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Does Acrylic Paint Work on Metal?

does acrylic paint work on metal

Does acrylic paint work on metal? Technically, you can use acrylic paint on metal, but you have to consider certain conditions. Essentially, you can use any kind of paint on metal, but only if you prepare the surface prior to painting. What does this mean?

The nice thing about acrylic paint is that it has bright colors and they are also much cheaper compared to other kinds of paint, which makes it one of the most ideal types of paint to use.

However, painting it straight on the metal surface can lead to disaster. This article will teach you the things that you need to know about successfully using acrylic paints on metal surfaces.

So Is Acrylic Paint Compatible with Metal? Yes you can do it, but..

If you will be using the acrylic paint directly on the metal surface, many things could go wrong, including but not limited to the following:

The metal could rust

metal could rust

The problem with using acrylic paint straight on metal is that it could cause the metal underneath to rust. The reason behind this is that most acrylic paints are water-based, meaning the pigment is suspended in a bit of water.

It also means that if the paint does not dry quickly and thoroughly enough, the moisture left underneath the surface of the paint can cause the metal surface to start rusting.

The paint would peel

Another reason why you should not apply acrylic paint on bare metal is that it will not have a strong enough hold. The paint might look fine when you first brush or spray it on the metal surface.

However, once the paint dries, you will find cracks on the surface, and the paint will start to chip or peel off in sheets. This would usually happen within a month of painting, so you would essentially be wasting paint and effort.

The peeling will happen even faster if you are placing the painted item outdoors where the air is a lot more humid. When the moisture trapped underneath the acrylic paint starts to evaporate, it would cause the paint to blister and lift off the metal surface.

Not only will the humidity keep the paint from drying as fast as it should but it will also cause the metal underneath to rust even faster. So, technically, you can use acrylic paint on metal, but you will not be able to get the same kind of results that you would get if you properly prepared the surface.

How Can You Paint Metal with Acrylic?

The only way that you can successfully paint metal using acrylic paint is by first preparing the surface that you will be painting.

First, you have to strip any paint that is on the metal surface if there is any. You can use a chemical paint stripper or sand the paint off the metal. If there is no paint on the metal surface, you can scuff up the surface using a bit of coarse sandpaper. This will give you a surface that is more capable of holding onto the paint.

After you scuff up the metal surface, you need to spray at least two layers of primer. The primer will not only make the surface a lot easier to paint with acrylic but also protect the metal surface from rusting. After the layers of primer dry, you can sand it a bit more to make the acrylic adhere much better on the surface.

Only after preparing the surface will you be able to start painting it with acrylic paint. You can also put multiple coats of paint to make the color pop more. In addition, if you will be placing the acrylic painted item outside, then you probably should apply a coating or two of paint sealant.

The sealant will protect the acrylic paint against the elements, not just the rain, but also from the ultraviolet light that comes from sunlight. Just like when you are applying the acrylic paint, you will need to sand in between coats to make sure that the sealant would adhere properly.


Does acrylic paint work on metal? Technically, yes it does, but it will not be quite as good as you think it would be. The only way that you can effectively paint metal with acrylic is to prepare the surface properly.

Yes, it will take a bit more work to prepare the metal surface properly for painting, but the results will be much better than when you don’t. This does not just apply to acrylic paints. You will also need to do this with all other types of paint.

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