Top 5 Best Spray Primers For Metal (2020 Review)

Are you looking for a versatile spray paint primers for a metal surface?

You've come to the right place!

In this ProPaintCorner.com guide, you will learn:

  • When you should use a spray primer
  • What the different types of paint primers are
  • How to choose the right spray paint primer for your metal surface

And much more!

Top 5 Best Spray Primers For Metal (2020 Review)

Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use a spray paint primer for metal!

Image Product

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Rust-Oleum Professional Primer Spray Paint
  • Any-angle spray
  • High-output tip
  • Fast-drying
  • Any-angle spray
  • High-output tip
  • Fast-drying
View on Amazon

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Rust-Oleum “Stops Rust” Automotive Primer Spray Paint
  • Wet sandable
  • Fast Drying
  • Works on Metal & Fiberglass
  • Wet sandable
  • Fast Drying
  • Works on Metal & Fiberglass
View on Amazon

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Rust-Oleum Automotive Rusty Metal Primer Spray Paint
  • Protects heavily rusted surfaces
  • Oil-based & rust-resistant
  • Can be covered by any topcoat
  • Protects heavily rusted surfaces
  • Oil-based & rust-resistant
  • Can be covered by any topcoat
View on Amazon

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Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Primer Spray Paint
  • Resists heat up to 2000 degrees
  • Prevents rust
  • Great for high heat items like mufflers and engines
  • Resists heat up to 2000 degrees
  • Prevents rust
  • Great for high heat items like mufflers and engines
View on Amazon

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Rust-Oleum Automotive 2-in-1 Filler & Sandable Primer Spray Paint
  • Fills imperfections
  • Sandable wet or dry
  • Dries in 10 min.
  • Fills imperfections
  • Sandable wet or dry
  • Dries in 10 min.
View on Amazon

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

(updated 8/13/2020)

Our top choice metal primer is this amazing, general-purpose Professional Primer Spray Paint by Rust-Oleum.

You'll notice that all the products we recommend here are from Rust-Oleum, and that's because they take the cake when it comes to making the best spray primers.

Not only do they make a versatile line of primers, but this Professional Primer in particular is just incredible.

It's a super durable, long-lasting oil-based formula that is corrosion-resistant (a.k.a rust protection) and has an epic any-angle sprayer that makes it that much easier to get into the nooks and crannies without creating a bunch of mess.

If you're looking for an amazing all-around metal primer to keep in your toolkit, this is the one I'd recommend.

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Process Takes About 30 Seconds

When Should You Use A Metal Primer Spray Paint?

So you might be asking...when should you use a spray paint primer for a metal surface?

Well, the simple answer is: whenever you're going to spray paint anything metal!

The more complicated answer is: when you want to ensure the best paint adhesion possible.

So let's unpack this a bit more, shall we?

Why Use A Primer?

You should always use a primer when you want to create a high-quality finish on your DIY project.

It can be easy to skip the priming step (because it takes a bit more work) and just add another coat of paint on to make sure it has the overall color you're going for.

However, this causes more problems down the road, even if the paint looks nice!

This is because priming your surface creates a smooth surface for your chosen paint to adhere to. And that is much more important when you're working with a metal surface.

Spray painting a metal surface without using a primer is a bad move, my friend.

Often times you don't realize how important a primer is until it's too late and your beautiful coat of paint starts to wear down in a matter of weeks. 

But I want to save you from that fate right now and help you get the best finish on your paint job possible.

So, if you want results that last, do it right the first time and prime!

When Should You Apply Primer?

This one is a bit easier to answer: after you've prepped your surface well.

Prepping your surface means different things for different projects, though.

For instance, if you want to put a new coat of paint on some rusty outdoor furniture, you'll need to pressure wash it off first to ensure there's no dirt or grime lingering on the surface.

Then you'll probably need to use a scraper or wire brush to eliminate any flaking or chipped paint.

After that, sand it down with some sandpaper or an orbital sander - just enough to create a smooth surface and get rid of the old paint - and then wipe the surface down with a damp cloth to ensure there isn't any lingering dust.

Note: Sanding is another one of those steps people like to skip, but every single primer I've found says sanding your surface is an essential part of the process for optimal paint adhesion, don't skip it!

Now, once you've done ALL of that...it's time to sit down and use a spray primer for the metal surface.

Read More >> How Do You Paint Aluminum Surfaces?

What Are The Different Types of Spray Paint Primers?

Before you choose your metal primer spray paint your next DIY project, it's important to note that there are multiple types of primers to choose from.

While that may sound like a no-brainer, it's very important to have a firm grasp of the strengths and weaknesses of each type so you don't end up with a messy end-result.

The primer you choose is like the foundation for your paint job, so if you want to make sure that your DIY project lasts as long as possible and looks great, don't skimp on finding the best spray primer for the job!

Oil-Based Primers

The first type I want to go over is the oil-based primers.

These have been considered "industry standard" for decades, and for good reason.

These primers are super versatile and they work on almost every surface under the sun, plus they typically work for both interior and exterior applications.

Oil-based primers are an excellent choice for priming metal surfaces and painting over an existing layer of paint.

This means the oil-based primers will help you get a high-quality, longer-lasting coat of paint in the end.

So what's the downside?

They smell! They put out a lot of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are harmful to people and animals in high-concentrations. And since we're talking about spray primers here, it's important to note that you need to be very careful when using an oil-based spray primer.

That means you can't skip the safety gear like a mask with a ventilator, goggles, and gloves. You do NOT want this stuff coming in contact with your skin or respiratory system.

This also means you need to give the paint job longer to dry in a well-ventilated area (ideally outside) so those VOCs have more time to off-gas before being placed in a less-ventilated area.

Did you know: Not only does paint primer increase your paint's adhesion to the surface, but it also improves corrosion resistance for a long-lasting paint job. 

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

How To Choose The Right Spray Paint Primer For You?

So how exactly should you choose which spray paint primer to use on your project?

Answer these questions:

  1. What type of surface am I using this on?
  2. Where will this item be used most (high traffic/high heat areas or not)?
  3. What is the current state of my surface? (Stained/not stained, painted/not painted etc.)
  4. What type of paint will I be applying over the primer?

Once you've answered those questions, it becomes much easier to narrow down the list of primers and find the best one for you.

Keep reading to see what we'd recommend using each of these 5 primers for!

Read More >> How Do You Fix Uneven Spray Paint?

How To Choose The Right Spray Paint Primer For You?

So how exactly should you choose which spray paint primer to use on your project?

Answer these questions:

  1. What type of surface am I using this on?
  2. Where will this item be used most (high traffic/high touch areas or not)?
  3. What is the current state of my surface? (Stained/not stained, painted/not painted etc.)
  4. What type of paint will I be applying over the primer?

Once you've answered those questions, it becomes much easier to narrow down the list of primers and find the best one for you.

Keep reading to see what we'd recommend using each of these 5 primers for!

Read More >> How Do You Get Rid Of Spray Paint Smell?

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Our Reviews Of The Best Spray Primers

Our top choice is the epic Professional Primer Spray Paint from Rust-Oleum because it includes just about every feature you need in an awesome metal primer spray.

From it's high-output any angle spray tip to the 14 square feet of coverage, this little 15oz spray paint can will surely last you a while.

Because it's an oil-based formula, you can feel confident using it in heavy-duty environments knowing it will provide a corrosion-resistant foundation for whatever spray paint you decide to use as a topcoat.

Pros

  • Any-angle spray
  • High-output tip
  • Fast-drying

Cons

  • Some Amazon buyers reported receiving broken cans
  • Not intended to spray over rust

Our second choice is the renowned Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Primer Spray because, well, it kills rust like no other!

If you're working with some rusted metal but you still want to get amazing paint adhesion, this stuff is your new best friend.

Not only will it halt rust in its tracks, but it's a super fast-drying formula that's oil-based (a.k.a super durable) and intended for automotive use.

Plus, you won't even need to wait for it to dry before you get to sanding because this stuff is wet sandable as well!

It's truly one of the most durable and versatile rust-preventative formulations out there.

Pros

  • Wet sandable
  • Fast Drying
  • Works on Metal & Fiberglass

Cons

  • Some customers complained of overspray
  • The nozzle can clog sometimes

Our best high-end choice is this Rusty Metal Primer which is not only a great primer in general, but it's also a fantastic primer for rusted metal.

Plus, it's an excellent choice if you're trying to paint over some existing rust and prevent it from corroding your metal surface further.

This durable formula is an excellent choice to use as a basecoat on almost any vehicle type, and because it's a flat finish primer you can use it with pretty much any metal paint and get a beautiful topcoat result.

Pros

  • Protects heavily rusted surfaces
  • Oil-based & rust-resistant
  • Can be covered by any topcoat

Cons

  • Some customers said it took a while to dry hard enough to take paint

If you're looking for a high-heat primer like I mentioned before, this is your primer!

The high-heat primer from Rust-Oleum includes their renowned Stops Rust formula which creates a rust-resistant base for any metal surface you're priming.

Plus, this stuff resists heats of up to 2000 degrees!

That means you can use it for head pipes, engine blocks, mufflers, and whatever other surfaces you're painting that will be consistently exposed to high heats.

Pros

  • Resists heat up to 2000 degrees
  • Prevents rust
  • Great for high heat items like mufflers and engines

Cons

  • Some users reported needing to cure this primer at 600 degrees in order to get the hardness needed to maintain the paint job

Last but not least, we have the Rust-Oleum Automotive 2-in-1 Filler & Sandable Primer because this stuff is just an excellent general purpose primer.

The oil-based formula covers up to 10 square feet per can and it dries to the touch in 10 minutes.

Not only that, but it's sandable wet or dry and it helps fill in imperfections on your metal surface so you can get the smoothest topcoat possible!

Pros

  • Fills imperfections
  • Sandable wet or dry
  • Dries in 10 min.

Cons

  • Some people had some issues sanding it wet in certain temperatures

Our overall top choice is still this Professional Primer Spray Paint from Rust-Oleum because it's just a great all-around metal primer spray.

​Whether you're painting 3D models, cars, or patio furniture, this stuff is going to create an excellent, corrosion-resistant surface for your to apply your paint of choice too.

Plus, it's a great value for the price! Find the lowest price now on Amazon.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Professional For Your Paint Job?

Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Final Thoughts On Finding A Good Spray Paint Primer

No matter what your next spray paint project is, it's basically essential to find the right primer to prep your surface to take paint.

Trust me, if you want to create professional-looking results on your next DIY project, using a spray primer will take it to another level.

As always, happy painting!

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Our paint bloggers are trained professionals that are around 24/7 to help you with any of your painting needs. Good luck!

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, furniture...you name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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Madison Rude

Madison Rude

I’m kind of a painting nerd. My mom taught me how to paint when I was nine, and since then I’ve painted rooms, furniture...you name it. I’ve written technical advice for Wagner sprayers, and I’ve spent a lot of time DIYing my own home. I’m no expert, but I love to learn. And here at ProPaintCorner, I learn more about painting every time I work with one of our painting pros to bring you the best product reviews and How To advice available. Together, let’s make your next painting project the best it can be!

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