Whether you’re welding together a new trailer or reconditioning an old piece of metal furniture, spray paint for metal can make a quick and easy finish that looks great and protects the metal from corrosion and rust. It’s easy to apply, durable, and inexpensive.
Recently, I decided to refinish some old tools. The first spray paint I used gave me mediocre results, so I started researching and testing. Several cans of paint and quite a few refinishing projects later, I’ve discovered the best spray paints for metal that can provide a beautiful and long-lasting finish.
In this article, we’re going to look at the ten best spray paints you can use on metal. We’re even going to discuss the best brands that make such spray paints, how to choose a paint for yourself, and even some top tips to make sure your projects turn out as good as the pros.
At a Glance: Our Choices for in 2021:
- Krylon Acrylic Spray Paint
- Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover spray paint
- Duple-Color Ceramic Engine Paint
- Automotive High Heat Primer Spray Paint
- Krylon Dual Superbond Paint and Primer
Other Good Choices:
- Stops Rust Hammered Finish Spray Paint
- Design Master Premium Metallic Paint
- Professional High Performance Enamel
- Valspar Gloss Enamel
- Stainless Steel Rust Protective Spray Paint
Best Spray Paints for Metal: Reviews
There are many brands of paint available, but they’re not all created equal. After having several spray paints fail me and leave me with a terrible-looking finish that didn’t hold up, I decided to find out which ones were durable and provided great-looking finishes.
The following ten reviews should save you the trouble of testing them all yourself and help you decide on the right spray paint for your project.
1. Krylon K01303007 Acrylic Spray Paint Crystal ClearPaint can take a long time to dry and drying times can make up most of the time spent on any given project. But the Krylon Acrylic Spray Paint dries to the touch in just 15 minutes. A mere two hours after application, this paint is dry enough to handle.
While this paint is excellent on metal, that’s not the end of its usefulness. It’s also great on many other surfaces such as wood, glass, ceramic, plastic, and even dried silk flowers.
You’ll get 11 ounces in each spray can, which seems to go quite a long way. It’s got good coverage and sticks well to metal, so it doesn’t flake or peel off once it’s dry. Plus, it’s moisture-resistant and can protect the metal from corrosion and rust.
The finish this Krylon product provides is permanent. It’s got a glossy shine to it and doesn’t yellow with age like many other finishes. Appearance-wise, it can make metal objects look brand new like they’re glistening.
It’s also very easy to apply. The applicator button is easy to push and the resulting spray is even, making it simple to get an even coating on your target. Overall, it’s a great product and can protect and rejuvenate any metal you want to refinish.
But it’s not the most durable of finishes. It scratches pretty easily and doesn’t protect the metal from physical harm. Moreover, it leaves a texture when dry that’s not as smooth as some people may prefer or expect.
- Dries to the touch in just 15 minutes
- Works on many surfaces
- Protects the metal underneath
- The texture isn’t smooth
- Scratches easily
2. Rust-Oleum 249844 Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra CoverRust-Oleum is a well-known brand that has a reputation for producing quality paints, specifically for metals. Their Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra Cover spray paint is no exception. It gives you twice the coverage of similar paints, so you don’t need as much of it to finish your project. Ultimately, this should save you money.
This is a premium paint with a finish that looks excellent. It provides a matte finish that looks great and offers incredible protection for whatever you paint with it. It protects against scrapes and scratches, abrasion, and even helps seal your metal to prevent corrosion and rust. Plus, it resists fading, so you can have a great looking finish even years after it was first applied.
Thanks to the great coverage from this paint, you won’t have to make as many passes, creating less fumes and taking less time. It’s safe for indoor and outdoor use, so no matter how many passes you have to make, it’s not going to cause any problems.
The comfort spray tip saves your fingers on long projects. It takes very little pressure to operate. Since it’s an any-angle tip, you can hold the can at whatever angle is necessary to provide the best coverage and it will still spray just fine. But it does tend to clog up on occasion and will need to be cleaned to get it to operate again.
- Comfort spray tip saves your fingers
- Can be sprayed from any angle
- Safe for indoor use
- Gets twice the coverage of other paints
- Protective finish
- The spray tip tends to clog up
3. Dupli-Color Ceramic Engine PaintDesigned to withstand the high temperatures of running car and truck engines, the Duple-Color Ceramic Engine Paint is an excellent choice for coating any metal surface. It’s extremely heat-resistant and able to withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, it’s resistant to oils and other automotive fluids, so it will protect your metal and prevent corrosion.
Since it’s a ceramic enamel, this paint is extremely durable. It will not crack, peel, flake, or blister no matter how hot it gets. Likewise, it offers protection from abrasions and contact, preventing scratches and chips. This paint is about as tough as paints get.
Just 30 minutes after spraying down your metal surface, this paint will be dry to the touch. 30 minutes after that and it’s dry enough to handle.
This Duple-Color metal spray paint is available in a wide variety of colors to suit many different applications. It provides a high-gloss finish that looks great and is extremely easy to clean. Nothing sticks to this finish, so you can just wipe it clean with a damp cloth.
You’ll get 12 ounces of paint in a can. It doesn’t go as far as some of the other paints because it’s very thick, but it does offer superior protection thanks to the ceramic formula. It’s a bit pricey, but if you need a durable coating that won’t crack or chip, then it’s worth the cost.
- Extremely durable ceramic coating
- High-gloss finish
- Good up to 500 degrees
- Available in many colors
- It’s a bit pricey
4. Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Primer Spray PaintFormulated specifically for metal surfaces, the Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Primer Spray Paint is an excellent choice for refinishing any type of metal surface. It’s an oil-based paint made with special additives to prevent rust, making it a great choice for cars, trucks, or any type of metal that spends its life outside.
Each can contains 12 ounces, which is enough to cover up to 12 square feet. It’s dry to the touch in half an hour. One hour after application, it’s dry enough for an additional cost, if it’s necessary.
Designed for coating high-temperature applications such as car engines, this paint can withstand extreme temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it the perfect paint for cars, motors, and any other metal surfaces that might encounter high temperatures, such as being left out in the direct sunlight.
This paint has a flat finish that allows you to cover it with any finish coat to achieve whatever look you desire. But you need an clean surface for it to adhere to. If your surfaces aren’t adequately prepared, this paint will not stick and it will chip and peel. The prep work with this paint is greater than with other paints, but if you need paint for a high-temperature application, this paint is a great choice.
- Can be painted over in one hour
- Withstands temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees
- Prevents rust and corrosion
- Requires excessive preparation
5. Krylon ‘Dual’ Superbond Paint and PrimerIf you like to simplify your projects and remove as many unnecessary steps as possible, you might like the Krylon Dual Superbond Paint and Primer. As you could probably guess from the name, it’s an all-in-one paint and primer solution. It’s got the coverage and excellent adherence of a spray-on primer with the durability and good-looking finish of the paint.
With the Krylon Dual Superbond, you get several options for how you’d like your finish to turn out. You can choose between gloss, satin, and flat finishes in a variety of colors, giving you loads of choice for your project.
Like most of the other spray paints on this list, this one comes with 12 ounces in a can. It’s a bit expensive though because you’re getting both paint and primer together. Since you only have to buy one product instead of two, it might save you money in the long run.
While this paint is great for metal, it’s also versatile enough to be used on other materials such as wood, concrete, ceramic, and masonry. But it doesn’t work well with other paints and primers. If you’re going to use this product, you shouldn’t apply other primers first because it might not stick.
- Paint and primer in one product
- Works on metal, wood, concrete, ceramic, and masonry
- Choose between flat, satin, and gloss finishes
- Might not stick to other primers
6. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Hammered Finish Spray PaintRust-Oleum makes lots of different paints that work well on metal, including this Stops Rust Hammered Finish Spray Paint. This is a unique paint that gives a finish with a special look. Instead of a flat, smooth appearance after painting, using this paint will create a hammered metal look on your project. This can be a great effect that will take your project to another level.
This hammered finish spray paint is available in many different colors, giving you loads of options for how you want your project to turn out. You could have hammered gold, copper, black, or one of many other color choices. What’s nice is that the hammered finish will hide any imperfections in your piece.
One great thing about this formula is the Stops Rust that’s added to it. This additive helps to protect metal surfaces from rust and corrosion, ensuring that they not only look great but last a long time as well. Moreover, it will also help protect against impacts, scratches, and abrasions since it covers your metal in a strong, protective coating.
This product is a bit slower to dry than other metal spray paints. It takes between two and four hours to dry to the touch. It’s an oil-based paint but it’s safe for interior and exterior surfaces. You’ll get about 15 square feet of coverage from a single 12-ounce can, which is great considering how affordable this paint is.
- Gets 15 square feet of coverage
- Stops Rust helps prevent rust and corrosion
- Protects against scratches, impacts, and more
- Affordably priced
- Unique hammered finish hides imperfections
- Takes a long time to dry
7. Design Master DM241 Premium Metallic Spray PaintThe Design Master Premium Metallic Paint is perfect when you want to add a luxurious, precious-metal finish to a piece of metal. It produces a rich rose gold plated finish that shines and glistens like real rose gold.
Each can contains 11 ounces of spray paint. But it’s pretty expensive if you want to gold plate your piece in rose gold. Still, the finish is one-of-a-kind and looks amazing. It’s perfect for jewelry, furniture, art projects, and whatever else you can think of. It will adhere well to metal, but will also work on ceramics, paper, plaster, wicker, wood, and more.
This is more than just standard spray paint. The finish looks like expensive rose gold plating, like you dipped your project in rose gold. It’s an impressive look that’s unique to this product.
Luckily, this paint also dries fast, reducing the occurrence of drips, runs, and other issues that can ruin the look of your piece. It also helps speed you along to the next phase of your project, whatever that may be. Once dry, this paint offers more than just an elegant rose gold finish to your work. It also protects the metal by sealing it and keeping out moisture, which helps to prevent corrosion and rust.
- Luxurious rose gold finish
- Looks like gold plating
- Adheres to more than just metal
- Very expensive
- Only 11 ounces in a can
8. Rust-Oleum – Professional High Performance EnamelSome projects require more than just a nice-looking finish. When you need a durable coating that will protect your piece against rain, sun, and contact, then you might consider the Rust-Oleum Professional High Performance Enamel. More than just a regular spray paint for metals, this oil-based formula is a solid coating that adheres to your metal surface, providing protection and longevity.
Thankfully, this spray paint also looks attractive. It’s available in many different colors so you can be creative or match the colors you’ve already got. But the only finish is flat. It’s perfect for hiding imperfections and withstanding abuse, but if you want a glossy, smooth finish, you might need to look at another product.
Each affordably priced can of this high-performance enamel holds 15 ounces. You’ll get about 14 square feet of coverage from it though. On the plus side, it only takes about 15 minutes to dry to the touch. One hour after application, it’s ready for a second coat so you can get your project finished quickly.
One problem with a lot of inexpensive paints is a poor tip that clogs often and easily. This tip isn’t like that. This can is equipped with a high output tip that works at any angle. It’s easy to press and won’t wear out your finger. Even better, it doesn’t clog up on you every three passes!
- High output spray tip doesn’t clog
- Dries for recoating in an hour
- Protects the metal underneath
- Only available in a flat finish
9. Valspar 21928 Gloss EnamelDurable and long-lasting, the Valspar Gloss Enamel is a great choice for any metal project. It’s got a gloss finish that looks rich and shiny. You can get it in a variety of colors to give your project whatever look you prefer.
This enamel adheres incredibly to metal, but it also works just as well on wood. It’s safe for use inside or outside, so you can safely complete your project in the comfort of your climate-controlled workshop.
What’s great about this paint is that it provides excellent protection from all sorts of potential damages. If you’re worried about the sun, this product is extremely UV-resistant and will protect your project against fading, yellowing, and sun damage. Since it’s an enamel coating, it also offers excellent protection against scratches and chips, making it perfect for projects that might get a lot of contacts and need to have a tough, durable coating to protect the metal underneath.
But the protection doesn’t end there. This paint is an anti-rust armor offering advanced corrosion resistance. Of course, you’re going to pay a premium for this high level of protection, but if you need to keep your metal safe from the elements and provide a long-lasting and aesthetically-pleasing finish, then the Valspar Gloss Enamel is a great choice.
- Available in many colors
- Protects against rust
- Durable finish prevents scratches and chipping
- Premium price
10. Stainless Steel Rust Protective Spray PaintSometimes you want to refinish something metal without losing its original look. Other times, you want to give something a unique industrial look. For both of those occasions and more, this Stainless Steel Rust Protective Spray Paint from Seymour is a perfect choice. It’s made with 100% stainless steel pigment, ensuring that your finish turns out exactly like stainless steel.
But this paint is more than just a good-looking finish. It’s also a protective coating that will keep your metal safe. For example, it’s a non-yellowing formula that’s made to be UV-resistant, protecting your metal from the sun and preventing fading. It’s heat resistant up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, so you can rest assured that direct sunlight will not be an issue.
Moreover, this product also grants excellent protection from water. Rain, dew, and other water sources will no longer be a problem. This paint will protect the metal against rust and corrosion, water, all types of weather, and even oil.
Each can contains 13 ounces of spray paint. It’s not the cheapest paint, but with all the protection it offers, you get what you pay for. As a bonus, it’s also a fast-drying formula, helping you to get your project finished and move on to the next one as quickly as possible.
- Drys quickly
- Authentic stainless steel coloration
- Protects against weather conditions including the sun and rain
What Is Metal Spray Paint?
Regular paints often have a hard time adhering to different metal surfaces. Metal is often very slick and most paints are meant to adhere to more porous surfaces. So, specialty paint had to be made that would stick to metal.
Metal spray paint makes it easy to refinish any type of metal surface. It’s specially formulated to achieve great adherence and coverage on the metal of all types, but most will also work on other surfaces.
Best Spray Paint Brand
Rust-Oleum is a well-known and respected brand that makes durable and long-lasting coatings for a variety of surfaces. They’re known specifically for their metal paints, which come in a variety of colors and unique finishes.
What’s more, Rust-Oleum products do more than just look great. They also protect the metal with a tough coating that wards off moisture to prevent rust. The coating protects against scratching, fading, and weathering, which is why Rust-Oleum is one of the best brands for metal spray paints.
Krylon is a paint brand that specializes in spray paint specifically. They have a variety of impressive products, including all-in-one solutions, unique finishes, protective coatings, and more.
Krylon paints feature the EZ Touch spray tip that’s comfortable and easy to use. It’s one of the best features of their products. Their enamels are great for adding protection to your metal projects when you want it to be as durable as it is attractive.
Dupli-Color specializes in do-it yourself automotive coatings. Their paints and coatings are excellent choices for any type of metal project from automotive work to furniture. They’re made to withstand the abuse that vehicles go through daily, so you know their products make durable finishes.
One great thing about most Dupli-Color products is their heat-resistance. Other companies offer heat-resistant spray paints for metal as well, but Dupli-Color specializes in such products. Their engine coatings can withstand high temperatures that make them great options for any project that will spend its life outside in the sunlight.
What To Look For When Choosing Spray Paint
When you’re choosing the right metal spray paint for your project, there are many factors to consider. To help make your job easier, I’ve put together a list of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re looking for the perfect metal spray paint.
What Materials You are Painting
The first thing you need to consider when choosing a spray paint is what your project consists of. Are you just painting metal chairs? Or are you painting something that involves wood, metal, and possibly other surfaces as well?
You’ll need to choose a paint that will work on all of the surfaces you intend to cover. Likewise, you need to ensure that the paint is appropriate for that application. For instance, if you’re painting a grill in a new flat black coating, you’ll need to get a paint that can handle the high temperatures a grill operates.
Once you know exactly what surfaces you’ll be coating, you need to decide what color or colors you’ll use. Many metal spray paints come in only a few select colors, so if you’re looking for something specific, there may only be a few options available. Make sure you pick your color before making other choices so you know that the spray paint you pick is available in the color you need.
But color isn’t the only aspect of how your project will look. The finish is just as important. Finish refers to the sheen of your coating; flat, satin, or gloss. Glossy coatings look shiny while flat coatings do not. Satin sits between the two.
Keep in mind, the finish you choose has other repercussions besides aesthetics. Glossy finishes don’t hold on to dirt and they’re easier to clean. On the other hand, flat or matte finishes are generally more durable, but they’re more difficult to clean.
How much area are you painting? Is your project 12 square feet or 25? Most paints provide an estimate of how much area they’ll cover. You need to make sure that you get enough paint to cover your entire project.
Metal is highly susceptible to rust and corrosion. This is even more true if it will be exposed to the elements, particularly rain and water. But manufacturers know this and have taken steps to help combat the issue.
If you know your project needs protection from rust and corrosion, look for a spray paint that offers rust prevention. Some sprays have special additives to seal the metal surface and protect it from water and moisture. This will prevent rust and help ensure that your project lasts for a long time.
Drying time can be the real bane of a project. It might take only a few minutes to paint, but you can’t continue your project until the paint’s dry! You’ll need to factor drying time and multiple coats into the equation to determine how long your project will take.
Indoor or Outdoor Use
Are you painting something inside or outside? It makes a difference. Exterior paints often have VOCs and other harmful chemicals that can outgas and release odors and more. You don’t want that in your house! Luckily, many metal spray paints are indoor and outdoor safe, so pick one of these products and you won’t have to worry about it.
We talked about moisture protection and rust prevention, but what if you need a coating that offers more protection than that? Some coatings can even protect against scratches, chips, and impacts. These tough enamel coatings are great for anytime your project will be in a high traffic area or is likely to come in contact with other objects pretty often.
Is the item you’re coating going to live outside? Then it will likely fade, crack, and yellow unless you get a coating with UV-protection. This will prevent any damage from the sun, increasing longevity and protecting the metal inside.
One of the most important parts of the painting is adhesion. If the paint doesn’t stick, then it’s not going to do much good! Make sure you get a paint that’s specifically meant to work with metal. Otherwise, you may not get a good coat and you’ll be frustrated when it flakes and peels off.
How to Paint Metal with Spray Paint
Once you’ve picked out and purchased the perfect paint to coat your metal with, it’s time to get to work. But how do you go about painting metal with spray paint? Don’t worry, it’s not difficult. Let’s go through each step and make sure you’re ready to tackle your project.
Read the Directions!
This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people skip this step! All of the information you need should be contained in the instructions on your spray paint can. This will tell you how long the paint will take to dry, what kind of prep you need, and any special instructions for that specific paint.
Prepare the Work Area
Spray paint can get messy! There are lots of oversprays and you could end up permanently painting items that you don’t want to refinish! So, before you start spraying, it’s important to properly prep the work area.
You’ll want to enlist the help of masking tape, newspaper, and possibly cardboard. Using the newspaper and cardboard, cover any surface you don’t want to get painted. Tape the paper down to ensure it doesn’t move while you’re working.
Prep Metal for Spray Paint
Of course, your work area isn’t all that needs preparation! You’ll also need to prep the metal you plan to paint. This requires cleaning it and removing any paint or finish that’s currently on it.
To do this, you’ll want to start with rubbing alcohol, turpentine, or something similar, and a paper towel. Wipe the metal down with the alcohol or solution and get any dirt off. If there’s paint or gloss on the metal, you’ll need to use some steel wool or sandpaper to remove it so the new paint can stick. Once the metal is free of other paints, finishes, or any dirt, you are ready to start applying.
The primer provides an even base coat so that the main paint can stick easier and will have an even coloration. You’ll want to apply it before the paint.
Using even strokes, paint the surface, making sure to get even coverage everywhere. Once it’s all covered, you’ll need to let it dry before moving on to the first coat. Your primer can tell you how long it will take until it’s ready for recoating.
Shake the Can
Once you’re sure that your primer is dry, you’re ready to start painting. Before you can paint, you’ll need to thoroughly shake the can and mix up the paint. This will take a good 60 seconds of hard shaking, so don’t skimp out here.
Apply Several Light Coats
Next, using even strokes while holding the can about a foot away from the surface you’re painting, apply the spray paint. Make sure you do very light, even coats. You don’t want to apply too much paint at once or it might drip or run. Instead, you’ll apply several light coats, allowing time to dry between each.
Apply A Finish (optional)
Once you’re happy with the coverage of your spray paint, you might want to add a clear coat or sealer. This step is optional, but it can go a long way towards protecting your project. Plus, a clear coat can make it pop and bring it to life.
How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry on Metal?
After each coat, you’ll have to allow the paint to dry before adding another coat. As mentioned earlier, drying time can extend the length of a project. It might be quick to paint, but you can’t do much to speed up drying time.
So, how long does it take for spray paint to dry on metal? It depends on the paint. However, most of them will be dry enough to handle or repaint in under four hours. Most fast-drying products are dry enough for additional coats in just one hour and dry to the touch in only 15 minutes.
At this point, you’re ready to start painting. But just to make sure you don’t hit any snags, I’m going to provide you with a few of my best expert tips to make sure your painting project goes smoothly.
Apply Coats in Different Directions
Spray paint can be applied in any direction, up, down, left, right, diagonally, etc. But what’s important is that each coat is applied in a different direction. This will ensure you get even and complete coverage. If you do each coat while moving the paint can in the same way, you’ll likely end up with missed spots and patches that won’t be visible until the paint dries.
Always Clean the Nozzle
Even if you only paint for five seconds, you need to clean the nozzle thoroughly. If you skip this step, your paint probably won’t work the next time you reach it. Spray paint nozzles clog up very easily since spray paint dries in them so quickly. Use a little paint thinner in the tip with a q-tip to ensure that no paint is coagulating in the tip to block your next paint project.
Prep Makes The Product
It doesn’t matter how good of paint you use; if the metal isn’t prepared well, the final result won’t look good. Prep is everything when it comes to painting. Good prep work makes for an easy job and few mistakes. Poor prep causes headaches and terrible finishes. Don’t skimp on the prep work. Take your time and make sure your metal surfaces are clean, free of imperfections, and ready for paint before you start applying.
Don’t Handle it Early
Once you apply paint, it’s human nature to check it quickly and see if it’s done. But you must resist the temptation! Many projects have been messed up by an impatient paint check that leaves a fingerprint in the finished product. Save yourself the regret and just wait a few more minutes.
Test An Area First
Once you get to paint and your project is ready to go, it’s easy to jump into it without proper tests. But if your paint doesn’t work well with your surface, you might waste all the work you do. Save yourself the hassle by testing the paint on a small area of your project first. This will allow you to make sure it adheres well and looks the way you want. Few things are more aggravating than finishing a project but not liking how it looks!
We’ve covered all the basics to get you ready to refinish any metal surface that you want. You know the steps to take from start to finish and you even know how to choose the right paint.
In my opinion, the Rust-Oleum High Heat Automotive Spray Paint is the best choice when you need your paint to offer excellent protection. It’s good up to 2,000 degrees, so it’s perfect for any high-heat application. Plus, it offers great durability to protect the metal from just about anything.
I also like the Krylon Dual Superbond Paint and Primer. It saves you a lot of time and work by combining painting and priming into a single step. As long as your prep work is good, this could speed up your project.
If you found this article helpful, please feel free to share it with others who also have metal surfaces to refinish. I’ll do my best to quickly respond to any questions or comments left in the comments box below.