5 Practical Tips for Using Acrylic Paint on Metal Surfaces
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


1. Choose the Right Acrylic Paint

2. Prepare the Metal Surface

3. Apply a Primer

4. Paint with Acrylics

5. Seal Your Work

So, you've been wondering, "Can you use acrylic paint on metal?" The answer is a resounding yes! Acrylic paint, with its amazing versatility, can indeed be used on a variety of surfaces, including metal. However, painting on metal requires a bit of know-how to ensure your masterpiece remains vibrant and adhered. Let's explore this in detail, starting with the critical first step - choosing the right acrylic paint.

1. Choose the Right Acrylic Paint

Not all acrylic paints are created equal, and choosing the right one for your metal surface is key to achieving the best results. Here are some points to consider:

Quality of Paint

Opt for high-quality acrylic paints. They may cost a bit more, but they have higher pigment density, which provides better coverage and longevity. Brands like Golden, Liquitex, and Winsor & Newton have been trusted by artists for years.

Type of Paint

Acrylic paints come in various types: heavy body, fluid, and craft. Heavy body acrylics, which are thick and buttery, and fluid acrylics, which have a consistency similar to heavy cream, work well on metal surfaces. Craft acrylics, while cheaper, may not provide the same level of coverage and durability.

Color Selection

When selecting colors, consider the final look you desire. Metallic acrylic paints can give your project a shimmery, reflective finish, while matte paints will offer a more subdued look. Remember, you can always mix colors to create your unique shades.

Now that you've got the right paint, you're one step closer to bringing your vision to life on that metal surface. But before the paint meets the metal, there's another important step — preparing the metal surface. But we'll delve into that in the next section.

2. Prepare the Metal Surface

Now that we've chosen the right acrylic paint, it's time to get that metal surface ready. A well-prepared surface ensures that the paint adheres properly and lasts longer. Here are the steps you should follow:

Clean the Surface

Any dirt or rust on the metal surface can interfere with the paint's adhesion. Use a mild detergent and a scrub brush to clean the surface thoroughly. Allow the metal to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Sand the Surface

A smooth surface might seem ideal for painting, but acrylic paint adheres better to a slightly rough surface. Use fine-grit sandpaper to create a slightly textured surface, ensuring the paint has something to grip onto. Remember to wipe away any dust before moving on.

Wipe with a Cloth

After sanding, wipe the surface with a tack cloth. This cloth, slightly sticky to the touch, picks up and holds onto the dust and small particles that your sanding step may have missed.

With the metal surface now clean and prepped, it's ready to take on the paint. But wait - there's one more step before we break out the acrylics. It's time to apply a primer, which we'll cover in the next section.

3. Apply a Primer

Before you dive right in with your acrylics, there's an important step to ensure your paint job lasts: applying a primer. Why is this important? Well, a primer not only provides a good surface for the paint to adhere to but also helps to seal the metal and prevent rust. Here's how to do it:

Choose the Right Primer

Not all primers are created equal. For metal surfaces, you'll want to use a primer that specifically says it's for metal. One popular choice is Rust-Oleum's Stops Rust line of primers, which are designed to bond tightly to metal to provide a topcoat that lasts.

Apply the Primer

Now it's time to apply the primer. Use a foam brush to evenly apply the primer across the surface of the metal. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. Once applied, you'll need to let the primer dry fully before you can move on to painting.

Patience is key here. Rushing this step could lead to your paint peeling or chipping down the line. So, let's give the primer the time it needs to dry. In the meantime, let's move on to the fun part – painting with acrylics!

4. Paint with Acrylics

Finally, the moment you've been waiting for: can you use acrylic paint on metal? Yes, absolutely! Now that you've properly prepared your metal surface and applied your primer, it's time to bring your project to life with some color. Let's dive right in.

Select the Right Acrylic Paint

When it comes to choosing your acrylic paint, you have a lot of options. If you're looking for an affordable, high-quality option, Liquitex BASICS Acrylic Paint is a great choice. It's versatile, easy to use, and comes in a wide range of vibrant colors. Remember, the quality of your paint can make a big difference in the final result of your project, so choose wisely.

Apply the Acrylic Paint

The method of applying acrylic paint on metal isn't much different than painting on any other surface. Start by applying a base coat of your chosen color, using smooth, even strokes. Try to keep your brush strokes going in the same direction for a seamless look. Allow the first layer to dry before applying additional coats. Unlike other paint types, you can apply multiple layers of acrylic paint to achieve the desired color and coverage.

Remember, painting is an art, not a science. So, have fun with it. Experiment with different brush strokes, mix colors, create textures. The sky's the limit!

5. Seal Your Work

So, you've taken the leap and discovered that you can use acrylic paint on metal. Your project is looking fantastic, but you're not quite finished yet. The final, yet equally important step is to seal your work. Let's find out how.

Why You Should Seal Acrylic Paint on Metal

Sealing your acrylic paint job is a vital step in preserving the longevity of your metal artwork. A sealant will protect your colorful masterpiece from the elements, prevent fading and chipping, and give it a finished, professional look. Think of it as a protective coat that keeps your hard work from wearing off anytime soon.

Choose the Right Sealant

When it comes to choosing a sealant for your project, consider a product like the Krylon Clear Acrylic Coating. It's easy to use and dries quickly, providing a clear, protective finish. Remember, the sealant should be clear and flexible with a hint of UV resistance to protect your work from the sun.

Apply the Sealant

Applying the sealant is as easy as pie. Simply spray it evenly over your painted metal surface, ensuring that all painted areas are covered. Hold the can about a foot away from the surface for the best results. Let it dry completely before exposing the metal to the outdoors or heavy use.

And voila! Your metal artwork is now ready to withstand the test of time. So, can you use acrylic paint on metal? With these practical tips, you sure can. Happy painting!

If you're excited about utilizing acrylic paint on metal surfaces and want to further refine your skills, don't miss the workshop 'Improve Your Acrylic Painting Skills' by Rachel Christopoulos. This workshop will provide you with valuable tips and techniques to enhance your acrylic painting abilities and help you create stunning artwork on various surfaces.