DIYdiy projects

diy project: painted glass tabletop

by Kate Pruitt

I try to get my hands on every material I can think of, and sadly, that means I can never make a quick trip to the hardware store. Even when I plan to rush in and grab a packet of bolts or a can of paint, I always leave three hours later with those things, plus a sample of random plastic tubing and tons of half-formed ideas. But when this project from Kara Paslay landed in my inbox, I ran to the store, bought the supplies, and wasted no time making one of these tabletops myself.

This project is so easy to re-create; even the intricate triangle design that Kara has made requires mainly patience and a steady hand. I think this would make a wonderful project for outdoors; since the painting is on the underside of the glass, it can be protected from the elements and easily cleaned. It’s great that you can customize the design however you please, but Kara’s bright, summery geometric pattern was too beautiful for me to pass up. I hope you guys try this one out, and thank you Kara for sharing your DIY with us! — Kate

Have a DIY project you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .

Like many Design*Sponge readers, I am constantly re-creating my space. A painted glass tabletop is perfect for creative minds because it is so easily changed. Painting on the underside of the glass keeps the motif protected during daily use, but when the creative bug bites and inspiration hits, the paint can be easily removed with paint thinner to create a clean slate for a new pattern! Best of all, you have endless creative possibilities for less than $30! — Kara Paslay


  • piece of glass cut to size (or you can cut a piece of plexiglass yourself)
  • spray paint
  • painter’s tape, contact paper, or stencil (depending on the pattern you want to create)
  • paint thinner
  • rubber or felt grippers


1. Buy a piece of glass cut to the size of your tabletop from a local glass shop, or buy and cut a piece of plexiglass yourself. (I got my plexi at Home Depot.) If you choose to use plexiglass, cut it with a jigsaw blade that is designated to cut metal. (The smaller “teeth” will allow you to cut through the piece.) Keep the edge very well supported to prevent cracking.

2. Choose a pattern to paint on your glass. The options are endless and can be super easy or more complicated. I chose to go with something a little more complicated. Cut contact paper into triangles and cover your glass piece with them. (This process will take some time.)

3. Remove some triangles throughout the piece to paint on your first color layer. Use painter’s tape in spots where the triangles didn’t line up perfectly. You can also use a guard (cut out of cardboard) to keep the overspray from getting everywhere.

4. Once your first layer is dry, take off another round of triangle stickers and spray your second color. On the back of your glass, the spray paint will overlap, but on the front your triangles will stay crisp! And remember that if you have a little mess up, paint thinner will clear things up in a jiffy! :)

5. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with however many colors you desire. I left some triangles unpainted to allow the white of the table to show through.

Note: Remember to allow your paint to dry completely before putting the painted glass top on your table! You can also add rubber or felt grippers to the underside of the glass to create some separation between the paint and the piece of furniture. Of course, these grippers will also help keep the glass in place!

You’re done!

Suggested For You


  • Kate, thank you so much for sharing this one! I have a large rectangular glass tabletop in my dining area that has chipping black paint on the underside of it. I’ve been wondering what to do with it.

    I think I know now.

  • This is really cool! I have that exact same table and wondered what I could do to make it more exciting/colorful!

  • This is wonderful! Painting on the back is a genius idea. The paint will stay crisp, it makes the tabled look almost enameled, so cute. When I first saw it I was so curious how you got such clean triangles – I’ve tried to paint on tableTOPS before with this pattern but it has been so. much. work! Back of glass…. so smart! Came out great.

    • Alice, it’s true that spray paints can be toxic, although if you use a mask and perform the painting in a well ventilated area, I would say that it’s unhealthy. Also, since the paint is on the underside of the glass, there isn’t any risk of coming into contact with the paint, so this table would still be a safe option for dining, etc.

      However, I do think this project could easily be adapted to use non-toxic, low VOC paints or eco-friendly milk paints instead of spray paint, if you’d still like to try it out. I commend you for trying to avoid toxic materials, and I hope that if you are interested in making this you try it with an eco-friendly paint..I think it would work nicely!

  • Woosah this just made my day! The possibilities are endless!!! This technique on small square pieces of glass would make a beautiful little wall art installation., doncha think? hmmm, I am off to hash some DIY plans. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Wow, very cool! Thanks for sharing this! I love the colors you chose…. looks great. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try this myself.

  • this is awesome! i have an old glass table that’s been just begging for a makeover and this looks like the perfect solution!

  • Thanks for the comments everyone! We really love that the project allows endless creative possibilities! Can’t wait to see all the different patterns others come up with! :)

  • I just painted my outdoor glass table top on the reverse side with mirror paint. I randomly scraped some places and sprayed gold.

  • I am wondering if using the press-on saran wrap would work, too to make the pattern. very clever idea with infinite possibilities!

  • instead of cutting the triangles first, why not roll out and stick the full sheet of contact paper, and then use a blade to cut the triandles? i don’t think it would scratch the glass. input?

  • @CELINA: you could definitely sew triangles of fabric together to get that look but you could also make your own fabric by screen printing or stamp colorful triangles on canvas. :)

  • I’m confused about how this technique works, but i really want to try it out! can someone please clarify how you do the painting part to get distinct triangles? its so beautiful!

  • I agree with Claire on the confusion bit. I see how taking off the contac paper would work for the initial triangles you paint, but what happens next? Call me simple, but don’t you have to re-cover the parts you just painted to prevent the NEXT color from getting all over them? And if you do re-cover,how do you not then pull the paint right off?

    My experience with spray paint is very limited. I don’t like to use it because it’s smelly, messy and environmentally unwise (not just because of the VOC’s ; disposal is also an issue.) Thus, my ability to conceptualize this idea may be a bit shaky, but I just don’t see how to make it work. Could you offer a little more help? Might I be able to try it with regular no-VOC latex paint?

  • you don’t have to recover what you painted because it will just layer over, its the underside of the table so you’ll only see the paint you layed down first

  • I’m inspired!!! I love the idea of the plexi, painting underside and all – I just bought a little iron bistro set, that has a rough table top, that this would be wonderful for! I am going to try this idea, but possibly use contact paper, stencil and cut out some scroll designs, paint and whal la! Thank you for the idea!!! I will post when done!

  • Oh how cool! But I think you should have used Jacquard’s Piñata Colors/Inks. They dye anything, and then you don’t have to deal with the mess of spray paint. Plus, it would probably turn out to be a lot more durable. In fact… I think I’m going to try that. http://youtu.be/1ijPpGaDF5g
    Thank you!!

  • I have 3 glass top tables in my living room…and 3 kiddos. The finger prints all over them drive me bonkers! The hubby and I are definitely going to try this. Thanks so much!

  • Can you do this with a glass table, not a glass topped table? So it would be just glass painted on the underside with nothing beneath it?

  • When using glass, make sure to get low iron glass to ensure minimal color distortion through the glass.

    The Glass Guru

  • I want to do this for an out door end table on the deck. It will be exposed to the weather. I want to also paint the underneath of the table….. What I am wondering is what paint to use for outdoor use on the glass or does it matter ?

  • I have an outdoor glass patio table that someone painted the underside and now that paint is chipping . Do I try and get acetone to move that paint and just reprint the underside again. Or any ideas how to do something different on the table top and not have to remove the underside paint