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How to Paint a Smooth Finish on Metal

L. Scott Pishko

Metal is usually a mundane silver color, but what if you want it to match something in your house or garage? You can color metal any color you wish, from a cool blue to a zebra stripe.

There are a few important steps to follow before the actual painting of the metal, but once you finally get to paint it you will have a professional looking piece that can be used for anything you need.

  1. Take the metal to a well vented area or outside and place drop cloths around so you won't damage the grass beneath.

  2. Grab a water bucket filled with hot water and dish detergent and give the metal a cleaning, removing dirt and dust. Wipe the metal with a clean cloth to make sure it is dry and free of debris.

  3. Swipe the metal with a new tack cloth afterward; the tack cloth takes off the excess dust and gives you a clean surface to begin the painting process.

  4. Promptly apply an even coat of metal primer spray all over the metal. Make sure you let it set for the amount of time specified on the can.

  5. Achieve a smooth primer coat by applying a soft grit sandpaper over the whole piece. Sanding lightly, you will take the rough spots out of the primer. Once you finish this you can wash it down with water and a sponge to eliminate the debris from the sanding.

  6. Inspect the metal and make sure it is smooth and ready to take another coat of primer. Sometimes once is enough but it doesn't hurt to add another coat to ensure an adaptable bond.

  7. Start painting with the metal surface spray paint in the color of your choosing. Apply even coats and reapply if the paint is too thin when painting the first coat.

  8. Tip

    Use a light color primer if possible—it will cut down on how many coats you will have to paint the metal. Make sure it isn't a cold day if taking your project outside, the results will be better on a warmer day.