Can You Use Latex Paint on Metal?

Painting is a great way to revive the life of a metal surface. But you may be wondering, can you use latex paint on metal? Here is the answer to that.

Yes, you can use latex paint on metal. Latex paint is a fast-drying paint that is very easy to apply. The paint works well on metal but you need to take a few steps before using latex paint on metal to prevent fading, stains, and dents.

So what are these steps? How long does it take for latex paint to dry on metal? And how should you apply latex paint to metal?

There is so much to know about using latex paint on metal and this post digs right into the topic.

So, let’s get to work.

How Long Does It Take For Latex Paint To Dry On Metal?

It takes about 15 minutes for latex paint to dry to touch on metal and about an hour before you can apply another layer (or recoat).

Latex paint ordinarily dries very fast. Water-based latex paint especially is one of the fastest drying paint types out there. When applied on metal, latex paint dries to touch within 15 minutes or less. This is because the metal surface is usually cool and this speeds up the bonding process by causing the solvent to evaporate faster.

When the solvent is evaporated, the paint particles will get dry enough to touch. This means you can touch the paint without smearing it.

To apply another layer of latex paint on metal, you need to wait about an hour. This is because the previous layer has to cure before another layer can be applied.

If you apply a layer of latex paint on latex that hasn’t fully cured, the result will be messy and the whole paint job can be ruined because the layer serving as the base coat hasn’t dried enough for another coat.

But getting dry quickly doesn’t guarantee durability. Latex paint dries quickly on metal but it’s not very durable. So can you use latex paint on metal doors? Let’s find out.

Related Read: How To Paint Concrete With Latex Paint?

Can You Use Latex Paint On Metal Doors?

You can use latex paint on metal doors to improve the look and durability of the door.  But you need to strip, clean, and prime the metal door before applying latex paint.

Metal doors are very durable in terms of security but not in terms of design. Metal doors usually struggle to retain the look and design after the first few years. So to revive the look, you can use latex paint on the door but you need to prep the door first.

This is because latex paint dries quickly and it gives a good finish but it doesn’t have the best adhesive qualities. So to use latex paint on metal doors, you need to first make sure that the paint is applied on bare metal.

This means you should strip, wash, and clean the metal surface of the door before applying latex paint on it. It is also advised to prime the metal door before painting to make the latex paint stick to the door properly.

When selecting a primer to use, you should ensure the primer you pick is recommended for metal surfaces. You should also pick a primer that would work well with the type of latex paint that you intend to use. For instance, water-based primers for metal are to be used with water-based latex paint.

Also, you should consider where the metal surface of the door will end up. If the metal surface will end up outdoors, you need to protect it. This is because metal doors that are outside will be exposed to rain, snow, heat, and other external factors that can ruin the finish.

So after priming and painting the door, you’ll need to also add at least two layers of wax to the door to protect it from damage.

Related Read: Can You Use a Roller To Apply Latex Paint?

How To Apply Latex Paint On Metal?

Applying latex paint to metal is an easy process. You just need to prep the metal correctly, apply the paint using your preferred method, and apply a layer or two of wax to protect the finish.

We are going to check out how to do all these in detail. But first, let’s find out the tools needed to paint metal with latex paint.

Tools Needed To Apply Latex Paint On Metal

  • Water
  • A metal scraper or wire brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Latex Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Primer (optional)

Now let’s get to work.

1. Wash And Clean The Metal Surface

Wash And Clean The Metal Surface

The first thing to do is to wash and clean the metal. If the metal isn’t very dirty, then you can skip the washing. But if the metal surface is filthy, then you should first wash the metal with water and a sponge.

Don’t use detergent so you don’t ruin the metal. After washing, you need to wait for the surface to get fully dry. This should take a few minutes depending on how large the metal is. If you can lift the metal, then it’s better to take it outside so the outer temperature can get it dry quicker.

2. Prep Your Workspace

Prep Your Workspace

While the metal is being left to dry, you should prep your workspace. Painting metal makes it look new but it can mean up your workspace. So cover every object around the space you would be working. If you can, remove all furniture and electronics so the paint doesn’t splash on them.

You should also cover the floor with plastic wrap or a large drop cloth. This is even more important if you have a wooden floor. Though latex paint is easy to remove, I’m guessing you don’t want to spend hours after painting on cleaning the floor too.

3. Scrape The Metal

Scrape The Metal

When you are done prepping the workspace, you need to scrape the metal to remove any paint or stain on the metal. It’s not a good idea to use latex paint over an already painted metal. This is because the latex paint wouldn’t stick well to the surface.

You can use a hard brush or metal scraper to remove any paint or finish previously used on the metal. Your best bet would be to use a wire brush. Wire brushes are flexible enough to allow you to get into the corners and crevices of the metal surface. Ensure to remove as much finish or paint from the metal as you can with the wire brush.

4. Sand The Metal

Sand The Metal

After scraping the metal with a wire brush, use coarse sandpaper to sand the surface of the metal. You can use 60-grit sandpaper for this. Sanding after scraping will remove any finish that you missed while scraping. Sanding will also improve the adhesive qualities of the metal so the latex paint can stick to the surface properly.

After sanding with coarse sandpaper, you can use finer grit sandpaper to finish up the metal surface. You usually would have a rough metal surface when you are done. This is what you want. So don’t get bothered if the metal doesn’t come out smoothly after sanding.

Related Read: Will Chalk Paint Prevent Rust On Metal?

5. Apply Primer

Apply Primer

The next step is to prime the metal. Primer also helps to improve the adhesive qualities of the metal just like sanding but it does more than that. It also helps to give the latex paint a more beautiful and durable finish. Many professional painters advise using a primer before painting metal to improve the overall finish.

To apply the primer, follow the instructions indicated on the container of the primer you bought. Usually, you can use the primer directly from the container.

You just need to apply the primer directly on the metal the same way you would apply the paint. A layer or two of the needed primer would be enough. After applying the primer, let it dry. This can take a few hours depending on the brand you are using.

Related Read: Can You Use Metal Paint on Wood?

6. Apply Latex Paint On Metal

Apply Latex Paint On Metal

Once the primer has fully cured (dried), you can now paint the metal. Most latex paints don’t require any special step in prepping them for use. But as always, follow the instructions indicated on the container of the latex paint you intend to use.

Once the paint is properly prepped and ready to use, then you can paint the metal. You would need at least 2 layers or coats of latex paint on the metal. Some painters will advise you to apply 3 layers for the best results.

For metal, you can use a roller or paintbrush. A paint sprayer also works fine but it will need additional instructions, so it’s not the best option if you aren’t familiar with the tool.

Ensure to get between every gap and every corner on the metal. You should also allow the first layer to dry before applying the second and also the second before applying the third if needed. When you are done painting, leave the latex paint to fully cure.

This isn’t necessary but if you suspect the metal would experience a lot of use or harsh weather, you should protect it. After the latex paint has dried, you can apply a coat or two of wax to cover the latex finish.

This will protect it from getting smeared quickly. It will also give the finish a glossy appearance and you can never go wrong with gloss on metal.

If you have done all of these, then you have successfully painted metal with latex paint.

Related Read: Does Polyurethane Paint Stick to Metal?

Can You Use Latex Paint on Metal Siding?

You can use latex paint on metal siding but you need to use an oil-based primer to increase the bond between the latex paint and the metal siding. You should also use acrylic latex paint on the metal siding for best results.

Water-based latex paint will work initially but it will cause dents and rusts later especially on the aluminum material.

Painting metal siding with latex paint is common but not with water-based latex paint. To paint metal siding with latex paint, you should use acrylic latex paint and you should prime the surface first. The reason for this is metal siding is not exactly a hundred percent metal. Metal siding is made from metal, aluminum, and tin.

When you apply paint directly on tin or aluminum, the paint will begin to bubble and this will ruin the finish. This is because aluminum and tin are prone to heat. When the weather gets warm, these materials usually get hot easily.

The heat in the tin or aluminum used to make the metal siding will begin to heat the latex paint and cause it to bubble. Over time, the finish will be ruined.

So to prevent this harsh reaction, you should prime the metal siding first with an oil-based primer and you should use acrylic latex paint.

Oil-based primers and acrylic paint are less prone to the heat from the metal siding. The finish you get from using an oil-based primer and acrylic paint will be better and more durable than the one you will get with water-based latex paint.

Related Read: Does Latex Paint Go Bad?

Can You Use Acrylic Latex Paint On Metal?

You can use acrylic latex paint on metal. But you need to sand the metal surface before applying acrylic latex paint to prevent premature damages to the finish.

Acrylic latex paint is better suited for metal surfaces but before you can use it, you need to ensure the metal is clean, sanded, and primed with an oil-based primer.

All of these preparatory steps will help the finish last longer and look better. You should also use a hundred percent acrylic latex paint. Don’t mix brands or paint types. Acrylic paint will bond better on metal and the paint doesn’t contain water so the metal is less prone to rust and dent.

Acrylic latex paint is preferable to water-based latex paint when it comes to metal surfaces. This is because water-based latex paint uses water as its solvent, not a surprise though. It’s in the name. The water can cause rust and dent in the metal causing it to beg damaged quickly.

Water-based latex paint is also not as durable as acrylic latex paint. This is because, unlike acrylic latex paint, water-based latex paint is easily affected by dirt and weather changes. This makes the finish smear quickly and becomes ugly.

Related Read: Is Latex Paint Good For Furniture?

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Metal Without Primer?

You shouldn’t use acrylic paint on metal without using an oil-based primer first. Doing that will ruin the finish, damage the metal, and waste the paint.

Acrylic latex paint is the best latex paint to use on metal but it should never be used on metal directly without priming the metal surface first. Doing this will cause the paint to fall off literally.

The problem with latex paints regardless of the type is that they don’t bond very well on metal. So to use acrylic paint, you need to apply a coat or two of an oil-based primer on the metal surface first. When the primer dries, you can now apply the acrylic paint to the metal and it will stick like glue.

So whatever you do, never use acrylic paint on metal without using a primer first.

Final Words

Overall, latex paints can be used on different metal surfaces but the best type of latex paint to use is acrylic latex paint.

You should also ensure to prime before painting the metal to improve the durability and look of the finish.

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