Can You Paint Galvanized Steel? (How To DIY Guide)

While many people find the look of galvanized metal attractive and industrial, some people find that it looks unfinished and unsightly. If you're part of the latter group, you may be wondering, "Can you paint galvanized steel/metal?"  

The good news is that it is possible, but it greatly depends on the type/brand of paint you’re using, how the metal is prepped, and a few other factors. We’re here to make sure you can paint galvanized metal effectively, so don’t go anywhere!  

Galvanizing involves applying a type of thin zinc coating to steel or iron to provide protection against rust, essentially making the metal corrosion-resistant. While it is appealing in terms of durability and functionality, galvanized metal sometimes has the appearance of being "unfinished" or "raw."  

So, can you paint galvanized metals? Yes, you can, and many people do it. Is it good to paint the galvanized metal? Yes, if you're using the right paints that won't look bad and peel off after. It's not going to harm the integrity of the metal if using paints specifically intended for this purpose. In fact, some paints can even increase the amount of protection in aggressive weather conditions and environments! 

Most paints don't naturally adhere very well to this type of metal, which is why it's important to use specific types and prepare the metal properly beforehand. You can also change the color of galvanized steel through other methods, but it's not quite as easy as just using paint to change its color.  

Can You Paint Galvanized Metal?

Can you spray paint galvanized steel?

Yes, if you’re using the right kind of spray paint. You can’t use just any spray and expect it to adhere to galvanized steel. 

Can you paint a galvanized pipe?

Yes, if the paint is not acrylic or latex and is instead specifically for galvanized metal. However, the pipe needs to be prepared properly as well. 

Can you paint galvanized metal roofing and tin?

Yes, you absolutely can if you’re using an acrylic latex paint.

Can you paint galvanized flashing or aluminum?

As long as you're abrading and priming it first, yes, you can! 

Can you paint hot dipped galvanized steel?

Often known as a “duplex system," you can paint over it after it's properly prepared and if you're using the right kind of paint. 

blue paint

How To Paint Galvanized Metals Step By Step 

First off, you need to select the right type of paint to use on galvanized metal. The paint should be made for the specific purpose of being used on galvanized steel/iron and applied according to the directions indicated by the manufacturer. Some like acrylic latex paint; however, these are not designed for this purpose and will not adhere correctly.  

What type of paint is used on galvanized metal? Zinc-based paints, typically. You can also use cold galvanizing paint and hot-dip galvanizing paint, though the latter is preferable for most people.  

It's equally as important to know how to prepare the galvanized metal surface before painting. You first need to clean the surface, removing any dust, grime, dirt, or any other film or buildup on the metal. Rust-Oleum Mathys ND14 Cleaner Degreaser gets rid of any grease, oils, proteins, dirt, etc., that may be on the surface and is an excellent option for ensuring the galvanized metal is sparkling clean.  

This is a bit of a "secret weapon," but using white vinegar on a clean rag and wiping down the metal surface you want to paint will help the paint better adhere to it! Some use a commercial primer, and there are many great ones like the Coo-Var Water Based All Metals Primer.    

You may want to sand or “blast” the metal as well if you feel it’s really uneven or has a lot of bumps/blobs on the surface, but that’s more personal preference than a necessity. However, if the metal is a smaller amount it may not be possible or simply would cost more than it makes sense to invest.  

Now, let’s talk about exactly how to paint galvanized metal surfaces. Do you know how to prep galvanized metal for paint? We’ll discuss it all right here. 

  • 1
    First, clean the surface of the metal you'd like to paint. Starting off with some warm, soapy water and a sponge is always a good idea. After, wipe the surface down with a soft rag/sponge and rinse with clean water. If particularly sticky after this, try using a bit of alcohol to clean it and then rinse and dry. 
  • 2
    Now, rinse with some white vinegar and water in order to “prime” the metal so that the paint adheres more easily. After, let the metal dry completely. 
  • 3
    This is not always necessary, but you may wish to go a step further in helping paint adhere by sanding the surface of the metal. How to paint rusted galvanized metal? If the metal is rusting, this is a great way to get rid of it. Using 240-grit sandpaper seems to do the trick.
  • 4
    After sanding, grab a dry, clean cloth to wipe the surface down and get rid of any debris or dust left over from sanding.
  • 5
    Take your primer and apply a couple of coats, letting them dry thoroughly.
  • 6
    Now, you can paint! Take the right paintbrush, depending on what kind of metal you're painting, and apply the paint according to the directions of the paint manufacturer. Let it dry.  

Important Tips & Safety Guidelines

What are the safety precautions a painter should take before and while painting galvanized metal? Make sure if you opt to use an ammonia solution on metal instead of white vinegar that you do so in a very well-ventilated area. We recommend using proper ventilators/eye protection if you're going to blast the metal before painting.  

How do you get paint to stick to galvanized metal? The metal needs to be cleaned and primed properly, but you also need to use a paint that’s made for this intention.  

How can you make the paint last on a galvanized metal? Ensure it's cleaned, that rust and stickiness are removed, and that you've primed it properly.  

galvanized metal

FAQs

Can you paint galvanized steel with Rustoleum paint?  

Yes, you can! As the formula is 93% zinc coating, you can count on it adhering incredibly well to galvanized metals and even making it more corrosion-resistant.  


How long does it take for paint to dry on galvanized metal?  

Usually, you can expect paint to dry in several hours. It depends on the paint type, brand, how many coats you’ve applied, and the conditions where the metal is.  


Can you paint galvanized metal with acrylic paint?  

Yes, in fact, acrylic paint is one of the best options as it adheres very well to galvanized metal in most cases. Just make sure you've removed any dust and debris on the metal first.  


Can you paint over already painted galvanized metal?  

You can, but make sure that you've removed any dust, dirt, grime, rust, etc., that may be present. Spray paint is optimal if you're painting over already-painted galvanized metal. However, if the paint is chipping or peeling off, you may be better off removing that paint with a little stripper and repainting.  


Conclusion

With just a few simple steps, it’s possible to paint galvanized sheet metal. It’s an excellent way to update existing items or bring a fun pop of color to any of your DIY projects! 


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