How To Prepare Metal for Painting

Brushing metal
There are a huge variety of metal objects that you might want to paint to give a fresh look or to make beautiful. Painting on metal can be done and isn't hard. However, you have to prepare the metal for painting or it doesn't work well. With a bit of determination and work you can have your metal prepared for painting and when you are done with the paint job your metal will have a great finish.

Step 1

Remove any rust. If your object has any rust then you will want to begin by removing that. Use a wire brush to scrub off as much rust as possible. Wash it with soap and water (dish soap works well) and rinse thoroughly. If this doesn't remove all of the rust then use a commercial rust remover (you can find some in the auto section of many stores). Follow the directions to remove the remaining rust.

If you get flash rust (a light layer of rust that appears while the item is drying) you can spray the item down with WD-40 and rub the rust off with steel wool or a wire brush. 

Step 2

Sand your metal. For a really good finish, find some sand paper made for metal and carefully sand your piece down. Start with a coarse grit paper and work your way down to a fine grit sand paper. Make sure you get into the tight spots as well.

If you have some really tight spots it is a good idea to use a rotary tool such as a Dremel to get into them. Use a sanding bit and carefully work your way into tight spots and clean them out thoroughly. 

Step 3

Wash the metal thoroughly. Wash off all of the dust, paint, and sand paper residue from the metal. Do so with soap and water and then rinse thoroughly. Remove any flash rust with WD-40.

Step 4

Make sure the surface is ready for paint. Use distilled white vinegar on a sponge or rag to make sure that any glossy surface, wax, or oils are removed from the surface of the metal allowing you to easily paint the piece.

Step 5

Prime the metal. Using a primer that is recommended for metals (read the packaging) add a good layer of primer to the metal. You can do this with a brush-on one or a spray-on one. Let the primer dry. Then gently sand the primer. Wash off any dust created using a damp sponge. Finish with a second coat of primer.

You can find primers that are made to help prevent rust. This is wonderful if your item was rusty to begin with or will be out in the elements. 

Your metal is now ready for painting and will have a great finish to it. You should do all painting with paints made for metal or paints that say they can be used on metals. You may want to add a finishing coat such as polyurethane, though that isn't usually mandatory for a great finish.


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