Introduction: GLOW in the Dark Walls/Save Money on Your Electric Bill
Light up your room with the lights off!
Are you annoyed with your bright bathroom lighting when trying to take a relaxing shower? Well I was! Don't get me wrong, bright lights are great if you are applying makeup, or getting ready in the morning. But after a long day, my eyes prefer less light. So I decided to paint 2 walls in my bathroom entirely with my own formulated Glow in the Dark paint. The result: perfect ambient glow emitted from my walls that finally allows me to unwind my body and mind at the end of the day. If you are intrigued glow ahead and keep reading!
In this incredibly bright and fun tutorial you will be:
- preparing a room for paint application
- mixing your own super long lasting GLOW IN THE DARK paint
painting an entire wall
- reducing your carbon footprint/using less electricity
There are many benefits to mixing up your own glow in the dark (GID) paint. You can adjust the brightness and thickness of the paint and it is less expensive then using premixed GID paint. All you need is GID powder (aka pigment) made from strontium aluminate, a clear acrylic gel medium, a digital scale, and a wooden stick for mixing.
GLOW IN THE DARK POWDER/PIGMENT*- made from strontium aluminate / you will need enough to mix 1:4 of powder to medium
Note: alternatively you can use premixed strontium aluminate glow paint.
CLEAR ACRYLIC GEL MEDIUM** - Liquitex Gloss Gel Medium, or Golden Regular Gel Gloss
Note: if you purchase from Hobby Lobby they have a 40% off of one item coupon on their website. Also available from Blick Art Materials
*I used 8oz of Super Aqua & 4oz of Super Green (55-85um) - this size emits the brightest glow (larger particle size=brighter glow) I recommend purchasing from Kosmic Kreations. The powders are slightly off-white in color under normal light.
**There are other clear gloss gel mediums you could try but I've had the best results using these brands. I found that if you use a thinner medium the glow powder will separate and look streaky. When you stir the powder into a thicker gel the particles will become suspended in the mixture, thus offering a more desired uniform result.
SEE STEP 2 FOR FORMULA
SMALL FOAM PAINT ROLLER
SMALL PAINT TRAY
MAGIC ERASER or SPONGE
LADDER or CHAIR
UV BLACK LIGHT* (the bigger the better)
*I used a fixture with two 48" 40w fluorescent black light blue bulbs. Alternatively, if you don't have or want to buy this setup you could try screwing in a 25 watt black CFL bulb to your existing bathroom fixture.
WHITE PAINT + PRIMER
FLATHEAD SCREWDRIVER to remove light switch and outlet plates or vent covers
GLASS STORAGE JARS (or you can mix powder directly into jar of acrylic medium)
LIGHT BULB - once project is complete install in bathroom fixture/bright enough to charge glow paint on your walls (unless you're lucky enough to have a bathroom window)
Step 1: So What Is Strontium Aluminate?
Glow in the dark products are not all created equal. Majority of the GID products that have been available since the 70's contain a zinc sulfide pigment as the glow agent. Think the plastic glow stars and stickers that adorned your bedroom walls and ceiling in the 7th grade. While GID items made from zinc sulfide look awesome under UV black lights, their phosphorescent glow disappointingly fades within minutes of the lights being turned off.
Then comes the discovery of strontium aluminate phosphorescent pigment. A magical powder that will glow in the dark for many hours after receiving a good charge of just 10-15 minutes! My life-long obsession with anything glow in the dark along with my desire to create led me to find and experiment with strontium aluminate. I was blown away with the long lasting results of these incredible phosphorescent powders.
There are many companies you can purchase strontium aluminate pigments from. However, after trying out several different ones I have come to trust Kosmic Kreations for all of my GID supplies. The GID pigments they sell are water safe and the particles are coated (aka "hydrolysis resistant") to prevent the powders from breaking down and losing their glow effects. They have low prices and fast shipping too!
Step 2: Measure Walls
Use measuring tape to find the total square feet of wall space that you will be painting.
Next, calculate how much powder and medium you will need using the following formulas:
[total sq ft] x .33oz = total amount of GID powder (in ounces)
[total sq ft] x 1.3fl oz = total amount of medium (in fluid ounces)
The goal is to have 1:4 of GID powder to medium. If you measure accurately and gather the correct amounts based on your calculations you should have just enough to paint your walls.
TIP: Use SketchBook by Autodesk to play around with different color schemes on photos of your walls before you paint! An awesome free drawing app. Download For iPhone or For Android
Step 3: Prep the Walls
First, you need to prepare the wall(s) you've chosen to paint. This entails cleaning scuff marks and dirt and oil off of your walls. A magic eraser will be your best friend here! Use mild soap with warm water and a sponge then wipe dry with a clean cloth.
Next, I suggest you lay down a drop cloth and secure with painters tape. You can even purchase pre-taped painter's plastic to make the application easier. Cover or remove anything you don't want to get paint on. Apply tape carefully against the edges you are protecting and smooth down to ensure paint won't seep through.
Note: I didn't mind getting GID paint drips on the tile of my bathroom floor, so I didn't use a drop cloth.
(Optional) The paint will glow brightest when applied on top of a white base coat, so at this point it's best to paint your walls using a semi-gloss white paint + primer in 1 and allow 24 hours to fully dry.
Step 4: Prep the Paint
Now that your walls are clean, dry, taped and ready for paint here comes the fun part! Let's GLOW!!!
USE CAUTION WHEN HANDLING GLOW POWDER. DO NOT INHALE DUST. WEAR GLOVES AND EYE PROTECTION. (I should've been wearing gloves)
Use digital scale to measure out how much GID powder you need (see step 2 for formula) to add to your medium. Goal is to have 1:4 powder to medium
TIP: You can mix the powder directly into the container of medium instead of a glass jar and stir using wooden stick or palate knife until well combined making sure to scrape the sides. About 2 min. A plastic palate knife works well especially to scrape the sides of the container.
At this point you can turn on your black lights and turn all other lights off.
Step 5: Give It a Glow
Begin painting in the dark under the glow of the black light as this makes it easier to see where you are applying the glow. Start by using a paintbrush with a right angle to apply paint along all of the edges and other areas where the roller can't get to.
FILL IN THE REST
Next, paint the rest of the wall. I used a plastic palate knife to glob the glow medium on the wall and then I spread it out a bit before using the foam roller to smooth it out. I recommend turning on your bathroom light every 5 minutes or so to see if there are any major streaks or globs that you were unable to see in the black light.
The Liquitex/glow mixture I made seemed to dry rather quickly so I was able to apply a second coat after 20 min. After 2 coats there were still some places that seemed a little less glowy than the rest so I used a soft paint brush to fill in these areas. If you want the glow to be more subtle apply only one coat . Two coats ended up being the perfect look and feel I was going for.
When finished painting, carefully remove all of the tape turn off all the lights and enjoy your bright masterpiece! Your friends will be amazed!
*Along with creating a relaxing space to chill in, you will be reducing your carbon footprint as well. Powering down your electricity for any length of time helps protect the health of our planet and the well-being of the people who live on it. I was inspired to create a lighted space without using electricity from a service called OhmConnect. They actually pay you cash to power down during peak energy use times. It's super easy to use and if you have an electric vehicle or smart plugs they pay you even more money! They give you $10 cash just for signing up. Sign up here
There you glow!
Please leave your comments or questions below, as I'd be happy to reply. Thank you for checking out my instructable!
***Go get those creative juices glowing!!!***
Step 6: TIP!
P.S. Surprise your significant other by leaving them shadow images or love notes on the wall using a flashlight!
Step 7: Finished Results
Here's my finished bathroom! I couldn't be happier.
Participated in the
2 years ago
Fascinating concept and ingenious problem solving but I am completely confident that glow in the dark walls will be horribly carcinogenic- seriously, please check the label of the GID powdee to make sure!
2 years ago
Really interesting idea :)
Reply 2 years ago
Thanks! It's my favorite part of the house now!