How To Apply Epoxy Paint to Metal 2021 (Guide)

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Overview

If you are looking to learn how to apply epoxy paint to metal, there are a couple of things you should be aware of before you start, to ensure a clean application and a long-lasting finish.

Epoxy paint does not adhere to metal well and as a result, you will need to prepare your metal surfaces prior to painting to ensure a proper bond.

This is a simple job that can be done by anyone as long as you stick to the instructions. Make sure you have a good brush, a proper cleaner/ degreaser like TSP, as well as a good epoxy.

To help, this article breaks down how to apply epoxy paint to metal surfaces. More specifically, this includes how to prepare your surface, how to prepare your epoxy, and how to apply epoxy metal paint so you can achieve a professional quality, peel-free paint job every time.

Picture of man applying epoxy paint to metal with respirator on

How to Apply Epoxy Paint to Metal

As mentioned above, a large portion of painting metal with epoxy is the preparation stage, ensuring that the metal surface has been properly cleaned and degreased prior to any painting occurring. 

The work you put in on the initial steps will have a large impact on the overall quality of your finish, and the epoxy’s bond to the metal.

1.  Clean the surface with TSP

You will want to ensure the surface of the metal is clean and free from any dirt, grease, dust or any other accumulated grime. An affordable and effective cleaning solution for this job is TSP. TSP acts as both a cleaner and degreaser removing even the toughest spots of dirt.

Once you have given the entire surface a thorough washing, let it fully dry.

2.  Sand the surface with a metal brush

Once the surface has been cleaned, you will want to remove any rust, to ensure your epoxy coat doesn’t flake off over time. This is typically done using a range of tools including a metal brush, sander, or pressure washer, depending on the scenario.

For most surface rust, you will want to use a sander or wire brush to remove as much as you can. Finally, you’ll want to utilize the pressure washer to remove any leftovers.

Once you are satisfied with the amount of rust removed and the cleanliness of the surface you can begin applying the etching primer.

3.  Apply etching primer ensuring it covers all areas

To ensure a proper epoxy bond with the metal surface, you will want to apply etching primer. This can be done with either a paint brush or paint sprayer. Apply the etching primer in even coats, ensuring you apply at least 2 coats, leaving time in between to ensure the surface dries.

If using direct-to-metal paint, this step can be skipped.

4.  Clean paint brush in hot water

Before preparing and applying the epoxy, ensure your brush or paint sprayer is clean. To do this, you can wash your brush under hot water to remove any remaining paints or solvents.

Alternatively, you could opt to purchase a new paint brush, and skip this step.

5.  Prepare the epoxy

We’re almost at the painting stage. Just before we begin applying epoxy to metal, we will want to properly prepare the epoxy. This will differ by manufacturer so ensure you follow any and all instructions provided with the epoxy you purchased.

With that being said, this typically involves stirring or shaking your epoxy in its container prior to filling your paint sprayer or paint tray. Some 2-part epoxy mixes may require additional preparation such as the adding of a catalyst, though these instances have become rarer with the advancement of direct to metal epoxies and paints.

6.  Apply epoxy to metal

With your epoxy and brush or paint sprayer ready, you can now begin to apply your epoxy metal paint. When applying the paint, ensure you apply light even coats across the entire surface, allowing enough time to dry between each coat.

If you are using a paint sprayer, you will want to stand approximately 1 – 1.5 meters away from your surface and spray in a wide motion, making sure each coat applied is a reasonable thickness.

Once you have completed at least 2 coats of epoxy metal paint, you will want to leave the surface for a minimum of 4 hours to dry, with a day being ideal. This will ensure your finish is mark free and thoroughly dried before anyone begins touching it.

Conclusion

Applying epoxy paint to a metal surface doesn’t have to be hard. With a few simple steps, you can apply a professional-quality finish that will last you years to come (environment permitting).

If you are still stuck or have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop a note below in the comment section. A member of the Toolboxadvice.com team will get back to you.

To help even further, we have also included some extra information to help you on your next project.

Epoxy Metal Paint: Tips and Tools 

Tools Needed

  • Wire brush 
  • Epoxy metal paint
  • Paint sprayer
  • Painters tape
  • Canvas drop cloths
  • Wooden stir stick
  • Sander, and or sand paper
  • 4-inch paint brush
  • Respirator (protection)
  • Etching primer
  • Pressure washer (optional)

Precautions

  • When sanding the metal surface, ensure you are wearing eye protection as well as a respirator to protect against shrapnel and dust. 
  • Ensure the area you are painting in is well ventilated and that you utilize a respirator to prevent fume inhalation.
  • When handling the etching primer, paint thinner, or heavy-duty cleaners, ensure you are wearing gloves and avoid direct contact with your skin.

Tips

  • In lieu of a paint sprayer, a brush or paint roller can be used.
  • Do not use a regular primer as it will not properly adhere to metal surfaces.
  • Give the epoxy an appropriate amount of time to dry, this is typically 5+ hours. 
  • Do not try to rush the surface preparation stages, if too much rust is left over, you could face peeling rather quickly.

Resources

Photo Credits

Canva, 2020

Ryan

Ryan

Ryan is a writer for ToolboxAdvice.com. He's been a hobbyist and painter for a long time, and now enjoys teaching others. His content primarly focuses on reviews and guides for painters and construction professionals.

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