Things You'll Need
Metal etching spray primer
Gloss latex spray paint or enamel
Most any amateur knows the basics of painting drywall. Unfortunately, if you attempt to paint an air return grille using these techniques, flaking and peeling will ultimately result. Air return grilles are metallic, a characteristic that leaves them less suited for paint than porous drywall. Condition the grilles with a special etching primer, formulated with an acid base. Once the return grilles are primed, they will accept paint. Finish the grilles using the appropriate application technique, or the paint may sag.
Remove the air return grille, using a screwdriver.
Wash the grille with a degreasing soap, using a sponge. Rinse the grille with wet rags and dry it with a towel.
Place the grille on a fabric drop cloth.
Coat the air return grille with etching spray primer. Maintain 8 inches between the grille and spray nozzle as you apply. Allow the grille to dry for two hours.
Coat the air return grille with spray paint or enamel. Maintain 8 inches between the grille and spray nozzle as you apply. Allow the grille to dry for two hours.
Do not prime an air return grille with acrylic or latex primer, or the finish will flake.
Do not paint an unprimed air return grille, or the paint will flake and/or peel.
Always maintain 8 inches between the grille and spray nozzle as you apply, or sagging could result in the finish.