6 Steps You Should Take Before Painting Metal

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Painting metal is an excellent way to furnish your house, but proper surface preparation is essential for achieving premium quality and long-lasting stability of the metal coating. Adequate preparation is crucial, as even the most advanced and professional technologies for metal coating can fail due to negligence.

To ensure a successful painting job for metal, this article will guide you through the six basic steps you should follow before painting metal.

Know the type of metal you are going to paint:

Painters commonly use aluminum for painting, which can be found in outdoor furniture, siding, and storm windows. Steel is another durable option for painting, often used for car parts and railings. However, metals like copper and brass require extra care before painting, as they are susceptible to weathering and can accumulate salts from the environment. Aluminum does not hold up well to salt or wet environments, while steel requires regular maintenance to prevent rusting.

Clean the surface:

For preparing new metal surfaces, use mineral spirits and rust-free primer to remove grease before painting. If the surface is already painted, remove dust with a dry, clean cloth and wipe it down with mineral spirits to ensure good paint absorption. For stubborn dust, use a mild detergent solution or a recommended product for cleaning painted surfaces.

Remove loose and peeling paint:

Old paint in poor condition can be removed through scraping, brushing, or sanding. However, these methods can be labor-intensive and may not always deliver expected results. Some professionals opt for power tool cleaning, which is a quick and easy method to remove paint, but it may affect paint adhesion.

Remove rust:

Checking for rust on the metal surface is a crucial step before painting, as it ensures proper paint adhesion. Lightly rusted metals can be restored to their original state by using a brush to clean off loose rust and applying a premium quality rust-inhibitive primer to sand the area. Rust-inhibitive primers, also known as rust converters, can be used to transform rusted spots into non-rusting, paintable surfaces.

Repair small holes and dents:

Sand the area where holes and dents need to be repaired and wipe off the bare metal with a degreaser or mineral spirits. For small dents and holes, inject an epoxy-based composite into the holes or dents. For larger holes, inject epoxy composite to the edge of the hole, cut a piece of fiberglass one inch larger than the hole, and press it into the filler. Cover the epoxy with mesh and move the edges towards the center of the hole.

Prime the surface:

Priming is a crucial step in preparing metal for painting, especially for surfaces exposed to moisture. Choosing the right primer is essential and involves considering the type of metal, desired appearance, required performance, and environmental conditions for both exterior and interior surfaces. Avoid using latex (water-based) primers on metal surfaces, as they can allow moisture to seep through and compromise the paint texture within weeks or months. Experienced professionals recommend two types of primers:

  • Rust converter: Used to quickly convert rusted metal surfaces into paintable ones.
  • Galvanized metal primer: Recommended for metals like aluminum to prevent adhesion issues.


When it comes to painting metal, proper surface preparation is essential for achieving a high-quality and long-lasting finish. By following the six basic steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your metal surfaces are properly prepped before painting, resulting in a professional and durable coating.

If you want to ensure attention to detail and expert craftsmanship in your metal painting projects, trust “Attention to Detail Painters”, your reliable painting partner. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and experience the difference between our professional services.