I believe painting galvanized metal is a way of upcycling them. Some people may tell you that it’s impossible to paint galvanized metal. That’s not entirely true. If you have some galvanized metals in or around your house, you can upcycle them by painting.

You can paint galvanized metal, but first, you must prepare them. If you don’t prepare the galvanized metal before painting, the paint will chip and peel.

Can You Paint Galvanized Metal?

Yes, you can, but first, you must prepare it. The galvanization process involves dipping the metal into zinc. This is because zinc provides a uniform protective surface on the metal that resists corrosion. However, this zinc layer also prevents the paint from properly adhering to the metal.

As I mentioned earlier, galvanized metal can be painted; however, you must complete a few steps before painting the metal to prevent the paint from chipping and peeling within some days.

How to Prepare Galvanized Metal Before Painting

It is essential to prepare galvanized metal before painting it for the paint to adhere to the metal properly. To prepare the galvanized metal, kindly follow the steps below.


  • First, get a clean cloth/rag and the metal’s surface. Try cleaning any element or sticky residue on your metal’s surface.
  • If a rag doesn’t work, you can use a warm soapy water solution to remove the dirt and debris.
  • In addition, you can use a soft sponge to scrub off big debris chunks.
  • After scrubbing off the debris, rinse the galvanized metal thoroughly.
  • Using mineral spirits is another good option if the galvanized metal has a residue that won’t come off with water and soap.
  • Clean the material again with soap and warm water if using mineral spirits.
  • Leave the galvanized metal to dry before proceeding to the next step

Note: If you are working on small projects and wish to speed up the drying time, a hairdryer is a good option


This step is about sanding the galvanized metal. If the galvanized metal is smooth or shiny, it will help if you use fine-grit sandpaper to sand down the surface.

Whether the galvanized metal is dull or not, it is best to sand it down. Fine-grit sandpaper will not damage the metal; instead, it will help remove small impurities you may not see, thus enabling the paint to adhere better. To sand the galvanized metal,

  • When sanding the galvanized metal, apply steady and even pressure
  • Ensure not to over-sand the material.
  • Use a tack cloth to eliminate dust and debris.


This step is about white vinegar application. Using white vinegar is essential for this step. The acidity in white vinegar reacts with the galvanized metal and enables the paint to adhere to it. It is best to choose this option as it is cost-effective and safer than harsh solvents. To apply white vinegar to your galvanized metal,

  • Apply the white vinegar to your galvanized metal.
  • Once the white vinegar is dry, your galvanized metal is ready for priming and painting.

Note: You do not need to soak the galvanized metal before applying the white vinegar. In addition, a little white vinegar is sufficient.

You may be thinking of replacing the white vinegar with ammonia and using ammonia instead. You are still on the right track if you use ammonia instead of white vinegar. This is because of its acidity. However, it’s better to use white vinegar as this product is cheaper.

In addition to the notes explained in the previous paragraph, it is best to use ammonia in a well-ventilated area. Therefore, if your area is not well-ventilated, I would advise you not to use ammonia.

Is Priming Necessary for Galvanized Metal Before Painting?

Since most paints don’t adhere well to galvanized metals, using a primer would help. Priming enables the paint to adhere well to the galvanized metal. In addition, the primer will help prevent the paint from peeling off easily.

Ensure to apply the primer immediately after cleaning and sanding the galvanized metal. The longer, the more the priming, the better the paint’s adhesion to the metal.

You may wonder, “What primer should I use?” If you are confused about what primer type to use on your galvanized metal, I will help you. Kindly check the following paragraph for an idea of what primer types you can use.

Rust-preventing primer is the best primer type to use on your galvanized metal. When choosing a primer, avoid oil-based primers. It is best to use the primer brand as that of the paint you plan to use. Doing such can help reduce the risk of the galvanized metal reacting to the paint and primer.

I recommend using ZRC 10002 Cold Galvanizing Compound Primer for your galvanized metal priming. This primer has a gray tint, thus making it an excellent primer for any color you choose.

What Paint Type can you Use on Galvanized Metal?

Use acrylic paints on your galvanized metals. Oil-based paints are not great for your galvanized metals as they will initially adhere to the metal but eventually peel. It happens because the galvanized metal’s zinc reacts with the chemicals in the oil paint.

You may find some oil-based and alkyd paints advertised as working on galvanized metal; however, stay away from those paints. If you are considering using the best paint type for your galvanized metal, I suggest you choose acrylic paint.

Acrylic or water-based paints are excellent for painting galvanized metals, primarily if such particular paint is meant for metal. It is not compulsory to use acrylic paint specifically for galvanized metal. You can use any; so far, it is metal-specific.

How Can You Paint Galvanized Metal Properly?

When you paint galvanized metal properly, you obtain an attractive and pleasant result. Once you have prepared your galvanized metal, you can begin its painting, but first, you must apply the primer. I mentioned the word “must” not because the primer is compulsory but because it is recommended and will help the paint adhere better and last longer.

Some primers will need more than a coat. If you don’t know how many coats to use, kindly check and follow the manufacturer’s label. After applying your primer, allow it to dry before painting the surface. You can use acrylic or spray paint for painting. It is essential to use water-based paint.

The paint type will determine whether to use a roller or a brush for application. You can check the manufacturer’s label to determine how to apply the paint, including how many paint coats to apply.

Can you Remove Paint from Galvanized Metal?

Did you paint your galvanized metal and do not like the way the color looks? Perhaps, you changed your mind concerning the color after using it? Although the process might not be easy, removing paint from galvanized metal is possible.

To remove paint, you can use the following materials,

  • Paint stripper
  • Ammonia
  • Rubbing alcohol

The three options mentioned above will require much elbow grease and caution. In addition, they need Personal Protective Equipment. At a bare minimum, it would help if you wore gloves in a well-ventilated room when using any of these materials.

When removing paint from your galvanized metal, you can start by applying small solvent amounts of your choice. The most common of all three is rubbing alcohol. You probably have it lying around your house.

When removing paint from your galvanized metal, do so with care to avoid damaging the metal in the process. The metal can get damaged depending on how thin it is and how much solvent you use.

Once the paint bubbles or peels, kindly use a scraper or sponge to remove the old paint. After removing the paint, you can prepare the metal and repaint it by following the guidelines I explained earlier.

Ensure not to leave the metal out for too long without a protective covering as it can react to oxygen, including other environmental elements, thus, making the metal weak. Therefore, once you remove the old paint, repaint the metal immediately.

The table below explains how to use a paint stripper, ammonia, and rubbing alcohol to remove paint from galvanized metal.

Paint StripperGet a lint-free cloth. Pour some rubbing alcohol into a bowl, and soak the cloth. Squeeze the material to prevent excess rubbing alcohol from dripping all over the place. Afterward, rub the alcohol-moistened cloth on the paint until it loosens and peels off from the metal
AmmoniaPour a small amount into a non-reactive container, such as glass or metal. Apply the paint stripper to the metal in small, slow strokes to prevent splashing the abrasive stripping agent. Leave it for a few minutes. After a while, you will notice the paint bubbling off the galvanized metal.
Rubbing  AlcoholGet a lint-free cloth. Pour some rubbing alcohol into a bowl, and soak the cloth. Squeeze the material to prevent excess rubbing alcohol from dripping everywhere. Afterward, rub the alcohol-moistened cloth on the paint until it loosens and peels off from the metal

Can you Use Spray Paint & Chalk Paint on Galvanized Metal?

If you are confused about whether spray and chalk paint can be used on galvanized metal, this section will help you.

You can use spray paint on galvanized metal; however, ensure the spray paint is water-based and explicitly designed for metal. Before spray painting, you must still prepare the galvanized metal by cleaning and sanding it. The spray paint type you use will determine whether using a primer will be necessary or not.

If the spray paint is designed for galvanized metal, a primer may not be necessary. However, other water-based paints will require priming to help the spray paint adhere better to the metal.

If you do not use a primer when needed, you will apply multiple paint coats. Spray paint is a thin paint that you must apply in thin layers. If you use a primer before painting your galvanized metal, it will help save you time. Now, let’s talk about chalk paint use on galvanized metal.

If you wish to use chalk paint on your galvanized metal or have excess paint lying around in your house, perhaps, you love chalk paint’s matte finish. Regardless of your reason, chalk paint can be used on galvanized metal. When used, chalk paint adheres well to the galvanized metal. This is because it is a water-based paint.

Chalk paint has gained popularity over the last several years as you can use it on almost any surface. In addition, it is easy to use.

Usually, chalk paint requires no preparation work. However, when painting galvanized metal, you always need to clean, sand, and apply white vinegar to the metal. Afterward, apply the chalk paint. You can use either chalk spray paint or the other type, i.e., paint that requires a brush or roller.

Can You Paint Rusted Galvanized Metal & Will Painted Galvanized Metal Rust?

Yes, you can paint rusted galvanized metal. However, it would help if you removed the rust before painting the metal. Rust can bleed through the paint regardless of how many coats you apply to the galvanized metal.

Have you heard of Rustoleum? This product has spray paint that stops rust in its tracks. Some people may tell you not to sand the material before painting, but I would advise you to disregard such advice and sand the material. This is because sanding helps remove rust. In addition, it creates a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.

Usually, galvanized metal is challenging to paint. If you do not sand the rust off, you will make its painting more challenging.

I would advise you to sand down the rust, apply a product that stops rust, and afterward, sand down the metal again. Sanding down the metal the second time helps remove any harsh bumps or blemishes that may have formed from the rust-stopping product. After sanding down the rust, you can paint your galvanized metal in any color.

If you are wondering whether the painted galvanized metal will rust or not, the paragraph below will help you out by explaining all you need about painted galvanized metal.

Theoretically, painted galvanized metal can rust like other metals rust. You can prevent your galvanized metal from rusting by dipping it into zinc. When painting galvanized metal, you must remove some zinc coatings for the paint to adhere to the metal.

When removing some zinc coatings from the metal, you may be removing a protective layer from the metal. However, this process helps increase its lifetime.

Paint increases the metal’s lifetime, and this is because paint helps to add an extra protection layer against the environment. Therefore, while removing some of the zinc coatings, another protection layer is added to the metal by the paint. It is even possible to use paint that prevents rust.

As I explained earlier, Rustoleum has spray paint that prevents rust in its track. In addition, they have some paint samples that can prevent rust and are great for galvanized metal, including outdoor furniture.

How to Create a Rustic Look by Painting Galvanized Metal

If you are the type who loves worn and distressed galvanized metal furniture or décor, you can make your galvanized metal have a rustic look through painting.

You can use chalk paint to create a rustic look on your galvanized metal. All you have to do is prepare, prime, and paint the galvanized metal in the usual way. Once the paint gets dry, use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the object.

Ensure not to remove too much paint. You obtain the distressed look by scraping off some of the pigmentations. This method explained above will help you achieve your desired distressed metal look. In addition, the technique lets you control how stressed you want the furniture and where you prefer the most wear and tear to be noticeable.

All I explained earlier in this article must have given you a complete guide on how to paint galvanized metal, including painting it to give a rustic look.

What Galvanized Metal Objects Can I Paint?

You can paint several galvanized metal objects, ranging from buckets to bins, farmhouse décor, and many more. If you have all these big round and shiny metal planters, you can also paint them. Not everyone loves all these shiny metals, but you can paint galvanized steel with any color to show your personality.

Do you know you can paint galvanized metal stair rails? Yes, you can. There are various galvanized metal objects you can paint, and it includes metal stair rails. If you have already painted metal stair rails but do not like the color, you can remove the paint and repaint it with a color that suits your taste.


Painting galvanized metal is easy; however, the preparation work can be time-consuming and daunting. The zinc coating on the metal helps prevent the paint from adhering to it. Thus, sanding down the zinc coating before painting would be best.

In addition, you must treat the metal with white vinegar. White vinegar is acidic and will form a reaction when it contacts the metal. When in contact with metal, the reaction makes the paint adhere better to the metal. If you omit this step, your paint could peel and bubble within some days.

One fantastic thing about painting galvanized metal is that you can use almost any paint type. It is essential to use water-based paint. In addition, you can use spray paint or paint that needs to be brushed on or rolled.

Both spray paint and chalk paint work excellently on galvanized metal. If you prefer to use spray paint, I recommend you use one that is designed for metal.