Can You Paint a Light Bulb?

Do you have a night-themed party and need inspiration to cheaply transform your house and create an array of different effects? Painting a lightbulb can do wonders in your room and create a wide range of patterns and colors for unique artwork. Painting your light bulbs is easy and inexpensive and will change the room’s mood.

But is it safe to paint your light bulbs? If you’re looking to brighten up your house with custom-painted light bulbs, here’s everything you need to know about painted light bulbs.

Why Do You Need to Color on Bulb?

You may want to color your light bulb because you’re bored with it. No one feels good about inviting friends to a Christmas or Halloween party with bright and white light bulbs. Dimmer and colorful light bulbs will make your party more fun.

If you want to cut down on your Christmas budget, customizing your bright bulbs on your own is a good way to decorate your bedroom or living room without breaking the bank.

Is It Safe to Paint a Light Bulb?

When painting a light bulb, most people are usually concerned with safety. How safe is it to paint a light bulb? Before beginning your paint job, you should always observe all applicable safety precautions. Where possible, use the paint on cooler bulbs, like LED bulbs. Use lower-wattage bulbs for incandescent bulbs.

Nevertheless, it is safe to paint light bulbs, but this will shorten their lifespan.

How to Paint Lightbulbs

Working Bulbs

  • Screw your light bulb into a light socket to check whether it’s working. Confirm if the bulb is indicated as 40 watts or less. Remove it from the light socket.
  • Clear any traces of grease or dust from the glass using a solvent like white spirit.
  • Place a lump of tack on your table. Ensure your bulb is stationary by squeezing its base into the tack.
  • Using a brush, paint your bulb with non-water-based paint. Glass paint is available in two types; water-based and non-water based. Avoid water-based paints because they will evaporate from the bulb.
  • Clean your paintbrush using white spirit and allow the bulb to dry for at least 4 hours, if possible, overnight.

Burnt Out Bulbs

  • Prepare your glass for painting. Clean off any grease or dust from the surface of your light bulb using a solvent like white spirit.
  • Place a lump of tack on your table and ensure the bulb is stationary by pushing the base into the tack.
  • Wipe your bulb using rubbing alcohol or use fine-grand sandpaper to swipe around it gently. This will help the bulb paint adhere to the bulb. Leave the light bulb to dry.
  • Spray the light bulb with primer to help the paint stick to the bulb.
  • Using a paintbrush, paint your bulb with acrylic paint and decorate it according to your desires. You can apply a second coat for better results.
  • Clean your brush using white spirit and leave your bulb to dry for 4 hours.

Tips for Painting Light Bulbs

  • Purchase several light bulbs and test the paint on them.
  • Always put on safety glasses when painting your light bulbs in case they scatter.
  • For an outstanding look, scuff the light bulb using fine-grit sandpaper before the paint job.
  • Before painting, confirm if the bulb is functioning.
  • You can experiment by combining various methods of painting lightbulbs.
Can You Paint a Light Bulb

Can Coloring a Light Bulb Cause a Fire?

Ensure that the bulb to be painted is clean and without any dust. If you do not have a clean one, use rubbing alcohol to clean it. Go for a bulb of 40 watts or less to reduce the fire risk and get better results. There’s no chance your bulb can cause a fire because you’ve plugged it out before working on it. After painting, give the bulb some time to dry up.

Before plugging the bulb in, check if the bulb is dry. Additionally, you have to know the type of bulb you’re coloring. Plastic and glass bulbs use different methods to color. They also proceed and absorb heat differently. Check the surface first and then proceed with painting. While painting, press the marker gently against the bulb to prevent it from breaking down.

What Kind of Paint Can You Use on Light Bulbs?

You can use heat-resistant or watercolor glass paint. You should always avoid oil paints. Heat-resistant paint is a good choice; including heat-resistant chemicals ensures that the paint won’t change color or break down when the bulb gets hot.

If you prefer water-based paint, ensure that your bulb is a LED bulb because they don’t get hot like incandescent bulbs, and water-based paint will evaporate if it gets too hot.

Can You Paint Bulbs with Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is the most recognized paint for light bulbs. After applying it to your bulb, it hardens to form a hard shell. However, like water-based paints, it fades when exposed to heat. So different bulbs react differently when painted with acrylic paint. If you want to use acrylic paint, ensure you have bulbs below 40 watts which emit less heat that cannot evaporate your paint.

Can You Paint CFL Light Bulbs with Acrylic Paint?

CFLs come in bright colors. If you are planning to decorate your CFL light bulbs, then this might be a bad idea. This is because these light bulbs emit a good amount of heat. If you paint the glass of these CFLs, they will have a hard time releasing the excess heat.

Therefore, do not use any kind of regular acrylic or oil-based paint on these bulbs. Instead, you can use glass paints on these bulbs. Alternatively, use colored plastic sheets to decorate your house.

Can You Paint LED Light Bulbs with Acrylic Paint?

You can use acrylic paints on your LED light bulbs because they won’t fade away easily, thanks to the less heat produced by them. However, painting your LED bulbs can be quite compromising. The heat being trapped under the paint can eventually harm your LEDs. Therefore, your LED bulbs will lose their effectiveness after a while.


Although coloring your light bulbs might take some time, the result is worth the time. You’ll get to brighten your house and create impressive patterns and shapes. However, painting your bulbs can affect their performance and cause them to overheat. To achieve your desired effect, you can buy bulbs in the colors you want or use colored filters or lamps.

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