How to Keep Spray Paint from Chipping off Metal


Last updated: June 2, 2023

It’s disheartening to see some paint peeling off a recently …

How to keep spray paint from chipping off metal

It’s disheartening to see some paint peeling off a recently concluded project. However, when you know how to keep spray paint from chipping off metal, you’ll know how to repair and stop the damage.

Chipping paint can result from different causes, and each case is always unique. This article will discuss some common causes of chipping paint and how to prevent spray paint from chipping off metal.

We’ll also give you tried-and-tested tips for spray painting metal and other helpful information.

Sound interesting? Read to the end for the details.

How to keep spray paint from chipping off metal

You can keep spray paint from chipping by prepping the surface well and using the correct primer. Also, ensure that you’re using high-quality spray paint meant for metal surfaces and keeping the paint coats light and even. It also helps to seal the spray paint using a durable top coat sealer.

Why does spray paint chip off metal?

Paint may chip off metal if there’s an inadequate surface preparation or adhesion problems between the primer, base coat, and top coat. You’re likely to experience flaking paint if the spray paint was applied in thick layers or if the paint wasn’t sealed with a protective topcoat.

This shows that there’s never a single reason that cuts across whenever paint peels off a metal surface.

However, we’ll explore the depths of the common causes of paint chips on metal surfaces. These reasons will help you narrow down what caused the flaking paint on your metal surfaces.

Inadequate surface preparation

Every paint job relies on a thoroughly prepped surface. Expect paint to start flaking soon if you paint a surface without removing all the rust, loose paint, dirt or grease.

Adhesion challenges between the primer, paint, and top coat

Durable spray paint on metal means one which adheres well to the preceding product. For example, when using a primer, base coat, and top coat designed for metal surfaces.

However, the paint will start chipping if you mix the products. For example, using latex primer and oil-based paint or products meant for surfaces like wood on metal.

Thick layers of spray paint coat

Spray paint lasts longer when applied in thin coats. Therefore, if the paint is chipping off your metal furniture, you may have used thick coats of spray paint.

Unsealed spray paint

You may have done everything right, from the prep to the painting stage. But if you don’t seal the painted metal with a protective clear coat, the surface may give in to the wear and tear from its surrounding.

Uncured painted metal leading to peeling paint

Another reason paint may fall off a metal surface leads back to the painting stage. Since metal is a non-porous material, it needs ample time for the paint to dry completely. It can only hold up for a short time if the paint doesn’t get quite dry between coats or cure before use.

Spray paint job on a wet/cold metal surface

Painting a cold or wet metal surface will cause the paint to bubble and start chipping off. This is because wet paint needs a dry surface to bond with.

How to keep spray paint from chipping off metal surfaces

Now that you know what causes paint to chip off metal, it’s only logical to want to have ways to prevent it.

In a nutshell, you can keep spray paint from chipping by priming the surface, using a compatible paint, and sealing the paint with a protective top coat sealer.

In addition, remember to layer thin coats of paint only after the previous coat dries. Also, let the painted metal cure fully before putting it to use.

We’ll discuss these preventative measures in more depth and elaborate what needs to be done before, during, and after the paint job.

Use a primer

A primer is a crucial part of painting a metal surface. It conditions the surface and helps the paint adhere to the metal. Consider this the holy grail of spray painting metal. A primer helps keep paint from chipping. However, if the paint chips eventually, only a tiny amount will fall off.

Use high-quality metallic paint.

One of the ways to have your painted surface stand the test of time is by using premium-grade metallic paints. These paints are designed to stick and last on a metal surface. Plus, they are relatively inexpensive and yet a worthy investment, considering the duration they will serve you.

You already know that using paint meant for wood or concrete won’t hold up on metal.

Seal the painted metal surface

Paint needs all the help it can get to stay put on a metallic surface. Therefore, sealing the painted surface is another crucial step in keeping paint from chipping off metal. You can use clear coat sealants like polyurethane, polycrylic, lacquer, and sometimes, even wax.

This step is even more important if the metal surface is outdoors or experiences heavy traffic.

Follow the application instructions.

Sometimes user error is the leading cause of paint chipping off metal. That’s why every product comes with a detailed instructions manual.

Stick to what the manufacturer recommends regarding the amount of product you need, how to apply it, and the product’s drying time. This is especially useful if you’re new to the spray painting world.

How can I stop paint chipping on metal?

Paint would chip off a metal surface even if it were done by a professional. Age and the elements will eventually cause the paint to deteriorate. If you notice signs of paint peeling on the surface, here’s something you can do to stop it from worsening.

How to keep spray paint from chipping off metal.

Apply a clear coat of either polyurethane or lacquer sealant. Spray a coat or two of this top coat sealant. Ensure to coat the entire metal surface, even if the chipping paint only covers a small area. Let the product dry and cure. This will hold down the paint and stop it from chipping off metal.

Alternatively, you can stop chipping paint by coating it with clear epoxy resin. Once it dries and cures, your painted metal will last you a decent number of years.

Tips for spray painting metal surfaces

Spray painting metal surface is a job any skill level can hack. Follow these painting tips, especially if this is your first encounter with spray paints. You’ll make yourself proud when you create magic with your spray paint project.

Always wear gloves, a respirator mask, and goggles before you begin painting.

Prepare the Work Area

Spray paint can be messy, so it’s essential to shield the surrounding floor, walls, and anything you don’t want to catch paint overspray. Use drop cloths to protect the place and secure them with masking tape.

If you’re painting a piece of metal furniture, you can make a makeshift painting booth using cardboard and plastic sheeting. You can also buy one here.

However, if you’re painting a large area like a fence, ensure the wind is calm and the weather is favourable.

Clean the Metal

Start by removing any loose paint and rust using a sturdy wire brush or steel wool. You can get the same results if you sand using an electric drill with a sanding pad or disc attachment

Next, clean the metal surface using mild detergents, water, and a sponge to remove dust and dirt. Utilise a scrub brush and more detergent to remove stubborn greasy grime. In case of mould or mildew, clean it off using a commercial cleaner or a bleach and water solution.

Let the cleaned metal air dry completely.

Prime the metal surface

Apply a light coat of primer, coating every inch of the surface. A primer will hold the paint to the metal and help it resist chipping. This product will also keep the metal from rusting prematurely.

Ensure you’re using a suitable primer for the metal surface whose composition will blend with the paint you intend to use. For example, use a water-based primer if you intend to use water-based spray paint. The same goes for oil-based products.

Apply thin coats of spray paint

First, ensure the paint tip of your paint sprayer is clear of paint and other contaminants. Next, shake the paint can for a hot minute before spraying. The shaking process mixes the paint pigments evenly, ensuring you get even coverage when you paint metal.

Stand at least 12 inches from the object and angle the paint sprayer at 90 degrees with the metal. Start spraying off the edge while gradually moving to coat the metal surface.

Spray a thin coat of paint; wait for it to dry before re-coating. You can layer multiple thin coats, but never apply one thick paint coat; it will bubble peel off prematurely.

Apply top coat sealer

It’s in your best interest to seal your labor-of-love with a durable clear coat. This can either be polyurethane or lacquer. This last step helps to keep the spray paint from chipping off metal.

What’s the best spray paint for metal surfaces?

The best spray paint for metal surfaces is Rust-Oleum protective enamel. The Rust-oleum brand is a household name for spray paints and other finishes. This protective enamel is versatile, rust-resistant, and easy to use after prepping and priming the metal.

This spray paint has a thick consistency yet applies easily and evenly on interior and exterior surfaces. Although this paint takes a while to dry, it guarantees long-lasting results. It lasts even longer when coated with a clear sealant.

Will a clear coat stop the paint from chipping?

Ideally, a clear coat protects the painted surface and prevents chipping. It may prolong the paint’s lifespan but not completely stop it from peeling. Therefore, if the paint is actively chipping underneath, the clear coat will fall off alongside the paint. The clear coat sticks to the paint but can’t penetrate the metal surface.

FAQ – How to prevent spray paint from chipping off metal

Should I seal my spray paint?

Sealing a spray-painted surface is one of the best ways to guarantee a longer lifespan. The advantage is you can get a clear coat to bring out the sheen level you desire. For example, when using spray polyurethane, you can choose between high-gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and matte finish for your spray paint.

Can you seal spray paint on metal?

Yes, you can seal paint on metal using a clear-coat sealant available in a spray can or brush-on paint container. Sealing spray-painted metal will protect it against rust and corrosion, particularly if the surface is constantly exposed to water, moisture, and other forms of wear and tear.

Can Paint chips be corrected?

You can repair paint chips using different methods. First, buff the scratches with fine grit sandpaper and then touch them with paint. If the chip covers a small part, use touch-up pens to correct it.

Another method involves cleaning the chips with soapy water before polishing them with an automotive rubbing compound.

Does primer prevent chipping?

A primer can prevent paint from chipping off metal or any other surface. Primer coats the surface and seals off any rust or contaminants. As a result, it promotes paint adhesion to the metal and reduces the chances of paint chipping.

Does clear coat help paint from chipping?

Yes, clear coats can help prevent paint from chipping and peeling. You can apply polyurethane, polycrylic, and lacquer to your paint projects. These clear sealants will shield the paint from external damage from water, scratches, and other wear and tear.

Does wax prevent paint chips?

Using wax on your car will help prevent paint chips. This is because wax lubricates the surface and reduces the friction on the painted surface. So when debris and other paint-chipping objects come in contact with the wax, they’ll slide off without damaging the part.

Final thoughts on how to keep spray paint from chipping off metal

Besides learning how to keep spray paint from chipping off metal, we’ve also identified what causes paint chipping and how to prevent it and shared painting tips to guarantee excellent results.

If you remember anything from this article, it is that priming the metal, using suitable spray paint, and sealing the paint are key practices that help prevent paint from falling off the metal surface.

If you found this article helpful, feel free to share it with whoever you think would benefit from the tips shared.

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