How To Keep Spray Paint From Chipping Off Metal ( 5 Proven Methods)

Have you ever spent a huge amount of time and effort spray painting that metal cabinet or garage door, only to see it chipping away a few weeks later? 

It's frustrating and also upsetting when your hard work wears away.  

Could there be an easier way to keep the spray paint on? This guide will explore how to keep best spray paint from chipping off paint metal and the common reasons it could be peeling already. 

Fear not! Spray painting metals doesn’t need to be difficult. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to use when spray painting metal to make sure your spray paint stays on the painted surface.  

How To Keep Spray Paint From Chipping Off Metal

Correct Priming

As mentioned before, you need to make sure the surface is properly prepared. Clean the metal with damp cloths or soapy water to wipe away debris and dirt from the spray painting surface. Use drop cloths to protect the place and secure them with masking tape.

It's essential to sand or rough down the surface, too. Some paints will simply require a smoother surface, and bumps along the road will cause chips and peels. Using aluminum oxide sandpaper  or fine grit sandpaper will greatly help you, too. 

This is designed to work for a longer period of time and will have a better abrasive action on the surface. You can use both a sanding machine or just do it by hand.  

Thin Coats

We've all been tempted to spray more spray paint than we should - it will cover up the blemishes, right? But, in fact, spraying thick coats onto the spray paint metal will not allow the coats underneath to drying process, leading to chips or peeling.  

Spray a thin layer by using a higher pressure for smaller paint droplets. This will help prevent drips that will need to be fixed later on. 

If you're able to, you should also try spray painting outside to allow the extra droplets to disappear with the wind. Sometimes, it may even be better to use a high-quality wire brush or scrub brush or roller to get the thin coat that suits your spray painting metal surfaces perfectly.  


The topcoat is dry, and you're ready to move your spray paint metal furniture into its spot. But be warned, you need to let the spray paint fully cure before putting it into full use. Some paints can take up to 3 weeks to fully cure, so it's best to avoid putting anything on top of it that could peel away the spray paint or leave marks.  

For cabinets or shelving units, you’ll want to keep them in a cool, dry place with little disturbance. Allowing it to cure fully will save you so much hassle in the future.  


To guarantee minuscule or no peeling, a topcoat is essential. Velvet finishes or gloss paints may already have a topcoat built-in. But it's never a bad idea to apply one yourself.  

Using Polycrylic coats on oil-based or latex paints gives you an even finish and protection against peeling. Use with caution, though, as you may find some darkening or ambering occurs. Apply a small spot test to ensure it keeps the desired color before applying it all over.  

Polyurethane topcoats can work well for water-based or polyurethane paints. The same caution applies here - discoloration can occur. While using polyurethane topcoats, you should be absolutely sure the paint has fully cured, or else it can mix or discolor very quickly.

The toughest paints contain a mixture of paint pigments, binders, and specialized resins, as well as various additives such as catalysts, stabilizers, and inhibitors.  

Strip Old Paint

It may seem kind of obvious, but it’s a really important thing to consider. If you're spray painting a garage door, old paint might not dry the new coat and will peel under the fresh paint job.  

There are several options to stripping off old paint:  

  • Using a spray paint stripper that’s suitable for metal works well. Apply a generous amount of thinner to the metal surface, and allow it to work its magic until the loose paint bubbles. This takes anywhere between 30 minutes - overnight. Use a scraper to remove the spray paint from the galvanized metal surface, being careful not to scratch it.  
  • A mix of Water and Vinegar/Baking Soda for smaller metal items will remove paint well. For each liter of water used, add 60ml of vinegar or baking soda, and add the metal to the water. Boil for approximately 15 minutes and remove. Use tongs or heat-resistant gloves to take it out of the water, and scrape the old paint. 
  • For a simpler option, an Angle Grinder with a paint stripping disc works pretty fast. However, it can get very dusty and noisy, so make sure you're wearing proper protection and that the old paint doesn't contain lead.  

Common Reasons Why Spray Paint Chip Off Metal 

There are several reasons it could be chipping, peeling, or not adhering. Different types of paint may not accept a particular material, and this could be causing problems. Below are some common reasons spray paint begins to chip away quickly:  

  • 1
     Dirty Spray Painting Surface  
    It’s arguably most important to make sure your spray painting area is clean and clear of debris before you start. Any dust, dirt, or other foreign objects on the metal will prevent spray paint adhere. Wipe the metal with a wet cloth to clean the surface. If it’s particularly dirty, you may want to grab a bucket of soapy water to give it a really good clean. You’ll need to then run over it with a dry tack cloth afterward, just to make sure there’s nothing left over.   The surface of the metal must be cleaned to ensure it is free of any dirt, oils, and grime that may inhibit paint adhesion.
  • 2
     Wrong Type Of Paint  
    Most spray paints will sit fine on a metal surface. Using oil, latex, or water-based is generally the go-to. But if you’ve used a solvent-based paint, you may find that it will start to peel after a few days. This might be because the metal surface was too hot, and the paint began a process called a solvent boil. Make sure you're using solvent-based paints on cooler areas and definitely not on garage doors.  
  • 3
     Surface Not Primed Correctly  
    If you’re using a velvet finish or oil-based paint, you should be able to paint the metal with no problem. These won’t require as much priming, but it’s a good idea to smooth the surface beforehand. If your paint has a waxy, shiny, or laminate finish, or is just made with polyurethane, you will need to prime. Simply sand down the metal surface and smooth any bumps to make sure it can easily attach.  

What To Do If Spray Paint Is Starting To Scratch? 

Peeling paint can be a nuisance. If you’ve noticed a part of your garage door, car, or just metal shelves have started to peel, don’t panic! There are things you can do to fix it and make your spray paint job look good again.  

  • 1
     Inspect & Clean  
    An area of chipped, scratched, or peeled paint can reveal a bigger problem under the surface. Check the affected area and all the patches to see if the problem is bigger than at first glance. Remove the flaking paint and peeled paint; there's no fixing  of peeled and flaking paint.
  • 2
     Sand Down  
    You'll need to sand off each coat of the affected spray paint—sand down with 1200-grit sandpaper right to the bare metal. You should also account for the area about 10 centimeters out to prevent any problems in the future.  
  • 3
    Like the first coat, make sure to use a primer coat to prevent it from peeling again. Clean the area, too, just to make sure.  
  • 4
     Apply Again!  
    Spray the area with a thin coat and clear coat. It’s important to make sure you use the exact same color you did on the first attempt, as the mismatch will be obvious and stick out like a sore thumb. After spray painting, it’s a good idea to keep the original paint as a reference. Leave to cure as you would the first coat, and check to see if the problem is gone.  
spray paint

Common Questions About Spray Paint Chipping 

Will a clear coat stop spray paint from chipping? 

Yes! Most clear coats are designed to protect the paint from chipping. A varnish might be better for certain paints, but mostly polyurethane or polyclyrics will work nicely. 

Does spray paint on metal need to be sealed? 

Spray painting metal surfaces does not necessarily need sealing. For glossy or velvet finishes, a seal on the spray paint may not be as useful. However, for matte finishes and water or oil-based paints, they can protect it from the elements and stop chips or peeling.  

How many coats of spray paint should I use on metal? 

You should aim to do about 3 - 4 coats of paint on metal, with approximately 30 minutes between each coat 

Does primer prevent Spray paint peeling? 

Yes and no - primers clear the metal from impurities that could cause chipping or peeling. However, it won't stop any external forces from causing damage or chips.  


Peeling paint on metal can be a nightmare - and now with ways to prevent and fix it, we can rest easy knowing that our metal will stay painted surface for a long time to come. 

Make sure the surface is adequately prepared, and apply multiple thin coats. Get that chip off your shoulder, protect the clear coat!