Can You Use Metal Paint On Wood?

Painting some new woodwork or a new piece of your home is a quite rewarding experience. But before you get into the fun bits, it’s always important to do your research first. If you’re considering using paint that’s not designed for your medium, that goes doubly. So let’s say you have some metal paint just… lying around. Can you use metal paint on wood? Luckily, you came to the right place to get that answered, along with a few important related questions.

Can you use metal paint on wood? Yes! Though there are a few things to keep in mind while doing so.

Keep reading to get a good idea of when to use metal paint, and when to just give in and go buy the proper paint.

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Why Use Metal Paint and What is It?

There are only two good reasons to use metal paint on wood – laziness and budget. If you recently bought metal paint to repaint a metal surface, it’s likely that you still have some kicking around. It’s also possible that you accidentally purchased metal paint and can’t afford to buy new paint.

If you’re only using metal paint out of sheer laziness and plan to have what you’re painting on display for a long time – go buy the right paint. We’ll get to why in a little bit, but just trust me here. If, however, you’re repainting something that likely won’t bother you if the paint needs to be touched up in the future, you’re all set. That goes doubly for if you just plain can’t afford the proper paint.

Now don’t misunderstand me here – I’m not shaming you for using the wrong paint. I’ve done it myself! The main issue is that it can actually damage what you’re painting. The thing is, it gets complicated – so let’s dive a bit deeper into it before making a final decision.

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Differences Between Metal and Wood Paint

First things first – you can use metal paint on wood to great effect if it’s properly done. There are two major factors to take into account when deciding whether or not to use metal paint on wood. First, where is the wood? Is it outside, inside, or on, say, a piece of furniture? The second question is how dry is the wood? In other words, if it’s outside (on a fence, perhaps) and you live in a humid or wet environment, it’s probably not a great idea to use metal paint.

This is because metal paint is designed to be used on entirely nonporous surfaces. It will form a layer and trap any moisture inside whatever it’s on. This is totally fine (even ideal) for metal because there isn’t any moisture in it. On wood, though, moisture can soak in and stay for extended periods of time.

Let’s assume that your painting surface is inside. If you properly prime the surface after ensuring that it’s as dry as possible, you’ll be fine. The metal paint will go on perfectly fine and will last for just as long as wood paint. If, however, you don’t prime or don’t allow it to dry out, you’re in trouble. The metal paint will seal in moisture, causing (likely irreparable) damage to the surface.

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How to Apply Metal Paint on Wood

Now we get to the fun part – the actual painting! Let’s not wait any longer and just get right into it, shall we? Before we even get started – if you’re dead set on using metal paints, don’t use water-based metal paints. DreamyHome is an oil-based metal paint family, and just trust me on it, you’ll be better off.

  1. Begin with prepping your area. Tape off sections you don’t plan on painting, and lay down newspaper, plastic painter’s covers, or something else you don’t mind covering in paint to protect the surrounding area from rogue paint drips.
  2. As with all painting, the first real step is to prep your surface. Use medium-grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface area. Be sure to wipe the area with a wet sponge and then follow up with a dry cloth to completely ensure all moisture is up and the surface is clean. This goes for both plain and painted wood.
  3. Now that it’s all smooth and dry, we apply primer. Generally, an acrylic latex bonding primer is best here. Mix it thoroughly and apply it as you would paint, waiting for it to dry entirely before painting. This will take a minimum of three hours, sometimes as much as a day depending on how humid your environment is.
  4. Stir your paint and then apply it! Be sure to allow the first layer to dry, then reapply at least one more layer. You’re likely going to want at least three layers to achieve the finish that you’re looking for. Lightly sand each layer after it dries if you notice poor textures from drips or bubbles.

Using Metal Paint on Wood: Tips and Tricks

As much of a pain in the butt as some of these tips can be, just trust me – they’ll make your new paint coat look great and actually last a reasonable time.

  1. Always, always, always prime your paint surface first. This is vital to the long-term quality and lifespan of your paint job.
  2. Test your wood’s moisture content. While you can use a wood moisture meter to get a specific read, those cost money! A good test for wood moisture is to just sprinkle some water on a discreet surface. If the water absorbs, your wood is dry enough to paint. If it doesn’t, the wood isn’t dry enough yet.
  3. Take your time and do it right. Multiple thin layers of paint are always going to look better (when finished) than a few thick coats.
  4. Be gentle with sanding and never use extremely coarse grit sandpaper.
  5. If you can, try to use the proper paint for the job. I know it’s not ideal, but paintmakers create specific paints for specific jobs. Using metal paint on wood is like using mesh running shoes to hike – yeah, it works, but at what cost?

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Final Thoughts

If you came wondering if you can use metal paint on wood, your question has been answered! In short, yes, you can use metal paint on wood, but it’s definitely not ideal. As with most things in this world, metal paint was designed for a specific job – and that’s not to paint wood. It will absolutely get the job done, but if you don’t prepare properly, you’ll see poor results and even damage to the surface.

If you’re dead set on using metal paint on wood, prepare properly. That means ensuring the wood has no moisture in it, sanding, and priming before applying any paint. Once you’ve done all of those things, and only then, you may begin to paint. Plan on applying multiple thin layers of paint, rather than two or three slapdash, thick ones. This will allow your paint to fully dry more quickly and result in a better overall appearance. And please, for the love of all that’s holy, consult with a professional before applying any paint. They exist for one reason alone – to make your life easier and your painted surfaces prettier.

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About the Author Dale Richardson

Love doing DIY and renovating my house. When I'm not doing that or working on this website, I love cooking, playing computer games and playing/watching football.