How to Paint Metal

DIY instructions to make over your metal surface.

red-painted-metal-chair
Photo by Mongpro/Getty Images

Paint is a great way to revamp an old metal piece—whether it’s a handrail, chair, or bed frame. Take a look at these instructions to avoid any mistakes and have your handiwork last for a long time.

  1. If you don’t know what type of metal you’re painting, hold a magnet to it. If it sticks, the metal is ferrous and prone to rusting, so use a wire brush to clean any rusted spots and then dust with a damp cloth. If it’s galvanized metal (the magnet doesn’t stick), clean it with a detergent solution since the surface normally has oil on it, which will prevent the paint from sticking. If the galvanized metal has some rust on it, you can sand or brush it. While you’re cleaning the surface, you’ll also want to remove leftover paint, if any.
  2. Coat either type of metal with a rust-inhibiting primer and make sure it’s formulated for use on metal (same goes for your paint choice, too).
  3. Use a brush or a roller to paint, depending on the shape of the piece. Let the paint dry in between coats.