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Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Metal?

Acrylic paint is the ideal choice for a variety of art projects because it is considered permanent, and will not wash off easily from most surfaces. It is often used to paint a range of materials, from canvas to denim to leather, and so much more. It can also be used for more industrial-scale projects like furniture or outdoor fixtures made from a variety of materials.

So, can acrylic paint be used on metal? Yes, it can definitely be used on metal surfaces. Acrylic paint is water-based and permanent, so it will be effective at coating metal. Whether you’re customizing furniture or engaging in a more large-scale project, acrylic paint is one of your best options. It also comes in a range of formulas for both outdoor and indoor use, opening up the creative possibilities.

However, there is some preparation that is needed before you color a metal surface with acrylic paint. Check out my tips and guidelines below so you can ensure the vibrancy and longevity of your project.  

How to Prepare Metal Surfaces for Acrylic Paint

Metal is a complicated surface to paint and involves a little more preparation ahead of time. First of all, if there is any rust present on the metal, make sure that you remove it thorough with a sandpaper or a wire brush. You also want to ensure that you remove any old paint that may have been present on the item you’re painting.

In general, sanding the surface of the metal to confirm that it is smooth enough to be painted is a good idea. To read my other article that talks all about sanding acrylic paint, click here.

When sanding the metal, it doesn’t need to be silky soft, but it should be a generally even surface. You can wipe off any dust that was created as a result of sanding with an alcohol wipe. 

After the metal has been thoroughly cleaned and sanded, it’s highly recommended to apply a primer to the surface, especially if you can find a primer that is specifically designed to be used for metal surfaces. I recommend this Rust-Oleum metal primer from Amazon. Some acrylic paints also have primers already mixed into their formula, so if you’re short on time, that is also a great option. 

After you’ve primed the metal, you can paint away! After your paint has dried, consider applying a sealant to the surface if the metal is going to be placed outside and subject to the harshness of varying weather. There are a few acrylic paints that are designed specifically for use on outdoor items, so look into those options if you are painting outdoor metal surfaces. Below I go over some of my top brands for sealants.

Is Acrylic Paint Waterproof?

While acrylic paint is fairly permanent and won’t fade or break down without some serious effort, it is not technically waterproof, especially if it’s painted onto a slick surface like metal and placed outside consistently. In order to ensure your painted creation can withstand rain, snow, or whatever else mother nature throws its way, apply a water-resistant sealant over the paint. 

In another one of my articles, I go over everything you need to know about acrylic paint running in the rain. It’s worth the read if you plan on storing the painted item outside.

Is It Best to Use a Brush or Spray When Painting Metal?

The good news is, acrylic paint can be applied to metal with either a brush, a roller, or via a spray can. This is great because it allows the painter to choose the method that works best for both their process and skill set. In general, it’s up to you to decide which application method you prefer.

Sometimes, the use of both a brush and spray are necessary. For example, if you are painting a metal table entirely white you can use a spray, but then if you want to add intricate painted details to the surface afterwards, you can whip out the brush.

Some brands make acrylic spray that is specifically formulated for use on metal surfaces and is durable enough to withstand the outdoors. If you have a large project that requires heavy duty paint on a metal surface, using a spray like this is your best choice. I recommend this Krylon spray if you plan on keeping your painted metal outside.

How Do You Seal Acrylic Paint on Metal?

After you painted your metal piece, and let it dry, now comes a very important step. In order to protect the paint from chipping, flaking and wearing off, you must seal it. I always recommend a Krylon sealant spray because they are affordable and get the job done. They protect your paint against rain, harsh weather, and even UV rays.

Does Acrylic Paint Wash off Metal?

If you made a mistake, or simply want to remove the acrylic paint from metal, now you may be wondering if you can just wash it off. Well, yes you can, with some tools. The safest way to remove acrylic paint from any metal surfaces would be a special formulated remover. This Sunnyside Muti-surface paint remover is great, because it removes the dried paint without damaging your item.

For more home based options, you have a few choices. One would be Isopropyl alcohol, aka rubbing alcohol. Depending on how big your project is, you may need a significant amount. Some other options are acetone and lacquer remover.

Final Thoughts

Acrylic paint is wonderful because it is essentially permanent and can be used on a diverse array of surfaces, including metal. However, be sure to prepare the metal surface according to the above recommendations in order to increase the durability and longevity of your paint project.

Always remember to have good ventilation for any spray paint projects. Don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page for all your acrylic painting needs. Happy painting!

Annick

Annick's passion has been painting with acrylics since her youth. She has a lot of experience with all sorts of projects, from simple acrylic painting to advanced techniques like acrylic pouring.

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