Easily Use Rustoleum Spray Paint For Galvanized Metal (DIY)

Rustoleum is a great type of paint - it provides a primer and finisher coat in one while also fighting against rust, peeling, cracking, and fading. Different mixes can provide different finishes - metallic, glossy, glittering; there are plenty of options for any project! 

But what about spraying on galvanized metal? Can the layer of zinc be disturbed with the multi-layered Rustoleum spray? Follow this guide as we explore Rustoleum paint for galvanized metal and what types are best used for it.  

Before we explore the different types of Rustoleum paint for galvanized metal, what exactly do both terms mean?  

  • Galvanized metal
    simply means a type of steel coated with a layer of zinc. It protects against rusting and corrosion, meaning you’ll have more time with the metal for projects and longer use outside. 
  • Rust-Oleum
    is a type of paint company that specializes in enhanced paint formulas. It began in 1921 when Robert Ferguson, the owner, noticed that fish oil stopped rusty metal decks from corroding. 

Originally, they used whale oil, but in 2022 that's a thing of the past. Instead, they use polyurethanes, epoxies, and latexes, to name a few, in order to enhance and create long-lasting paint.  

Homeowners may decide to spray paint their galvanized metal decks outside, use on garage doors to spruce them up, or to add some color to their homes. It’s important that when you go to spray, you’re using the right tools on galvanized metal. 

Using Rustoleum Universal Paint and Primer is not going to work - the zinc on the metal is going to reject the mix of primer and paint and will lead to peeling shortly after. Therefore, it's important to know what kind of paint you can use.  

Rust-Oleum 269038 Specialty Camouflage Spray Pack

So, Can You Use Rustoleum Spray Paint On Galvanized Steel?

The short answer: yes, with caution.  

Galvanized metal is known to reject paints on its surface. That will be down to the layer of zinc, which will eventually lead to the peeling or cracking of paint. Acidic-based paints are going to speed up the corrosion, leading to rust. Oil-based are going to slip right off, and once dry, they’ll just peel.  

What Types Of Paint Can You Use?

Ideally, you’re looking at using latex or acrylic-based paints for galvanized metal.  

Using cold-galvanizing paint on galvanized metal will simply thicken the layer of zinc. You can use galvanizing paint because it won’t do very much in the way of damaging the first layer. If you’re attempting to re-galvanize, you should use primers and spray galvanizer on the metal rather than the paint.  

We know what types of paint we can use, but as far as spray painting galvanized metal, is there a way to make it simple? Below is a simple guide on how to use Rustoleum on the galvanized metal.

How To Use Rustoleum Spray Paint On Galvanized Metal

Before we start, you need to be using the correct paint - don’t use Alkyld-based spray paints. They won’t adhere to the surface and you'll waste your time. Instead, use acrylic latex paints that will easily stay on the galvanized metal. To paint your metal surface, follow this guide below: 

  • 1
    Clean and prepare the surface. You can use warm soapy water to clean off debris and dust.
  • 2
    Prepare the paint - if you’re using an HVLP system, you shouldn’t thin the paint, as it won’t adhere as well.  

If you’re using cans, follow the instructions on the label.  

  • 3
    Spray! Apply one coat and wait about 15 minutes. You will need to do about 3 - 4 coats before it’s ready. Make sure it’s away from any objects that could cause issues; it takes roughly 7 days for the paint to cure.  
  • 4
    Apply a second coat, making sure there are no gaps or spaces on the surface.
  • 5
    Allow the coats to dry before applying more. Once finished, set your galvanized steel aside in a cool, dry area to allow it to cure.  

If it’s a garage door, you should not touch or use it until it’s fully cured.  

It’s very important that you do not scrape old paint off of galvanized metal, as you run the risk of scratching the zinc layer.

To remove old paint, use isopropyl alcohol and rub it into the paint. Once thinned, scrub away with a sponge, or for tough paint, use a lacquer thinner. 

galvanized metal

Tips And Safety Guidelines 

Using a spray can is the most effective way of using Rustoleum paint, but you should make sure it’s primed correctly by shaking it vigorously for 60 seconds. This removes any congealed paint and allows it to flow smoothly.  

Don’t spray closer than 8 inches to the galvanized metal. Aim to be about 16 inches away, using a back-and-forward motion to apply.  

On the second coat, you should be careful not to overspray on one area, which can lead to peeling.  

If you want to make sure the paint will adhere, vinegar will promote adhesion by reacting to the metal.  

  • Start by applying vinegar to a rag. 
  • Rub the metal surface with the rag, covering the entire surface with vinegar. 
  • Wait 5 minutes before spraying to allow it to react.  

If the paint doesn’t adhere even after rubbing vinegar, you may need to re-galvanize the surface. Using a cold-galvanizing spray on the surface should be able to clear the issue up.  

Rustoleum Spray Paint On Galvanized Metal FAQs 

How long does a Rustoleum Spray paint take to dry on galvanized metal? 

The coats of Rustoleum will usually dry within 15 minutes, but to fully cure and dry inside and out, you’re looking at about 7 days. During this time, you shouldn’t use or touch the galvanized metal to allow the curing process to fully work.  

How long do Rustoleum Sprays last on galvanized metal? 

Galvanized steel is estimated to be protected between 30 - 170 years, and Rustoleum paint will last approximately 30 years. So if left undisturbed or with gentle use, you can expect your paint to last a few decades.  

Do I need to prime galvanized steel when using Rustoleum Spray Paint? 

You don’t necessarily need to prime the surface other than cleaning it. If you wish to prime a galvanized metal surface, use an acrylic-based primer for the first coat. Latex primer works just as well.  

How much does Rustoleum Spray Paint cost? 

A can of Rust-Oleum spray paint can range from $5 - $16. For paints in an HVLP system, the price could rise to $30.  


Galvanized metal has always been tricky to paint. But knowing what types of paint to use and how to correctly spray will save you time and energy in the future. Touching up your galvanized metal isn’t as difficult as you think, and now you can go forward with your DIY projects!