How to Bake Permanent/Sharpie Marker on Ceramic Coffee Mugs

This post is a part of a student-written series, 20 Ideas for Travel Bliss. Lyndsey Gammage is a student at  Taylor University in Upland, Ind. Check out Lyndsey’s personal blog, Thrifty Thrice.

Pinterest is infested with pins of white mugs covered in permanent/Sharpie marker designs. But if you actually click through a few of them, they each use different methods—some have been reported to have terrible results.

So what method works best for baking permanent marker on ceramic coffee mugs?

I set out to experiment with four different methods to make the permanent marker designs stay on a mug. I tested each method with three hand washings (using a soft sponge) and one cycle in the dishwasher to see which one held up the best.

You’re welcome.

The great thing about this craft is that it’s super easy to make! So you can have fun doing this craft with your family at home or away on vacation. And because thrift stores are a great place to get white mugs, it’ll even take you into the heart of whatever community you’re in. Check out Thriftstorelistings.com for neat thrift stores across the US.

Now for the different methods…

Method #1:

  • Sharpie marker
  • White mug
BEFORE (This mug says, "This is my cuddle weather mug." Couldn't get a full picture of it!)

BEFORE (This mug says, “This is my cuddle weather mug.” Couldn’t get a full picture of it!)

AFTER

AFTER

This one actually held up well through all the tests! However, from others’ and my experience, it seems regular Sharpie does fade over time. I’d stick to hand washing on this one for long-lasting results.

Method #2:

  • Sharpie marker
  • White mug
  • Acrylic sealing spray (ACSS)
AFTER

AFTER

BEFORE

BEFORE

As you can see, the ACSS reacted kind of funny with the regular Sharpie, causing some of the bottom to smear. I wouldn’t recommend this method.

Method #3:

  • Oil-based paint Sharpie marker
  • White mug
BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

This method had the worst results. It started chipping almost immediately even with light hand washing. I don’t recommend this method.

Method #4:

  • Oil-based paint Sharpie marker
  • White mug
  • Acrylic sealing spray (ACSS)
BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

The winner!!! The ACSS worked very well with the oil-based paint Sharpie and the design didn’t fade a bit even after dishwashing. With the protective sealant, mugs designed with this method should hopefully last a long time.

Now YOU try it!

Method #4 Instructions:

I did two layers of Oil-based paint Sharpie and let it dry for two hours.

Then I placed the mug in a cool oven and let it heat with the oven to 350 degrees. Let the mug bake for 30 minutes, turn the oven off and let it cool, then do the whole baking process a second time. Firing twice can help the Sharpie design set a little better. Also, it’s critical that you let the mug heat up and cool down with the oven so the ceramic doesn’t crack!

Take the mug out of the oven and allow it to dry completely. I happened to let the mug sit overnight, but I’m sure you could just give it a couple hours. Don’t touch the Oil-based paint Sharpie design while it’s still hot or it will smear!

After the mug completely cooled and dried, I sprayed two coats of the ACSS (I used the Krylon brand that said “moisture-resistant” from Hobby Lobby). Then it needed to dry for another two hours.

Here’s how the mugs looked after hand-washing:

Left to right: Oil-based Sharpie w/o ACSS, regular Sharpie with ACSS, oil-based Sharpie with ACSS, regular Sharpie w/o ACSS.

Left to right: Oil-based Sharpie w/o ACSS, regular Sharpie with ACSS, oil-based Sharpie with ACSS, regular Sharpie w/o ACSS.

Then the real test: the dishwasher.

Left to right: Oil-based Sharpie with ACSS, regular Sharpie with ACSS, regular Sharpie w/o ACSS, oil-based Sharpie w/o ACSS.

Left to right: Oil-based Sharpie with ACSS, regular Sharpie with ACSS, regular Sharpie w/o ACSS, oil-based Sharpie w/o ACSS.

Conclusion: If you’re able to get Acrylic Sealing Spray, use that with Oil-based paint Sharpies. Otherwise, go with just regular Sharpies and realize that you shouldn’t get too emotionally attached. It will tend to fade over time.

*Disclaimer: The type of ceramic may affect how long the marker designs stay on the mug.

About Kendra
  • http://www.facebook.com/hannah.frances Hannah Hitchcox

    So the acrylic sealing spray is not toxic when dry, and will not come off?

  • Biff Tradwell

    You seem to assume everybody wants durability. I don’t, so can you advise on the best technique for a “One Time Only” decoration?

    • richard c

      Just don’t seal or bake it…it will wear off or you can wipe it off with alcohol. We label bottles in the frig like this with their dates then wipe it off the next time.

  • Geoff Kennedy

    was that the Keith’s logo on the third mug?

    • Jessica Peterson

      I’m gonna go ahead and say no…. That’s the “Browning” logo.

      • Dan Carhart

        I’m a member of the Keith Clan and I hunt in South Carolina. That’s the Browning logo but I get where you’re coming from :)

  • cheryl

    Can you use colored sharpies?

    • http://www.cabinconnection.com/ Kendra Beutler

      We haven’t tried it, but I would assume colored Sharpies would work the same way, as long as you use the right kind.

    • Kris91

      Some of the colored regular sharpies will change color when you bake it, especially red and dark blue (they become a yellow tint)

  • po_goat

    Did you use matte or glossy sealing spray? and where did you purchase it, please? thanks!

    • Jessica Peterson

      I think it’s really up to you whether you want it to be matt of glossy. But I would do Glossy. It’s easier to wash than matt…. Just like any sort of paint or sealer. You should be able to find it at just about any hobby store, or any store that sells craft items or spray paint.

  • Lin Christian

    I was wondering, did you have any trouble with the marker running while spraying?
    I have the Krylon ACSS but when I tried it on a tester mug the ink just ran. I’m not sure if it’s because I was too close or what.

    Any tips would be greately appreciated!

    • Jahsiland Hampton

      you were more than likely too close. i made a fatal mistake of being to close when spraying a mask i made for a friend to wear to a mascarade party. it didnt run. the paint CRAKED then it ran. had to start all over again…

  • Ali

    Thank you so so so much for posting this!!! This is so helpful!

    Recently opened my own Etsy shop and this is a HUGE help. Thank you!

  • Gabi

    I used sharpie paint pens and the spray you said and it was awful and made me very sad, the paint ran, what happened and what can I do to preserve my mugs that I put a lot of time into :( ?

  • Rosie M Glace

    what about clear acrylic nail polish as a sealer?

    • Amanda Renee Wedemeyer

      don’t see why it wouldn’t work. although i wouldn’t put it in the dishwasher after you do that. make sure it doesn’t go up to the rim where your mouth would be.

  • Jill

    When you said 30 minutes is that from the time you put it in the oven while its heating up or actually 30 minutes from the time of the oven being fully heated to 350? Also do colored oil-based sharpies work or will they change color… thanks

  • Jill

    Another question can the mug be drank out of after sprayes with the arcylic spray… I know I was told its not food safe but I figured if I only sprayed the spot where the sharpies were used and not on the inside of the mug or close to the rim where your mouth goes it would be fine…?

  • Casey

    THAAAAAAAAAAAAANK YOU!

  • Crystal

    when you did method 2, did it smear badly or was it doable? will that method last longer than method 1? Also, does the spray have to say acrylic? or would it work to just use a clear spray?

  • Jasmine Diu Si

    i made this cup for my cousin this christmas
    and i only used a regular sharpie and baked it for 30 mins once
    i dont know if its safe to use and i dont want to ruin it by test washing it
    i like to ask for your advice in case

  • Win

    What brand is the ACSS? Any in particular if I buy it at a hardware store?

  • Guest

    Do you know if i can use regular sharpies and acrylic spray instead of baking? i don’t want the colors to change..

  • Rita Cardoso

    Do you know if i can use acrylic sparay to seal instead of baking? I don’t want the colors to change..

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