Painting Galvanized Metal That’s Rusted Banner

Galvanized metal is a commonly used metal for piping, building support beams, ducts for air conditioning and heating, handrails, barriers and even roofs. Because galvanized metal is so long-lasting it works well in areas that need to withstand extreme weather conditions.

In Toronto, galvanized metal is mainly used for handrails and support beams around the exterior of your home. Although this type of steel is treated with zinc oxide to last in harsh climate conditions, over time the zinc oxide within the metal can wear away and begin to rust. If you are going to repair rusted galvanized metal, you’ll need to act quickly before it spreads and becomes much more difficult to fix. So, keep reading to learn about painting galvanized steel that has worn from age.

How to Prep Rusted Galvanized Metal for Painting

Materials That You Will Need to Prepare Rusted Galvanized Metal to be Painted

  • Rust Proof Primer (and paint bucket)
  • Vinegar
  • Sandpaper
  • Wire Brush/Electric Sander
  • Paint Brush
  • Rag

1. Wipe, Sand and Scrape

  • Firstly, with your rag, wipe away any dust, dirt or debris from the galvanized metal so that you can have a clean area to work with.
  • If you want to give your galvanized metal a good cleaning with something non-toxic, white vinegar works well. It’s the acidity of the vinegar that can help the paint properly adhere to the galvanized metal later on.
  • Secondly, with your sandpaper or wire brush, sand along the galvanized metal by vigorously sanding right to left along the entire length of the rusted metal. You want to take your time with it to make sure you sand away any loose paint and rust chips. You may choose to use an electric handheld sander to sand away the rust/loose paint, whichever you find easier. Make sure you end up with a smooth surface after sanding, so it will be easier to proceed on to the next step.


  • The good thing about sanding the rusted galvanized metal is that you usually won’t come across any seriously rusted metal because the zinc oxide treatment prevents this from happening. So using sandpaper instead of a handheld sander is just as efficient.


2. Prime

  • Thirdly, using your metal primer and a paintbrush, brush on the primer with 2 coats to seal and protect any future rust from reoccurring.
  • Tremclad Primer for Galvanized Metal is a good choice.
  • Allow to dry, and you have properly prepped your rusted galvanized metal for painting!

3. Paint!

  • Fourthly, it’s time to paint your galvanized metal.
  • When thinking about what type of paint will properly adhere to it, you want to go for acrylic paint. You can try one of the oil-based paints on the market, but often the metal surface sheds the paint over time.
  • Once you have your paint, you can either use a brush or a roller to paint it on.
  • There are also lots of specialized spray paints that can be great for galvanized metal.

Dealing with Common Problems in Painting Rusted Galvanized Steel or Metal

When taking up the project of painting rusted galvanized metal, you might encounter a few common roadblocks. Let’s discuss these potential problems and how to deal with them effectively.

Persistent Rust

One of the most common problems is rust, which won’t scrub off easily. In case you come across stubborn sections, try using coarse-grit sandpaper or a handheld rotary tool with a wire brush attachment. If the rust has permeated and caused pitting on the metal, you might need to use a rust dissolver. However, be sure to follow the product’s instructions carefully for your safety.

Uneven Paint Application

Getting consistent, even paint coverage can sometimes be difficult. The issue could be due to a variety of factors from uneven primer application to using the wrong type of paintbrush or roller. To mitigate this, ensure the primer is applied uniformly and has had enough drying time. When painting, start with thin coats and gradually add more layers later. Using high-quality brushes or rollers can also promote even paint application.

Rusted Galvanized Metal

Difficulty in Paint or Product Selection

It can be challenging to decide which products to use given the vast range of galvanized paints, primers, and rust converters available on the market. When selecting these products:

  • Opt for a rust converter that chemically transforms rust into a paintable surface.
  • Choose a primer specifically formulated for galvanized metal. Zinc chromate-based primers are a good choice and the best primer for galvanized metal.
  • Use paints that adhere well to galvanized surfaces, like latex or oil-based paints. For brands, we recommend Rustoleum paint for galvanized metal.


Paint Refusals

Sometimes, the paint won’t adhere to certain areas of the rusted galvanized surface. This could be due to residual dirt, grease, or rust. Ensure the surface is thoroughly cleaned and rust is removed as much as possible before applying paint.

Painting Metal

Inadequate Drying Times

Rushed drying times can lead to a less-than-desirable finish, with the paint peeling, bubbling, or failing to adhere properly. Patience is key – allow the prescribed drying times for the primer, paint, and sealing layers.

Understanding these challenges before starting your project can prepare you to tackle them head-on. By being patient and meticulous and using the right tools and materials, you can alleviate these common issues and achieve a quality, long-lasting finish for your rusted galvanized metal.


Painting rusted galvanized metal can seem intimidating, but with the right guidance and a bit of patience, you can breathe new life into your aged items. Whether you’re faced with stubborn rust patches, uneven paint application, or finding the best products for the job, knowing how to tackle these common problems can make the task much easier.

Remember that proper surface preparation is the key to a successful paint job. Cleaning, rust removal, and priming are all necessary steps that should never be overlooked. Then, after applying your chosen paint, ensure you provide each coat with sufficient time to dry properly, resulting in a resilient, long-lasting finish.

From beginning to end, every step in the process is crucial. But don’t let the task daunt you! With the right tools, appropriate materials and understanding of potential problems, you are well-equipped to turn that rusted galvanized metal into a masterpiece. The end result will surely be something of which you can be proud.

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Painting Galvanized Metal That’s Rusted

In conclusion, preparing your old galvanized metal to be painted is a lot easier than you probably thought, right? Because of the durable properties of the material you will find that this is one of the easier D.I.Y projects for the exterior of your home. If you have a galvanized metal roof it will take more time to complete, but it still won’t be a difficult task to accomplish. If you don’t have the time to worry about this project yourself, give our home painting services a call! We’ve been in the business for over 35 years now. Our professional painters know what they’re doing every step of the way. Call us NOW at 416-494-9095 or email!