color.
- Paint your walls with your homemade UV paint.
You can use it to paint the entire wall in your space – to paint patterns, designs, or anything else you like.
Be aware that the quality will not be the same with this type of glow wall paint as you will get with the one you created with phosphorescent powder, but it’s still going to look cool.
Is Fluorescent Paint and Glowing Wall Paint the Same?
People who often want to use glow paints for walls (or make-up) find something known as UV or fluorescent products – these are different from the so-called glow-in-the-dark paints.
The main difference is UV glow paints may fluoresce under black light, but fluorescent paint does not shine in the dark.
In general, UV/fluorescent paints are triggered by the room’s long-wave ultraviolet (UV) radiation or black light. This means Fluorescent paints do not glow in the dark but only work intensely under black fluorescent lights.
On the other hand, glow-in-the-dark paints may work without a black light.
How to Remove Glow-In-Dark Wall Paints That No Longer Glows?
When the paint no longer sustains its glow or is no longer needed, it can be removed just like any other paint.
While murals are pretty easy to remove, if it’s the actual paint on walls or ceilings, you will need to loosen it with a paint stripper or a paint thinner.
And then, scrape the paint away using a metal scraper or sandpaper before applying another type of paint to the surface.
Removing glow-in-the-dark paint from concrete, masonry walls, bricks, wood, and metal surfaces may be tricky. So you may need to apply a bit of elbow grease using a wire brush.
Use trisodium phosphate and rent a sandblaster if you need one, especially if it’s a large area.
Can You Clear Coat Over Glow Paint?
It is possible to coat over UV glow paint, but you will need to be sure to cover it completely with at least two to three clear coats.
This is because the phosphors in the invisible glow-in-the-dark paint may still receive enough light to obtain a charge and glow behind the new paint.
So, you will need to add extra coats to ensure that the phosphors are totally covered.
Is Glow in the Dark Wall Paint Safe for Kids?
Glow-in-the-dark paints were initially (in the early 1900s) made using radioactive materials (like tritium, radium, and others) mixed with a phosphor because of the beta radiation that helps the phosphor to glow.
But at present, glow-in-the-dark paint is as safe as any other paint that comes into contact with kids.
This is because the paint does not contain radioactive materials. The phosphors themselves are harmless as long as they are not ingested, just like the toxic elements that are part of virtually all manufactured paints.
There are green or environmentally friendly paints on the market, but the general advice is that kids can paint with relative safety using the glow-in-the-dark versions as long as they do not ingest the paint and clean up afterward.
What are the Safety Measures You Need to Follow?
It’s recommended that with any paint, you use gloves, goggles or eye protection, and a mask when applying them.
You also need to be in a well-ventilated area that will disperse any toxic or unwanted elements that leak into the air.
Be sure to clean up afterward to remove all the paint from your clothes and skin.
For example, using small amounts of glow wall paint from spray cans may not need as much protection. However, like any paint, they need to be applied with care.
Once the paint dries, it is like any other paint in terms of its possible danger to children and adults.
The Bottom Line
Glow-in-the-dark paint has recently gained much popularity, even though it can be expensive.
It’s perfect for murals, walls in kid’s rooms, painting specific objects (like lamps, crafts, decorations, etc.), and many other practical uses.
So why not try them out and have fun when you plan to renovate your dream home?
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.