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.
A highly versatile paint for metal that adheres to surfaces strongly and easily.
- Includes paint and primer for less effort
- Bonds to metal
- Can be used on indoor or outdoor items
- Paint colors can be a bit off
An affordable metal paint that’s colorful and highly durable in the long run.
- Combats and prevents rust formation
- Dries in just 30 minutes
- Rich color and depth
- Spray nozzle is a bit quirky and challenging
This is a lead-free, protective coating that prevents rust and cures into a permanent coating.
- Forms a tough coat that doesn’t need to be repainted often
- Keeps rust at bay
- Not recommended for beginners or DIYers
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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.