How to Clean Metal Before Painting

How to Clean Metal Before Painting

How to Clean Metal Before Painting

Enviro-Tech Coatings Blog

Almost any surface can benefit from a new coat of good quality paint. But did you know that preparation is critical, particularly with metal surfaces? You always want to prepare the surface properly by following these five tips:

Thoroughly Clean the Metal Surface

Before applying that coat of paint, metal surfaces must be free from all grease, dirt, rust, and old paint. Sandpaper or other scraping tools will remove the grime and grease easily. For heavy grease spots, use mineral spirits—clean persistently dirty areas with a mild detergent solution. 

Remove Peeling or Loose Paint

To get rid of loose or peeling paint, use a wire brush, sandpaper, or a scraper. We don’t recommend using a power tool cleaning. The use of a power tool at this stage can polish the metal and make it more difficult for the new paint to adhere. 

Eliminate Rust Deposits

Metal surfaces inevitably pick up rust deposits. You want to eliminate these before painting. Use a brush to clean off loose rust, then sand the area. You may want to apply a rust-inhibitive primer afterward. A good primer will cover up the rusted spots and make them ready for painting. 

Repair All Small Dents and Holes

Depending on where your metal surfaces are, they could be subject to some rough applications and, therefore, filled with small holes or dents. Don’t paint over these areas as the paint will chip and peel almost immediately. For small holes and dents, sand these areas until you reach the metal surface. Then use a degreaser mixed with mineral spirits to improve paint adhering. 

For stubborn holes, inject an epoxy-based composite directly into the hole or dent. To repair a larger hole, fill it to the edge of the hole with filler. Cut a piece of fiberglass mesh and press it into the filler. Cover the mesh with epoxy, working from the edges to the center. 

Prime the Entire Surface Area

When you’re wondering how to clean metal before painting, there is no more important step than priming the surface. The right primer for your surface will depend on the type of metal to be coated, environmental conditions, and performance requirements. 

Don’t use water-based (latex) primers on metal surfaces. Two types of metal primers are recommended rust converters or galvanized metal primers. And take care of priming right after cleaning the metal as this will prevent additional dust or dirt from accumulating on the surface, which could otherwise create a home for future rust. 

Enviro-Tech Coatings metal finishing services Include glass beads, walnut shells and ceramic media finished surfaces. We provide metal finishing for aluminum, steel, and stainless steel fabrications. We have the capability to meet the standards for food and beverage parts and equipment. Our complete services cover painting, specialty coatings, and metal finishing services to a wide range of industries. We maintain Air Permits and are a fully approved site for blasting and painting. If you would like a bid on a project, please contact us at 989-495-0000 or visit

1 Comment

faraz ahmad December 9, 2020at 8:37 am

I have read the post, it’s really informative. I hope I will get more in the future, from this blog.


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