Can You Spray Paint Aluminum? (How To DIY Guide)

Aluminum makes a durable, lightweight, and stylish surface for outdoor furnishings and indoor decor. However, it’s all too easy for its sleek appearance to become dated and worn with time. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution - a can of aluminum spray paint! 

You absolutely can spray paint an aluminum surface! With the proper preparation, you can ensure the paint will stay attached to the surface and won't chip or rust for a long time. 

Spray paint comes in easy-to-use aerosol cans and is a cheap and accessible way to update furniture and decor around your house. Unlike other paints, it doesn't require a brush to apply and will usually dry and cure quickly, depending on the surface it is applied on. 

Many kinds of spray paint are available for specific surfaces, such as wood, brass, fabric, and metal - including spray paints designed especially for aluminum surfaces.  

To apply paint to aluminum surfaces successfully, you must clean the surface before sanding and applying a primer. As aluminum is non-porous, the paint won’t naturally stick to it.  

Can You Spray Paint Aluminum

Can you spray paint aluminum siding? 

You can paint aluminum siding, but it will need to be primed first. As it is on the outside of your house, be aware that the aluminum surface will become hot if in direct sunlight, and this will also mean the paint will set faster. 

Can you spray paint aluminum rims? 

The rims of your car wheels can be spray painted, but you will need to use a specific paint designed to be used on wheels. When painted, the surface will need a clear coat finish. Rims made of other metals can also be painted with spray paint intended to be used on wheels. 

Can you spray paint an aluminum boat? 

You can spray paint a boat, but the job may be better left to professional painters that can ensure it is prepared and primed properly before it is painted. If you wish to do it yourself, ensure the paint you pick is designed to work on boats and marine surfaces. 

Can you spray paint aluminum foil? 

While it may sound unusual, you can spray paint aluminum foil! You will need to prime the surface first, as the foil is a shiny non-porous surface, and paint will not stick to it without first being primed. This is great for crafts and school projects. 

Can you spray paint aluminum gutters? 

Just like other aluminum surfaces, gutters can also be spray painted, provided the paint you use is suitable for the material and external fittings. Use oil-based paints and prime the surface before painting. 

Can I spray paint a brushed aluminum sink? 

To paint aluminum sinks, follow the recommendations for other aluminum surfaces, such as cleaning and allowing to fully dry and scuffing up the surface before painting for best results. Make sure paints are oil-based and suitable to be used on sinks. Epoxy paints can also be used on sinks. 

Can I spray paint my aluminum garage door? 

You can spray paint an aluminum garage door. Remember to check the paint can be used on metal exterior surfaces and apply a top coat for the best protection from wear and weathering. 

Can I use spray paint on aluminum tool boxes? 

To paint an aluminum tool box, select a paint that can be used on metal, follow the manufacturer's directions, and prime the surface first. 

Can you spray paint aluminum cans? 

You can paint aluminum cans. Remember to paint outside or in a well-ventilated area and wear protective gear when using harsh chemicals like spray paint and primer. 

Can you spray paint aluminum mini blinds? 

It is possible to spray paint aluminum mini blinds. Make sure the spray paint is right for the job and follow the manufacturer's instructions.  

How To Spray Paint Aluminum (Step By Step) 

You Will Need: 

  • Oil-based acrylic spray paint suitable for aluminum surfaces in your chosen color 
  • Warm water and degreasing detergent  
  • Pressure washer 
  • Wire brush 
  • Sandpaper 
  • Primer 
  • Drop cloth 
  • Protective gear such as a respirator and overalls 
  • 1
    Prepare the Area 
    Work outdoors if possible, or in a well-ventilated indoor space such as a garage with open doors. Move any furniture at risk of paint splatter, or cover it with a drop cloth. Put other drop cloths or newspaper down and place the item you will be painting on it. Wear protective gear like respirators to protect you from breathing in dangerous paint fumes while painting, and wear protective overalls or old clothes you don’t mind getting covered in paint. 
  • 2
    Prep Your Item 
    If you are painting the siding of your house, you may wish to put down drop cloths to protect the ground below. If you are painting guttering, consider if you need to remove it from the house or if you will safely and easily be able to paint it in place. When painting a large object like an aluminum boat, it may be easier to elevate it on two sawhorses to allow you to reach all angles and turn it with ease.
  • 3
    Clean the Item 
    Any residue left on may cause chipping and peeling when painted over. Depending on the object being painted, it may be faster and easier to clean most of it with a pressure washer. Then, clean every angle thoroughly with warm water and degreasing detergent. Scrub any stubborn areas with rust, old paint, or other debris with a wire brush. When your surface is completely clean, allow it to dry fully before beginning the next step.
  • 4
     Sanding 
    The right tools for sanding will depend on your chosen surface. Some will only need some aluminum oxide sanding paper or a sanding block. Still, larger projects may require an angle grinder, handheld sander, or even a blasting unit, but this should only be used outdoors for large-scale projects. Whatever your sanding method, always wear protective goggles and a dust mask to protect yourself from metal dust particles coming off the surface. You can use either medium grit sanding paper or begin with course 80 to 100 grit paper and then sand a second time with 400 grit paper. Remember to turn your project if necessary to reach every angle and corner. Once evenly sanded, wash the surface with more water and detergent to remove dust from sanding, and then also allow to dry again.
  • 5
    Use Primer 
    Use a self-etching primer, as the chemicals used in this will give the aluminum its best chance to bond well to the paints. It will also help your paint last longer and prevent it from oxidizing or chipping. Apply the primer in thin coats, following any instructions on the container. Once dry, sand lightly again with 400 grit sandpaper and remove any dust. Primer will also remove any remaining grease, dirt, oil, or other debris missed when cleaning. Make sure your primer gets into every crack and crevice of your project.
  • 6
    Spray Paint 
    Use oil based acrylic or latex paint for spray painting aluminum. Make sure the paint you choose can be used on metal, and especially aluminum surfaces. These paints may contain aluminum flakes mixed into the paint, which helps the paint last longer. Different paints may also be recommended for indoor and outdoor projects, so ensure you have the right paint for the job. If you are painting an item like an aluminum boat, make sure the paint is water-resistant. This also applies for painting gutters. When painting siding, weather resistance is a key consideration, as are wheel rims and outdoor furniture. High gloss finishes may not be the best choice when painting aluminum as they will allow all flaws, dents, and scratches to be seen. Instead, choose matte or satin finish paint. Follow manufacturer instructions and apply thin, even coats of paint. Multiple coats may be needed, depending on your desired finish. You may also need to lightly sand in between coats. 
  • 7
    Optional 
    When the paint has been allowed to fully dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, apply a couple of coats of enamel sealer to protect the newly painted surface and prevent any chips, scratches, or peeling paint. It will also help the paint to last longer. Let the sealer cure completely for at least 24 hours before using your completed project.  

Safety Precautions To Keep In Mind

It’s very important to be safe when using spray paint, as it is an aerosol containing some potentially dangerous and harmful chemicals.  

Always wear protective gear, including a respirator or dust mask, protective overalls or old clothes that cover as much skin as possible, and protective goggles. You should also wear this kind of protective clothing when sanding aluminum and other metals due to the metal flecks being flung into the air.  

Store paints and primers out of reach of small children and pets, away from open flames, and not exposed to high temperatures. Always follow the storage instructions written on the product and seek medical advice if paint or primer is ingested or comes into contact with your eyes.  

To make your spray paint last as long as possible, use a sealer once the paint has thoroughly dried. It will also last longer if the surface is properly prepared before painting, so always clean, sand, and prime your aluminum surface before painting. 


Benefits Of Using Spray Paint On Aluminum Surfaces  

There are several benefits of using spray paint on aluminum surfaces. Spray paint is slightly cheaper than other kinds and often is made especially for different surfaces, making it easy to achieve your desired finish. Spray paints are available in a vast range of colors, allowing you to easily update your decor and fittings.  

Spray paints are pretty easy to use once you have the technique perfected - pass the can across the surface you are painting, pressing the button just before the surface, and releasing it just after. Spray paint requires much less clean-up and setup than brushes and rollers, saving you time and energy.  

Spray paints also dry fairly quickly, meaning you can use your newly painted item as quickly as possible. Spray paints are often formulated to allow them to protect the surface from weather, rust, chipping, and scratches.  

Before & After Pictures

A before and after picture of the paint job on a house with aluminum siding.  

before and after

You can update your metal chairs with a quick coat of paint! 

aluminum chair

Common Spray Painting Aluminum Questions 

Why does paint peel off aluminum?  

Paint can peel if the surface isn’t prepared before painting. Make sure all old paint, rust, dust, debris, oil, and grease is completely removed before you apply any primer or paint. 


Will oil based or acrylic paint work on aluminum?  

Oil based acrylic or latex paints are good choices for aluminum. Always check the paint will be compatible with your project’s surface before buying and using. 


How many coats of spray paint should you apply on aluminum? 

This will depend on the surface you are painting and the finish you want to achieve. You will likely need at least two, and the paint can should have more details about the number of layers you might need to apply. 


Conclusion

Spray paint is an easy and cost-effective way of updating old aluminum surfaces. With the right preparation, anyone can use it to breathe new life into worn-out areas around your home.   


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