How to paint metal | Rustoleum
How to Paint Metal
If you’ve ever wondered about refurbishing a metal object with new paint, or about painting metal surfaces in general, this is completely doable. It’s also fairly easy to accomplish! Even better, metal surfaces of repurposed objects do not require you to maintain the previous paint color, which can open the door to all sorts of interesting projects. As long as you prepare your metal properly before applying the paint, you will be able to complete this task easily.
Stripping The Surface
Work in a ventilated area.Working around paint and rust particles can be harmful, so choose a well ventilated area where you can put a drop sheet down underneath your metal project. Wear gloves and a dust mask while you work.
- Keep a damp cloth nearby to wipe away paint, dust and rust particles periodically while you work. This is much safer for you than waiting until the end to deal with them.
- If there is any chance the paint you are stripping may contain lead, the dust mask is an absolute must for your own safety.
Remove the old paint from the surface.Use a wire brush to strip the paint from the metal, remembering to wipe dust and paint particles away with a damp cloth as you work.If you prefer, you can use sandpaper to remove the paint.
- A combination approach is best – stripping large surfaces will go much faster with a wire brush, and then use the sandpaper to get in the nooks and crannies.
- A cordless drill with a wire brush attachment is also an option, and a good one if you are stripping away paint from a large surface area. Remember to wear protective ear muffs when operating drills.
Clean the surface of the metal.Wipe away all paint dust with a damp cloth and discard the cloth. Scrape off any hunks of remaining paint. Use a fresh cloth to give your metal a thorough rub down, cleaning off all loose paint, dirt, grease and grime from the surface.
- Even if the surface looks fairly clean, don’t skip this step. You want the surface of the metal to be virtually spotless, or as close as you can get to it.
- Failure to clean your metal properly will result in a lousy paint job. The paint won’t stick to the metal properly and will peel off easily.
- Oils on the surface of new galvanized metal, which may or may not be visible to the naked eye, can hinder your paint job if they aren’t removed. Use a simple detergent solution to wipe down new galvanized metal.
Sand down the metal until it is as smooth as possible.This will ensure that you get the longest life out of your paint job. After sanding, wipe down your metal one final time with a damp cloth to remove any lingering debris.
Priming The Surface
Apply a zinc-chromate primer first if the metal is rusted.You will want to do this before you put on the regular primer, but only if you are working with rusted metal. If your metal isn't rusted, start with the usual oil-based primer that is described below. Before application, scrape off any loose rust and wipe it down to remove any flakes or residue. Once the rust is removed, coat the metal with zinc-chromate primer before using a full-bodied primer.
- You will need to prime your surface with the full-bodied primer immediately after you use one of these products, so don’t apply them until you are ready to prime.
- Zinc-chromate is a corrosive resistant substance. You spray it on first because you want it to be closest to the surface of the metal, to protect it from rust. After applying this substance, you should immediately apply the regular "full-bodied" primer so that the zinc-chromate remains as the first layer. It also acts as an adhesive for the full-bodied primer.
Choose an oil-based primer.Make sure your primer and your paint are compatible with one another. You will be using acrylic paint (which works best on metal), so you want to choose an oil-based primer that is compatible with acrylic paint. Look for primer products that are made specifically for metal, as well, since these will best adhere to the surface.
- Most primers come in a spray can for ease of use, but if you prefer to use a brush to apply it, metal primer also comes in a bucket or can for that purpose.
- Primer prepares your surface so that the paint will adhere well, but it also helps to smooth out any color and texture that you weren’t able to remove from it.
Apply one coat of primer.Spray the primer evenly onto the surface of the metal until it is completely covered. If working outside, do not use spray primer on a windy day. It is recommended that you shake the can of primer for about 2 minutes before you start using it.
Apply a second coat of primer.Because metal is extremely prone to the effects of oxidization, a double coat of primer is the best course of action. Not only will this help the paint stick to the surface, but it will also make the metal less vulnerable to the effects of time and exposure to the elements.
- Rust, in particular, can be staved off with the proper use of primer.
Allow the primer to dry thoroughly.Drying times vary from product to product, so check the information on your particular can for details. The acrylic paint will go on better and last longer if you apply it on primer that has dried completely.
Apply one coat of acrylic paint with a brush or paint sprayer.Spray paint is also an option, but this type of paint won’t last as long on metal. Apply the paint evenly to the surface of the metal.
- If you’re using a brush, don’t overload the bristles with paint, since this can be messy and create an overly thick first coat.
Allow the first coat to dry completely.Check your specific product for details about drying times. If you don’t allow the first coat to dry completely, the painted finish won’t last as long. Luckily, most acrylic paints dry quickly, so you can get the entire job done in one day if you time it right.
Apply a second coat of acrylic paint to the surface.Make sure to apply the paint as evenly as possible. A second coat will ensure that the finished project looks the best upon completion. It will also provide additional protection and last longer on the metal.
- It is possible to do the first coat with one color of paint, allow it to dry thoroughly, and then paint a second coat with another color. This method is perfect for lettering or applying a logo to an object.
- Acrylic paint is water-resistant, which means multiple layers can be applied to achieve different effects.
- When applying multiple layers, you must let the paint of each layer dry completely before applying the next one.
Allow the final coat of paint to dry for 36-48 hours before using your metal object.If possible, paint it in a place where you can leave it once you’re done, without having to move it. This will prevent accidental damage to the finished surface.
QuestionCan I use flat wall paint on a smooth metal surface?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can. Flat paint is often used by paint professionals as a primer when painting metal, because it mixes with other products, like rust preventative enamels and latex enamel, to create a very long-lasting finish. It can be used alone on metal and work fine, though.Thanks!
QuestionI am painting an old shiny metal step stool/seat. Can I just paint without sanding?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPersonally, I would recommend sanding beforehand due to the fact that the shine on the metal would not allow the paint to sit on the surface cleanly. If you want a more professional looking job, then you should definitely sand it down lightly and evenly. If your goal is to have a shiny finish then you can always apply a nice gloss. If you choose to spray paint I highly recommend Rustoleum.Thanks!
QuestionAre three coats of primer better than two?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes and no. More primer will give you a nicer surface to paint, but having too many layers of primer, paint and clear coat will make it soft.Thanks!
QuestionWhat metal prep do I need to do if I want to paint zinc coated metal ?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerZinc coated metal is also known as galvanized metal. If you want to paint galvanized metal, you should first clean the surface of it with a simple detergent solution. Oils on the surface of galvanized metal, which may or may not be visible to the naked eye, can hinder your paint job if they aren’t removed.Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to turn off the heat to paint metal baseboards?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Leaving the heat on can cause the fumes to become more potent or ignite. It may also interfere with the paint sticking to the metal. Turn the heat off first, and then wait for the metal to cool down before you paint it.Thanks!
QuestionI have wrought iron gates that were painted before they were installed (about 6 years ago). They need to be repainted and there is some rust on the gates now. After sanding the surface, can I go ahead and paint them the same color without primer?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can. However, after your sand but before you apply the paint, make sure you wash the surface of the metal with an all-purpose household cleaner to remove oily residues. Then apply 100 percent acrylic latex paint. No primer needed.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best surface paint for metal flooring, i.e. an in-ground storm cellar?wikiHow ContributorCommunity Answer100 percent acrylic latex paint is best for metal flooring.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I paint metal food strainers?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUnless you are planing on painting just the handle or using it for decoration, this is not recommended. Strainers go through a lot of use, and the paint will chip over time. This can contaminate your food. If you plan on painting the strainer and use it for decoration, you would treat it as any other metal.Thanks!
QuestionI am painting the metal around my electric stove top. It is about an inch wide all the way around. I tried latex paint but it would not stick. Do I need a primer?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBefore painting a stove surface, you must clean it very well or the paint will not stick. Use clean, white rags to clean the surface, since colored rags will bleed dye onto the stove surface. There are metal cleaner products you can use to clean your stove. If you don't want to use a strong solvent like that, then use a good cleaner and water and clean the surface with a wire brush. Give it a good rinse after, and that will work. Windex is one cleaner that will work well for this. Be careful, because there are some cleaners, like “409”, that can leave an oily residue behind, and this will cause the paint not to stick to the surface. In extreme cases, you may have to sandblast or sand the old paint off your stove. What you need is an extremely clean surface if you want paint to stick to it.Thanks!
QuestionCan I paint titanium with silver metal paint?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can paint titanium as long as you condition it with an acid-based primer first. The acid-based primer needs to have the ability to etch durable metal, so make sure you read the label before you purchase your acid-based primer to confirm that it has that quality.Thanks!
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To paint metal, start by cleaning and sanding it until it's as smooth as possible. Then, apply 2 coats of an oil-based primer, which will help the paint stick to the surface of the metal. Once the primer is dry, apply 2 coats of acrylic paint to the metal using a brush or paint sprayer. Let the metal dry completely in between coats, and wait 2 days after you apply the final coat before you use the metal so the paint doesn't get damaged.
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