How to Paint a Heating Oil Tank

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Heating oil tanks are pressurized storage units. Commonly, these tanks are made of bare galvanized metal. Many find this appearance dull and unattractive. Painting can help, but only if the proper procedures are employed. Because heating oil tanks are metal, they don't accept paint well. The proper base primer will combat this problem. Further complicating matters is that fact that heating oil tanks are very smooth. This leaves them prone to flawed finishes. Prevent this occurrence by employing a specific painting strategy.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based degreasing cleanser
  • Steel wool
  • Rags
  • Dropcloths
  • Galvanized metal etching primer
  • Roller frame
  • Nap roller cover
  • 4-inch polyester paintbrush
  • High-temperature enamel
  • Latex primer
  • Clean the heating oil tank with a degreaser. Ordinary soap may leave unseen residue that will prevent primer absorption. Scrub the oil tank, using steel wool. Rinse the tank with wet rags. Do not start priming until the oil tank is completely dry. This may take between one and two hours.

  • Slide dropcloths beneath the tank.

  • Apply etching primer to one side of the heating oil tank, using a roller. Quickly run a polyester brush up and down the heating oil tank, effectively smoothing the wet primer to eliminate runs and provide a finish free from roller marks. Apply light pressure as you brush. Prime the other sides of the tank, using this same technique. Let the tank dry for three hours.

  • Wash your brush in a sink.

  • Paint the heating oil tank as you primed it. Do not use ordinary latex paint. Instead, choose a high-temperature enamel. Let the tank dry for three hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Only use etching primer on metallic oil tanks. Use latex primer on nonmetallic tanks.
  • Nylon paintbrushes will leave marks on a smooth heating oil tank. Be sure to use a polyester brush for best results.
  • Most heating oil tanks are not exposed to sunlight. If yours is, choose a light color of paint that will reflect sunlight. Don't choose a dark color, or the tank could overheat.
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