How to Paint Metal
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Metal is a marvellous substance in its own right. Gloriously shiny or ruggedly matte, it offers an authentic finish that can more than capably make a statement without any adornment.
But there’s something exquisite about painted metal, too, a quality not celebrated enough thanks to people’s apprehensiveness about tackling the job.
It’s actually fairly easy to paint metal. Here’s how:
Whether the metal in question is ferrous or galvanized, it requires a certain amount of pre-treatment for paint to stick to it. Use a wire brush to remove rust from ferrous and old galvanized metal that’s tarnished with white oxidation, and then wipe the surface down. Scrub new galvanized metal clean of oils with a detergent solution.
Be assiduous. If you don’t clean all the paint, grease, and dirt from your metal, your paint won’t stick, and your project will suffer. And the more vigorously you sand down your surfaces, the longer-lasting and more durable a paint job you’ll enjoy.
Next, prime the metal. Do it right away to avoid flash rust formation. If your metal’s rusted, use a zinc-chromate primer.
Read the labels carefully to be sure you’ve chosen the appropriate formulation.
Consider double-coating your primer. The extra primer will help the paint stick better and render the metal less vulnerable to future rusting.
Consult the dry time. If you apply primer to more surface than you can reasonably expect to cover with paint the next day, you may get yourself into trouble.
The thing about metal that sweetly distinguishes it from wood when it comes to painting is that it’s essentially freed from any considerations about what colour it used to be. So paint white on black or black on white or whatever tickles your fancy.
Acrylic latex paint is a good bet for metal, but make sure it’s of high quality. Again, read the labels, and choose a paint that’s compatible with your primer. Apply the paint carefully and evenly.