I get painting questions all the time. By no means would I consider myself a professional painter, but I guess the hundreds of pieces of furniture I’ve painted in the past decade give me a little credibility. People often ask me what kind(s) of paint they can use on certain surfaces. To answer all those questions, I’ll be going through various surfaces and paints you can use on those surfaces over the next few weeks.

First up-what kind of paint you can use on metal surfaces.

For metal surfaces, I tend to use one of two paints: either oil-based paint or spray paint, depending on the size and location of the piece I am painting.


Oil-based paints bond well to metal surfaces. When I’m using oil-based paint, I tend to brush it on with a high-quality paintbrush straight from the can. And the kind of brush you use is important! This is not a purchase you want to skimp on. Buy a good one such as Purdy or Wooster and make sure it’s compatible with oil-based paints. My personal pick is this Wooster one. You can also use oil-based paint in a paint sprayer; just follow the directions on the can for thinning the paint and the paint sprayer directions. If I’m painting something metal that is large in scale or inside a home, I go with traditional oil-based paint. This was the case when I painted the metal handrail in my house. My personal pick for oil-based paint is Behr’s version, which you can find at Home Depot.

When you are painting something with oil-based paint that’s larger in scale, work in sections. Oil-based paint has a longer drying time, but you can’t easily go back over spots you’ve already painted 30 minutes or so after you’ve painted them because part of the paint is already setting up.

When it comes to smaller-scaled metal objects that need to be painted, I reach for a can of spray paint. Let’s say you have a metal lamp base that you would like to paint a fun color-go for the spray paint. Anything metal that can easily be taken outside to paint, I use spray paint on.

As with all painting, be sure your surface is clean and free of dirt/dust before painting it. I often run a tack cloth over my items before painting them.

Have a painting question? Feel free to leave them in the comments below. You may also find the answers you need in this post about my best painting tips and tricks.

Jenna LaFevor rants on at Rain on a Tin Roof about DIY projects, junk décor, thrifty finds, crafty creations and other decorating dilemmas. She went to UTC, where she got a teaching degree that now collects dust. When she isn’t trying to keep her kid from climbing out of the circus ring or making sure her husband’s shirts are taken to the dry cleaners so she gets out of ironing, she can be found with a paintbrush in one hand and a cheap beer in the other. But if you’re buying, she’ll have a cosmopolitan. You can email her at [email protected] or you can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @raintinroofblog or at her blog. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.