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How to Paint Galvanized Metal

By Jim Dugan
Professional Contractor & DIY Expert

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If you try to paint galvanized metal without properly preparing the surface beforehand, rampant peeling will ultimately result. All metallic surfaces are terribly suited for adhesion and will reject painted finishes unless they're coated with the appropriate base primer. Learn the proper way to prepare the metal prior to application, or finish failure will prove immanent.

What is Galvanized Metal?

This term refers to metallic surfaces coated with zinc to discourage rust. This type of metal is typically used to construct surfaces exposed to consistent moisture, such as roofs, pipes, silverware, bars, lawn chairs, patio furniture, etc.

Priming to Improve Adhesion

Ordinary latex, acrylic and oil primers won't stick to metallic surfaces. To ensure adequate adhesion, apply a metal-etching primer. The acidic base will etch the metal and encourage longer-lasting adhesion.

Painting Galvanized Metal

Once the metallic surface is properly primed, it will accept paint. Add a durable, oil-based enamel to ensure long-lasting finish. For best results, spray the primer and paint onto the metallic object. This will prevent unattractive brush marks from showing in your finish coat.


Even acidic, etching primer won't stick to oily or dirty metallic surfaces. Before doing anything else, scrub the metal with a water-based, tri-sodium phosphate degreasing cleanser.