Can You Spray Paint Metal?

Can You Spray Paint Metal

Can you spray paint metal? This is one of the most controversial questions among painters and crafters. The concern often comes from painters, mostly beginners, who think spray painting metal projects is tricky.

Below is a quick snippet; let’s jump right in:

Can You Spray Paint Metal?

You can spray paint on metal furniture. It provides an even, smooth surface to the metal and can dry quickly in 10 minutes. You should spray three finishing coats to get maximum durability before sanding and applying the primer. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint is the best for metal.

What do you stand to learn in this article? You’ll find solutions to the following issues and more:

  • How to spray paint metal furniture
  • Steps and tips to spray paint metal
  • How to spray paint metal without runs
  • Best spray paint for metal
  • FAQs

Let’s read on!

How Long Does Spray Paint Last on Metal?

If correctly done and the right type of finish is used, spray paint can last up to 10 years, some less. The longevity and durability of spray paint on metal depend on the type of finish, surface preparation, and the process of application. On average, it can last six years.  

What Kind of Paint Do You Spray on Metal?

Hard-wearing enamel is the best kind of paint to spray on a metal surface. Generally, enamel paint is oil-based and can hold out against regular cleaning, touch, and use. Besides, enamel paints are pretty resistant to rust and corrosion. 

Do You Need to Prime Metal Before Spray Painting?

Yes, using a primer is one of the necessary surface preparations for your metal item. Priming helps to reinforce the paint’s ability to produce a smooth, even and fine finish. When you prime the metal surface, you’ll be helping to make the old and new paint bond together very well. 

How Many Coats of Spray Paint on Metal?

Three coats of spray paint are enough to give your metal surface the great finish that you desire. However, it may require more coats, depending on the depth and degree of rust, debris, grease, dirt, or old paint on metal.   

How Long Should I Wait Between Coats of Spray Paint on Metal?

You should wait at least 48 hours, depending on the drying time. But you should ensure that the first coat dries out completely before adding a new layer. If not, you may end up with a wrinkling metal surface. 

How Long Does Most Spray Paint Take to Dry?

Metal uses hard-wearing oil-based enamel spray paint. Generally, oil-based paint takes at least 24 hours to dry out completely. It takes at least 24 hours for metal spray to dry. The curing time is different, and oil-based paint can take days.  

How to Spray Paint Metal Furniture?

Here are steps to spray paint metal furniture 

Tools needed:

  • Paint primer (optional if your finish also works as a primer)
  • Oil-based enamel spray paint 
  • Paint scraper
  • Drop sheet
  • Painter’s shield
  • Fine-grit sandpaper or wire brush 
  • Clean cloth or rag
  • Paint shield
  • protective gear: mask, gloves, goggles

A step-by-step guide to spray painting metal furniture

Step 1: Wear protective kits

The first step is to put on your protective kit. The mask, goggles, and gloves will protect your eyes, skin, and hand from coming in contact with toxic and irritating paints.  

Step 2: Remove old paint (optional)

You may need to skip this step if your metal item is new. Or else, start by scraping off old paint from your metal item using the paint scraper. A metallic putty knife or trowel is another scrapping tool option. Alternatively, you can dissolve the metal inside vinegar or baking soda to remove tough rust. This way, you can avoid bleed or discoloration due to rust-causing chemicals.

Step 3: Sand metal surface with fine-grit sandpaper

After grazing and cleaning the scuffing dust, the next thing to do is to sand the metal surface, including the bare metal surface. Use fine-grit sandpaper; maybe 180-grit will do a good job to get to even hard-to-reach areas. With sanding, you can get a smooth and even finish 

Step 4: Wipe off sand rust

Once you’ve completed sanding, it’s time to clean up the sanding dust. Small rust or dust can cause surface imperfections, making the paint not stick well to the surface.   

Step 5: Prime metal

Now, it’s time to prime the surface. A self-engraving primer works excellently on metal. It corrodes or etches the metal surface to make the paint bond well. With a self-etching primer, you’ll only need one coat. Alternatively, if you go for a water-based primer, your project may need up to two coats of primer.

Meanwhile, priming helps you achieve at least two things. First off, priming helps the paint to stick well to metal. It means the paint won’t soak into the metal, causing you to cut down on the number of primer coats you’ll apply. In addition, primers also help to hide all the scratches, drywalls, holes, and joints on the metal surface. 

Step 6: Allow the coat to dry

Usually, one or two coats of primer are enough. Notwithstanding, if you’re using two coats, make sure, the first layer dries out fully before applying the second coat.  

Step 7: Spray metal surface

With the sanding, priming, and drying, your metal surface should be ready for spray painting. Since you’ll be using spray paint in a spray can, you’ll need to stir the container vigorously. Keep at least a 20-centimeter (8-inch) distance between the surface and the can’s nozzle. Plus, spray paint your metal project in a sweeping motion. Make sure the paint coming out of the nozzle of the sprayer is thin enough to produce even color and consistency. Wait an interval of 30 minutes to 4 hours before you apply the second coat.

How Do You Keep Spray Paint from Chipping on Metal?

You can take steps and precautions to prevent your spray paint from chipping off metal. 

  • Go for the right spray paint: rust-resistant and low-moisture spray paint works best on metal
  • Clean the surface after sanding and priming: A clean metal surface will ensure that the paint adheres strongly to the metal.  
  • Allow drying time before adding second coats 
  • Spray paint in thin coats: if the paint is sprayed in thick coats, hairline cracks can form and cause the paint to chip on metal 

How to Seal Spray Paint on Metal?

To seal spray paint on metal is pretty simple:

  • Test the paint sprayer nozzle 
  • Pick the paint container, stir and open it
  • Once you finish painting your metal item, use masking tape to seal the front of the box 
  • Make sure the paint completely dries out
  • Remove the dry painted metal item 
  • Slowly take away the masking tape. In case the tape won’t detach easily. you can use a hobby knife

How to Spray Paint Metal without Runs?

Here are steps to spray paint your metal project without runs or drips.

  1. Shake paint’s can vigorously at least for a minute and let it mix well
  2. Test the spraying on an object. You can simply spray it into the air. Watch out if the nozzle is clogged, leaking. If the paint spits out, you’ll have to change the nozzle because you won’t get any smooth finish.
  3. Sand and prime the metal surface
  4. It’s time to glide the paint nozzle across the metal object to spray. Spray in a smooth, sweeping motion. Make sure you spray past the edge of the metal object.
  5. Start to spray on the metal. Make the coats light, thin, and continuous. 
  6. Wipe the nozzle if you notice any dripping

Best Way to Spray Paint Metal

The best way to spray paint metal is to follow the right steps. Don’t miss or skip any of the steps. Start by scrubbing the existing paint off your metal object. You’ll need to sand the metal surface, starting with medium to fine-grit sandpaper. Next is to clean the surface of sanding dust. Then, you have to prime the surface to make the paint adhere well. The last step is to spray the metal item. Make sure you spray paint vertically. If you allow the can to be in a horizontal position, the paint may drip, causing thick coats to build up.  

Tips & Tricks of Metal Spray Painting

Before you start spray painting your metal project, learn the following tips and tricks. They’ll guide you.

  • Shake the formula’s can very well before spraying.  
  • Do not apply more than 3 light coats of spray paint on metal
  • Allow the piece to dry out completely. You can extend the drying time beyond the directions stated on the product’s container
  • Apply all coats within an hour. This will give you more time (up to 48 hours) to wait for the piece to dry. 
  • Spray paint in light, long, and thin coats. 
  • Make sure the can stays vertical while spraying. This way, the spray paint won’t splatter or drip. 

Best Spray Paint for Metal

What kind of spray paint is best for metal?

As earlier noted, the most suitable spray paint for metal is hard-wearing oil-based enamel paint. This reason for going with this kind of paint is simple. Enamel oil-based spray paint has a relatively quick drying time than many oil-based paints. Besides, it lasts longer, adheres well, and is more durable. 

Rust-Oleum 250702 Stops Rust Spray Paint, 12-Ounce, Gloss Pure White 

Rust-Oleum 250702 Stops Rust Spray Paint is the best spray paint for your metal project. It is famous for its high resistance to corrosion and weather. Rust-Oleum 250702 Stops Rust Spray Paint protects your metal item’s interior and exterior parts. It’s also suitable for use on wood, masonry, concrete, and other surfaces. 

The Rust-Oleum 250702 dries out faster as oil-based enamel paint, adheres well to metal, and provides incredible protection. It dries to touch in 4 hours and will cover up to 15 square feet in a single round of spraying. 

On top of that, the formula has strong resistance to rust, fading, abrasion, flaking, and chipping. Plus, it will offer a glossy finish and fresh shine to your project.


Is it better to spray paint or brush paint metal?

The best way to finish your metal project is to spray paint it. Spray painting on metal is better because it is quicker and will create a smoother and more even finish than brush painting.   

Will spray paint rub off metal?

No, the good news is that spray paint doesn’t rub off metal. If it does, it’s possible you have not used the right formula manufactured for a metal surface. You may not have also applied the right paint finish correctly. Besides, a poorly done job will cause your spray paint to rub off metal.  

Why is my spray paint not sticking?

Your spray paint will not stick if you apply thick layers of the paint. To avoid spray paint not sticking, make sure you apply it in thin coats. The thicker the paint, the less sticking power of the paint finish.

Can you spray paint over glossy metal?

No, you should not spray paint over glossy metal. The reason is simple. If you spray paint over glossy metal, the surface will peel, flake, and chip. So, you may want to first use an etching primer before spray painting over shiny metal. 

Can you spray paint over painted metal?

Yes, you can spray paint over painted metal. D

  • Take a wire brush to remove existing rust. 
  • Sand the surface
  • Apply a coat of primer to the entire body of the project. This will make the new and old paint bond. 
  • Allow it to dry.

Do you sand primer before painting metal?

Yes, it’s important that you sand primer before painting metal. Sanding primer reinforces your spray paint’s power to remove the top glossy layer. This way, the metal project can receive the primer and bond the paint to a metal object. 

How many coats of primer should I use on metal?

Two coats of primer should be enough on a smooth metal project. Nevertheless, rougher metal may need just one coat of primer. This is because it accepts primer more readily than the smooth metal type.   

Can you paint over metal without sanding?

No, it’s not recommended that you paint over metal without sanding. Sanding helps you to achieve a smooth and even finish. Although metal is naturally smooth, you can use fine-grit sandpaper or wire brush to remove rust from the surface. 

Final Words

It’s important to learn how to spray paint metal. While spraying metal may not be largely different from how other surfaces are painted, there are specific requirements. Painting metal requires sanding and sometimes priming if the surface is rough. The good thing is that spray paint doesn’t rub off metal except if certain things are wrong. 

Finally, the next time you want to finish a metal project, it should not be about ‘how-to’ again. Rather, it should, perhaps, be about ‘how much.’ 

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