It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to a faded wrought iron headboard or a rusty old bicycle that’s been collecting dust in the corner of the barn for the last 20 years.

The key to making that paint job last, however, is by using paint that will adhere well to metal.

Will the chalk paint that you use for your weekend furniture refurbishing projects suffice? What kind of spray paint can you use on your bathtub?

In our detailed guide, we will be answering those questions and highlighting some of the best paint for metal surfaces both indoors and outdoors.

Even if you don’t know much about paint, our simple guide will make it easy for you to find the right products.

Top 10 Paints for Metal Comparison Table

PictureNameTypePriceRating (1-5)
Rating (1-5)
1. Rust-Oleum 7777502 Protective Enamel PaintOil-Based$$$4.7
2. Krylon RTA9232 'Rust Tough' Silver Metallic Rust Preventive Enamel - 12 oz. Aerosol Spray Enamel$$$4.5
3. Rust-Oleum 7881830 Appliance Enamel 12-Ounce Spray, White Epoxy Spray$4.6
4. Rust-Oleum 7770830 Stops Rust Spray PaintSpray Paint$4.7
5. Design Master Premium Metallic Spray Paint, Rose GoldSpray Paint$4.6
6. Renaissance Chalk Finish Paint - Chalk Furniture & Cabinet Paint Chalk Paint$$$$4.6
7. Krylon K05160207 Colormaster Paint & Primer, Black, FlatSpray Paint + Primer $$$4.6
8. FolkArt Home Decor Chalk Furniture & Craft Paint in Assorted Colors Chalk Paint$$4.6
9. Krylon KSCB004 Short Cuts Brush-On Paint, ChromeEnamel Paint$$4.4
10. Diamond Brite Paint 31250 1-Gallon Oil Base All Purpose Enamel Paint Tile Red Oil-Based$$$$4.2

What Type of Paint Can I Use on Metal Surfaces?

Oil-based paint, chalk paint, certain spray paints like colored enamels, and epoxy sprays are usually your best options. However, you should always make sure that the manufacturer states that it will adhere to metal somewhere on the label before making any assumptions.

Many prefer oil-based paints because they are more durable and resistant than latex paints are, and they also come in a wide variety of finishes.

Do you want to use acrylic paint? Not a problem, just be sure that you use an oil-based primer underneath so it will adhere to the surface and make your paint job last.

Chalk paint is popular for DIY furniture restoration gurus, but it will also adhere to metal surfaces if you prefer to have a more versatile paint that you can use for various craft projects around the home.

How to Ensure You Choose the Right Paint

The best paint for metal varies from project to project, so there are a variety of factors you need to take into consideration before choosing one.

  • Indoor or Outdoor. Objects that will be exposed to the elements need to be coated in paint that can withstand the harsh weather conditions. From the blazing hot sun to constant rain, a product like Rust-Oleum’s Satin – Smooth Protective Enamel is formulated to resist harsh weather conditions and rust.

Indoors, you have a bit more freedom with the paint you use. Chalk paint, for example, is intended for items that will remain indoors, while the Rust-Oleum Appliance Epoxy is formulated for use on indoor metal appliances.

  • Primer. As we mentioned earlier, using a primer if you want to use acrylic paint for a small craft project or something simple that will remain indoors is important, but should you prime other surfaces, as well?

Priming is always a good idea, but preparation is equally as important which is what we will discuss next.

  • Ferrous Metal vs. Galvanized Metal. Ferrous metal is mostly iron while galvanized metal is either steel or iron that has been coated with a protective layer of zinc; this coating will help prevent it from rusting.

When painting ferrous metal, you need to make sure that you remove all rust and clean the surface thoroughly before priming it.

Galvanized metal should also be cleaned, but since it probably won’t have any rust, you will only need to roughen the surface by sanding, thus creating a surface that the paint can adhere to better.

Top 7 Best Paint for Metal Reviews

1. Rust-Oleum 7777730 Protective Enamel Paint

Rust-Oleum makes some of the best paint for metal surfaces on the market, and the versatility of this mixture makes it hard to pass up.

As an oil-based formula, it will resist fading, abrasion, and chipping much better than many other formulas out there, and we love that you can use this on both indoor and outdoor surfaces.

It is weather-resistant and corrosion-resistant, so if you are painting the latest yard sale find so you can transform it into a funky flower pot for your patio, this paint would be a good choice. You can use it on concrete and wood in addition to metal surfaces, and it covers quite well.

Be patient with this paint, as it does take some time to dry.

2. Krylon RTA9232 ‘Rust Tough’ Rust Preventive Enamel

While we do suggest using a primer for your projects, we know that not all of you will bother with the extra step, which is why a spray enamel-like this is exactly what you need.

It helps prevent rust from forming on metal surfaces without the need for a primer, and it also adheres well to metal surfaces on its own.

Krylon recommends using this on things like mailboxes, outdoor furniture, lamp posts, tools, and other similar objects that will be outside on a regular basis. As a spray enamel, you will also be able to achieve a more even application.

They offer a wide selection of colors and finishes, and we love that it dries to the touch in just 30 minutes. The previous paint takes much longer.

3. Rust-Oleum 7881830 Appliance Enamel

Not just any old paint will do when it comes to coating a refrigerator, washing machine, or dishwasher, and Rust-Oleum knows this!

Their Appliance Epoxy is perfect for indoor appliances that need a facelift, and the great part about it is that you can wash the appliances without having to spray on any additional sealants or finishes.

While the product works well and is durable once applied, the application process can get a bit messy since Rust-Oleum doesn’t have the best spray nozzle on the tip.

It tends to spit the liquid out in the beginning, causing paint droplets to land on the surface which would be quite noticeable if you didn’t wipe them off.

For craft projects, this paint won’t be of much use to you, but for appliances or even old dingy bathtubs that could use a fresh coat of color, this stuff works great!

4. Rust-Oleum 7770830 Stops Rust Spray Paint

The Rust-Oleum 7770830 Stops Rust Spray Paint is an enamel and oil paint. It works to increase the resistance of chipping, fading, or abrasion. It is a paint that will dry up completely in about four hours maximum.

Having been manufactured using the oil-based formula, it can offer a protective coating that will resist rusting and will last for a long time.

The paint is weather resistant and will not corrode. It gives a glossy fresh shine look on the applied surfaces.

  • It is weather-resistant
  • It dries up within four hours
  • It does not fade
  • It prevents rusting
  • The paint in one pack will get exhausted quickly

5. Design Master Premium Metallic Spray Paint

The Design Master Premium Metallic Spray Paint is a USA-made paint that will provide a couture metallic trend color on the surface. It gives a metallic solid finish. It dries up quickly.

The paint in one pack will cover a large area since it comes in a spray form. This paint is safe for flowers and other organisms on your premises.

It will give a protective coating to the surfaces painted on, thus preventing rust formation. This paint does not corrode easily and will give the surface a smooth, fresh shiny gold color.

  • It dries up quickly
  • It prevents rusting
  • The paint of one pack will cover a wide area
  • The can may get clogged while one is spraying

6. Renaissance Chalk Finish Paint

The Renaissance Chalk Finish Paint provides superior coverage in one or two coats with incredible adhesion. It will give a glossy finish. It will work well for your furniture offering a perfect new look.

It works well for both the interior and exterior parts with precision and effectiveness. A golden tip to follow when it comes to the interior and exterior parts is to make sure you have used a marine finish topcoat.

This paint dries up within half an hour. Additionally, this paint is safe to use and eco-friendly. It does emit an odor and has an Ultra-low VOC.

  • It dries up quickly
  • It gives a smooth chalky finish
  • It is safe for use
  • It is eco-friendly
  • When applying the second coat, one can make a mess out of it

7. Krylon K05160207 Colormaster Paint

The Krylon K05160207 Colormaster Paint fits both outdoor and indoor projects and the results are brilliant. It gives the surfaces a perfect finish that is silky smooth.

This paint will work well on different surfaces like wood, metal, and plastic. This paint will dry up perfectly in just ten minutes. It is designed with durable Covermax technology giving it a brilliant color and perfect premium coverage.

  • It dries quickly
  • It works well for different surfaces such as metal, wood, and wicker
  • It will be perfect for both outdoor and indoor projects
  • The paint may corrode easily on plastic surfaces

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Best Enamel Paint for Metal?

Rust-Oleum 7777730 Protective Enamel Paint is a great enamel paint for metal. Its oil-based formula provides a durable, protective, and corrosion-resistant coating.

Do I Need to Prime Metal Before Painting?

Metal surfaces are susceptible to rust. Use a rust-inhibitive primer or rust converter. You don’t want rust to get to the metal surface or you will have to paint it again.

Depending on how the metal surface is exposed, moisture can easily soak through the primer. Avoid using latex or water-based primers.

How do you Get Paint to Stick to Metal?

Preparing the surface you want to paint is very important. Properly clean the metal surface from dust using a mild detergent solution.

If there is any existing paint that is loose or peeling, remove it. This step can take some time if you do it by hand. Using a power tool can help speed up the process.

Check if the metal surfaces have any rust. If so, remove the loose rust if possible. If not, use a primer to cover up the rust spots.

Cover any holes or dents that exist on the metal surfaces. Use an epoxy-based composite into the hole for small holes and dents.

Use metal primers before painting the metal surfaces. Priming is important to prevent dust or dirt from accumulating on the metal surfaces.

Can you Use Acrylic Paint on Metal?

Yes, but prepare the metal surface before painting it. Refer to the answers above for recommendations.

If the metal surface will be placed outside, use two coats of paint. Be sure to wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second one. You can use the same or different colors.

Is Enamel Paint Good for Metal?

Painting metal with enamel provides a durable protective coating. Enamel paint produces a hard, durable finish that stands up extremely well to traffic and wear.

It is best suited for the outdoors that are exposed to severe weather. It is also used indoors in areas with heavy general wear. The high gloss finish makes it easy to clean and resistant to stain.