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Top 5 Best Spray Paints For Metal (2021 Review)
Are you looking for the best spray paint for painting metal surfaces? Great news! You’ve come to the right place.
In this ProPaintCorner review, you’ll discover:
- What you need to know about spray painting on metal surfaces
- What to look for when shopping for spray paint for metal
- Our top spray paint for metal picks
And much more!
Our Top Pick
Our Top Pick
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Best High End
Best High End
Montana Cans BLACK
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Krylon Fusion Rose Gold
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Krylon Shimmer Metallic
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Our Overall #1 Rated Top Pick
The Krylon COLORMAXX line is seemingly ever-expanding.
It’s currently available in a variety of colors and finishes, and many more are likely to be added in the near future. Their flat black looks awesome on metal surfaces.
It’s a versatile pick also, well-suited for many other surface applications, beyond metal.
Digging into some easy, fun, low-risk, DIY projects like spray painting metal is the pefect way to gain confidence.
Once you know how the project is done from prep to cleanup, you’ll see it’s a pretty easy endeavor. Now that you’re prepared.
Part of that preparation is selecting your paint. Below is a quick list of our top favorites.
Scroll on to choose the one best suited for you!
What's In This Guide?
Top 5 Best Spray Paints For Metal
In a hurry? Check out our Top 5 picks below! Keep reading to learn more about these spray paints for metal!
And, yes, we know how it looks. We legitimately tried NOT to pick three Krylon formulas out of five for this list. Our efforts be damned, the Krylon product is too good!
We’ve chosen the best for your sake, but please know we are not sponsored or otherwise biased towards Krylon– they simply make great spray paint for metal.
Why is Spray Paint Perfect for Painting Metal?
Metal surfaces are rarely perfectly smooth. Consider a chain-link metal fence, a metal sewer grate, or perhaps a metal lighting sconce- none of these have entirely smooth surfaces.
Because of the finer nooks and crannies that you’ll often find on metal objects, brushes and rollers are absolutely useless.
You could use a spray gun, but the maneuverability that a spray can provides is attractive.
Especially on small jobs, one can of spray paint, and maybe an hour of your time, and you could easily notch one more DIY win on your belt.
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What You Need to Know About Spray Painting On Metal
As a rule of thumb, go ahead and purchase one can of spray paint for every 8 to 10 square foot area you’d like to paint.
Pick up a can or two extra if your budget allows it. To interrupt a coat because you ran out of paint is not fun and eventually creates more sanding work once you return from buying more paint.
Do everything possible to plan your metal spray painting project to be completed in a moderate climate, preferably outdoors. The humidity needs to be below 80% and the temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spray painting outside is ideal primarily due to the built-in ventilation that the great outdoors provides. Secondarily, it’s the best for mess mitigation. Of course, if possible, pick a day when winds are calm or paint in an area where your workspace is shielded from the wind.
The Prep Process
Like any other paint job, prep involves laying drop cloths, taping them and other surfaces, and getting all your supplies together.
You’re spraying paint, so you’ll want to wear a NIOSH-approved respirator, safety goggles, and rubber gloves.
While not absolutely necessary with each and every spray painting project, laying a coat of primer down first is generally good practice.
The Rustoleum 2X is a quality spray-on metal primer. You might get a few cans of this to have for any metal priming tasks that may pop up down the line.
Before you prime, use a soft-bristled metal brush to knock off any loose paint particles and rust that would otherwise block paint from adhering.
Once you’re done abrading your metal surface, be sure to wipe it thoroughly with a damp cloth.
Repeat this cloth rinsing process until no additional dust or debris comes off onto your cloth rag. Let the metal surface dry before applying primer.
Have a look at how this DIY YouTuber restored his metal patio dining set. He shares some useful tips on how to prep a metal surface for spray painting.
The Magnet Trick
Rather than physically manipulating the metal object with your hands, use a magnet.
If you can find one with a handle attached to it, such as this powerful shop magnet from Master Magnetic, you can easily move and tilt your piece to various angles while painting.
It’s an Amazon’s Choice cheap enough to justify getting, if anything, simply to have on hand if you don’t already have a similar shop magnet.
Shake It Right
Don’t for a second sleep on your shaking technique. Lazy can-shaking efforts will absolutely affect your chances of achieving a high-quality finish.
When beginning your first coat with a new spray can or one that has sat for an extended time, shake it at least 30-45 seconds. Make sure you hear the material swishing back and forth in the can with each shake.
In other words, always shake your spray paint can vigorously. Then, in between coats or rounds, shake at least another 10 seconds before you continue spraying.
Test your nozzle
Keep a scrap piece of cardboard around or a paper bag that you can shoot your test sprays on. You want to make sure that your paint spray stream is steady and that it doesn’t drip.
If you get any paint splatters when testing, pack the can up, and return it to wherever you purchased it. Most splatters are caused by spray tip malfunctioning.
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What should you look for when buying spray paint for metal?
Just as you would when shopping for any other type of paint, consider your desired finish, color, and application process.
This is a huge part of why our top pick went to Krylon, for their COLORmaxx series.
While paint finish is absolutely a matter of personal taste, this paint product has the flexibility to allow you to best express that personal taste.
Natural metal generally does have a high gloss or semi-gloss finish, some will simply prefer matte instead.
You’ll want to order or purchase from a retailer that allows returns for unused, like new cans. You’ll want this so you can feel confident purchasing enough cans upfront to complete the entire project.
If you can buy an additional one or two cans beyond what you expect you’ll need, do it. This way, there’s no chance of running out in the midst of your work.
Fortunately, most retailers will let you return cans that haven’t been used.
Yes, you absolutely could use a flat primer version of one of these specialized primers for metal, then use more generic spray paint to achieve a desired finish or color over that.
That’d be an acceptable route- however, it also does entail topping that generic paint coat with a protective finish coat.
You’ll want an enamel finish on top of whatever spray painting you do on metal surfaces. Even if you’re fixing up an old metal bar cart that you intend to leave indoors, the rust-resistance and moisture-proofing that an outdoor formula provides are stronger and more resilient for the long-haul.
If you use any paint from our list here, it’s formulated for metal. If the paint you select is designed for both in- and outdoor applications, then you won’t need a clear coat on top of your main coat.
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Our Reviews of the Best Spray Paints for Metal
This is Krylon’s wrecking-ball spray paint series on the market.
It’s incredibly well-suited for painting metal. And they’ve backed up this original formula with another MAXX series that is a slight variation on the first.
Both varieties remain for sale through Krylon’s official Amazon storefront.
You can get this paint in a very nice black flat finish as well that looks excellent on wrought iron projects.
Because it is formulated for both indoor and outdoor use means that COLORmaxx can be your one-and-done spray paint for metal.
You can use it for many other crafting projects that involve spraying paper mache, wicker, glass, plaster, and, of course, wood.
Besides its great value, its weather resistance makes it an easy choice. This Rust-Oleum metallic spray paint is great over metal as well as a variety of other surfaces.
Are you trying to rescue a metal object that’s already begun to succumb to rust?
Don’t throw good money after bad, if the rust ends up winning in the end, anyway.
This paint is value-priced and effective enough that generally, your time and materials are paid for after the item is painted and then lasts far longer.
Rust-Oleum’s formula seals and protects surfaces, holding out moisture and preventing rust.
Sure, it’s intended for graffiti artists, but that doesn’t have to be its only use. In fact, DIYers and crafters have been using these stealth spray paint cans for more than laying down tags in bathrooms and subway stops.
This would be a great choice for sprucing up an accent piece that literally needs a few quick sprays of color to embolden some dusty black bolt, buckle, or latch.
You might even finish a small birdcage painting with one of these tiny, 4oz. cans of Montana. The color quality is noteworthy and stark.
You’re welcome. You can justify the cost of plunking down on a six-pack of these suckers.
Besides the rose gold option, there are a few dozen other Krylon Fusion paint colors in this line that will all adhere rather easily, and look nice on properly prepared metal surfaces.
It also comes in both hammered and textured finishes in addition to the usual variety of gloss, satin, matte, and the like.
A true metallic spray paint, this Krylon formula is one often chosen to make something non-metal seem to be, in fact, metal.
While it is rather sturdy when used over actual metal, it’s also a great general-purpose metallic spray paint.
Coming in at a way higher price point per spayed material ounce, the Krylon Shimmer is certainly the shinier object compared to either of Krylon’s other lines, COLORmaxx and Fusion.
Chalk this up to the shimmery-glittery effect that this paint offers that many others do not.
The Krylon COLORmaxx is our overall top pick for its versatility, great value, and easy application.
You might gripe that the paint doesn’t seem to go quite as far as another brand’s can of a similar size. That’s because this paint lays down thick. That means fewer coats needed to achieve the same finish.
As always, take into consideration the age of the item you’re restoring. Consider how focal it in in your environment. Is it something that will be scrutinized for its every detail?
Sometimes a quick color change after a good sanding and cleaning makes an old item look completely brand new.
You can expect that kind of outcome with the high-quality Krylon COLORmaxx spray paint.
Final Thoughts on Spray Painting Metal
From a prep and clean-up process, spray painting metal is not much different from other painting tasks.
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When you’re ready to store your spray paint between rounds or once you’re through with the particular project at hand, here’s how you set your cans up for proper storage.
Turn them upside down, hold down the spray nozzle until no paint comes out. The paint stream should turn to all air quickly. If it doesn’t then your can is designed differently and you should disregard this step.
By clearing out the nozzle and upper paint line, your nozzle will work great next time.
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