How to Use Acrylic Paint on Metal (Step by Step Guide)

Acrylic paint is often associated with arts and crafts. This fast-drying water-based paint can be used for decorative painting, interior design, school projects, stenciling and ceramics.

In general, we find that canvas is the best surface to apply acrylic paints to. However, this coating can also be applied to other surfaces, such as metal. With acrylic paint on metal you can paint many household objects such as tables and chairs, garden decorations, garage doors, fences, screens, pillar beds and much more with it. Whether you’re working on a big project or just installing patio chairs, acrylic paint can do the trick.

In fact, acrylic paint is very versatile. It can be applied to any surface provided it is not covered in wax or oil. It opens up a world of possibilities for the budding DIY artist in you. And don’t worry, using acrylic paint on metal is not as hard as it sounds. You can turn any metal project into a work of art by doing some prep work, such as. B. :

  • Gather the necessary materials
  • Removal of old paint or rust from metal surfaces
  • Dusting and debris removal
  • Pre-treatment of the metal surface
  • Painting the metal surface
  • Sealing the painted project

So how do you use acrylic paint on metal? Read it and find out.

1. Collecting basic materials

Applying acrylic paint to metal differs from applying paint to any other surface, for example. B. a cloth. This takes time to prepare. Start by preparing the space you will be working in and gather basic materials such as paint, brushes, primer and more.

You want your work area to be free of debris and dirt. One way to do this is to use a plastic or canvas. You can place it between your project and your work surface to protect your belongings. You will also need some cloths to clean up while you paint. Use a microfiber cleaning cloth to collect dust from your metal project and create a smooth surface as you work. You use it with soap and water, especially if you need to remove residue from your metal project.

You’ll also need painter’s tape to keep the acrylic paint from seeping into unwanted areas of your project. It can also protect surrounding surfaces from contact with acrylic paint.

Keep your hands free of dust and paint. Wear gloves when working on a metal project. Keep these gloves handy throughout the process.

A wire brush should also be at the ready to scrape off old paint, piping and dirt. It should have stiff metal bristles that can scrape away old paint and rust that has accumulated on your surface. A wire brush with finer bristles may be needed for hard-to-reach crevices on metal. Sandpaper is also useful for removing old paint or rust. It is best to use 150 grit.

As with most painting, it is necessary to apply a primer when using acrylic paint on metal. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, the primer forms a protective layer on the metal surface while covering the old rust. This can also prevent surface rust in the future. The primer also serves as a base to attract and hold the paint.

Of course, for this project you will need acrylic paint. It is available in different shapes. Most experts recommend using acrylic spray paint on metal parts. Acrylic paint is also available in different types. If you are painting metal that needs to stay outside, you should use an acrylic paint for outdoors or outdoors.

If you think acrylic paint is not ideal for your project, you can use a brush instead. There are several sizes of brushes to choose from.

Once the metal project has dried, apply a sealer to protect it from scratches and moisture. It also gives your metal project a finished look. No sealer is required when using acrylic paint for exterior use.

2. Removal of rust, residue, and old paint from metal surfaces

After you have gathered all the necessary materials, you need to remove rust, residue or paint from the metal surface.

But first you need to clean the surface. Take a cleaning cloth and dip it in a soapy solution with water. Remove rust with a wire brush or sandpaper. If there is oil on the surface, use a cleaning cloth with lacquer thinner. Make sure the entire surface, including small crevices, is clean. Once the entire surface has been carefully sanded, sand it with sandpaper until it is smooth.

If dust and dirt remain on the surface, a cleaning agent can be used. Use a cleaning agent and cloth to completely remove all remaining dust and dirt before painting the room. Allow the surface to dry completely.

After cleaning the metal surface, you can protect the metal parts you do not want to paint. For example, you can paint the legs of a metal chair. Wear gloves and cut off the excess tape around this part of the chair with a knife or razor blade. The use of gloves ensures that you do not contaminate the prepared surfaces.

3. Surface primer

Here is one thing you need to understand about primer: it is not necessary if you are working with stainless steel, as it is formulated to prevent oxidation and rust resistance. But conventional metals, as well as those exposed to the weather and therefore prone to rust, should also be primed.

Before priming the substrate, check that the primer you are using is compatible with the acrylic paint. It must also be designed for use on metals.

Get the primer now. Most primers come in spray form, but some come in a bucket and are applied with a brush. Shake it for two minutes before opening it. Spray or brush the primer evenly over the metal surface. Make sure it’s completely covered. If you work outside, avoid spraying on windy days.

Wait until the first coat is dry before applying a second coat. A second coat of primer is important because the metal oxidizes easily. Applying another coat of paint will reduce the chance of rusting as the paint adheres to the surface.

And, as with the first coat, allow the second coat of primer to dry before applying the acrylic paint.

4. Painting of metal surfaces

Once the primer is completely dry, you can begin painting the metal surface with acrylic paint. Take off the gloves and start shaking the paint can for about 60 seconds. When using acrylic spray paint it is recommended to shake the can every 1 minute.

If you use a brush, make sure it is the right size to cover the surface of the metal being painted. If you want to paint something big, you can even use a roller.

As with the primer, at least two coats are required when painting with acrylic metal paint. Wait until the first coat is completely dry before applying a second coat. The good news is that acrylic paint dries quickly, so your metal painting project should be finished in a day or two, depending on the size of the surface to be painted.

Allow the second metal layer to dry for 48 hours before using it. As a result the acrylic paint stays longer on the surface.

You should also know that acrylic paint is waterproof, so you can apply multiple coats to your project if you want to achieve different effects on your project. This is one of the advantages of acrylic paint over other types of paint.

Acrylic paint can also be used. You can add more than one color to your metal project by applying the first coat of acrylic paint. Make sure the first coat is dry before you do that.

When you are done with the painted area, you can cover it with paper and tape it off with masking tape. This prevents dust and vermin from settling on the metal surface.

5. Surface seal

This step is optional. If you want a shiny finish for your metal project, this is highly recommended. It can also provide long-term surface protection. However, if you have used an outdoor acrylic paint, this is no longer necessary. Exterior acrylic paints are usually supplied with a sealant.


As you can see, acrylic paint is an easy paint to use on metal structures. Quick-drying, versatile acrylic paint can retain its color even when exposed to the elements. Follow the steps above and you should be able to create a colorful and durable metal project with acrylic paint.

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frequently asked questions

How do you apply acrylic paint to metal?

… Painting on metal

Can acrylic paint be used to paint metal?

Yes, acrylic paint on metal is possible, but it requires some preparation first. By using acrylic paint on metal, you can easily create a variety of exciting projects.

Does acrylic paint wash out metal?

So the answer to the question of whether you can use acrylic paint on metal is yes, if you first prepare the surface properly. There are many fun projects you can do with acrylic paint on metal.

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