Most Durable Spray Paint for Metal ( Researched and Reviewed)

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Last updated: August 31, 2023

Discover the Most Long-Lasting Spray Paints for Metal Surfaces in this Our Comprehensive Paint Guide.

Most durable spray paint for metal.

Whether you’re sealing a grill against rust or updating an old piece of metal furniture, spray paint provides a quick and easy way to get an even finish. Besides adding color to the metal, it offers excellent adhesion and higher durability. But that is only when you choose the right spray paint. 

Even though most spray paint work on metal, not all can stand the test of time. Some may peel, crack or even swell up as soon as they are exposed to harsh conditions. 

So, what is the most durable spray paint for metal?

That is exactly what we will reveal in this post. After much research and testing, we’ve finally compiled the top eight products that do not only adhere to metal but provide the best protection from rust and the elements.

Can You Use Spray Paint for Metal?

Yes, you can. Spray paint is highly durable on metal if you choose the right product. This could either be a specialty or general-purpose spray paint that works for metal. With any product, proper surface preparation is essential to achieve the best possible finish. 

What Spray Paint Works Best on Metal?

When spray painting metal, the best choice is oil-based or hard-wearing enamel paint. Not only does it provide the best-in-class adhesion, but it’s also the most durable. 

With proper prep, you can also use water-based acrylic spray paint, but oil-based enamel is generally better, especially for exterior surfaces. 

Though oil paint takes longer to dry, it is highly durable and will resist stains and abrasion. It is also good at hiding flaws or imperfections in the material, though this depends on the type of finish. 

In addition, oil-based paint performs better at lower temperatures. For metal surfaces that are constantly exposed to high heat, you might want to use a high-heat spray paint.

How Durable Is Spray Paint on Metal?

The durability of spray paint depends on a few factors, such as the brand, formula, thickness of the coating, weather conditions, and how well it was applied.  

We’ve already established that oil-based enamel is the best spray paint for metal. But how long does it last? 

Well, you can expect a service life of 5 to 10 years from a paint job done with oil-based enamel. On the other hand, with latex and water-based spray paint, you can expect 2-5 years and 1-3 years lifespan.  

Things to Consider When Buying Spray Paint for Metal

1. Durability

Durability is extremely important, especially if you’re going to use the paint outdoors or in an area frequently exposed to high heat or traffic. Ideally, you want to ensure the paint is UV- and water-resistant. Otherwise, it would peel or fade sooner. Also, since you’re working on metal, you want something that offers rust protection.

There’s no sure way to know a product will be durable unless you use it. But you can still check the label. You want to look out for terms such as “outdoors,” “rust-protective,” “long-lasting,” “durable,” etc.

2. Drying Time

If you desire the most durable spray paint, you should care less about how long it takes to dry. However, if you’re in a hurry, then you might consider the drying time.  

As earlier indicated, you can use either water-based acrylic or oil-based enamel spray paint on metal. Hard-wearing enamel paints offer the most durability but take a little longer to dry. Water-based acrylic, on the other hand, dries faster, but it is not as durable as enamel.

3. Primer or no primer

When spray painting metal, you would usually have to coat the surface with a primer before applying paint, especially stainless steel surfaces like Yeti cups. While this helps the paint to adhere better, it can be time-consuming. As a result, some manufacturers have primer mixed into the base paint to save time.Β 

This means that if you decide to use such products, you won’t need to apply a separate coat of primer. 

7 Most Durable Spray Paint for Metal Surfaces

1. Overall Best – Rust-Oleum 7579838 Enamel Spray Paint

The Rust-Oleum High-Performance Enamel Spray features a high-output tip that provides 50 percent faster coverage. The Any-Angle Spray is also capable of paint in all directions. 

But it’s not even these that make it the most durable metal spray paint. It’s the fact that it’s an enamel oil-based paint. Enamel paints offer the strongest and hardest finish, which is perfect if you’re looking for something that will last long. 

This Rust-Oleum enamel spray paint offers industrial-grade durability, which sets it apart from the rest. It is suitable for indoor and outdoor projects and works on various materials, including metal (both ferrous and non-ferrous), wood, concrete, and masonry. 

On metals, it also provides rust protection and withstands chipping, abrasion, and fading. 

Unlike most oil-based products, it dries to touch in only 15 minutes and recoats within an hour. This allows for quick project completion in case you’re in a hurry.

For previously painted surfaces, make sure to sand before applying light coats of the paint. It’s usually ready to handle in an hour or two. 

Once dry, the paint is weatherproof and doesn’t wash off or change color even in the rain. 

Each aerosol can is 15 oz and covers up to 14 square feet. 

It’s worth mentioning that the pressure on the nozzle can be a little too strong, which may leave big blobs of paint on your project. So, try to get some practice with it before using it in your main project. Also, shake well and test spray on some cardboard to prevent sputtering.

For beautiful results, follow the directions on the can, and don’t rush the job! 

What We Like πŸ‘

  • High-output spray tip for faster coverage.
  • Sprays at any angle.
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Provides a tough attractive finish that withstands wethering.
  • Ideal for heavy-duty areas

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • Really strong odor.
  • Expected more paint in the can.

2. Best All-round Paint – Krylon K02732007 Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint

The Krylon Fusion works not only for metals but also wood, PVC, tile, and even plastic. It’s an all-in-one spray paint, which means it doesn’t require sanding and priming but still provides the best-in-class adhesion. 

It comes in various colors and finishes, but our main interest is the black satin finish. This option is great because it provides a sleek finish to your project with some sheen. It’s also very durable and easy to clean. 

But the best part is the maximum rust protection it provides. This means you can use the paint both indoors and outdoors. 

As earlier indicated, the product includes a built-in primer, so you don’t need to apply a separate coat of primer. Sanding is optional, but we highly recommend it, especially if the surface is glossy. Sanding will help the paint stick better and ensure a smoother finish. 

The aerosol is very easy to use. Thanks to its wide tip, it sprays comfortably and in all directions, even upside down. It comes out smoothly and doesn’t clog like most cans as long as you shake it every now and then. 

The paint dries to touch in 20 minutes. However, recoat should be done after 2 hours or 2 days. Use several light coats to avoid any drip or runs. Also, avoid spraying too close to the surface. 

Ideally, the surface should be dry before painting.

Each spray can is the standard size (12 oz.) and covers up to 25 square feet. The paint is available in several colors and finishes. 

Overall, we are satisfied with the quality of the paint. It’s a great way to update your metal furniture while adding an extra layer of protection. 

What We Like πŸ‘

  • Requires minimum prep work.
  • Dries quickly.
  • Great coverage.
  • Big button spray tip to reduce finger fatigue.
  • Suitable for various surfaces.
  • Easy to use.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • A bit pricey.

3. Best for Galvanized Metal – Rust-Oleum Professional Cold Galvanizing Compound Spray Paint

The Cold Galvanizing Paint from Rust-Oleum is another easy way to give your furniture a quick refresh. It works well for old or weathered metal surfaces, whether you need to update or recolor them. 

It is particularly targeted towards galvanized finishes, wrought iron, and spot-welded metal, as well as chain link fences and gutters. 

As the name suggests, this is a galvanizing spray, so it contains a lot of zinc. Specifically, it’s 93 percent pure zinc, which makes it perfect for renewing weathered galvanized surfaces. It bonds well and provides adequate rust protection.

The paint comes in a 20 oz bottle and covers up to 12 square feet. 

For the best results, good prep work is required. Ensure there’s no dirt or grease on the surface. Besides cleaning with a soapy solution, you can remove oils with a degreaser. The surface must be clean and dry before you apply the paint. 

Depending on the size of your project, you will need at least 2-3 coatings for good coverage and adequate rust protection.

The drying time is 30 minutes, which allows for quick project completion. 

We recommend waiting a few days for the paint to completely cure before use. This is important to prevent leaving scratches on the object. We found that the paint hardens as it dries. 

Luckily, you don’t need a top coat for this product. However, if you wish to apply one, it should be a water-based product or an oil-based product if you use a water-based primer. 

Overall, this is easily one of the toughest spray paint for galvanized metal. For the price, we can’t recommend it enough. 

What We Like πŸ‘

  • Provides rust protection.
  • Easy to use (perfect for beginners)
  • Very affordable.
  • Perfect for old weathered surfaces.
  • Reliable quality.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • Looks like a dull gray primer initially.

4. Best High Heat Spray Paint for Metal – Rutland Products 80 Hi-Temp Spray Paint

For metal surfaces often exposed to heat, you might want to consider a high-heat spray paint like the Rutland Hi-Temp. 

The black matte paint is specifically designed for metals that are exposed to high heat conditions. These include items like your stove, fire screens, chimney cap, furnace, smoker, and more. It can withstand temperatures up to 1200 degrees F with no peels or blisters. 

In addition to its high heat resistance, the paint also protects from moisture, snow, rain, and other extreme weather changes. 

The flat color looks just perfect on items that don’t need any shine and help to hide flaws on the surface. It bonds well to most metals. Some good examples are cast iron, steel, aluminum, galvanized steel, and more. 

Luckily, the paint has low VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so it’s not overpowering as most spray paint unless used indoors. So, ensure your workspace is well-ventilated. Ideally, you want to work outdoors.

You don’t need a primer to use the paint, which is a big plus as it reduces your prep work. However, ensure you remove all rust and dirt on the surface before you start painting. 

Follow the instructions on the can to apply the paint. It’s best to use thin coats to avoid drips and runs. Also, don’t hold the spray too close to the workpiece. 

Only use the paint on the exterior of the metal items you wish to paint. Like most spray paints, it is not food safe, so don’t use it on areas that come into contact with food.

What We Like πŸ‘

  • Doesn’t require a primer.
  • Fast-drying.
  • Resistant to UV and high heat.
  • Protects from moisture.
  • No peeling or blistering.
  • Beautiful flat color.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • Not food safe.

5. Rust-Oleum 2X Cover Ultra Cover

The Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch is another versatile spray paint that provides long-lasting protection for metals. But like most general-purpose spray paints, it works for various surfaces, including wood, plastic, masonry, plaster, and of course, metal. 

A major highlight of the paint is its Double Cover Technology, which allows it to provide twice as much coverage as most spray paints. This allows you to work at a faster rate and complete the project sooner without sacrificing quality.

We found it easy to use. It goes on smoothly with no drips and leaves an ultra-matte finish with excellent hide. This makes it perfect for metals that are not particularly flawless.

Although the paint is oil-based, it doesn’t smell as strong as most spray paints. However, it still contains a significant amount of VOCs, so you should use it with care. 

An outdoor location would be an ideal workspace. Ensure you wear a breathing mask.

The paint includes a primer, so there’s no need to apply a separate coat of primer. The wide spray tip allows for continuous spraying without finger fatigue. 

It’s a good idea to shake the can vigorously before use. This ensures the content is properly mixed. To prevent drips, use several light coats instead of one heavy one. After use, always clean the nozzle to prevent clogging. 

The paint dries to touch in 20 minutes and covers up to 12 square feet per can. 

Since it’s oil-based, it has a noticeable smell. So it’s best to use it outdoors. 

What We Liked πŸ‘

  • Great value for money.
  • Perfect outdoor spray paint.
  • Comes in an array of colors and finishes.
  • Features a comfortable spray tip to reduce finger fatigue.
  • Easy to apply.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • Nozzle easily gets clogged when you don’t clean it.

6. Rust-Oleum 7274830 Stops Rust Metallic Spray Paint

The Rust-Oleum Stops Rust is another oil-based formula that provides durability without sacrificing color and quality. It’s one of the few options that contain actual metallic flakes, which is responsible for its bright shine.

When applied correctly, it provides a fine, durable protective coating with excellent rust protection and is resistant to chipping, fading, and abrasion.

The paint goes on smoothly and evenly with no dripping issues. The comfort tip and wide finger pad make it pretty easy to use without finger fatigue. 

With the right techniques, it provides good coverage to whatever you’re painting. Specifically, it covers up to 15 square feet and dries to touch in 20 minutes. 

Since it’s an oil-based spray paint, the smell is very strong when drying. So, it’s best used outside where there’s good ventilation. 

Again, multiple light coats are better than one heavy coat. For the best results, apply two separate coats of the best primer for metal and allow two hours of dry time between each coat. The drying time might differ depending on the primer you choose but ensure the primer dries completely before layering on the paint. 

Besides antique brass, the paint offers other color options and finishes. The metallic finish is perfect for metals; it looks like matte but has a sheen. So, it’s perfect for hiding imperfections while still making the metal pop. Choose gloss if you want something more shiny. 

Overall, this is a good finish spray paint for properly primed metal surfaces. It will not get rid of rust but will prevent it. It comes highly recommended. 

What We Like πŸ‘

  • Doesn’t splatter or drip when used correctly.
  • Perfect for preventing rust.
  • Easy to use.
  • It’s great for the price.
  • Offers weather protection.
  • Suitable for different surfaces.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • Takes a long time to cure.

7. Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Metallic Spray Paint

As the name suggests, the Rust-Oleum All-Surface Metallic Spray Paint works on a wide range of surfaces, including metal. It’s oil-based, which makes it highly durable, especially for outdoor items. 

The paint provides excellent adhesion and is resistant to chipping and fading. It also offers rust protection, which ensures a longer-lasting finish. Besides metal, you can apply it on wood, wicker, vinyl, plastic, and so on. 

Since the paint is oil-based, it has a strong odor, so be sure to use it in an area with good ventilation. Ideally, outdoors! 

Like most Rust-Oleum paints, the spray offers a wide color selection. We’ve picked the oil-rubbed bronze and metallic finish. This provides a beautiful, rich, shimmering look, perfect for metallic surfaces. It also helps to hide flaws in the material. 

You can choose from other colors and styles if you want to produce a different look.

Like the other options, it features a wide spray tip which allows you to spray for long periods without finger fatigue. The Any Angle Spray Technology makes it possible to spray in all directions.

The paint dries to touch in 30 minutes but takes up to a week to fully cure. Each can cover up to 15 square feet, which is decent. 

To ensure even spraying, always shake the can for a minute or two before you start painting. Keep your hand moving, and don’t stay in one spot for long to avoid drips. 

You can find more information on how to use the spray on the label. 

It’s worth mentioning that the smell is strong, which is expected since it’s oil-based. So, ensure you use it outside the house. 

Overall, if you want something durable you can use for different surfaces, then this is it. It adheres well to metal and is suitable for both indoor and out use. 

What We Like πŸ‘

  • Comes in different colors.
  • Provides rust and UV protection.
  • It can be used on interior and exterior surfaces.
  • Sprays in all directions, even upside down.
  • Doesn’t chip or fade easily.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • Has a strong smell.

8. Best Combination Spray for Metal: Krylon Colormaxx Spray Paint

We believe the Krylon COLORmaxx is the best paint and primer combination for metal out. So, it’s ideal for DIYers who want to reduce prep time without compromising the quality of their work. 

The paint doesn’t only adhere well but also maintains its color vibrancy. It provides rust protection, which makes it ideal for metal objects that are used outdoors. 

Besides metal, you can also use it on wood, ceramic, wood, most plastics, plaster, and even glass. 

We found the can very easy to handle. The wide spray tip provides comfort and allows you to spray at any angle. 

The paint dries to touch in 2o minutes and can be handled in an hour. Factors such as your local weather and the thickness of the coating will affect drying time. For the best result, spray in temperatures between 55-75 degrees and low humidity (below 60 percent). 

It’s best to use multiple light coats rather than just one heavy coat. You can check the label for more info about the drying time and recoat window.

Each aerosol can is 12 oz and can cover up to 25 square feet.

Since the paint is oil-based, it has a strong smell. So you would want to use it outside. Don’t worry; the smell dissipates as it dries. 

Make sure you have a paint thinner or similar solvent close by for cleanup.

The paint comes in an array of colors, so you’re not limited to one color option. I personally prefer the ivory gloss as it looks good on metal. It leaves a fine, off-white color with some sheen. 

What We Like πŸ‘

  • It includes built-in primer.
  • Excellent coverage
  • Provides rust protection.
  • Works for different materials.
  • Comfortable spraying in all direction.

What Could Improve πŸ‘Ž

  • You might find it hard to remove the cap.

How To Spray Paint Metal Correctly

Now that you’ve chosen a spray paint, it’s time to start working. To use any spray paint, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This might slightly differ depending on the brand and metal you’re painting. 

Here’s the general procedure:

Clean the object

Dirt and grease on the metal surface can prevent the paint from adhering well. So, the first thing you should do is to ensure the surface is clean and dry. 

To clean the metal, you can use warm soapy water. Apply it with a clean rag and rinse with fresh water when done. 

Large surfaces can be hosed down, or pressure washed. 

Remove rust and old paint

Once the surface dries, get a wire brush and scrape off rust and old paint (if you’re applying a new color). Avoid using too much force on the brush so you don’t scrap off the metal along with the rust.

For better results, you can dip the brush into a cleaning agent like vinegar. Besides dissolving rust, vinegar also promotes paint adhesion.

After scrubbing, add 2 to 3 drops of liquid detergent in clean water, dip a clean rag into it, and use it to wipe off any rust residue on the metal object. 

Allow it to air dry. 

Apply primer

If the paint you’re using already includes a primer, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you will need to apply a separate coat of primer to prepare the metal for painting. 

Primer acts as a base coat and helps the paint to adhere better. 

Apply the primer according to the instructions on the label. One or two coats of primer are usually recommended. 

Start painting 

Once the primer dries, apply your preferred paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember to shake the can before use. 

Hold it 6-12 inches away from the surface to prevent pooling. Spray in long sweeping motion using short spurts. Apply two or more light coats depending on the object you’re painting. 

Allow the paint to cure fully before use. This can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days. 

Apply a sealant (optional)

Once the paint is completely dry, you can apply a clear coat or sealant for additional protection. Sealing prevents spray paint from chipping off metal. This step is completely optional and should only be considered if the object will be exposed to sunlight, heat, or moisture. 

Tips for Spray Painting Metal Surfaces for Increased Durability

  • Before you start painting, make sure you’re well-protected. Wear a respirator or mask to protect your lungs, and cover your hands with gloves. If you’re using a rotary tool to grind away rust, using earplugs would be helpful.

  • Also, choose a well-ventilated space to work. Most spray paint releases toxic fumes, which can be harmful when inhaled for long periods. 

  • Always clean the nozzle every time you use the paint, even if it’s for a few seconds. This will ensure it doesn’t get clogged when next you want to use it. 

  • Surface preparation is everything when it comes to painting metals. So, don’t skip this step. Otherwise, the final result will not be good. Make sure the surface is clean and dry and doesn’t have any flaws. 

  • The best way to apply spray paint is in a continuous sweeping motion. Spray back and forth, overlapping. 

  • Make sure your hand is moving before you push down the trigger. Likewise, release the button before you stop sweeping over the project. 

  • Spray from different angles to get a more complete and even coverage. Limiting yourself to one direction may leave patches on the final project.

  • Use light coats of paint to speed up drying and avoid drips on the project. It’s also a good idea to spray short spurts instead of a constant stream.

  • If you’re applying primer separately, make sure it’s compatible with the paint. 

  • Don’t handle the object until it’s completely dry. If you touch it too early, you can leave fingerprints on the paint job, which can mess up the look when it finally dries.   

  • Always do a test spray on a scrap material before painting the main item. This way, you can be sure the aerosol has no issues, and the color looks as expected. 

FAQs – Best Spray Paints for Metal

Do you need a primer to spray paint metal?

A primer is generally needed when spray painting metal to ensure proper adhesion and even coverage. However, if the spray paint you’re using already includes primer, you can skip the priming step.

How many coats of spray paint are needed on metal?

For maximum coverage and even finish, applying at least 2 light coats of paint is generally recommended. However, you can apply up to three or more for extra durability. 

How Long Does Spray Paint Take to Dry on Metal?

This depends on the particular product you’re using. In general, most spray paint dries to touch in 10-30 minutes and can be recoated after an hour or two. Full curing is usually reached after 24 hours or a few days. Other factors, such as the thickness of the coating and weather conditions, can also affect the drying time.

Can I use regular spray paint on metal surfaces?

Yes, regular spray paint can be used to paint metals, but it may not provide the best adhesion, durability, and rust protection. If you want a long-lasting finish, use something that is specifically made for metals. 

Is Rust-Oleum paint good for metal?

Yes, it is. Rust-Oleum offers some of the most durable spray paint for metal surfaces. These include both specialty and general-purpose spray paints, as seen above. Most of these products can be used on any kind of metal.

Is Krylon paint good for metal?

Yes, Krylon is good for metal. Like Rust-Oleum, it’s one of the best options available for metal. Besides the Krylon Fusion, another option that adheres well to metal is the Krylon COLORmaxx. With both options, you don’t need a separate coat of primer. 

How can I remove spray paint from metal surfaces?

One of the easiest ways to remove spray paint from metal surfaces is to use a paint stripper. Other options you can explore are vinegar, wire brush, or sandpaper. If you’re using a paint stripper, make sure you apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Content Summary 

There you have it – the most durable metal paint. The products reviewed here don’t only protect but also make metal pop. They are easy to use, quick-drying, and very affordable. 

They are also available in various colors and finishes. So it’s easy to find the perfect match for your project.

Of course, each product has its pros and cons, so consider your needs before settling for anyone. 

Overall, with proper prep work and a high-quality spray, you should get a paint job that will last. 

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