Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

How to Paint Galvanized Metal? (The Complete Guide 2022)

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Galvanized metal is a popular choice when it comes to building any artwork. That’s because it’s rust and corrosion resistant. Unfortunately, that same quality makes it challenging to paint. Galvanized metals carry a Zinc coating that makes the paint peel off. If you want to know how to paint galvanized metal, there are ways to do that.

Make sure to avoid any type of oil-based paint when choosing your color. Once you’ve decided on paint, you need to prepare the metal for the paint. Make sure to clear any debris off it. Once prepared, follow the product instructions to apply the paint.

Following the correct procedure can make all the difference when painting galvanized metal. If you can follow the instructions step-by-step, you should be good to go.

Will Paint Stay on Galvanized Metal?

This is a tricky question. You need to fulfill some conditions to help the paint latch onto the galvanized metal surface.

But even after doing your preparation work, not every type of paint will stick onto galvanized metal. For example, any kind of oil-based primer will peel right off!

Oil-Based Primers Are a No Go!

If you ever try preparing a galvanized metal surface with an oil-based primer, you’ll see that the primer coating is coming off the metal quickly, sometimes within weeks! Why’s that?

The galvanized metal surface features a Zinc covering to avoid any type of corrosion. The oil-based primers, otherwise known as alkyd primers, tend to react as they come in contact with the Zinc coating. This phenomenon is called saponification.

As a result of the saponification, the mixture of the two substances creates a whole new substance that can no longer stick to the galvanized metal surface. But don’t worry. You can use other options when painting a galvanized metal surface.

What Paint Can Be Used on Galvanized Metal?

While oil-based primers are the worst match for galvanized metal, you can use some other paints for this purpose. Here’s a list of the types of paints that you can use.

Spray Paint

By spray paint, we don’t mean regular spray paints. Your typical spray paint will never stick onto a galvanized metal surface. The Zinc coating will reject it. What you want are the cold-galvanizing spray paints.

Spray Paint On Galvanized Metal

These spray paints have a high Zinc content that makes them compatible with galvanized metal surfaces. However, the color variation in cold-galvanizing spray paints is minimal. Still, it’s better than nothing.

Hammerite Paint

Another popular option for painting galvanized metal surfaces is Hammerite paint. If you haven’t heard of Hammerite paint, it’s a uniquely formulated paint that functions as a combination of three – primer, undercoat, and topcoat. Thanks to its unique formula, you can directly apply this paint to a galvanized metal surface.

The Hammerite paint has six colors available. They are black, white, silver, blue, green, and brown.

Acrylic Paint

While oil-based primers are a no go on galvanized metal surfaces, their water-based counterparts work pretty well on galvanized metal surfaces. These water-based primers or acrylic paints don’t react with the Zinc content.

So, you can use acrylic paint on metal without any hesitation.

Galvanized Paint

Last but not least is the galvanized paint. Just by its name, you can tell that it was made to use to paint galvanized metal surfaces. This paint uses Zinc as its base, which helps the metal surfaces fight against rust and corrosion.

You have two options when choosing a galvanized paint: cold galvanizing paint or hot-dipped galvanizing paint.

If you’re an amateur, the cold galvanizing paint might be more your speed. But if you’re professionally in the field, your weapon of choice should be the hot-dip galvanizing paint.

How Do You Prepare Galvanized Metal for Painting?

Even after choosing your paint, you’ve passed only one-third of the entire painting process. You need to prepare the galvanized metal surface for the painting process.

How Do You Prepare Galvanized Metal For Painting

It would be best to be very cautious and thorough with the preparations. Without a comprehensive preparation phase, the paint won’t stick very well to the metal surface. All your efforts would be in vain.


Here’s a list of things you may want to keep handy when preparing the metal surface for painting.

  • Warm water
  • Soap
  • Ammonia or white vinegar
  • Heavy-duty sandpaper
  • Tack cloths

The Process

While the process is simple enough, you need to follow all the steps correctly. Attention to detail is the key here.

Step 01: Clean the Surface

You need to remove any type of dirt, dust, or other debris that might get in the way of the paint sticking on the metal. Just think of it this way: every dust particle is another hurdle till you get to the finish line.

To clean the metal thoroughly, first wash it with hot soapy water. Make sure that you don’t miss a spot. Rinse it thoroughly, and then leave it to dry completely. This may take a few hours.

Make sure not to leave it in a dusty place. Otherwise, your efforts would be wasted, and you’d have to go through the cleaning process again.

Step 02: Apply Ammonia or White Vinegar

Make a mixture of water and ammonia. Try to keep the ratio of ammonia to water on the lower side.

And if you don’t have ammonia, white vinegar will do just fine. However, the white vinegar and water solution may need to be stronger than its ammonia counterpart.

After preparing the solution, rinse the workpiece and let it dry out.

Step 03: Even It Out

Take out the sandpaper. Remove any attachments to the surface and start sanding it. Make sure not to leave out any crevices or dents. By evening out the metal surface, you ensure that the paint can reach every part of the surface.

Without adequately sanding the surface, you’d not get the result you were hoping for. You’ll notice that the paint couldn’t reach some parts and is now sticking out like a sore spot.

Once you’ve appropriately sanded the entire workpiece, use the tack cloth to clear out any remaining debris. Finally, you can get to the painting phase!

How To Paint Galvanized Metal?

Onto the final phase: the painting! It’s not as simple as smearing on paint in any way you like. Of course, you could do that, but that would just ruin the quality of the workpiece.

How To Paint Galvanized Metal

But it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Just follow the following steps, and you’ll be golden.


Just like the preparation phase, you’ll need a couple of items to make the painting phase go seamlessly.

  • Metal primer
  • Metal paint
  • Clean cloth

The Process

The painting phase should be a breeze if you’ve done the preparations thoroughly.

Step 01: Prime the Workpiece

Take the metal primer and apply it to the metal surface. You should find an instruction manual. Please go through the instructions and follow them strictly to apply the primer.

You need to cover the entire workpiece surface with the metal primer. The best way to do that is to start at the top and work your way to the bottom. Pick a section and cover it with the metal primer.

Step 02: Clear Off Any Residue

As you’re covering the workpiece with the metal primer, it’s best to keep a clean cloth close at hand. That way, you can clear off any drips as soon as possible.

Otherwise, the priming process would be messy, and the primed surface would be uneven.

Step 03: Dry It Off

Once you’ve covered the entire surface with the primer and cleared off any residue, let it dry off in a clean place. The drying time depends on the product you chose. Check the instructions manual for any specific directions about the drying process.

Once the primer has dried off completely, check the workpiece to see if you’ve missed any spots. If any areas have not been primed, the paint in that spot will come off much sooner than in the other parts.

So, if there are any unchecked spots, make sure to repeat the priming process for those missing spots.

Step 04: Apply Paint

If possible, it’s better to get the paint the same brand as the primer. Before starting, check the paint container for detailed instructions. Make sure not to skip out a single point. Also, don’t forget to lay out a sheet to help minimize the mess.

Once you’ve gone through the instructions, apply the paint to the surface according to the instructions. Don’t leave a single part out. Recheck it to see if you’ve missed a spot.

Once you’ve applied the paint, let it dry off according to the product directions. And voila! Your job’s done!

Article Summary

  • Not all types of paint can be used to paint galvanized metal.
  • Only cold-galvanizing spray paint, galvanized paint, Hammerite paint, and water-based and acrylic paint can be used on galvanized metal.
  • Preparation is the key to a successful paint job on galvanized metal.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying paint on galvanized metal.


There’s a saying: if there’s a will, there’s a way. The same goes with painting galvanized metal. Typically, the paint won’t stick to the metal surface. But if you’re willing to put in the extra effort, i.e., the preparation and whatnot, you can easily coat the galvanized metal piece with your color of choice.

All it takes is to know how to paint galvanized metal and then put in the work. Since you’ve already started putting in the effort, as you’re already at the end of our discussion, why not go all the way?

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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