Can You Use Metal Paint on Wood?

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When we paint wood, we don’t do it blindly. There is a lot that you need to consider depending on the prevailing circumstances. Of course, all goes well when you have suitable paint at hand. If you follow the instructions there is a possibility of fairly good results.

But what if all you have is metal paint in your garage?

The good news is that you can use metal paint on woodwork – even colors like bronze, copper, silver, gold, and chrome. Options include using a brush or spray can. You may get spectacular results providing you take care of two things. Maintain a clean, dry surface to paint on and use a suitable undercoat.

Why Would You Want to Use Metal Paint on Wood?

Why indeed? Good question.

Well, there are several reasons to use metal paint on wood. The first reason that comes to mind is the one mentioned above – it is the only type you have on hand. Do you really need to run to the hardware store and spend money on new paint if you have some sitting around?

Further, you may have varnished woodwork or surfaces that you would like to jazz up a bit. Use metal paint to add fresh vibrancy to your woodwork.

Natural wood finishes are tricky and can be expensive to use. If you are an enthusiastic DIYer perhaps on a limited budget, painting wood with metal paint can be an easy and cost-effective solution. For the best results, you need to follow a few basic steps. In this post, we take you through these steps. So, let’s get started!

Using Metal Paint on Wood

painting wooden door in white color by brush

There are may be times when you want to paint wooden surfaces with metal paint. Doors, windows, trim, and moldings, and all such surfaces can take metal paint nicely. People report durability issues with using this type of paint on wood. However, most of the problems emanate from poor surface prepping.

Paint with a rugged metallic “hammered” finish that can make wood take on a similar look. Although we usually use oil-based metal paint on wood, you can also use water-based paint.

Step # 1: Prepping the Surface

Use medium-grit sandpaper to make the surface smooth and clean. Wipe the wood with a wet cloth and follow it with a dry cloth. The wood should be dry and clean. Use this procedure on bare or painted wood.

Step # 2: Masking Portions of the Wood

Stick painter’s tape on sections that you do not want to paint. At this stage, it is also a good idea to cover the surrounding area with old newspapers or plastic drop cloths.

Step # 3: Applying Primer

The best primer to use acrylic latex bonding primer. Add it to a two-gallon paint pot and mix thoroughly. Now, use a paintbrush to apply the primer. Wait for at least three hours for the primer to dry completely.

Step # 4: Stirring the Metal Paint

Once the primer coat is completely dry, the wood is ready for the first coat of metal paint. On opening the new can of metal paint, stir the paint thoroughly with a clean stick. It will ensure that all the ingredients of the paint including the oil get mixed into a homogenous liquid.

Step # 5: Applying the Metal Paint to the Wood

Dip the tip of your paintbrush into the paint to apply the paint lightly to the wood. Ensure not to overload your brush to prevent drips and splashes. But make sure to apply sufficient paint with each stroke of the brush.

Step # 6: Applying Successive Coats

Once you have completed the first coat, wait till it dries. It can take several hours or you may have to wait overnight. Apply successive coats until you achieve the desired finish. Once each coat dries, you can lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper for added grip to the next coat.

Useful Tips for Painting Wood with Metal Paint

While painting wood with metal paint there are some best practices that you can follow. Here are some of them that should give you the most satisfactory results:

  • Check the moisture content of the wood and ensure that it is sufficiently dry.
  • It is preferable to use a primer as the first coat.
  • Apply successive layers of paint thinly. It is better to have several thin layers than a few thick ones.
  • Ensure that each coat dries completely before applying the next one.
  • You may not get optimal results in terms of durability and stability with metal paint.
  • An expert or paint merchant is the best person to give you accurate technical information about your paint and how to use it.
  • While painting on wood, move your paintbrush from top to bottom to collect dripping paint.
  • Always refer to the instructions on the labeling and packaging to use the paint correctly.
  • Be gentle while sanding the surface to be painted and use fine-grit sandpaper of about 280 grit roughness.

Applying Metal Paint on Wood: FAQs

Here are some answers to the most commonly-asked questions about painting wood with metal paint:

Can we apply Rustoleum metal paint on wood?

Rust-Oleum 7215502 Hammered Metal Finish, Black, 1-Quart (Packaging may vary)
Rust-Oleum Hammered Metal Finish (Amazon)

Brands like Rustoleum and Hammerite is a well-known brand of paint that specializes in metal paint that can be directly applied to metal (even rust they claim) without primer or undercoat. Some of our readers have asked if you could use some of this leftover paint from these brands (since it’s not exactly cheap) for a wood project.

You can paint this on various surfaces to impart a rugged, metallic finish. Although it’s intended for use on metal, you could apply the paint on wood to create a stunning metallic effect.

Hammerite 5084792 Direct to Rust Hammered Finish Black 250ml by Hammerite
Hammerite Direct to Rust Hammered Finish (Amazon)


When NOT to use Metal Paint

While it’s ok to use this kind of paint on wood projects, it’s best for projects that do NOT require non-toxic paint.  If you are making wooden kids toys or picking a paint color for a birdhouse, invest the money in a safe option that was intended for that use since kids and animals could accidentally ingest bits or chips of paint.  Use your leftover metal paint to cover up a replacement board on your backyard shed not the wooden boat you made for your grandkid!

What About Metal Spray Paint like

Krylon K09203007 'Rust Tough' Semi-Flat Black Rust Preventive Enamel - 12 oz. Aerosol

Brands such as Krylon and Rustoleum make special spray paint for metal surfaces that are designed to prevent rust. They also have paint products designed and optimized for use on metal that is exposed to high heat. Could you use these on wood?

Well, they will adhere to wood and protect it although it really seems like overkill since the paint is designed for a different purpose and has special properties that you don’t need. You’re also using an expensive product when you could get by with standard spray paint that would likely cost half the price.

However, that being said I will admit I’ve used these on wood on very rare occasions – specifically at the end of the season at a summer cabin in the Northwoods. In the fall, I have to haul everything out that will freeze over the winter and store it in my heated basement at home.

Rather than bring back a half-used can of metallic spray paint I might use it up on a project – especially if I don’t have a better option on hand and would have to buy a new can of paint, but that about the only scenario I can think of.

Does water-based paint wash off easily?

If you spill water on a surface coated with water-based paint, it will not wash away immediately. You can remove water spilled on a water-based paint faster than on oil-based paint.

What is the best home remedy for removing water-based paint?

Start by scraping off as much paint as you can with a paint scraper. Mix ¾ cup of rubbing alcohol and ¼ cup of lemon juice in a small bowl. Wipe this mixture onto the scraped surface with a soft cloth. Now, scrub the surface with a non-abrasive nylon brush to loosen the paint. Finally, wipe the debris off with a clean, dry cloth.

What is the best way of using sandpaper while painting?

Do not overdo your sanding while prepping the wood. You do not have to do sanding with an electric sander – hand sanding will do just fine. Use a sanding block with medium-grit sandpaper for prepping wood before you apply primer. While applying the paint, lightly sand the surface between coats with fine-grit sandpaper. Follow it by a quick wipe with a dry cloth or tack cloth to remove the sawdust and other debris.


Usually, you can apply all types of paint to wood, metal paint notwithstanding. The important thing is to follow the specific steps. You may like to check the moisture content of the wood before painting it. We get commercially available wood moisture meters, and we discuss these instruments in another of our posts.

If you follow the steps that we have outlined here, you should be on the right track to do a good paint job with any type of paint on wood.