Acrylic Paint on Metal without Primer [Checkout Most Possible Ways]

Metals are suitable for painting like any other wood or concrete materials as long as you are maintaining certain instructions. As paints come in two very important types, you need to be careful in choosing one for the appropriate material.

Though both acrylic and oil-based paints offer beautiful painting on most of the materials, depending on the situation, weather, environment, or longevity, most people prefer water-based acrylic paints. So having good knowledge about acrylic paint on metal without primer can be very helpful.

Acrylic Paint on Metal without Primer

However, metal welcomes acrylic paint pretty nicely with primer. The paint gets set easily when you apply a quality primer to it. But what will happen when you apply acrylic paint on metal without primer? And also, what would be the process?

These are the questions many people, especially some enthusiastic DIYers want to know. As they know painting on some materials is not an easy task, they certainly want to know more about the instructions to get an effective result.

You cannot just apply acrylic paint on a metal surface without following minimal instructions and hoping for a miracle or fruitful result. Therefore, we have taken the responsibility to uphold a convincing solution to your curiosity in the latter segments of our articles. So, stay tuned.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Metal without Primer? 5 Possible Ways:

Before we jump into the process of painting a metal surface with primer, we have to learn some other facts regarding primer first. The purpose of a primer is important for the surface you intend to paint. Besides, the relationship between primer and paint is inexpressible to some extent. Generally, we use a primer before painting any surface for two very basic reasons and those are,

1) To Cover-up Porous Surface

It is a universally acknowledged fact that paint requires a porous and smooth surface to sit properly. Otherwise, the adhesion of paint will not work consistently and as a result, the finishing will not be seamless and even. A nonporous surface gives away the adhesion of paint to rest on it for a longer period of time. But we see most surfaces are filled with pores.

Especially, while attempting to paint a wooden surface, pores are so common and visible there. Therefore, to get an effective consequence, filling the pores to make a perfect base or canvas before applying paint is the wise procedure to follow. And this great deed can be done by applying primer only. Not only, a wooden surface, but a metallic or concrete surface can also be filled with primer. It fills the pores and makes the surface even and suitable for paint. Once you apply a qualitative primer, it becomes certain that the paint will set the surface properly now. Check Also: 7 Best Metallic Paint for Walls Reviews: That Add Sparkle to Home

2) To Increase Adhesion

Another important job that a primer obeys is it increases the adhesion power with its gluey nature. You cannot just apply paint on a surface and hope to get a fine finish without taking the trouble to prime it. On top of that, primer also requires a surface that is clean and out of grease, wax, rust, peeling paint, or any kind of residue. Otherwise, no matter how much primer you use, there would be no use of it.

However, if you know how to prepare the surface before applying it, then the primer will work the way it should. It, then, increases the adhesion of the surface penetrating deep into the surface. In this situation, when you apply a suitable type of paint on it, it sets accurately and the color pops out vividly. Besides, the adhesion of the paint gets along with the increasing adhesive power of the primer.

Now that we have learned the legit importance of primer, it has become an interesting matter of fact what will happen when you try to apply acrylic paint on the metal surface without applying a primer right before it. Well, to some extent, it is possible to apply acrylic paint on metal without priming the surface with an effective primer but certainly with some conditions. Only when the following conditions are taken into account, then your paint on metal will set properly.

Acrylic Paint with Priming Quality

Different types of acrylic paints are available in the market. Some are from renowned brands and some are from budget-friendly brands. But the fact is, not all acrylic paint carries the same components, chemicals, and adhesion quality. Acrylic paints that come with premium and heavy-duty formulas, generally come with priming quality as well. These paints are able to prime the surface to create the perfect base and offer a great painted surface at the same time.

However, some other acrylic paints ask for a primer, particularly in their instructions. This type of acrylic paint is not suitable for metal surfaces for direct application. Therefore, you need to be choosy and careful and find direct-to-metal acrylic paint that has priming quality and components in it so that even though you are not applying primer, the consequence won’t affect much when you directly paint a metal surface.

The Surface has to be Nonporous

Another important condition that you have to consider is to notice if the metal surface is nonporous or not. A nonporous even surface is perfect both for painting and practicing your creativity on it. Besides, you have to notice if there are any crevices or dents on the metal surface. It is because these crevices become a barrier in the way of a good painting result.

If you attempt to apply paint on the surface keeping those dents and gauges open, the finishing will not be good at any chance. Rather it increases the chance of peeling or stripping the paint off the surface. Therefore, filling those gaps and gauges with lubricants or epoxy should be your first job. And then when the surface will be even thoroughly, then you are free to apply paint on it directly.

Use Industrial Paint

Industrial paints are some real kinds of paints with wonderful textures and tremendous designs. These paints have quality and durability at the same time. Besides, it fits with many types of metals including brass, stainless steel, copper, and many others. Industrial paints with their pigmented liquids ask for less trouble while applying on a surface.

But because it comes with highly impressive components and developments, it asks for a lot of money. Even, using a primer or any special DTM paints would make you spend less money. But to buy industrial paint to avoid using a primer will cost you a lot. However, as industrial paint also comes in a sprayer apart from the liquid condition in a can, applying it on the surface is easier and not time-consuming.

Grease-Free Metal Surface

The paint alone is not responsible for providing a good result to the user. The metal surface also shares the same responsibility as the acrylic paint. You must take notice if the metal is fresh and clean enough or not. Metals are prone to get rusty and corroded. In such a situation, if you apply paint directly on it, then the paint will not adhere to the surface properly.

But if you take enough care to remove all kinds of scale, grease, wax, rust, corrosion, or whatever residue that creates an obstacle in the way of a seamless finish, then your job is half done. There are several ways to clean these unwanted excesses. So, using them you can make a safe way to make your paintwork on a metal surface.

Process of Applying Acrylic Paint on Metal without Primer – 5 Effective Steps

As we are attempting to apply acrylic paint on metal without a primer, the job does not require much. However, it is not entirely an easy job and we have already mentioned that you need to accept the conditions that are above already. Maintaining those conditions we will now proceed to the job step by step. If you want to be successful, just keep up with the following process with us.

Step 1: Collect the Stuff

First thing first, know what stuff you will need and start collecting them one by one. This will quicken your job and also will save you from greater trouble. The following materials will help you to get rid of extra hassles.

  1. Mineral spirits
  2. Light sandpaper and scrapper
  3. Detergent Solution
  4. Freshwater
  5. A rag
  6. Power tools
  7. A brush
  8. An epoxy-based composite
  9. 100% premium acrylic paint

Step 2: Prepare the Metal Surface

If you have already collected those materials, we can proceed to our next step. Here you need to observe the condition of your surface. First, you need to use mineral spirit. It will help to remove the grease and wax from the surface. However, the contribution of mineral spirit will not be fruitful in that way if the surface is immensely covered with grease.

But it will help come out grease to a large extent. Use a detergent solution or soapy water to clean off the grease that has come out due to the application of mineral spirit. Then clean it with fresh water. You will still notice some remainder of grease and chemical scale on the surface. So, you need to apply other effective ways to make the grease come out of the surface.

Step 3: Sand and Scrap the Surface

For stubborn grease and rust, you need to use sandpaper and scrapper to make them come out from the surface. Just sand the surface lightly in a back-and-forth motion. You don’t need coarse sandpaper for this job. A light grit of sandpaper would provide much help. This will also help the old paint to peel off quickly.

You can then start scrapping if sanding is not being enough of a help. Scrapping properly with the right scrapper will loosen the bond of grease and rust and then it will be easy to make them come out of the surface. Still, you might witness some residue or heavy stubborn grease. In cases like that, use a fastening or power to make the surface grease and rust-free and the job a little laborious.

Step 4: Clean the Surface Again and Fill the Dents

Now it’s time to clean the surface again with soapy water and make it free from dust, debris, grease, rust, scale, and residue. You can also use a commercial product to get a guaranteed clean surface. However, after cleaning it, wipe the surface with a rag and give it some time to dry, and be prepared for the next step.

Once the surface is fully dry, you need to work on filling the crevices and dents of the surface. To fill it, you need to apply epoxy-based composite filler. Just inject the filler into the gauges and dents. Make sure you are injecting the filler measuring the evenness of the surface. Then you need to wait till the filler is dried fully. To make the whole surface more even, lightly sand the surface till it gets even.

Step 5: Apply the Paint

You should again clean the surface in the same manner after sanding then wait till it gets dry. The whole process will make the adhesion of the paintwork in a more firm way. Then when it is time, apply 100% premium acrylic paint. This paint comes with priming quality. Or you can use industrial paint as well.

Take a brush and then apply the paint on the metal surface with it. An even application enhances the beauty so try to cover the whole space in a steady motion. After that, give it some moment to dry. If one coat is not popping out properly, then apply another coat of it. Thus, you can get a long-lasting result of painting on the metal surface without using a primer.


1. What is the best primer for acrylic paint on metal?

Many people suggest many primers for acrylic paint on metal, but we suggest Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer for this job. As it has a great ability to prevent rust and make a perfect base for the paint, this primer can be used without any second thought. Another important note is, don’t use latex primers on metals. Otherwise, the moisture in it penetrates into the surface making it unsuitable for acrylic paint.

2. What can I use to protect painted metal?  

Paints on surfaces remain safe if they are protected with a topcoat. If your metal surface is painted, you can apply a sealer to protect the paint from exposure to sun or rain. Varnishes are also fine to make waterproof protection. You can get both sealers and varnishes in spray bottles for easy application.

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Rogers Weber

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