The best paints for air-dry clay

Bring your clay creations to life with the best vibrant colours - check out our shortlist of the best paints to use with air-dry clay

A selection of the best paint for air-dry clay, spray paint, acrylic and acrylic paint pens

by Angelica Daujotas |
Updated on

You've made your clay creation, now all that's left to do is paint. Whether you're giving your cacti candle holders a splash of green or want a pure white plant pot, a good coat of paint goes a long way.

With a wide selection of paints out there varying from finish to quality, we're here to help you decide what's best for you and your projects. The most common way to colour air-dry clay is with acrylic paints, as they provide the most long-lasting and vibrant results. Of course, other craft paints like oil and gouache would paint on clay, however, the results wouldn't be quite as pigmented and durable in the long run.

Some paint will require multiple coats and some longer drying times, with so much choice out there it can be hard to decide which ones for you - especially if you don't yet know what you need.

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From paint pens to acrylic gloss, there's a medium for everyone's preference. So, whether you like to free-hand with pens or want full coverage from an aerosol spray, we're sure they'll be something for everyone in our top picks.

How to get the best colour results

Prime

Just like when you're painting walls at home, working on a clean white base will guarantee you the best results. If you're looking to paint on top of terracotta or stone-coloured air-dry clay and want to get the most vibrant colour, we recommend priming your creation with white acrylic paint. Sometimes even if you're using white air-dry clay the full vibrancy of the colour may get lost, so applying a white base coat will make your painting experience much smoother. Once your base coat of white is completely dry, you're ready to go with all your colours.

Best for base coat colour
Arteza Acrylic Paint - Titanium White, 120 ml PouchAMAZON
Price: $10.79

Titanium white with rich pigment, this acrylic paint is perfect for achieving a bright white base, ready for any colour creation.

Layer

Layering coats of colour is always recommended, whether you're working on canvas or clay, to experience the best finish and colour vibrancy two coats are always better than one.

Seal or varnish

Sealants and varnishes are a great way of keeping your clay creations perfect for as long as possible. There are varnishes available in a multitude of finishes such as matte or gloss so that you can get the exact effect you want. Sealants are also great for water-proofing clay, some can even be food-safe, perfect for making mugs and bowls.

Best for waterproof sealing
Glorex Clay Density, Sealant, 250 mlAMAZON
Price: $30.00

This air-dry clay sealant permanently seals all pores so that water can be held without any leaks. With a short drying time of six hours, your clay pots and vases will be waterproof and ready to use in no time.

Best for a glossy finish
STAEDTLER FIMO 35 ml Gloss VarnishAMAZON
Price: $14.33

Add a glossy sheen to your clay creations with this water-based varnish. Touch dry in 20 minutes, it's a quick way to add shine to your clay and get professional results.

Now you know everything you need to know about achieving the best possible results, it's time to have a look at our favourites paints:

Gallery

The best paints for air-dry clay

Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint Set, 20 Colours, 59 ml1 of 7
CREDIT: AMAZON

Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint Set, 20 Colours, 59 ml

An exciting selection of vivid colours, these colours are bound to get your imagination running. Professional and rich pigments, these colours are highly pigmented so you can be confident they won't fade over time. No need to limit your clay creations to indoor use either, as these paints are self-sealing and can be used outdoors.

Arteza Metallic Acrylic Paint, Set of 8 Jewel Tones Colours2 of 7
CREDIT: AMAZON

Arteza Metallic Acrylic Paint, Set of 8 Jewel Tones Colours

These glossy acrylic paints are high in pigment and filled with glimmer. Shimmering and metallic, they're perfect for whimsical projects and work on a variety of surfaces, so you can colour anything to match your clay creations.

Acrylic Paints Set Studio, 12 Extra Large 75 ml3 of 7
CREDIT: AMAZON

Acrylic Paints Set Studio, 12 Extra Large 75 ml

Super-fast drying and perfect for colour blending, this set is the ultimate art kit for both adults and kids. Water-based and non-toxic, you won't need to worry about the little ones staining any clothing or furniture. With three brushes included, you've got everything you need to start painting your air-dry clay.

Panduro Acrylic Markers Chisel Pack of 124 of 7
CREDIT: AMAZON

Panduro Acrylic Markers Chisel Pack of 12

If you're looking to achieve more accurate and precise detailing, then these acrylic paint pens are great. Super easy to use and waterproof, they're amazing for adding text and little details to your projects.

Panduro Acrylic gloss 12x30ml basic5 of 7
CREDIT: PANDURO

Panduro Acrylic gloss 12x30ml basic

Whether you're a beginner or have years of experience, this set of 12 bright colours is all you need to create any colour you're after. Highly pigmented and water-based, these colours by Panduro will not crack and give you a super vibrant glossy shine with every coat.

Complete Acrylic Starter Kit6 of 7
CREDIT: THEWORKS

Complete Acrylic Starter Kit

Amazing value for money, this acrylic starter kit is a great introductory set of brilliant bright colours. Whether it's a dinosaur the kids want to colour or a clay project you've been meaning to add some life to, this kit has it all.

Kobra HP4210 400ml Aerosol Spray Paint - Deep7 of 7
CREDIT: AMAZON

Kobra HP4210 400ml Aerosol Spray Paint - Deep

Looking for quick and total coverage? Then spray paints are your new best friend. With a fast-drying formula and 100 per cent acrylic formulation, they're guaranteed to provide full-coverage bright colour on any kind of surface, including air-dry clay.

All of these paints for air-dry clay have been hand-selected by What's The Best shopping experts. Our team has spent hours investigating and researching, so you can choose the best one. Plus, we'd never recommend a product we don't believe in. Find out why you should trust us here.

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Angelica Daujotas is a Commercial Content Writer at Bauer Media where she tests products for What's The Best, Yours and Mother&Baby.

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