Reviews

Best Paint for Metal: Durable and Versatile Protection

These paints are the best paint for metal, and they’ll make it easy to spruce up metal items.

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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON August 1, 2021

If you’re looking to clean up metal items and surfaces with a fresh coat of paint, there’s a bit of a tricky task ahead of you. Whether you’re sprucing up a metal mailbox, applying paint to metal patio furniture, or touching up metal appliances and tools, painting metal isn’t exactly easy. Metal is a finicky material with a smooth surface that’s difficult to paint properly. And you can’t use just any paint to take metal from rusted or unattractive to freshly painted. You need special paint that’s made for metal surfaces with a specialized formula that can bond to metal and stay on for a reasonable amount of time. If you’re ready to breathe new life into metal, you need to pick out a quality paint for metal. Discover the best paint for metal with our top picks below.

Best Overall
Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint
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Summary
Summary

A highly versatile paint for metal that adheres to surfaces strongly and easily.

Pros
Pros
  • Includes paint and primer for less effort
  • Bonds to metal
  • Can be used on indoor or outdoor items
Cons
Cons
  • Paint colors can be a bit off
Best Overall
Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint
Best Value
Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint
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Summary
Summary

An affordable metal paint that’s colorful and highly durable in the long run.

Pros
Pros
  • Combats and prevents rust formation
  • Dries in just 30 minutes
  • Rich color and depth
Cons
Cons
  • Spray nozzle is a bit quirky and challenging
Best Value
Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint
Honorable Mention
POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating
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Summary
Summary

This is a lead-free, protective coating that prevents rust and cures into a permanent coating.

Pros
Pros
  • Forms a tough coat that doesn’t need to be repainted often
  • Keeps rust at bay 
  • Quick-drying
Cons
Cons
  • Not recommended  for beginners or DIYers
Honorable Mention
POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating
Closeup Of Paint for Metal
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of Paint for Metal

  • Increased durability. Paint for metal tends to be a highly durable kind of paint. It’s able to be used on items that are both indoors and outdoors, with added benefits like UV-resistance, water-resistance, and even weather-resistance so it holds up under all different challenges, environments, and more. 
  • Rust coverage or protection. Metal objects and surfaces are typically prone to rust and corrosion, which can make them look worse over time and exposure to different elements. Adding a coat of paint for metal can both cover up that rust and protect against future corrosion, as many metal paint products help combat rust before it can form again.
  • Versatile and varied. Paint that’s suitable for metal is often surprisingly versatile. It comes in a wide range of different colors and styles, from matte to metallic to brightly colored. And many paints can be used on a variety of different objects and surfaces, from appliances to metal tools or even other materials, like fabric, porcelain, and more.

Types of Paint for Metal

Traditional Paint

You can buy paint for metals that are just like any other can of paint. These traditional paint options are solid both online and at local hardware or home improvement stores, and they come in quart cans so you can tackle items with small or large surface areas. Traditional paint for metals is often able to be used on several different items, from walls indoors and outdoors to furniture to metal surfaces. 

Spray Paint

Paint that’s suitable for metal is also available in spray paint form. This paint is just as durable and adhesive as any other type of paint for metal, but it’s packaged in a convenient, easy-to-apply canister so you can spray it right onto metal surfaces and items. It’s a great choice if you’re looking to cover large items, like metal siding, metal tables, or any other expansive metal object.

Touch-Up Paint

If you only need a small amount of paint for metal surfaces that are scratched, dinged, or marked in other ways, then touch-up paint is a perfect choice. Packaged and sold solely in small bottles or even pens, touch-up paint for metal is an ideal option if you need to quickly and easily cover up imperfections. With the right amount — and right color — of touch-up paint, you can even repaint small sections of various metal items.

Paint Pens

If you’re getting more creative with your metal paint and want to either fill in imperfections or make designs and decorations, then paint pens are the best choice. Paint pens that hold paint that’s suitable for use on metal make it incredibly easy to apply paint. Shaped like pens with a marker-like brush or spongy tips, you can “color in” or draw with paint right on any metal surface or item.

Top Brands

Rust-Oleum

First founded in 1921, Rust-Oleum was created to solve the problem of corrosion on boats’ metal decks. In the years since, Rust-Oleum has stayed pretty true to its original product — you’ll find a wealth of paints, finishes, and even sealants and protectants. Paint products like Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint and Rust-Oleum Hammered Metal Finish are the perfect pick for any kind of metal. 

Krylon

Best known for its spray paint, Krylon is responsible for creating and supplying the world’s first aerosol paints. Founded in 1947 with a focus on brush-on protective coatings, the brand now creates spray paints that work on metal as well as other surfaces and products, like Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint and Krylon Short Cuts Brush-On Paint

Paint for Metal Pricing

  • Under $10: Most paint for metal is very affordable — in fact, you can find all kinds of paint products from spray paint to touch-up paint priced at less than $10. 
  • $15 and up: If you want more variety, such as multiple paint colors or a comprehensive paint set, you’ll spend $15 or more. Paint for metal, even in sets, doesn’t typically cost more than $40, but the more you spend the more variety you’ll get.

Key Features

Water- and Temperature-Resistance

No matter where you plan to use your paint for metal, you want to make sure you’ve chosen a highly durable, long-lasting paint. And the paints that offer both water-resistance and temperature-resistance tend to be the best choice. You want a paint that can survive temperature fluctuations from season to season and continue to bond securely to the metal underneath even in the face of moisture and water. This feature is especially important if you’re painting items that’ll be outside year-round. 

Easy Application

Spray paints are a popular choice for metal objects and surfaces because they’re incredibly simple and straightforward. They’re also a great choice for large items or awkwardly shaped items with a lot of small nooks and crannies. Whether you opt for spray paint for metal or traditional paint, make sure the paint itself is easy to apply. You want a paint that won’t make a huge mess or cause you any difficulty. 

Thick Consistency

Paint consistency is particularly important when you’re painting something metal. To achieve a good finish and sleek coat of paint, you’ll want to choose a paint that features a thicker consistency. Thicker paint is better for metal because it offers better coverage and more even coverage. Spray paints, for example, can be applied quickly but may be too thin to fully cover your surface or object. Oil-based or acrylic paints, which are thicker, will require fewer coats.

Other Considerations

  • Always Prime Before Painting. Because metal is such a tricky material to work with and paint on, it’s critical that you prime and prep before breaking out the paint. Most metal needs to be cleaned and sanded with sandpaper. Then, you’ll want to apply primer before you coat on the paint. Taking the time to do these steps beforehand can make the paint last longer and look better.
  • Oil-Based is Best for the Outdoors. Oil-based paint is often the best choice for metal, but it’s always the right choice if you’re painting metal items and surfaces that’ll be used outdoors. Oil-based paint can stand up against the outdoor elements better, and it’s the most durable for items that see a lot of wear and tear, like bicycles and metal outdoor furniture. 
  • Water-Based is Best for Indoors. If you’re painting metal items that’ll live inside your house or garage, it may be a better choice to go with water-based paint. You’ll want to choose a water-based paint that’s meant to be used on metal, but ultimately water-based is better because it offers fewer strong fumes and dries faster. It’s the right choice for items like metal finishes or appliances.

Best Paint for Metal Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint

Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint has nearly everything you need to paint metal. It provides an easy spray-on application, works indoors or outdoors, and is quick drying. But most importantly, this paint makes it easy to coat metal items in a fresh layer of sleek, attractive paint. This spray paint is designed to eliminate the need to prep and prime; it features excellent adhesion, durability, and protection against rust. It bonds to even the most difficult materials and surfaces without sanding or priming. It works on metal as well as tile, wood, PVC, and more. This paint even has fade resistance, so you can trust that it’ll look great after exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Whether you’re refreshing metal furniture or sprucing up metal items indoors, this spray paint will get the job done in about 20 minutes.

Best Value
Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint

When you choose Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint, you’re getting more than basic paint. This paint offers good bang for your buck, giving you the color and quality you want combined with protection against rust and corrosion. It’s a two-in-one paint that protects while it enhances the look of whatever you’re painting. Sold in a variety of colors and finishes, this spray paint for metal works on virtually all surfaces, including metal, concrete, fiberglass, and more. It features an oil-based formula with great adhesion, and it resists fading and chipping as it is very durable. Once applied, this paint also prevents rust and corrosion from forming. And its fast-drying formula dries to the touch in just 30 minutes. You’ll have no problem applying the paint due to the patented ergonomic trigger and 360-degree spray nozzle.

Premium Pick
POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating

When your prime motive is to prevent rust from damaging the metal parts of your vehicle, then the POR-15 Rust Preventive Coating is a good paint to have in your corner. Coming in a one-quart can, this paint goes on easily with a paintbrush and dries into a rock-hard, permanent coat with only two or three thin coats. It can also be sprayed on and it won’t peel, crack, or shrink under standard conditions. With proper handling, it cures into a neat, non-porous coating without leaving a residue. You can use it on your vehicle’s suspension, chassis, doors, engine, trunk areas, and other rusted metal parts. However, this paint is recommended for professional use only. You may not get the best results if this is your first time handling protective paint. 

Honorable Mention
Dupli-Color Paint Shop Finish System

If you need a paint that can be used on the exterior metal parts of both your vehicle and motorcycle, then this Dupli-Color Paint Shop Finish System is worth checking out. It’s a ready-to-use lacquer finish that comes in a 32-ounce can, but can be easily loaded into a spray gun. When sprayed on, it sprays easily and doesn’t run so you can have better control over your detailing project. This makes it a great choice for beginners who have had a bad experience with paintbrushes. Best of all, you aren’t bound to a recoat window. You can reapply the paint as often as you deem necessary. It’s also easy to sand or buff for a clean finish. The paint is available in multiple colors, but you should know that the clear coat is a bit thin in comparison to other brands.

Best for Appliances
Soto Appliance Plus Porcelain Paint Touch Up

If you need to touch up or repaint appliances in your home, Soto Appliance + Porcelain Paint Touch Up is the right choice. This paint may come in a small one-ounce bottle, but it is high quality — and just the right amount for covering up scratches, dings, and other damage on the exterior of metal appliances. It’s specially formulated for difficult-to-paint surfaces and materials such as metal, glazed surfaces, fiberglass, tile, and more. No matter what kind of metal you’re working with, this paint has you covered. It’s a high-gloss paint that can survive years of wear and tear, and it’s paired with a mess-free brush tip to make painting easy. Thick and blended with primer, you need only one coat to cover up any unpleasant issues. Just keep in mind that it only comes in shades of white; there are no other colors available.

Honorable Mention
Krylon Short Cuts Brush-On Paint

Krylon Short Cuts Brush-On Paint is a wholly different kind of paint from a well-known spray paint brand — but this bottled paint offers impressive results. Mixed to create an elegant, smooth finish that looks sleek on any kind of metal, the paint can bond and adhere to tough materials like metal, glass, wood, foam, and more. The one-ounce paint bottle is the perfect size for small touch-up or little items; it can cover scratches and other unsightly marks, or it can add a fresh coat. Once applied, this paint dries fast, feeling dry to the touch in just three minutes. It offers a high-gloss or matte finish, depending on the color you choose, and it coordinates perfectly with all other Krylon Short Cuts paints, including aerosol sprays. The only issue? You may need multiple bottles for most jobs.

Honorable Mention
Rust-Oleum Hammered Metal Finish

You can easily streamline and simplify the process of painting any kind of metal with Rust-Oleum Hammered Metal Finish. Part paint and part protectant, this product includes everything you need in one convenient oil-based formula. It features a primer, paint, and rust, and corrosion protective finish, and you don’t need to apply many, many coats. This paint for metal is also impressively durable. It’s weather-resistant and UV-resistant, able to survive all kinds of outdoor elements, and protect the metal underneath from rust. It’ll hide flaws in the metal, and it can cover up scratches, pitting, and more in just two coats. And over time, this paint even resists peeling, cracking, and chipping. A single can will cover up to 100 square feet in total. 


There’s just one drawback: this paint isn’t fast-drying, so it’ll take two to four hours before it can be touched.

Honorable Mention
Majic Paints Interior/Exterior Satin Paint

Majic Paints Interior/Exterior Satin Paint is the perfect paint to choose if you’re looking to infuse some style and a gorgeous finish into your metal items and objects. Whether you’re shining and sprucing up furniture, accent pieces, or even metal fixtures like railings indoors or outdoors, this paint’s satin finish will impress. Featuring an oil and acrylic blend, the paint will stick to any surface — including metals, like aluminum, steel, and even copper — and offers superior color retention even over months and years. Available in 10 different colors, you can easily apply this paint without sanding or priming your metal surfaces first. It’ll survive any environment, including sunlight and temperature changes outdoors. Designed to turn painting into a one-step process, this paint for metal is great for any project you’re tackling.

Honorable Mention
Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex

Metal surfaces typically require oil-based paint, but water-based options can perform well too — like Rust-Oleum Painters Touch Latex. This paint does require a bit more effort, as it’s paint alone; you’ll have to prep, sand, and prime bare metal before you can apply it. But it’s just as tough and adhesive as other quality paints for metal. This water-based formula features little odor and is highly durable. It resists chips throughout its lifespan to provide long-lasting color and coverage. The paint can be used indoors or outdoors, and it’s suitable for use on metal as well as other surfaces like unglazed ceramic, masonry, and wood. A single can covers up to 120 square feet, and once you apply the paint it’ll dry to the touch in just 30 minutes. The glossy finish and available color choices can add sleekness and fresh new style into just about anything metal.

Honorable Mention
Your House A Home Metallic Multi-Surface Acrylic Paint Set

The Your House A Home Metallic Multi-Surface Acrylic Paint Set is colorful and versatile, able to be used on an array of different surfaces and materials. While its color selection is best for crafts, DIY projects, and decorating metal items and objects, it’s still a valuable set worth considering if you’ve got metal in need of a new coat of paint. Composed of eight two-ounce tubes of primary colors of acrylic-based paint, this set can be used on metal as well as paper, canvas, wood, plastic, and more. It features a nice consistency with thick, even flow and a clean finish when applied. You can even mix the primary colors to create more custom blends. While the paint isn’t ideal for appliances or furniture, it’s great if you’d like to customize or add more specialized designs onto different metal pieces. 

Tips

  • If you’re dealing with metal items that are oddly shaped or difficult to paint, opt for spray paint. This paint offers the best coverage, and it’ll get into nooks and crannies far more easily.
  • Opting for metal paint that also includes extra benefits is always a good idea. Whether you choose a paint that includes rust protectant or paint that’s paired with a primer, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
  • Try to get rid of any rust present on your metal surfaces with steel wool before you begin painting. Paint typically won’t stick wherever rust is present, so you’ll need to get rid of as much as possible for the best coverage.

FAQs

Q: What is the best paint for metal?

We like Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint, which includes everything you need to paint metal that’s indoors or outdoors.

Q: What kind of paint will stick to metal?

Oil-based paint is one of the best, most adhesive options for metal. Water-based paints can work, but they may not offer as much durability or stick as well to various types of metal.

Q: Is there a special paint for metal?

Yes, there’s a specific kind of paint that’s made to be used on metal objects and surfaces. Make sure to check the specific paint you’re considering; paint cans and canisters will be labeled with the materials they’re appropriate for use on. 

Q: Do I need to prime metal before painting?

In most situations, you need to prime metal before you paint it. The only exception is if you choose a paint that’s a primer and paint duo — like Rust-Oleum Hammered Metal Finish.

Final Thoughts

Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint is a fantastic, highly versatile paint for metal that’ll work on nearly anything. Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint is another great product that offers quality and good value, and it’s equally easy to apply. Which paint do you pick when you need to paint metal? Let us know below.