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Tips and Tricks to Spray Paint Metal

Jul 30, 2019

Tips and Tricks to Spray Paint Metal

Jul 30, 2019

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a tiny commission, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my disclosure here.

We have an old decorative cast iron water pump in our front yard that I’ve wanted to spruce up for awhile. Since it was really looking more “old” than “decorative,” I recently tackled a quick spray paint project. I wanted to give it new life before planting our new landscaping. Here are my tips and tricks to spray paint metal, in case you’re also feeling inspired to give your metal decor a face-lift.

* This post contains some affiliate links to products and I may be compensated if you click through and make a purchase. Thanks for supporting my blog.

before and after

This is a very easy afternoon project. Once you have your supplies lined up, you’ll just need a few hours to paint, allowing for time to let it dry in between coats.

Even though the pump brand is Red Jacket, I chose a dark blue for the paint refresh. I’m planning to coordinate my front door color in a similar navy at some point. It looks closer to navy in person than this medium cobalt blue. The glossy finish really gives this pump new life!

Prep Steps Before Spray Painting Metal

These are the tools I used for this project: wire brush (similar), respirator mask, 1 can spray paint primer, 1 can navy spray paint, 1 can gloss clear coat, and an old piece of cardboard. I tried a simple white face mask at first, but I could tell that I was still getting fumes, so I upgraded to a more heavy duty respirator. In my opinion, it’s worth it, to avoid breathing the paint fumes.

spray paint supplies

First, I scrubbed off all the old paint with the wire brush (similar), to make sure there were no loose paint chips. (I also did a quick lead test first – just to be super safe before scrubbing the metal!)

Then, I wiped it down with a clean rag and water. You can also be more thorough and use acetone and tack cloth, but I didn’t care if some dust ended up in the paint since this piece already has a rustic look.

wire brush cleaning off old metal

Prime, Paint, and Protect

Next, I sprayed two coats of primer, letting it dry in between coats, according to the directions. I like to make sure I have a great base of primer before painting anything. It can make a huge difference in how the paint adheres. Another tip – while spraying, make sure you have a shield in place so the paint doesn’t blow onto other surfaces. I held the scrap cardboard behind the pump as I sprayed, which kept everything fairly contained.

primer on water pump

It’s showtime! This blue spray paint is a glossy navy color and I needed about two coats. I did a couple of touch-ups for the third coat, in areas where the paint looked a little thin. Be careful not to load on the spray paint too heavily, or the paint will start to run and you’ll have to sand off a drip. It’s a lot easier to spray a few thin, light coats than to have a heavy hand and pay for it later. Also, be sure to read the directions on your spray paint, which will tell you how soon you can reapply.

new navy blue paint

Once that paint dried, I gave the whole pump a glossy clear coat for added protection against the elements. This pump is right out front in the south-facing sun of our yard. I’m not sure how well it will hold up in our super sunny weather, but this was an easy project that I can repeat in a few years, if needed.

Now that the plants are in, here’s what it all looks like:

finished navy blue water pump with new landscaping

Moving Forward

Next up, power washing the house!

Here is a project source list (it’s all from Home Depot), if you’re looking for similar items to spray paint metal pieces. You can also find an assortment of similar brushes in different sizes at Home Depot, in case something else would be a better fit for your project.

Similar Wire Brush | Respirator | 1 Primer | 1 Navy Spray Paint | 1 Clear Coat | Cardboard (ha!)

To read more about our landscaping and exterior projects, check out this post: Adding Curb Appeal: Our Plans for Exterior Updates.


Hi! I’m Erin, a Colorado-based home improvement blogger and lover of all things DIY. I aim to inspire creative folks to tackle home improvement with confidence and style. READ MORE

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Ana Paula Clares
Ana Paula Clares
3 years ago

I’m a Brazilian and I live in London and i love DIY .
I have a similar water pump at home and I’m repainting it this week .
Cannot wait to finish my project.
Thank you for the tips.

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