How to Paint a Metal Towel Rack

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Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty metal cleaner

  • Sponge

  • Face mask

  • Chemical-resistant gloves

  • Wire brush

  • 180-grit sandpaper

  • Cloth

  • Metal primer

  • Metal paint

When changing your bathroom decor on a budget, you can paint your metal towel racks, rather than replace them, and save some money. In one weekend, you can paint over chrome, stainless steel, brass or wrought iron and create glossy or matte-finished racks of any color that you need. With primers and paints available that bond with metals and inhibit rust, you can make old and out-of-fashion towel racks like brand-new, more easily than ever before. Even in the wet environment of a bathroom, your towel racks will not chip, crack or peel—if you paint them properly.


Step 1

Disassemble the towel rack, if it was put together previously, and set aside any screws or other fasteners.

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Step 2

Clean the towel rack with a heavy-duty, degreasing metal cleaner, following the manufacturer's directions. Dip a sponge in the cleaner and rub the rack thoroughly; make sure that the cleaner covers the entire surface area.


Step 3

Rinse the towel rack thoroughly, and let it dry.

Step 4

Remove any loose finish or rust with a wire brush, and sand the area smooth with a sheet of fine, 180-grit sandpaper. Wipe the rack with a clean, dry cloth, to remove any sanding residue.


Step 5

Apply two coats of primer; let the first coat dry completely before applying the second. Be sure to use a primer that is formulated for your specific type of metal. Spray-on primer works best, but if you can't find any, you can apply primer with a sponge paint roller.

Step 6

Spray on one coat of metal paint that is approved for the type of metal you're painting. Allow the paint to dry according to the label instructions, before you reassemble and mount the towel rack.


Insert a dowel in a piece of pegboard, laid on a clean work surface, to hold a tubular towel rack for spray painting. Or thread string through one of the screw holes on the towel rack and hang it, so you can spray all sides at once.


Metal cleaners, primers and paints can release toxic fumes as they dry. Work with them only in a properly ventilated area, and always wear a face mask and chemical-resistant gloves.


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