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10 Best Paints for Metal Crafts of All Kinds + Painting Tips

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Whether you’ve taken it upon yourself to forge your own knife, build a mailbox holder out of railroad ties, or design jewelry, the types of crafts you can create with metal are boundless.

An excellent way to transform a metal piece is by applying paint.

This article will review the top types of paint for use on metal crafts and will give you all the information you need to know about durability, drying time, and what types of crafts each paint is best suited for. 

Key Takeaways

Testors Enamel Paint Set comes with a thinner which makes it an excellent choice for anyone who wishes to use an airbrush to decorate their metal crafts.

The U.S. Art Supply Outdoor Acrylic Paint Set includes a color mixing wheel and 7 different brushes, making it a perfect option for children and beginners. 

Main Recommendations

The best paint for airbrushing: Testors Enamel Paint Set

The best paint for outdoor projects: Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint

The best paint for kids: U.S. Art Supply Outdoor Acrylic Paint

The best paint for advanced users: ZenART Infinity Series Oil Paint

[amazon box=”B00005C2KF,B07NDP8TFH,B08QZP19VH,B075QCJWH4″ link_id=”31476″]

Best Paints for Metal Crafts at a Glance

Testors Enamel Paint SetPrime choice for airbrushing
Arteza Outdoor Acrylic PaintGreat for outdoor projects
Arteza Metallic Acrylic Paint SetGorgeous pearlescent finish
Winsor and Newton Winton Oil Colour SetIdeal for shifting colors
My Artscape Oil Paint SetGood for beginners
U.S. Art Supply Outdoor Acrylic PaintGreat for children
Retique It Chalk PaintBest for furniture
Testors Enamel Metallic PaintsExcellent for smaller metal crafts
ZenART Infinity Series Oil PaintsPerfect for color mixing
Artistro Paint PensDesigned for detail work

Testors Enamel Paint Set

[amazon box=”B00005C2KF” link_id=”31462″]

  • Number of Colors: 9
  • Durability: Durable
  • Drying Time: At least 24 hours
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Best for: Airbrushing

Testors Enamel Paint Set is a great choice for painting metal crafts and models, and it dries to a shiny, durable shell.

This set comes with a bottle of thinner that can be mixed into the paint to create a more liquid consistency that can be used with an airbrush. 

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Can be easily thinned for use with an airbrush
  • Comes with a paint brush and a tray

Cons:

  • May require the use of harsh chemicals to remove

Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint

[amazon box=”B07NDP8TFH” link_id=”31463″]

  • Number of Colors: 20
  • Durability: Durable
  • Drying Time: Quick drying
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Best for: Projects that will be outside

The Arteza Outdoor Acrylic Paint set is designed for use on projects that will be exposed to the elements, and it features scuff-resistant and self-sealing qualities.

With 20 different colors you won’t need to worry about how to mix the perfect shade.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of colors
  • Scuff resistant
  • Self-sealing

Cons:

  • Water-based paint, so you’ll need to work relatively fast

Arteza Metallic Acrylic Paint Set

[amazon box=”B08FXGZ9SY” link_id=”31464″]

  • Number of Colors: 8
  • Durability: May require varnish to increase durability
  • Drying Time: Fast
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Best for: Any project that needs a pearly glimmer

The Arteza Metallic Acrylic Paint Set comes with 8 shimmering colors that are nonfading and nontoxic.

They are heavy-body paints, making them perfect for any project requiring a thicker consistency paint.

Pros:

  • Stunning pearlescent colors
  • Heavy-body paint
  • Fast drying

Cons:

  • These paints don’t work well on rough surfaces

Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colour Set

[amazon box=”B002E9GUZ4″ link_id=”31465″]

  • Number of Colors: 10
  • Durability: Durable once dry
  • Drying Time: Slow
  • Finish: Matte
  • Best for: When you want to take your time painting a project

The Winsor and Newton Winton Oil Colour Set is a good selection for those who wish to take their time painting and adjust their colors as they go.

Pros:

  • Easy to alter color due to slow drying time
  • Very easy to mix colors
  • Colors stay true once dry
  • Water resistant

Cons:

  • Slow drying time
  • May require the use of toxic solvents to remove paint

MyArtscape Oil Paint Set

[amazon box=”B076FRSRL7″ link_id=”31466″]

  • Number of Colors: 48
  • Durability: Durable once dry
  • Drying Time: Slow
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Best for: A great beginner set for those who wish to experiment with oil paints

MyArtscape Oil Paint Set is a great choice for anyone who wants the slow-drying qualities of oil paint without having to rely on mixing colors to get their desired shade.

This set comes with 48 vibrant lightfast colors.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of colors
  • Won’t discolor when exposed to light
  • High shine finish

Cons:

  • Can take a long time to fully dry, up to weeks

U.S. Art Supply Outdoor Acrylic Paint

[amazon box=”B08QZP19VH” link_id=”31467″]

  • Number of Colors: 24
  • Durability: Designed for use on indoor or outdoor projects
  • Drying Time: Fast
  • Finish: Matte
  • Best for: Children and beginners

The U.S. Art Supply Outdoor Acrylic Paint set comes with 24 different colors as well as a color-mixing wheel tool that can help you learn how to properly combine colors.

It also comes equipped with a 7 piece brush kit that includes different shapes and sizes of brushes for detail and background work.

Pros:

  • Weather resistant
  • Fade resistant
  • Nontoxic
  • Smooth consistency 

Cons:

  • Water-based paint, so may require the use of an additional sealant if exposed to extreme temperatures or heavy moisture

Retique It Chalk Paint

[amazon box=”B00S517V7G” link_id=”31468″]

  • Number of Colors: 1
  • Durability: Needs sealant if it will be outdoors or handled often
  • Drying Time: 30 minutes
  • Finish: Matte
  • Best for: Furniture

Chalk paint is a favorite in the interior decorating world, and Retique It Chalk Paint is designed specifically for use on furniture.

If you’re looking for a quick-drying paint that comes in neutral colors and dries to a smooth, chalky finish, this is the paint for you.

Pros:

  • Fast drying
  • Low odor
  • Low toxicity
  • Great for creating a distressed or antique look

Cons:

  • Requires the use of a marine finish topcoat as well as a clear wax coat for exterior projects
  • Colors must be purchased individually

Testors Enamel Metallic Paints

[amazon box=”B01NAC0IPP” link_id=”31469″]

  • Number of Colors: 7
  • Durability: Durable
  • Drying Time: Can take up to a few days
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Best for: Small metal items

Testors Enamel Metallic Paints are an excellent option if you’re looking to create a metallic sheen with the durable and high-gloss qualities of enamel paint. 

Pros:

  • Designed specifically for use on metal
  • Muted colors enhance the appearance of metal crafts

Cons:

  • Comes in ¼ ounce jars, so not ideal for larger projects
  • Can be challenging to remove without the use of chemicals once dry

ZenART Infinity Series Oil Paints

[amazon box=”B075QCJWH4″ link_id=”31470″]

  • Number of Colors: 8
  • Durability: Durable once dry, but with a long curing time
  • Drying Time: Can take weeks to fully dry
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Best for: Advanced artists who love to mix colors

ZenART Infinity Series Oil Paints come with both cool and warm versions of the primary colors, as well as Ivory Black and Titanium White, making it easy to mix any color of the rainbow. 

Pros:

  • Rich colors
  • Excellent choice for wet on wet painting
  • Nontoxic

Cons:

  • Thick consistency, which is optimal for impasto technique but can take quite some time to dry

Artistro Paint Pens

[amazon box=”B07NS381GK” link_id=”31471″]

  • Number of Colors: 30
  • Durability: May require a varnish for extended longevity
  • Drying Time: Fast
  • Finish: Glossy
  • Best for: Detail work

If you’re looking for an easy way to add details to your metal crafts, Artistro Paint Pens are the way to go. These paint pens come in 30 bright colors and are easy to apply to any smooth surface.

Pros:

  • Nontoxic
  • Fine point tip makes these paint pens perfect for detail work

Cons:

  • Not ideal for applying to rougher surfaces

6 Tips & Guidelines When Painting Metal

In order to get optimal adhesion, you may need to prepare the metal before applying paint.

Depending on the quality of the metal, preparation may consist of cleaning the metal, sanding the surface or using a wire brush to remove any rust or debris, and priming the surface.

1. Clean the Metal

To clean the metal, you can use mineral spirits to remove any grease or chemicals.

If the metal has already been painted and you wish to paint over it, check to make sure that you are using the same kind of paint that is already on the metal.

If not, you will want to remove the old paint first. A wire brush, sander, or scraper can be used to remove old paint.

2. Sand the Metal

Sanding the metal roughens it up and can help to make the paint better adhere to the surface.

After sanding, you can apply a primer, which is an important step when the metal item will be exposed to moisture. Look for a rust-inhibiting primer for the best outcome.

3. Prime the Metal

Be sure to allow each coat of primer to completely dry before applying paint.

Depending on the opacity of the paint being used, you may need to apply additional coats to get adequate coverage.

(Different colors of paint even by the same brand can have varying levels of opacity – this information is sometimes listed on the label.)

Some paints have primer built into them, so make sure to check the label before buying a separate primer.

For best results, it’s always a good idea to purchase primer, paint, and sealant made by the same company.

4. Seal the Metal

You may also want to apply a sealant or varnish to add further protection to the paint against the elements or from heavy usage of the metal item.

You will want to apply the sealant in thin, even coats, working in a horizontal direction. 

Just like with the primer and the paint, make sure to allow each coat of sealant to dry entirely before applying the next.

Depending on the type of sealant you use, it can take several days for it to dry enough for the item to be safely handled.

5. Safety First

Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area and to wear appropriate safety gear when working with higher toxicity paints.

Working outdoors is always safest, but if that is not possible you can open windows and doors and keep a fan blowing. 

6. Use the Right Brushes

Use the right size brush for each stage of your project. In general, the larger the surface area being painted, the larger size brush you should use.

Detail work calls for smaller brushes or the use of paint pens. 

Conclusion

There is a type of paint for virtually every metal crafting project under the sun, and choosing the right kind of paint for the right project is the key to creating attractive results. 

Be sure to use paint designed for exterior use on outdoor projects to ensure that exposure to the sun and moisture doesn’t erode the paint. 

Acrylic paints tend to be a lower-toxicity option that can be a good choice for children or for larger projects.

Enamel paints are great for crafts that require a durable, glossy finish, while oil paints are beneficial for those who like to take their time painting and to adjust their colors as they go.

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