6 Things You Should Know Before Painting Metal

Hand holding a paintbrush and painting an ornate metal gate with silver paint.

Whether it’s a fence, gate, furniture, door hardware, drawer pulls, or a decorative piece for your home, you need to consider a few things before painting metal. 

Although many people are familiar with painting drywall or wood, painting metal can be a bit of a challenge if you don’t take the necessary steps before you start.  

To help make your paint project a success, we’ve assembled a list of six things you should know before you wet your brush and begin painting. 

How to Paint Metal

Painting metal can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time doing it. Fortunately, the painting experts from Five Star Painting® have six tips to make your painting metal project a success. 

1. Prep Rusted Metal 

  • If the metal chair you’re painting has been sitting outside for too long, or you bought some new drawer pulls from an antique store that you want to refurbish, chances are you’re probably dealing with rusted metal. First, check to make sure the rust is only on the surface — if the rust has penetrated the metal, there could be structural issues that may make painting a lost cause. 
  • If you determine the metal is structurally sound, sand and scrape off any surface rust. This will create a smooth surface and help your paint adhere better to the metal. 
  • The last major step when dealing with rusted metal is to use a primer (some paints include a primer, which reduces the number of steps). After sanding, a primer will help the paint adhere to the metal better and minimize any discoloration caused by the rust or a previous color. 

2. Clean the Metal 

  • Cleaning is an important step if you’re painting something that is rusty. However, rust isn’t the only thing that could affect how well paint adheres to the metal. 
  • Dirt, dust, grime, and other pollutants can affect the surface of the metal and make paint bubble, blister, flake, or dry unevenly. For the best results, clean the surface thoroughly with a damp cloth or soft metal brush. If you use a metal brush, be sure to wipe the surface to remove any loosened particles.

3. Prep Galvanized Metal 

  • Keep in mind that painting galvanized metal is different from painting traditional metal. Galvanized metal has a layer of oil on its surface that helps to prevent rust, but it also makes it harder for your paint to stick. 
  • Clean the galvanized metal with a warm, soapy solution, rinse it off, and then let it dry before trying to apply any primer and/or paint. 

4. Use Metal Paint 

  • You should use paint or spray paint specifically designed for metal. This will save you time and effort and produce better results. 
  • However, if you’ve recently painted a room in your house, have some paint left over, and plan to repaint those metal deck chairs with the extra paint, you probably can’t use the same paint for that particular project. This is because a metal surface is very different from wood (which is much smoother). 

5. Choose Application Method 

  • You’ll not only want to make sure you are using paint made for metal, but you’ll also have to decide between using traditional paint (from a can) or spray paint. 
  • Spray paint offers some major advantages. When properly applied, the spray provides a more even coat than traditional paint, especially when dealing with an uneven surface or metal piece that has a lot of detail.  

Related TopicWant to Spray Paint Perfectly? Avoid These Mistakes 

6. Take Your Time 

After all is said and done, patience is the key to many successful paint projects. You may need to wash the surface, let it dry, prime it, wait for it to dry again, then paint it and let it dry once more. Letting the appropriate amount of time pass is important to the overall quality of your project and will ultimately determine its success. 

As is true with many projects, understanding what you need to do to make the project a success is just as important as the actual work. Now that you know the six things you need to do to make painting metal a success, it’s time to get started!

Need Professional Painting Service for Your Other Projects?

While painting metal can be tricky, following the steps outlined above will give you the best chance for success. If you have other painting projects on your to-do list that require professional expertise, the experienced pros at your local Five Star Painting can help. 

Whether it’s kitchen cabinets, the exterior of your home, or every room in the house, our team can help give your home a fresh, new look. Contact your local Five Star Painting pro today to get started. 

To learn more, request a free estimate