Window Painting

Tempura vs Acrylic for Winter Windows

You remember the fun of painting with Tempura paints from when you were a child, right? Finger painting with that squishy, sometimes kind of gritty, paint that got everywhere, but washed up with a child’s focus on handwashing. As we aged, we got to use adult paints – acrylics. These were just as colorful and bright, but the cleanup wasn’t nearly as easy. Of course, those paintings we did for our parents to hang on the fridge kept their color longer, didn’t leave flakes on the floor, and have withstood the test of 20 or 40 years folded into a scrapbook to be looked at by our children.

Tempura paint is one of the most traditional window paints. Its bright colors and easy water cleanup make for quick changes of color and design as the seasons change. You can layer your color and paint on either the inside or outside of your windows. Its biggest failing is its inability to withstand weather and time. Tempura paint, mixed poorly, will start flaking off of windows in hours, not the weeks it needs to stand up to a season of holiday traffic. Its especially difficult to use in the Pacific Northwest due to our constant rainy, wet, winter weather.

Acrylic paint has all of the pros of Tempura paint, except its easy water cleanup. Your vivid designs look great with layered colors and subtle shading. The paint will last on properly cleaned windows for months. But its big detractor is the requirement to endure the tedium of scraping it off the window inch by inch without damaging the windows. This isn’t that large of an endeavor for small windows or doors, but can become a touch arduous when scraping 90 feet of 2 to 4 foot tall holiday banners from the back of a ladder.

Personally, I choose my paint based upon the weather I expect it to be exposed to, the client’s location, the duration of the work, and the client’s expectations. Working in the Pacific Northwest my default “go to” paint is acrylic if the intent is for the paint to last on the outside of the windows for more than a week. For internal work, clients typically prefer Tempura paint, as the cleanup disrupts their business for less time, and takes less effort from their employees should they be doing the cleanup themselves.