How to Paint Galvanized Metal

By: Contributors  | 
painting galvanized metal
After cleaning and sanding, the first step to painting galvanized metal is adding a good coat of primer. MDV Edwards/Shutterstock

If you've ever tried painting galvanized metal — metal that's coated with a thin layer of zinc to prevent rusting — you know it's pretty much impossible. Some paints might stick at first, but they'll eventually peel. That's because the zinc reacts with paint's binder and will create a film that causes the paint to peel [source: Sherwin-Williams].

So it's important to follow the correct procedures when painting galvanized metal.


Supplies for Painting Galvanized Metal

  • ammonia
  • heavy duty, 240-grit sandpaper
  • metal primer paint
  • metal paint, specially designed for galvanized metal
  • tack cloths


Step-by-step Instructions to Paint Galvanize Metal

  1. Wash the metal thoroughly with hot soapy water.
  2. Rinse the metal and let it dry completely for several hours.
  3. Rinse the metal again with a weak solution of water and ammonia and allow it to dry.
  4. Remove any handles or other attachments from the metal.
  5. Sand the entire metal surface thoroughly, including crevices and dents.
  6. Wipe the entire surface with the tack cloths.
  7. Apply the primer as directed, covering the entire surface of the metal. It's best to start at the top and work down, section by section.
  8. Wipe off any drips that appear as soon as possible.
  9. Let the primer dry according to the directions.
  10. Inspect the surface carefully to make sure it's completely coated with primer.
  11. Apply the metal paint according to directions.
  12. Let the paint dry according to the directions.
  13. Inspect the surface carefully to make sure it's completely coated with the paint [source: Do It Yourself].

Once the paint dries, it should be good to go and you shouldn't have to worry about it peeling.


Paint Galvanized Metal FAQ

What paint will stick to galvanized metal?
Once the galvanized metal is cleaned, sanded thoroughly primed, most acrylic paints will adhere to it without any issues. For best results, it's advised that you remove the layer of white rust that develops on weathered galvanized metal over time.
What is the best primer for galvanized metal?
Use a rust-preventing primer for improved corrosion resistance and to ensure the paint adheres to the metal.
Do you need to prime galvanized metal before painting?
A primer is necessary before painting galvanized metal to ensure it adheres properly and dries more quickly.
Can you paint straight onto galvanized steel?
The short answer is no. Applying paint directly to galvanized steel will result in it peeling off.
Does galvanized paint work?
Galvanized paint is a popular zinc-based paint that protects metal surfaces from rust and corrosion. Both cold galvanizing paint and hot-dip galvanizing paint can be used, but the latter is the preferred choice for professionals.