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How Long Does Glow In The Dark Paint Glow? (Surprising!)

Glow in the dark painted bulbs

Glow in the dark paints have different glowing times that are directly related to the quality of the paint, the application methods, and how many coats you paint an item with. The lifespan of a premium glow-in-the-dark paint can be up to 10 years, while the time it glows each night after being exposed to the sun varies greatly from one brand to another. Properly prepared surfaces and thicker paint result in brighter colors that glow for longer periods of time.

What Is Glow In The Dark Paint?

There are two main types of glow-in-the-dark paints: fluorescent and phosphorescent.

Both will light up in the dark, but the difference between the two is that fluorescent paints will only glow in the dark when you have a black light on them.

Phosphorescent paints charge up with sunlight and make excellent paints for most glow-in-the-dark applications.

How Long Does Glow In The Dark Paint Glow?

The actual lifespan of your glow-in-the-dark projects can be up to 10 years.

The amount of hours that it will actually glow per night depends on how much sunlight it gets on your outdoor project during the day, the brand, the preparation of the item before painting, and the quality of the paint as well.

Three to four hours of sunlight are needed as a general rule for your glow-in-the-dark outside objects to light up at night. It works just like a solar light does.

How Does Glow In The Dark Paint Actually Work?

Naturally occurring phosphors are found on the earth to make items glow. They exhibit luminescence or glowing in the dark.

A phosphor emits visible light when it is exposed to radiation from an ultraviolet light, a deep blue light, or an electron beam source.

They are widely used in the electronics industry and the lighting industry for many applications of a glowing light. White LEDs, display boards and signs, and fluorescent lighting of all types are made using phosphors.

The most common colors of glow-in-the-dark paint are blue, yellow, and green.

However, some of the higher-end and more quality paints are coming out with many more colors.

We’ve all heard the phrase “quality over quantity,” meaning that more expensive items are more worth your money. This is definitely true when talking about glow-in-the-dark paint and almost all paints in general.

The more expensive the paint is the more fine ground phosphors are in it to make your projects glow much better.

Different paint companies mix their acrylic paints and glow pigments at different ratios. The more glowing pigments in the paint, the thicker the paint will be and the better quality of the glowing effect as well.

These will glow for a much longer time than very thin, inexpensive paints with less pigmentation in them.

Naturally occurring phosphors in lab used to make glow in the dark paint

Is The Paint Safe?

Yes, glow-in-the-dark paint is very safe. There are many different brands on the market today that are actually used as body paint.

Some body paints only light up with a black light on them, such as the stamps you may receive on your hand at a concert or at a nightclub.

They are invisible to the naked eye until a black light is passed over them. These have been used for years to allow patrons to re-enter an event without the need to pay a second time for an entrance fee.

Other glow-in-the-dark paints for paintings, outdoor projects, and walls in your home are also very safe to use and easy to apply.

Where Is Glow In The Dark Paint Commonly Used?

Some artists use glow-in-the-dark paints for their paintings that will be displayed on a wall or easel with a black light shining on them.

This is the most common use for phosphorescent gel paints and they will also work well for murals that are outdoors, so they glow in the dark after exposure to light in the daytime.

Some homes may have an entire wall painted in one color of glow-in-the-dark paint.

Either it must have a black light shining on it with the fluorescent paint or it must receive sunlight for at least 4 hours a day to light up at night if you use phosphorescent paint.

Outdoor projects are perhaps the most common ones that use glow-in-the-dark paint. DIY enthusiasts create all sorts of glow-in-the-dark projects for their lawns and garden areas.

Stepping stones that glow in the dark can light up a pathway at night in beautiful glowing colors. They may be painted solid or a design of any type can be painted on them.

Alternately, if you aren’t that artistic, you can use stencils to illuminate your pathway.

For the outdoors type of family and friends, you can paint the tops of large logs with glow-in-the-dark paints. Then these can be used as seating areas around your campfire or your fire pit in the cooler months.

They can also be used by your firepit in the summer months and you can fill your firepit with ice and cold drinks.

You can create a large variety of lighting features by painting clay pots, baskets, or plastic pots with glow-in-the-dark paint as well. You can hang them on a string to make a long string light of interesting colors at night.

Pathway lights can be created by using shepherd’s hooks inserted into the ground and hanging mason jars on them that are glow in the dark painted. You can space these out as far apart as you like or as close together as you like.

Old glass light bulb covers that are round, are a great idea for lighting up the night as well.

You can paint them and place them near your points of interest on your lawn, such as in or near a birdbath, at the base of trees, or any other area that you want to highlight in the dark.

Glowing flower pots and planters take to this type of paint really well. Just remember to paint your pots or planters first and let them dry before you put your shrubs, flowers, or plants in them.

Glow in the dark flowers

How To Apply Glow In The Dark Paint?

Your first step is to choose the correct type of glow-in-the-dark paint. You must read the labels to find out what type of material it will work on, such as canvas for paintings, plastic, metal, or glass.

First, clean the item that you are painting and let it dry completely.

If your project is made of wood, you should lightly sand it before beginning the painting process and sand it again between each coat of primer, paint, and sealer.

You will then apply a paint primer to your project so that the paint will adhere better to it. You can use a spray-on primer or a brush on primer. Allow your primer to dry completely.

Next, apply a coat of your glow in the dark paint. Allow your first coat of paint to dry completely before adding another coat.

With all glow-in-the-dark paints, you should ideally use 5 coats of paint to get a good glowing effect at night.

After your last coat of paint is completely dry, put a paint sealer on top of your project to help protect it for many years to come.

Your sealant is very important for outdoor projects to keep the paint from rubbing off and to protect it in the outside conditions as well.

You will then need to place your project outside in the sunlight for it to charge up and glow when it becomes dark outside.

Best Glow In The Dark Paint Brands On The Market

PEBEO Phosphorescent Gel Studio Paints are an excellent choice for many different surfaces, such as metal, wood, and glass. This paint will glow from 10 to 15 hours, which is the longest time of any glow-in-the-dark paint on the market.

It is a bit more pricey than some of the other brands, but you will definitely be happy with the outcome of your project.

Neon Nights Neon Acrylic Colors also work on multiple surfaces. It will produce a glow for up to 12 hours at night if it is applied correctly with a primer, 5 coats of paint, and a sealer.

Rust-Oleum Specialty Spray Paint is great for larger projects and for ease of use. It’s specially formulated to seal out rust on metal items outdoors.

This glow-in-the-dark paint will last up to 8 hours and works well on tables and chairs that are made of metallic finishes for a long-lasting product in which the paint will actually seal the metals and make your outdoor furniture last longer.

Paint cans splattered

Final Thoughts

Again, to answer your question: “how long does glow in the dark paint glow,” it depends on the quality of your paint, adding a primer and a sealant and several coats of the paint to make it glow for a longer period of time each night.

Following the correct procedure for using your paint will reward you with a glowing outdoor project for many years.

About Lisa Bohrer

Lisa is a native Texan who says she wears many hats. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, farmer, animal lover, fisherwoman, gardener, and college student. Lisa is a sophomore at Liberty University where she is taking classes to earn her Associates Degree in Creative Writing. She and her husband of 35 years fill their days with life on the farm raising goats and chickens, and then most evenings she can be found at the computer writing, or researching a topic that has piqued her interest.

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