How to Set Permanent Marker on Ceramic? – 4 Methods

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to set permanent marker on ceramic

Because of its long-lasting and vibrant colours, permanent markers can be used on more surfaces than one might think. If you know your way around it, you can also stick it effectively to ceramic pieces.

To complete a marker ceramic DIY project, you must know how to set permanent markers on ceramic. It is actually much easier than it sounds! There are various methods you can consider, pick the one that works the best for you.

Ways to Set Permanent Markers on Ceramic

Method 1: Using Mod Podge


The first method to fix Sharpie on ceramic is using mod podge. This is a decoupage medium, which serves as a 3-in-1 glue, sealer, and finishes. You can get it easily at an arts and craft store or online from retailers like Amazon, eBay, etc.

There are several types of mod podge.

If you are writing on ceramic mugs using permanent markers or planning to decorate mugs with permanent markers, you should use the mod podge dishwasher safe type.

It will dry clear and give you a glossy, scratch-proof finish. It is also non-toxic. So have your little ones join the fun!

What you will need to prepare:

  • Your ceramic
  • Permanent markers
  • Mod Podge (The Dishwasher Safe type)
  • A brush

What you will need to do:

On ceramic tiles or mugs, you can lay down your design with permanent markers. Then, read and follow these steps:

  1. Uncap your bottle of mod podge and grab a brush while you are it.
  2. Soak the brush in the bottle, then spread a thin layer of the mod podge on your ceramic.
  3. Wait for 1 to 2 hours for the layer to dry.
  4. Apply another layer after the first one has dried completely.
  5. For peace of mind, you can apply a third layer. But do not forget to let the second one dry for 1 to 2 hours, as with the first layer.
  • *Note: This mod podge is not food-safe. Therefore, it is important that space is left for your lips if you are sealing permanent markers for ceramic plates, mugs, tiles, etc. We recommend taping about 1/2″ of the rim before the mod podge application.

Method 2: Using an Oven


What you will need to prepare:

  • Your ceramic
  • Permanent markers
  • An oven

What you will need to do:

Your second option for sealing ceramic permanent marker designs is using an oven. Do not worry; you do not have to be a baker to get the job done! After creating your design, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Take your ceramic (plate, mug, tile, etc.) and put it into your oven.
  2. Turn the oven on and set it to 188 degrees Celsius (or 370 degrees Fahrenheit).
  3. “Bake” your ceramic for 25 minutes to 30 minutes. Then, turn the oven off.
  4. Wait until the oven cools completely.
  5. Take your ceramic out and check the permanent ceramic marker design. If the ink is still not set, repeat the process.
  • *Note: Make sure you do not pre-heat the oven. Your ceramic should be heated along with the oven. Otherwise, it will crack.

Method 3: Using Clear Nail Polish


What you will need to prepare:

  • Your ceramic
  • Permanent markers
  • Clear nail polish with a built-in brush

What you will need to do:

Using clear nail polish is the third approach. In addition to permanent markers, it can seal paint pens on ceramic. Nail polish can protect your design from abrasion and water, as well as give it a glossy finish. You might already have nail polish lying around the house.

If you do not, it is still fairly easy to get. Walmart, Target, and Dollar Tree all carry it.

You just need to:

  1. Uncap your nail polish and use the built-in brush to apply a thin coat to your ceramic.
  2. Wait for the coat of polish to dry thoroughly. This varies depending on the formula.
  3. Add a second, then a third layer. Make sure they are laid down evenly and wait in between the coats for drying as well.

Method 4: Using a Spray Sealant


What you will need to prepare:

  • Your ceramic
  • Permanent markers
  • A spray sealant

Spray sealants are products made specifically for sealing. So, it is not surprising that they can be a good option for setting permanent markers for ceramic mugs, plates, tiles, etc.

There are many options, both online and offline, that you can consider. A reliable one that we can recommend is the Krylon Triple Thick Clear Glaze Aerosol Spray.

It has a high-gloss formula and can help bring your Sharpie plate ideas to life. You just need to wait 15 minutes for dry-to-touch results and 4 hours for dry-to-handle results.

What you will need to do:

  1. Uncap the spray sealant and hold it at about a palm’s length from your ceramic.
  2. Spray a light, even coat over your permanent marker design.
  3. Give it time to dry fully.
  4. Check that the design is set and sealed.
  5. Repeat to add more layers if necessary.
  • *Note: Spray sealants can have strong odors, so it is best to use them in a well-ventilated area. If you are very sensitive to smells, you should put on a face mask.

Other Tips to Set Permanent Markers on Ceramic


Pointer #1: Clean the Ceramic Surface Beforehand

It is critical to clean the surface with a damp cloth or paper towel before beginning your project.

  1. First, take a fresh rag and dip it in some warm water.
  2. Then, scrub the surface in a gentle, circular motion.
  3. If there are stubborn spots, use a soft bristle brush for scrubbing.
  4. Rinse the ceramic again with warm water and dry it. Use a microfiber towel to avoid leaving any streaks. Finally, set it aside to air dry.
  • *Note: Sharpie offers some good markers and pens to write on ceramic. However, they are not food-safe ceramic markers.

Pointer #2: Use Q-Tips to Check Whether Your Marker Has Been Set

In between coats of mod podge, clear nail polish, or spray sealant, you should use Q-tips to see if your marker ink has set. You should not use your fingers, as it is easier to smudge and smear.

Here is how to test your marker strokes with the tip of the Q-tips:

  1. Grab your Q-tips. Hold it close to the tip to have more control.
  2. Touch your marker strokes with the tip.
  3. Lift the tip without spreading it outside of the strokes.
  1. Check the tip to see if there are any traces of color. If there are, the ink has yet to set.

You can also use Q-tips to assess your permanent marker ink state after removing your ceramic piece from the oven. For example, after baking ceramic mugs with Sharpie.

Will Permanent Marker Wash Off Ceramic?


Most permanent markers will not wash off ceramic materials, but there are some exceptions. The type of permanent marker and type of ceramic material will influence the overall longevity of the design.

  • If it is a glazed ceramic, like tile, then most permanent markers should be easy to remove with a mild detergent and a soft cloth.
  • For unglazed ceramics, the answer may not be as straightforward. Unsealed ceramics can often be more porous, meaning that the ink from the permanent marker may have seeped into the actual material, making it more difficult to remove.

It may be possible to remove permanent marker stains with a few simple household items. For instance, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, or rubbing alcohol can be used to help lift the stain off ceramic surfaces. Sometimes, a more powerful cleaning agent, such as acetone or ammonia, may get the job done.

If you want to ensure the permanent marker does not fade from your ceramic, taking extra steps to set the marker ink and seal it is necessary.


Now, you know how to set permanent markers on ceramic. You can use mod podge, clear nail polish, or spray sealant to get the job done. Or you can bake your ceramic piece. In any case, you can get the materials needed easily. You might even have some already.

Give the four methods a try and choose the one that is best for your ceramic project. And do not forget to let us know in the comments!

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