How to Paint Metal Shelves

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Give metal shelves a new life, with a coat of paint.
Give metal shelves a new life, with a coat of paint. (Image: scaffale image by haruspex from Fotolia.com)

Some may think that because metal is a very smooth, non-porous material, that painting it would be hardâ??but with the right preparation, painting metal is much the same as painting anything else. For metal shelving, the first thing to consider is if the shelves are indoors, or outdoors, as this will affect the types of paint you buy. You donâ??t need to chuck out those old metal shelves if they no longer fit in with the décorâ??just give them a lick of paint, and theyâ??ll be good as new.

Put warm water with some detergent into your bucket and clean the shelves thoroughlyâ??cleaning the shelves makes sure there is no dust, grease, oils or other matter on the shelves, which may prevent the primer from bonding well.

Wipe the shelves over with a dry soft cloth, then let dry. Go over the shelves with steel wool to roughen up the surface a littleâ??a steel-wired brush can substitute. Dust of thoroughly with another dry soft cloth.

Paint the entire shelves with the metal primer, using short, even strokes to apply. Follow the manufacturerâ??s recommended dry time.

Paint the entire shelves with the finish coat paintâ??make sure that the paint you buy is compatible with the primerâ??reading the instructions on both the primer and the paint is very important to make sure all your effort is not wasted by a mis-matched paint job. If unsure, ask the staff at your paint store for assistance. Re-coat if desired, and let dry as per the paint manufacturerâ??s instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your shelves will get a lot of weathering, apply a pre-primer rust deactivator to prolong the life of your shelves.

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