The Best Spray Paint for Metal Surfaces

Don’t fight with a brush or roller when you can simply use a can of spray paint to quickly and easily paint a variety of metal structures, appliances, and metalworking projects.

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The Best Spray Paint for Metal Options

Photo: pixabay.com

Spray paint is used on metal for a variety of purposes, including decorating a metalworking project, renewing the color on your car’s wheel wells, or even sealing your grill against rust, provided the spray paint is rated for very high temperatures. With this in mind, it is important that you choose a spray paint that is designed for use on metal. Otherwise, it won’t have the same adhesion and may simply chip or flake off.

The best spray paint for your next project will depend on a range of factors. For instance, if you will be using the paint for your metal shed, you will need a product that is made to withstand sun, rain, and temperature fluctuations. Also consider the color, drying time, and whether you need a separate primer and spray paint or an all-in-one product. Take a look at the top spray paint selections below, then read on to find out what you need to know before choosing the right product for your project.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint
  2. RUNNER UP: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover
  3. BEST FOR OUTDOOR USE: Krylon COLORmaxx Spray Paint and Primer
  4. BEST HEAT RESISTANCE: Krylon High Heat Spray Paint
  5. BEST RUST RESISTANCE: Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Hammered Spray Paint
  6. HONORABLE MENTION: Montana Cans Montana Effect 400 ml Marble Color
The Best Spray Paint for Metal Options

Photo: pixabay.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Spray Paint for Metal

Whether you’re picking out spray paint to touch up your metal shed or to add a pop of color to your latest metalworking project, there are several factors to consider, including drying time, durability, type of paint, and whether or not it can withstand the elements or extreme temperatures.

High Temperature Range

One common use for spray paint that is designed to be used on metal is to paint your barbecue, grill, fire pit, and other hot-to-the-touch surfaces. However, for spray paint to be effective in these applications it needs to be resistant to extremely high temperatures so that the paint doesn’t peel, melt, or otherwise degrade due to exposure to the heat.

You should also keep in mind that metal conducts heat much more efficiently than wood, plastic, and many other materials. This means that even if you are not painting a grill or fire pit, there may still be the risk of the paint being exposed to high temperatures. Consider the roof or walls of a metal workshed that is out under the hot sun all day. Those surfaces can get extremely hot, so choose your spray paint wisely.

Type of Paint

When you are deciding on spray paint for repairs or to touch up a metalworking project, you want to get paint that is designed for the material and the environment. This can include choosing a water-based acrylic or an oil-based enamel or spray paint that’s specifically intended for indoor or outdoor use. For instance, an indoor spray paint may not have the same water resistance and durability as outdoor spray paint but may come in more color options. It’s important to think about where the project or item you want to spray paint will be situated when making your decision.

Some spray paints have a range of finishes, such as gloss, matte, satin, flat, hammered, textured, or metallic, that can give your metal surfaces a certain look. Also, if you don’t have time for applying a primer beforehand, you should invest in combined spray paint and primer that makes it easier for the paint to adhere to metal.

Durability

Durability is an important consideration, especially if you will be using the spray paint outdoors or if you are using it in any high-traffic or high-heat locations. Spray paint for indoor use normally has a lower durability requirement because it is sheltered from the elements and is often used for more decorative purposes.

Spray paint intended for outdoor use must take into account exposure to moisture, changing temperatures, and even the intensity of the sun. You will want to make sure that you invest in a product that has UV resistance if it’s going to regularly be in the sun; otherwise, the paint will fade and chip. Keep in mind that even if you put several coats of paint on an object, the paint will quickly degrade if the paint is not rated for the environment. Using the wrong spray paint could even cause significant problems by trapping moisture against the metal instead of protecting it.

Drying Time

If you are painting an object in an isolated or covered area, then the drying time may not be as important to you, but if you are painting exterior objects, like a shed or grill, you will want to be sure that the paint will dry before the object is exposed to rain, snow, or high heat.

Generally, water-based spray paints will dry at a much quicker rate than oil-based paints, though each spray-paint product will have its own drying time determined by the specific product formula. The manufacturer will typically list the drying time on the product details and on the packaging so that you are aware of the drying time before you buy the paint.

Our Top Picks

The products below were chosen for quality and price. Check out this list to discover some of the best spray paints for painting metal surfaces.

Best Overall

The Best Spray Paint for Metal Option: Krylon K02732007 Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint
Photo: amazon.com

This spray paint is something of an all-purpose option for your metal projects, featuring several beneficial features that make it an ideal choice for a variety of situations. Having primer already mixed in greatly reduces the amount of time it takes to apply a smooth, clean coat to your projects.

The oil-based spray paint can be used inside or outdoors; though, to get the best results, it should be applied when the ambient temperature is between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The paint takes 20 minutes to dry to the touch and 48 hours to fully cure, providing excellent rust protection once it is cured.

Runner Up

The Best Spray Paint for Metal Option: Rust-Oleum 249115-6 PK Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover
Photo: amazon.com

Keep more money in your wallet by investing in this value pack of low-odor spray paint that is designed for use on metal, plastic, vinyl, drywall, mortar, brick, and other masonry materials. One 12-ounce can of this spray paint covers up to 12 square feet of surface area. The paint dries within 20 minutes but can take 48 hours to fully cure after application. The reason for this is that the paint has an oil-based formula, which gives the finish resistance to impact and abrasion, enabling it to look its best for longer.

Best for Outdoor Use

The Best Spray Paint for Metal Option: Krylon K05539007 COLORmaxx Spray Paint and Primer
Photo: amazon.com

When you are painting your workshed, garbage cans, fence brackets, gazebo frame, or any other outdoor metal structure or object, you want to be sure that you invest in a spray paint that protects the metal against rust. This paint also keeps the metal surface safe from rain, snow, and UV radiation so that your appliance or structure doesn’t rust and corrode. For best results, apply the paint when the ambient temperature is between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The paint dries to the touch in 20 minutes, but you will need to wait 48 hours before it is fully cured.

Best Heat Resistance

The Best Spray Paint for Metal Option: Krylon K01618777 High Heat Satin Black
Photo: amazon.com

This specialty spray paint is made with a specifically designed formula to withstand incredibly high temperatures so that you can paint cooking appliances like your grill, barbecue, or fire pit. The paint is able to be used in these high temperatures due to the unique combination of its chemical compounds that include toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and 1-butanol. Intermittent temperature fluctuations up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit are acceptable, but paint is only able to withstand up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit if the heat is constant.

Once you have applied the paint to the metal surface, it will take about 15 minutes to dry to the touch and one full hour to completely dry. To be safe though, it’s advised to wait 24 hours for the paint to cure.

Best Rust Resistance

The Best Spray Paint for Metal Option: Rust-Oleum 7215830 Stops Rust Hammered Spray Paint
Photo: amazon.com

Rust can be a problem inside and outside the home, though the items and structures in your yard are much more susceptible to rusting. This oil-based enamel spray paint is designed to protect against rust but also to prevent moisture from seeping through the paint to the metal below. In addition, the paint’s hammered appearance helps to hide imperfections like dents or chips in older objects.

Rust-Oleum’s spray paint takes four hours to fully cure, and the manufacturer recommends applying two coats for the best results. If you want to use the paint for more than just metal, it can also be used on wood, concrete, and other masonry materials.

Honorable Mention

The Best Spray Paint for Metal Option: Montana Cans Montana Effect 400 ml Marble Color
Photo: amazon.com

This spray paint is an excellent option for reviving the look of your old appliances and creating metalworking art pieces. The acrylic paint sprays on in threads of black that resemble the pattern of natural marble when applied to a flat surface. The pattern produced by the spray paint depends on how close or far the can is away from the intended surface, the movement of your hand while spraying the paint, and the amount of paint you apply.

The nozzle on this spray paint makes it easy to apply from a variety of angles, with each change in angle slightly affecting the spray pattern for a unique finish. After the paint has been applied, it takes 24 hours to properly dry. You can use this matte black paint on metal, but it is also suitable for paper, cardboard, primed canvas, wood, glass, ceramics, porcelain, stone, and polystyrene.

FAQs About Spray Paint for Metal

If you still have questions to help you decide on the best spray paint for your next metalworking project, read below to find the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

Q. How long does it take for spray paint on metal to dry?

The drying time for spray paint on metal can vary depending on the type of paint, the thickness of the coat applied, or even the humidity in the air. However, on average you should wait at least 24 hours to ensure that it is properly dried.

Q. What type of paint adheres to metal?

For spray painting metal, you can use either water-based acrylic or oil-based paint.

Q. How do you paint metal with spray paint?

Prepare the surface by removing any rust, cleaning the material, and applying a primer. After the primer has had time to dry, you can use the spray paint can in a well-ventilated area to apply the spray paint, ensuring that you have properly covered any areas that you don’t want to be painted.

Q. Do you need a primer to paint metal?

A primer is a great option to ensure that the spray paint properly adheres to the metal, though it is only necessary if the metal will be exposed to water. Many spray paints for metal include primer, so if you choose one of these options, you won’t need to apply a separate layer of primer.