How to Paint on Galvanized Metal Garbage Cans

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Use a metal etching spray primer before painting a galvanized trash can.
Use a metal etching spray primer before painting a galvanized trash can. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Rejuvenate the appearance of your garbage can by refinishing it with paint. If your garbage can is made of galvanized metal, consider an important point before you get started. Galvanized metal is treated with a zinc coating that prevents rust. This coating also inhibits adhesion. Treat the garbage can with a primer that is specifically formulated to etch galvanized metal. Once the can is primed, it will accept paint. Apply a particular finish, renowned for its durability, or the paint will peel at some point in the future.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreasing soap
  • Steel wool
  • Water hose
  • Towel
  • Drop cloth
  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer
  • Oil-based spray enamel

Wash the galvanized metal garbage can with water-based soap, using steel wool. Rinse the garbage can using a hose and allow it to dry in the sun for two to three hours.

Place the can on a drop cloth.

Coat the galvanized metal garbage can with etching spray primer. Maintain 8 inches between the garbage can and the spray nozzle at all times. Allow the galvanized metal to dry for two hours.

Coat the galvanized metal garbage can with oil-based spray enamel. Maintain 8 inches between the garbage can and the spray nozzle at all times. Allow the galvanized metal to cure for 24 hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't use acrylic or latex primer on a galvanized metal garbage can, or the finish will flake.
  • Maintain 8 inches between the galvanized metal and the spray nozzle as you apply, or the finish will sag.
  • Never paint an unprimed galvanized metal garbage can, or the paint will peel.
  • Thoroughly scrub the garbage can before priming, or adhesion problems may arise.

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