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How Do I Choose the Best Paint for Galvanized Metal?

Galvanized metal is a type of metal is coated with a protective layer of zinc that protects it from rust and corrosion due to exposure to the elements.
An unpainted galvanized steel bucket.
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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
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Following a few tips when working with it can help you get the most out of paint for galvanized metal. The recommended first step is to prepare the surface to be painted by making sure it is smooth and then applying primer to the metal. If you prefer to spend less time preparing the surface, then you should consider buying a paint designed specifically for the material to be painted. After you narrow your options to the right type of paint for galvanized metal, you should decide how durable the paint needs to be and how shiny you want it to be.

You first are advised to prepare the surface of the item to be painted so that the paint for galvanized metal stands its best chance of looking good for several years. To do this, you can use a cloth that is damp with vinegar or mineral spirits, rubbing it across the metal until it is smooth. Once you rinse it with water, you should apply a primer that is made just for galvanized metal; this step helps ensure that the paint sticks to the surface without peeling over time. You then can use nearly any type of paint on the metal, though you are encouraged to read product reviews to choose the best quality product for the material.

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On the other hand, you may be able to skip this preparation step by using paint specifically designed for use on galvanized metal. You should try to avoid paint made with alkyd, asphalt or silicone, all of which tend to peel right away. Instead, you should consider using bituminous, vinyl or latex-acrylic paint, the latter of which typically is the easiest to find. You also may be able to use epoxy, latex water-based paint or acrylic paint for galvanized metal, but you are advised to either ask the manufacturer or start by trying out just a little bit at first, to ensure you have chosen a paint that works well with the specific material. If you are having a hard time deciding which paint to try, you may want to consider other variables, such as the type that tends to be most environmentally friendly or the type that is easiest to clean up once the project is done.

As part of choosing the best type of paint for galvanized metal, you need to consider factors such as where the painted metal will end up. For instance, if you are painting an item that will be left outside, such as a swing set or a roof, then you should choose a paint that can withstand the elements. You usually can stick with a less durable paint for items that will stay inside, protected from the weather. You also may consider whether you want a glossy finish or a matte finish. A satin finish falls in between the two choices, for those who like a more middle-ground look.

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Soulfox
Post 2

@Melonlity -- you can actually have the best of both worlds. If you just don't want to use a separate primer coat, there are a good number of paint products that also contain primer. That's right. You can have your cake and eat it, too.

This step is even simpler than using paint without primer because you won't have to use as many coats. One of the advantages of primer is that it helps keep the "old" color of the metal from bleeding through the new layer of paint. Those primer and paint combos eliminate that problem quite well.

Melonlity
Post 1

Using primer is very important for the reasons mentioned -- it helps keep the paint stuck to the metal object at hand. One of the problems with spraying on even paint made for galvanized paint is that you don't want internal problems with that layer as that will cause it to flake quicker.

A coat of primer, then, will make that paint last longer.

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