Can You Use Metal Paint on Wood? (or Vice Versa)

It’s common to run out of paint while finishing a wooden surface. So, can you use metal paint on wood? 

You can use metal paint on wood, but the surface must be dry, cleaned, and primed before applying it. Metal paint is formulated with extra additives that will protect the surface from different elements.

However, you shouldn’t use wood paint on metal surfaces because it doesn’t have any protective additives and will expose the surface to outdoor elements. 


Metal paint will stick to wood because it has impressive adhesives because is formulated to stick to non-porous surfaces. Also, wood is a porous surface that allows any type of paint to stick over it.

However, since wood is porous, it can suck more paint than needed. That’s why you must apply a coat of primer or washcoat to the porous surfaces to prevent over-absorption.

How To Use Metal Paint On Wood?

Metal paint isn’t designed for wooden surfaces, so you must prep the surface before you use it. Though it can be used, you still must prep the surface so the paint can stick and dry well. 

Before you start this project, cover the floors and areas near the wooden surface to prevent spills. To cover floors, use tape. 

1. Clean The Wooden Surface

Here's a mini-guide that will teach you how to use metal paint no wood. The first thing you want to do is to clean the wooden surface.

The surface must be clean and dry for the paint to stick. The surface should be clean of dirt and debris. 

To clean it:

  1. Mix warm water with soap in a clean bucket.
  2. Damp the rag with the mixture. 
  3. Use the dampened rag to wipe the wooden surface. 
  4. You can use a wire brush or sponge to scrub the surface. 
  5. Pour clean water to remove the soap residue from the wood. 
  6. Wipe the wooden surface with a dry rag to dry it out. 

Wire brushes will get rid of the toughest stains on wood. However, you must be careful because the wire brush can scratch the wood. 

Related Read: Can Latex Paint Be Used on Metal?

2. Sand The Wooden Surface

Sand The Wooden Surface

After cleaning the wood, you must sand it. Especially, if you used a wire sponge to clean it. That’s because a wired sponge or brush can leave imperfections (or scratches) on wood, and sanding removes imperfections and leaves a smooth surface behind. 

To sand wood, start with medium-grit sandpaper. The medium-grit sandpaper removes the imperfections and hard scratches from the wood. Once the imperfections are gone, use fine-grit sandpaper. The fine-grit sandpaper will make the wooden surface smooth and clean. 

However, after sanding, you must re-clean the wooden surface because sanding produces a lot of dust. 

3. Prime The Wood

Prime The Wood

Next, apply 2-3 coats of primer to the surface. The primer creates a smooth layer base that covers imperfections and holes in the surface and allows the paint to stick better. 

Wood is a porous material that will suck a lot of paint if it isn’t primed. Its porosity means that you will use more paint than needed, and metal paint is expensive. To avoid this, prime the surface. 

We recommend using latex bonding primer. To apply it, use a paintbrush and apply 2-3 coats. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one.

Related Read: Can You Use Polyurethane Paint on Metal?

4. Mix The Metal Paint

Mix The Metal Paint

Some metal paints can’t be used directly from the container, you must mix those before using them. Even if it doesn’t need to be mixed, you still must stir it so the oils and chemicals in the paint can be mixed. 

To mix it, use the manufacturer’s recommendations. To stir it, use a paint mixer or turning stick. Stir until it has a consistent color and fluidity. 

5. Apply The Paint

Apply The Metal Paint On The Wood

To apply metal paint, use a brush, sprayer, or roller. 

If you use a brush, dip the tip into the mixed paint. Don’t dip the brush too deep, as it can cause drips, splashes, and uneven application. 

To use a sprayer:

  1. Fill the holder with paint.
  2. Do a few spray tests on a dispensable material.
  3. If the flow and paint color are good, apply it.

To use a roller, dip the roller gently into the paint, then bring it out. While taking out the roller, allow the excess to drip back into the container before using it. This prevents allocating extra-thick layers that will lead to a longer drying time.

Note: You can use metal paint on outdoor wood because it is designed to withstand rust, heat, and moisture. So, it will protect the outdoor surface from all of these elements. However, before applying the paint, the surface must be dry and clean, and you must sand it. 

7. Leave The Paint To Dry

Leave The Paint To Dry

You must apply 2-3 coats of paint. Wait until one coat dries before applying the next one. On average, metal paints can take up to 24 hours to fully dry. 

Optionally, you can seal the finish with a sealant, such as polyurethane or spar varnish, to increase its durability.

Can You Use Wood Paint On Metal?

You shouldn’t use wood paint on metal because they aren’t formulated with protective additives and won’t protect it. Also, they don’t stick well to metal surfaces because they can’t penetrate it. 

Metal paints are UV-resistant, rust-resistant, and moisture-resistant, while wood paint isn’t. All these qualities help the paint to last on a metal surface and protect it. While wooden paints are advertised as moisture and rust-resistant, their resistance level is low and not good enough. 

If you use it on metal, the surface won’t be protected from rust, moisture, or other damage. It will get discolored, and rust will start to grow. Also, since the wood paint can’t still well to metal, it will start to peel off. 

However, you can use it if you seal the finish with a sealant. Sealants, such as polyurethane, will create a thick, glossy, and moisture-resistant layer over the finish and protect it

Final Words

You can apply metal paint over wooden surfaces, but you must prep the surface first. Once the surface is cleaned, primed, and sanded, you can apply it.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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