How to Paint Metal Light Fixtures


If you have decided to remodel your plain, metal light fixtures by adding a coat of paint, you will have to contend with a few complications. First, because metal is a hard, nonporous surface, it is highly-resistant to primer and paint adhesion. You will need to condition the fixtures with a special type of etching primer before you paint, or the paint will flake away soon after application. And since metal light fixtures are slick, you should use a particular application method that will promote a smooth, professional-looking appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreaser
  • Rags
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Masking paper
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloths
  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer
  • Acrylic latex spray paint
  • Cut power to the light fixtures at the circuit breaker. Allow the metallic light fixtures to cool. Remove the lightbulb from the fixture.

  • Clean the metallic light fixtures thoroughly. Scrub them with a degreaser, and then rinse the metal. Allow the light fixtures to dry out completely.

  • Cover areas adjacent to the metal light fixtures with masking paper and professional painter's tape. Place drop cloths beneath the fixtures.

  • Apply a coat of etching spray primer to the bare metal light fixtures, abrading the metal to enhance adhesion. Wait four hours for the etching primer to cure.

  • Apply acrylic spray paint to the primed metallic light fixtures. Apply a thin coat. Do not soak the surface with paint, or the paint may sag and drip.

  • Allow the fixtures to dry for two hours. Apply a second coat if the etching primer is showing through.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rinse all of the degreaser from the light fixtures, or the primer may not stick.
  • Do not use standard tape in place of professional blue painter's tape, or paint may bleed under or through.

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  • Photo Credit light bulb image by Photosani from
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