How to Clean & Paint Metal

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Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar

  • Gloves

  • Bucket

  • Warm water

  • Sponge

  • Scrub brush

  • Empty spray bottle

  • Sandpaper

  • Oil based primer

  • Oil based paint

  • Paint brush

Clean and paint metal surfaces to give it a fresh look

Cleaning and painting metal surfaces can seem like a daunting task. Rust, flaking paint and corroded surfaces can make it difficult to paint metal. In order to paint metal, the surface needs to be free from corrosion and debris so that the paint adheres. By using the correct surface preparations and applying the right paint, your metal should look as good as new. Here are important steps you should follow to clean and paint metal.



Step 1

Mix one part white vinegar with two parts warm water and scrub the metal with a soft scrubbing brush. Try to remove all of the dirt and grime you can. For heavier stains and mildew, spray white vinegar directly on the area using an empty spray bottle filled with vinegar. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes and then wipe it away with a wet sponge.

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Step 2

Allow the surface to fully dry. Clean any areas that you missed that still have loose paint or that are rough. Some metal surfaces may require multiple applications of cleaning solution and scrubbing.

Step 3

Remove any rust by using medium grit sandpaper and clean up the debris. Wipe it down one last time with a damp sponge and allow the surface to dry.



Step 1

Prime the metal surface using an oil-based primer that is specifically designed for application on metal. Allow the primer to fully dry. Some oil based primers require at least 24 hours before a topcoat application.


Step 2

Determine whether or not the first coat of primer has killed all oxidation and remaining rust areas. If there are any orange or black spots coming through the primer, you'll need to apply a second coat of primer and allow it to dry.

Step 3

Apply the first coat of oil-based paint directly over the primed surface using a paint brush. Depending on what metal structure or object you are painting, you can apply the paint with a roller or sprayer to diminish the appearance of brush strokes.


Step 4

Apply a second and final coat after the first coat has dried for 24 hours. Refrain from using any water or cleaning products on the surface for at least one week.


Consider using a tinted primer in order to provide better coverage for your final paint color.


Paint in well ventilated areas and use a mask if needed to limit the fumes from the oil-based paint. Keep paint away from flammable materials.


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