Friday, November 12, 2010

Mercury Glass - a side by side paint comparison

Hi, friends! I wanted to briefly address something I've had quite a few emails and comments about: the necessity of the Krylon Looking Glass spray paint in my faux mercury glass technique.

It's pretty darn necessary.
To illustrate this we'll have a head-to-head battle of reflective fabulosity between my current paint boyfriend, Krylon Looking Glass paint...

...and a much less expensive spray paint with a lid that's equally as shiny, Krylon Original Chrome:

Ahem. Exhibit A, the chrome paint on the inside of the cup (or glass. Use your imagination.)

My thoughts: MEH. As in, yuck. Doesn't even look metallic, just gray.

Exhibit B, the same chrome paint sprayed on the outside of the glass (cup!)...

My thoughts: Much better, definitely has some chrome-y shine to it, but no reflective qualities. Definitely the stronger contender from the chrome paint options though.

Exhibit C, the Looking Glass paint (left) along side the chrome paint on the outside of the cup (right).

My thoughts: Um, hello gorgeous! That Looking Glass paint is fabulous. Both finishes have a shine to them, but the Looking Glass paint resembles a real reflective mirror surface. Looooove it!

{Update: The chrome paint does, however, do a fabulous job at faux silver leaf, check it out here!}

In closing, here's a photo of the faux mercury glass using the chrome paint:

And a photo of the technique using Looking Glass paint: 

Even if the spray paint lid is very shiny, the paint finish is not going to look like that; that's one of the difficulties you encounter when painting things to resemble metal. I think it's much easier to achieve good results when trying to mimic a brushed metal finish vs. a polished finish.

My final thoughts on the subject: The Looking Glass paint is definitely worth the extra cost when you're trying to achieve realistic results. If you can't afford it, go for the Original Chrome but make sure to paint on the outside of the glass, not the inside (full discosure: the photo of the mercury glass technique using the chrome paint was taken over a month ago when I first attempted mecury glass, and I did paint the inside of the glass, so I'm 100% positive it would look better than that if you sprayed the chrome paint on the outside.)

Also, if you use the chrome paint please note that the vinegar/water paint solution might not work as well -- the two paints are very different, and I had good luck using a very fine sanding block when I painted with the chrome paint. When I tried the sanding block after using the Looking Glass paint, it just ripped and peeled that ultra-thin coat of paint right off like peeling nail polish.

Wondering where to find the Looking Glass paint? I found mine at Hobby Lobby (take a coupon and save some money!), and I'm pretty sure larger Michael's or JoAnn's stores would have it too (call to check first). If you're having a difficult time, try skipping the spray paint section and going to the glass paint section -- you might have better luck! You can also purchase it on here and Ace Hardware's website here.

(No, I wasn't paid anything for this but if anyone from Krylon's reading this you're welcome to drop a couple bottles of that Looking Glass paint in the mail to me, haha!)  <-- I love that they DID! Oh, Krylon, bless your heart.


  1. Interesting! Yours does look good! You are so right about the shiny lid! I used Rustoleum's version of looking glass paint and was not impressed. I finally just decided to buy it rather than keep investing in expensive cans of spray paint! lol Happy weekend!...Debbie

  2. I finally got my looking glass paint and I am trying a project today!!!! I will send you to results!!! Thanks again!!!

  3. Ohh! I saw some of this at the craft for recently! I was wondering it worked!! Great post!!

    Katie Flynn

  4. What does the chrome look like lit from behind? Have you tried it with a camera? I love how shiny the looking glass is, but I like the distressing of the chrome better. Kelly

  5. Anna- I gave you a call out on my blog. I have been on a quest for the perfect (i.e fast, easy, good results) technique for making Mercury Glass. I wish I would have read your post first! I wasted so much time/energy with the Chrome paint. Anyways, your stuff looks gorgeous. I am going to try again.

  6. I'm trying mercury glass this weekend. I bought the chrome earlier today and it looked BAD. So I went back to Michael's with my 50% off coupon and only paid $6 for the looking glass paint. It was hard to find that's for sure. It is NOT in the spray paint section. Save time and ask an employee for help.

  7. I am so glad I saw the comparison!! It is definitely different between the two. Thanks so much for an awesome tutorial & comparison.

  8. Is it safe to put a candle inside the glass container after you sprayed it with the looking glass spray? I was afraid maybe it would start on fire?

  9. I'd definitely let it cure for a few days, but I haven't had any problems with candles in it in the year + I've had it. :)

  10. Thanks so much for this! I found that spraying the looking glass spray on the inside was difficult on some shapes of glass. Wondered if it would work on the outside. Also, I found mine at Hobby Lobby. I will try to spray the outside of a glass lamp today. Can't wait!

  11. Question- Would this or any other spray paint that you know, work on a wood surface, and have the same look?

  12. So cool...I actually like both looks in the photos you have posted! The project I have in mind is painting a glass door (that leads to my bedroom) of course being a door it will be visible from both sides. Which paint do you think would work better considering that both sides are going to be visible? Or is this maybe not the technique I should be using if both sides of the project are going to be on display? And will it effect things if the glass is tempered or whatever it is they do to glass in doors?

    1. How did the door turn out i want to try on bedroom closet door with window

  13. Wondering about the 3-d look (shimmer and total effect) of chrome painted on the outside vs. looking glass on the inside?

  14. Your information is SO helpful! Thank you for being so generous and sharing your creativity and know how!

    Brightest of Blessings to you and yours

  15. If sealed, can you put water and plants in the mercury glass??

  16. I bought mine from Wal-Mart.

  17. I bought mine from Wal-Mart.

  18. I have looked everywhere in my town for Looking Glass paint, except Wal-Mart so thank you "Unknown". Anna, thanks for the tutorial. Your photos are great. I can't wait to try this on a lamp, and some votives, and some ornaments, and a vase, and...

  19. Crazy question! I just moved into a 60's ranch style home with 12x12 mirror tiles covering one of the bathroom walls. I was going to remove them but I am worried it will ruin the drywall. Trying to think of alternatives. I thought it could be cool to antique it to look like mercury glass, but I can't get to the backside since it is glued to the wall. Do you think using the looking glass paint on the front sides will look ok or super tacky? Obviously I'll need to do a test piece first, but I've never used the stuff before.

  20. Beautiful job! A few quick questions...when the candles are lit, your vases have almost a goldish hue. Is that just from the flame of the candle and what color candle did you use?
    I was looking actually, for a bit of a gold hue with the silver, do you think I could lightly spray gold metallic spray paint at the end? Or dab some gold paint inside?

  21. sadly looking glass is NOT available in Canada, why Krylon???

  22. Your tutorial is fantastic! I need about 75-100 small votives for a party I'm giving, so I think I'll try to make mine (instead of buying mercury glass votives-too $$$) I think I may try to make them in gold (having seen some at Pottery Barn that were beautiful). Thank you so much for sharing your information with us!

  23. Anna, thank you for the time, money and effort you put into this comparison for us 1st timers!!! It was VERY helpful to me. I will not settle for anything less than the Krylon Looking Glass!!! I love your vases and the looks you have created with them. Thanks again.

  24. It is interesting to read your blog post and I am going to share it with my friends. aybabg


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