Guide To Acrylic Painting on Metal

Acrylic paints are the most widely used paint colors. You can use them for casual painting, school projects, elaborative art, ceramics, and wall painting. Acrylic paints can be used on paper, canvas, glass, brick, marble, plastic, clay, metal, etc. Out of these, acrylic painting on metal requires some preparation.

Acrylic paint on metal enhances the beauty of the metallic object. You can decorate tables, chairs, cabinets, desks, doors, railings, bed posts, and many other such things. This gives you new and exciting projects where you can show your art skills.

Acrylic painting on metals is not a complicated job. Rather, it can make a unique hobby. You can invest your time to create pleasing art on metal surfaces. It can even become an additional source of income if you wish to sell your art. 

Before using acrylic paints on metals, the surface needs to be prepared for painting. This is to ensure that the paint doesn’t fade away soon. You have to gather materials, remove the rust, clean the dirt, use primer, and then paint the object. It is an incredibly easy job, but it requires some patience and care. 

So, what are the requirements for acrylic painting on metals? Let’s find out. 

Get The Materials Needed

Acrylic painting on metal is not the same as painting on some other surface. You need to arrange a few things before you start painting. Few materials such as brushes, acrylic paint, primer, gloves should be gathered.

Your work area and the surroundings need to be clean. Before you start painting, make sure that you have a plastic sheet or some cloth underneath the object. This will prevent the paint from dripping on other things. You can also wear an apron to safeguard yourself from any splashing. 

Another thing you’ll need is a cleaning rag. I would instead use the microfiber ones since they are capable of trapping dirt and dust. The dust particles can cause disruptions while painting. So, using the cleaning cloths with soap water to clean the metal surface will help remove the dust: the result – a smooth surface for painting. 

There could be parts of the metal surface that you don’t want to paint. Or it could be that you want to use different colors on a single object. For these cases, a painter’s tape will be required. You can use it to cover the areas you don’t want to paint to protect them from acrylic paint. 

Next important thing to have while painting is gloves. Gloves will protect your hands from dust and paint. It is always advisable to keep them on for the entire painting process. 

You should also get a wire brush before starting the paint. With time, metals acquire rust. As a result, the paint on them begins to deteriorate. That’s why the wire brush is essential. The stiff bristles are useful in scratching the previous paint and rust from the surface. There could be small slits or cracks where you would have to use smaller brushes. You can also use sandpaper, a handier tool, to scrap the rust. 

Ask an expert, and he will always tell you how essential a primer is while painting. For example, before using acrylic paints on metal, applying primer is requisite. The reason is – primer covers the old rust on the surface and acts as a protective coating against new rust. It also creates a smooth base that allows the paint to stick properly. 

How can you paint without acrylic paints? Acrylic paints come in different types. The acrylic spray paint is the best for metals. They can cover a large area effectively. If you are painting outdoors, there are exterior acrylic paints. 

If you think spray paints won’t be good enough, you can go for paintbrushes and liquid acrylic paints. In that case, you’ll have to apply several coatings of paint to get a leveled finish. Anyways, the choice of paint will depend on your desires. 

The last thing you’d need is a thing to seal the metal object. If used exterior paints, it won’t be mandatory to seal the object. However, you might want to use a sealer to prevent scratches and moisture from ruining the new paint for other objects. 

Clean The Rust, Dirt, Old Paint from The Surface 

After completing the above step next, you have to remove the outer impurities. Again, this is an important step that will affect the painting. 

First, you need to get rid of the dust particles. Get the cleaning rag and soak it in soap water. Use it to wipe the surface and remove the dirt. There could be oil on some parts. You can use a lacquer thinner to clean the oil. Clean the small crevices carefully. Use the wire brush to clean hard-to-reach slits.

Next, remove the rust with the help of the wire brush and sandpaper. Again, take care that you clean the surface thoroughly. After you’ve done this, use the sandpaper on the entire metal surface to level it. 

Some dirt and dust could still be there on the surface. You’ll need a cleaning solvent for cleaning them. First, of course, try cleaning with soap and water once again. But, if that fails, apply some cleaning solvent and wipe the surface with the cleaning rag. Give some time to the surface to dry. 

After this, stick the tape to the areas you don’t want to paint. For example, you might want to paint only the door handles. So, cover the surrounding areas with tape. Wear gloves, cut the excess tape, and you are ready to proceed to the next step.  

Apply Primer 

If you are painting on stainless steel, there is no need for primer because they are resistant to oxidation and rust. But, for other metals like iron, priming is crucial. It cuts off the exposure to air and prevents oxidation. 

When you purchase a primer, see that the primer is compatible with acrylic paints. It should be easily applicable to metals. Consult an expert or go online to know about the types of primers.

Now, primers also come in spray cans and buckets. You can opt for either of them. Spray cans primers make the priming job much easier. You just have to shake the cans for a few minutes and spray the primer evenly on the surface. For bucket primers, use a paintbrush to mix the primer. Then, coat the surface evenly.

After the first coat dries, apply a second coat of primer in the same way as the first. This is to slow down the rusting process even more. Adding a second layer reduces the exposure to air. It also allows the paint to attach to the surface strongly. 

Let the second coat also dry, and then you can move forward to the painting step. 

Paint The Surface

Now comes the fun part – the part to show your art skills. When the surface is ready, pick up the spray can and start applying acrylic paint on metal. Make sure the gloves are on. Shake the can for a minute before spraying. It is recommended to shake the can every minute. 

If you are painting with a brush, the size of the paintbrush should be apposite according to the surface. If the surface is large, like a door, a roller would be the apt choice. 

Like the primer, the acrylic paint also needs to be applied at least twice. It will prevent the paint from decaying soon. After even application of the first coat, let it dry. Acrylic paints don’t take long to dry, so you won’t have to wait for a long time. 

Then, apply the second coat of paint. Let the paint dry for about two days before using the object. Using different colors for layers can make the art even more charming. In addition, the color combinations may be more appealing to the eyes. 

Once you are satisfied with the painting, you may cover the surface to keep away the dirt. 

Seal It

This is not a mandatory step. However, a sealant is necessary if you want a glossy shine on your surface. It also adds another layer of protection to the paints. For indoor painting, you can use acrylic paint sealant. Exterior acrylic paints don’t need sealants as they have their properties. 


I hope you found acrylic painting on metals easy. Acrylic paints are quick-drying, water-resistant, flexible, less toxic, and durable. They bring out the elegance in the painting. Acrylic paints on metal can even increase the life span of the object. 

So, what are you waiting for? We have provided you with the steps, and it’s your turn to let your creativity come out. 

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