How to paint aluminum

Follow these five steps to update any aluminum object with a fresh coat of paint.

How to paint aluminum

A lightweight and durable material, aluminum has long been used for construction projects and home furnishings. Though the silvery-white metal looks sleek and modern on its own, many homeowners opt to update aluminum surfaces with paint. Whether you wish to refresh an old filing cabinet or decorate a patio chair, the process is relatively straightforward. Simply follow the instructions laid out here, and you can make-over the metal surface in no time.

Project Summary

  1. Thoroughly clean the aluminum and let dry.
  2. Sand the metal surface with coarse-, then fine-grit sandpaper.
  3. Apply self-etching primer, let dry, then sand again.
  4. Apply paint (multiple coats, and sanding between coats, may be necessary).
  5. Apply enamel sealer.

For a full tutorial on how to paint aluminum, with details and tips for each step of the process, continue below!

How to Paint Aluminum

STEP 1: Thoroughly clean the aluminum.

Find a well-ventilated work area, and lay drop cloths to protect the surrounding surfaces from paint splatters. Then, thoroughly clean your aluminum before you get started on your transformation. Fill a large bucket with warm water and mix in a few squirts of degreasing cleaner—either a specialty product like Stanley Home Products Original Degreaser (view on Amazon) or a grease-cutting dish detergent like Dawn. Next, dip a rag in the suds to wipe away dust and dirt. If the aluminum object is covered in rust or a flaking layer of paint, you’ll also need to scrub it gently with a wire brush to remove this layer—either can prevent a layer of fresh paint from fully adhering.

Allow the aluminum to air-dry completely.

STEP 2: Sand the metal surface in a two-stage process.

Next, you’ll need to sand the aluminum surface to further help your paint job stick. Don protective gear—gloves, goggles, and a dust mask—to save yourself from exposure to the metal dust particles. This is absolutely critical. Then, using either a sanding block or sandpaper, rough up every side, corner, and crevice on the object. If you’re working on a larger, more flat surface like an outdoor tabletop, you may find that the job goes faster with a power sander. Whatever tool you choose, start with a coarse 80- to 100-grit paper before sanding the surface a second time with a finer grit (400-grit or higher).

Wash the piece again with warm water and a degreasing cleaner to remove any dust from the sanding process; dry completely.

How to paint aluminum

STEP 3: Apply self-etching primer, then sand again.

When preparing aluminum for paint, it’s important to use a self-etching primer. Its special formulation contains chemicals that micro-etch the surface of the aluminum for the best bond possible. Fortunately, it’s a cinch to apply: Purchase self-etching primer (such as SEM Self Etching Primer, available on Amazon) in spray paint form from a home improvement store or auto specialty shop. Spray the primer on in thin coats, according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Wait the recommended dry time that’s listed on the primer’s packaging. Then, lightly sand the piece again with 400-grit sandpaper, and wipe away the resulting dust using a rag.

STEP 4: Apply paint.

Choose acrylic or latex paint formulated for use on metal (and if you’re painting an outdoor item like aluminum patio furniture, don’t forget to pick a paint labeled “exterior grade”). Stay away from high-gloss paint; these are not ideal for painting aluminum, as they will highlight imperfections like dents and scratches often found in the lightweight metal. Instead, choose paint with a matte or satin finish.

Base your choice of application—spray or brush—on the size of your paint job and your personal preference, and be sure to follow the paint manufacturer’s directions with regard to the number of recommended coats recommended. Sanding between coats may be necessary.

STEP 5: Apply sealer.

After the paint has thoroughly dried, apply at least two coats of enamel sealer (view example on Amazon). This enamel layer will help protect the painted aluminum from chipping, scratching, or fading over years of use. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on cure times before you set anything on or start using your newly-painted aluminum item once again.

How to paint aluminum

Before you paint aluminum it is important to prepare the aluminum so that the paint will adhere to the material. Old paint that is not removed will result in the new paint quickly peeling off, wasting your time and effort. Any dirt or grime that is on the aluminum will cause the paint to easily slide off the material.

Remove Old Paint

If the aluminum has old paint already on it, then it is important to remove that paint before you can repaint it in a new color. You can remove existing paint with a power washer that peels the old paint through pressure.

Sanding

Sand any remaining paint that did not come off with the pressure wash. Use 50 grit coarse sandpaper. If the area is small, then use a small sanding block to remove the paint.

Not only will sanding remove the paint, but it will also rough up the surface of the aluminum and help the paint adhere to the surface. You can use a sander to cover the entire surface where you plan on painting.

Clean the Aluminum

Once you have finished sanding, clean the aluminum with dishwashing soap and water. You can use the power washer or simply use a sponge and a hose. You should make sure that you remove all of the soap before it dries to the surface of the metal.

Aluminum is a popular and common material that is used for many different kinds of items. Let the metal completely air dry before beginning the painting process.

Breathe new life into your aluminum siding by repairing, cleaning, and painting it. It’s a big project, but a DIYer with a true “can”-do attitude can tackle it.

How to paint aluminum

Aluminum siding first became popular in the wake of World War II, when this metal, which had been so crucial to the war effort, became more readily available.

Homeowners valued the material for its weather protection and insulating properties. They also loved that, in comparison with wood siding, aluminum requires little maintenance.

But when vinyl siding arrived in the late 1950s, aluminum rapidly fell out of favor, in part because it was prone to denting and its color faded relatively quickly.

That’s not to say that if you live in an aluminum-clad home, you should replace your siding. On the contrary, those attributes that once made it a favorite are as appealing today as they were in the 1940s. Aluminum remains a low-maintenance, first-rate insulating barrier against the weather.

So long as your aluminum siding is performing to your satisfaction, consider preserving it by cleaning, patching, and painting your siding.

Before You Begin

Before painting aluminum siding, you may find it necessary—or merely desirable—to replace any sections that have been dented or otherwise damaged. After all, one virtue of this cladding material is that it lends itself so easily to repair work. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Draw a square around the section of damaged aluminum siding that you would like to remove.
  2. Cut away the section, using tin snips in combination with a utility knife, leaving a clean, square hole to patch.
  3. Cut the replacement patch to size (three inches larger than the section you initially cut out).
  4. Use tin snips to take the nailing strip off the replacement patch.
  5. Spread clear silicone caulk on the back of the patch.
  6. Press the patch firmly in place, tucking its top behind the row of siding running directly above the area you are repairing.
  7. Wipe away the excess silicone, using your finger to smooth the joints where the patch meets the original siding.

Prepping the Surface

There’s still more preparation to address before painting aluminum siding. You need to scrape off peeling and flaking paint, and then chisel out any old caulk lines and apply new ones. Scrub away any mildew with a solution of three parts water to one part household bleach. Remove dirt and grime by hand-washing the siding with soap and warm water.

Alternatively, if you want to speed up the job of cleaning, rent a power washer. Just be sure to accessorize the tool with a low-pressure tip, being careful to direct the water stream directly at the siding. Never spray upward; by doing so, you may force water behind the aluminum. If you spot any aluminum oxidation or rust, remove that too before rinsing the exterior surface with a garden hose.

Do not begin painting until the siding has been allowed to dry completely; it should take about three or four days.

How to paint aluminum

How to Paint Aluminum Siding

With painter’s tape and lengths of plastic sheeting, protect items and areas adjacent to the siding. (Once you have completed the paint job, remember to remove the tape as soon as possible so that it doesn’t adhere permanently.)

STEP 1

For best results, begin with an application of galvanized metal etching primer (view example on Amazon). Coat on the product with a synthetic polyester paintbrush, covering the full surface area before allowing the primer to cure for a minimum of four hours.

STEP 2

Next, apply 100 percent acrylic exterior paint. Use a brush at first to paint the edges, then proceed to “load up” the roller. After pouring a few inches of paint into a tray, dip in the roller. Run the tool back and forth over the ribbed area to ensure that paint gets evenly distributed over the roller, with little or no excess to cause drips.

Wield your paint roller from left to right if the siding is horizontal, or up and down if the siding is vertically oriented. Start painting at the top and work your way down. As you go, smooth bumps in the wet paint with a clean paintbrush.

Continue until you have applied paint to the entire area you set out to cover.

STEP 3

Allow at least two hours for the coat of paint to dry. It’s strongly recommended that you add a second coat to achieve a long-lasting and professional-looking finish.

Note: Because they excel in hiding surface irregularities, low-luster (also called satin) finishes usually look better on aluminum siding than do other types of paint.

Early in my career I worked for a dealership that sold production boats, every one of which was equipped with painted aluminum arches. Invariably, the paint would blister, in some cases before the vessels were offloaded from delivery trailers, and warranty claims were dutifully submitted, which the builder, to its credit, promptly paid. In an effort to stem the cash flow, the company earnestly focused on improving the preparation and paint application processes. Yet the problem persisted.

A few years later, I was managing a boatyard where painting aluminum spars was common. Leery of experiencing the same sort of failure, I began reviewing old spars and other painted aluminum hardware. I noticed that nearly all the failures occurred adjacent to a hardware installation, a fastener, a spreader, a step, or some other fitting—an area where the paint coating had necessarily been upset or breached. I believed I was onto something.

It’s the rare marine industry professional who hasn’t come across unsightly blistered paint on aluminum surfaces. Here, the screws damaged the paint when they were installed, allowing water to migrate under the coating.

Poultice Corrosion

Among other attributes, marine-grade aluminum alloys, those in the 5000 and 6000 series, are naturally corrosion resistant. When exposed to air, oxygenated seawater, or fresh water, aluminum quickly develops a tough, transparent oxide film that is resistant to corrosion. There is, however, an aesthetic price for this durability. Left to the elements, aluminum develops a dull gray—and eventually dusty, gritty—finish; for military, pilot, fishing, and utilitarian applications, that finish can be a thing of beauty, as it lowers building and maintenance costs. Few recreational users have, however, learned to look beyond aluminum’s blemished surface.

How to paint aluminum

The white powdery material, aluminum oxide, forms when aluminum is robbed of oxygen in a wet environment.

Enter two-part paints. These high-performance paints enable boatbuilders and component manufacturers to continue to reap aluminum’s rewards, including strength, ease of fabrication, and weight savings, as well as a resistance to corrosion for interior and engineering spaces, while enhancing the alloy’s visual appeal. However, once painted, aluminum can no longer develop its tough, clear, corrosion-resistant oxide coating. It doesn’t matter, because when aluminum is not exposed to moisture, its corrosion clock stops, or at least slows down substantially.

The paint works well until it is breached, and water enters the rift. This breach could be caused by a fastener, an antenna base, a navigation light, a hinge, a lockset, a nick, or a scratch—and it could be microscopic. Initially the wound is self-healing: The oxide coating forms, but instead of protecting the aluminum, it lifts the edge of the paint and allows water to migrate farther under the coating. At that point, the chemical equation changes, as moisture and aluminum, in the absence of air, are the ideal incubators for a phenomenon known as poultice corrosion. When this happens, the aluminum pits and produces copious amounts of aluminum oxide powder or, when wet, aluminum hydroxide, which looks a bit like freezer-burned vanilla ice cream. The formation of the oxide or hydroxide lifts the paint, causing the familiar and unsightly blister, which eventually falls off, exposing raw, pitted aluminum. The process doesn’t stop there, as it begins anew at the interface between the paint and exposed aluminum. While it progresses slowly, once it begins it’s difficult if not impossible to arrest without removing the blistered paint, cleaning, priming, and repainting the surface.

How to paint aluminum

It’s a double whammy for corrosion: The elk hide spreader boot is a hygroscopic material, attracting moisture and keeping the painted aluminum surface underneath wet and oxygen depleted.

Corrosion is also a problem on sharp, or unradiused, edges. In these areas, paint applied to the sharp edge tends to run off, making it too thin to be protective. Those areas also tend to suffer from abrasion abuse.

Prevention

As a result of my observations, both at the production boat dealership and in the boat yard, I concluded that the corrosion was the indirect result of breaches in the paint’s otherwise contiguous coating, caused, in the vast majority of cases, by hardware installations.

Others who have come to similar conclusions have tried to prevent corrosion by inserting plastic or another nonmetallic bushing or insulator between the hardware and the painted aluminum structure. While this can be helpful, it’s far from ideal: On heavily loaded structures such as cleats and winches, it’s often impractical to install these insulators; the loading will often cause them to split or crush. And, when water makes its way between the insulator and the painted surface, as it always does, poultice corrosion will begin.

How to paint aluminum

The best solution is prevention; when installing hardware on painted aluminum surfaces, liberally bed with polyurethane or polysulfide sealant.

It’s virtually impossible to prevent paint from being damaged or breached at hardware installations, often even with the addition of insulators. Therefore, instead of attempting to prevent the damage, an effort I believe is futile, assume it will occur and mitigate its effects. The solution is straightforward enough: protect the paint “wound” with a resilient, pliable sealant to prevent water from entering. Begin by dewaxing/degreasing both surfaces with a solvent such as mineral spirits or 3M General Purpose Adhesive Remover, then liberally bed the hardware with a low-adhesion polyurethane or polysulfide sealant. “Liberally” means the sealant should ooze out around the entire perimeter of the hardware base, as damage to the painted surface will occur wherever hardware makes contact. The sealant prevents water intrusion, rendering the paint wound inert. Fastener threads should be similarly treated. If insulators are used, the surface between the insulator and the paint should be bedded.

Sharp edges should be gently rounded before being painted. That alone will prevent the thin-paint phenomenon, coating failure, and subsequent corrosion.

All paint applications benefit from proper surface preparation, priming, and best industry paint application practices, and aluminum is no exception. Using these, as well as the liberal hardware bedding technique and quickly repairing damage, paint applied over aluminum can last for a decade or more.

About the Author: For many years a full-service yard manager, Steve now works with boat builders and owners and others in the industry as Steve D’Antonio Marine Consulting. He is the technical editor of Professional BoatBuilder , and is writing a book on marine systems, to be published by McGraw-Hill/International Marine.

Early in my career I worked for a dealership that sold production boats, every one of which was equipped with painted aluminum arches. Invariably, the paint would blister, in some cases before the vessels were offloaded from delivery trailers, and warranty claims were dutifully submitted, which the builder, to its credit, promptly paid. In an effort to stem the cash flow, the company earnestly focused on improving the preparation and paint application processes. Yet the problem persisted.

A few years later, I was managing a boatyard where painting aluminum spars was common. Leery of experiencing the same sort of failure, I began reviewing old spars and other painted aluminum hardware. I noticed that nearly all the failures occurred adjacent to a hardware installation, a fastener, a spreader, a step, or some other fitting—an area where the paint coating had necessarily been upset or breached. I believed I was onto something.

It’s the rare marine industry professional who hasn’t come across unsightly blistered paint on aluminum surfaces. Here, the screws damaged the paint when they were installed, allowing water to migrate under the coating.

Poultice Corrosion

Among other attributes, marine-grade aluminum alloys, those in the 5000 and 6000 series, are naturally corrosion resistant. When exposed to air, oxygenated seawater, or fresh water, aluminum quickly develops a tough, transparent oxide film that is resistant to corrosion. There is, however, an aesthetic price for this durability. Left to the elements, aluminum develops a dull gray—and eventually dusty, gritty—finish; for military, pilot, fishing, and utilitarian applications, that finish can be a thing of beauty, as it lowers building and maintenance costs. Few recreational users have, however, learned to look beyond aluminum’s blemished surface.

How to paint aluminum

The white powdery material, aluminum oxide, forms when aluminum is robbed of oxygen in a wet environment.

Enter two-part paints. These high-performance paints enable boatbuilders and component manufacturers to continue to reap aluminum’s rewards, including strength, ease of fabrication, and weight savings, as well as a resistance to corrosion for interior and engineering spaces, while enhancing the alloy’s visual appeal. However, once painted, aluminum can no longer develop its tough, clear, corrosion-resistant oxide coating. It doesn’t matter, because when aluminum is not exposed to moisture, its corrosion clock stops, or at least slows down substantially.

The paint works well until it is breached, and water enters the rift. This breach could be caused by a fastener, an antenna base, a navigation light, a hinge, a lockset, a nick, or a scratch—and it could be microscopic. Initially the wound is self-healing: The oxide coating forms, but instead of protecting the aluminum, it lifts the edge of the paint and allows water to migrate farther under the coating. At that point, the chemical equation changes, as moisture and aluminum, in the absence of air, are the ideal incubators for a phenomenon known as poultice corrosion. When this happens, the aluminum pits and produces copious amounts of aluminum oxide powder or, when wet, aluminum hydroxide, which looks a bit like freezer-burned vanilla ice cream. The formation of the oxide or hydroxide lifts the paint, causing the familiar and unsightly blister, which eventually falls off, exposing raw, pitted aluminum. The process doesn’t stop there, as it begins anew at the interface between the paint and exposed aluminum. While it progresses slowly, once it begins it’s difficult if not impossible to arrest without removing the blistered paint, cleaning, priming, and repainting the surface.

How to paint aluminum

It’s a double whammy for corrosion: The elk hide spreader boot is a hygroscopic material, attracting moisture and keeping the painted aluminum surface underneath wet and oxygen depleted.

Corrosion is also a problem on sharp, or unradiused, edges. In these areas, paint applied to the sharp edge tends to run off, making it too thin to be protective. Those areas also tend to suffer from abrasion abuse.

Prevention

As a result of my observations, both at the production boat dealership and in the boat yard, I concluded that the corrosion was the indirect result of breaches in the paint’s otherwise contiguous coating, caused, in the vast majority of cases, by hardware installations.

Others who have come to similar conclusions have tried to prevent corrosion by inserting plastic or another nonmetallic bushing or insulator between the hardware and the painted aluminum structure. While this can be helpful, it’s far from ideal: On heavily loaded structures such as cleats and winches, it’s often impractical to install these insulators; the loading will often cause them to split or crush. And, when water makes its way between the insulator and the painted surface, as it always does, poultice corrosion will begin.

How to paint aluminum

The best solution is prevention; when installing hardware on painted aluminum surfaces, liberally bed with polyurethane or polysulfide sealant.

It’s virtually impossible to prevent paint from being damaged or breached at hardware installations, often even with the addition of insulators. Therefore, instead of attempting to prevent the damage, an effort I believe is futile, assume it will occur and mitigate its effects. The solution is straightforward enough: protect the paint “wound” with a resilient, pliable sealant to prevent water from entering. Begin by dewaxing/degreasing both surfaces with a solvent such as mineral spirits or 3M General Purpose Adhesive Remover, then liberally bed the hardware with a low-adhesion polyurethane or polysulfide sealant. “Liberally” means the sealant should ooze out around the entire perimeter of the hardware base, as damage to the painted surface will occur wherever hardware makes contact. The sealant prevents water intrusion, rendering the paint wound inert. Fastener threads should be similarly treated. If insulators are used, the surface between the insulator and the paint should be bedded.

Sharp edges should be gently rounded before being painted. That alone will prevent the thin-paint phenomenon, coating failure, and subsequent corrosion.

All paint applications benefit from proper surface preparation, priming, and best industry paint application practices, and aluminum is no exception. Using these, as well as the liberal hardware bedding technique and quickly repairing damage, paint applied over aluminum can last for a decade or more.

About the Author: For many years a full-service yard manager, Steve now works with boat builders and owners and others in the industry as Steve D’Antonio Marine Consulting. He is the technical editor of Professional BoatBuilder , and is writing a book on marine systems, to be published by McGraw-Hill/International Marine.

How to paint aluminum

Aluminum gutters are both affordable and durable. Plus, you can paint aluminum gutters any color you’d like if you have the know-how. Check out some more of the benefits of buying aluminum gutters, and then follow the steps in this two-part guide to begin painting them.

Durability and Cost

One of the most noticeable benefits of having aluminum gutters is that they last much longer than other types of gutters. Typically, steel gutters will last for about 5 years before they begin rusting; aluminum gutters, on the other hand, can last as long as 30 years. In addition, normal steel gutters can cost upwards of $20 per foot. Aluminum gutters range from about $4-$8 per foot.

Installation and Leaking

Unlike copper or steel gutters, aluminum gutters are so easy to install that most homeowners can install these gutters themselves. Copper and steel gutters often require joints to be soldered, whereas aluminum gutters are easy to manipulate into different shapes and positions by hand during installation.

After buying new gutters to paint, or deciding to paint your old gutters, follow the steps below.

Remove the Old Paint

If you already have aluminum gutters installed, you must remove any existing paint that you may have gotten on your gutters when painting your house. Use a paint scraper to scrape off as much paint from the gutters as possible.

Clean the Gutters

This step is one of the most important in the series. Ensure the paint will stick and stay on the gutter for years to come by using grout sponges to clean the gutters. Clean the gutters with the sponges and a mixture of soap and water. Take your time and clean them well.

Rinse the Gutters

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the gutters, rinse them off with water. If you can, safely get onto the roof with a friend holding a ladder, and spray downward with a hose on the gutters to ensure any dirty water flows away from the gutters instead of pooling in them.

Prime the Gutters

Warning: When using primer or paint, wear safety gear and avoid getting any primer or paint on your skin. Use only in well-ventilated areas to avoid long periods of inhalation.

The key to a long-lasting paint job is to prime the gutters before painting them. Use an oil-based metal primer, and apply it per the product’s directions. Make sure your primer is ammonia-free, as a primer with ammonia could react with the aluminum, causing gas bubbles to occur between the layers.

Commonly used in buildings for window and door frames, column wraps, façade finishes and interior applications such as lighting fixtures, anodized aluminum is an elegant material on its own. However, there are times when you may want to change the color and appearance of the natural metal finish. As such, you may be wondering if it can be painted, or perhaps you’ve heard that it does not take paint well.

Can anodized aluminum be painted? Yes, anodized aluminum can be painted. The important thing to remember is that the surface must be thoroughly washed and dried before applying the etching primer and paint. Multiple layers of paint may be necessary.

Anodized aluminum is primarily a specialty aluminum finish that adds durability to aluminum. According to Lorin.com, anodized aluminum is created with an “electrochemical process where the metal is immersed in a series of tanks, wherein one of the tanks, the anodic layer is grown from the metal itself.”

What are the Benefits of Anodized Aluminum?

Some of the top benefits of anodized aluminum – which also double as the reasons why this particular aluminum is the best choice for painting – include:

  • It is corrosion-resistant and is not prone to peels or cracks. Other aluminum corrode when left in an area with a high moisture content, but anodized aluminum will never succumb to corrosion or any other unsightly peels or cracks.
  • It can be easily dyed. If you are looking for an option that is even easier than painting your anodized aluminum, you also have the option of dying it. Regular aluminum simply won’t retain any type of coloring, which is why it can only be found in a chrome hue.
  • It offers extreme adhesion. This is valuable for a variety of reasons, but in this case, it is highly beneficial to the painter. The pores of the anodized aluminum essentially soak in anything that is placed on it- such as primer and paint- for a flawless, lush finish.
  • More durable than regular aluminum. This is a clear benefit to anyone looking to build a structure or item, no matter how big or small. The anodized aluminum is more durable and reliable, so you can feel confident that the building or item is strong enough to take on any challenge that comes its way.

Anodized aluminum has become a top pick when creating all types of items and structures. Its durability is unparalleled, and its ability to stave off corrosion, no matter where it is placed, is a tremendous benefit for all types of applications.

Can you Paint over Aluminum?

As previously mentioned, anodized aluminum can be painted. In fact, it is one of the more straightforward materials to paint because of its superior adhesive qualities. The pores of the surface of anodized aluminum allow the paint to seep in, making it an ideal surface for painting.

However, just because anodized aluminum is easy to paint, does not mean that there are not strict steps to follow and specific tools that are necessary for success. In this next section, we will be describing – in detail – the best way to achieve a superior paint job on your anodized aluminum.

How to Paint Anodized Aluminum in 4 Steps

While painting anything made from anodized aluminum is simple, there are still essential products and timeframes that should be adhered to. The good news is that you only need a few items and about 6 hours to complete the painting job. Following this procedure will ensure you are left with a vibrant, flawless finish.

What You Will Need:

  • Dish Soap, Brush, and Water
  • Etching Primer
  • Sandpaper
  • Oil Based Paint

1. Start by Thoroughly Washing the Anodized Aluminum

Although anodized aluminum is designed to be more porous and adhesive than other aluminum, when it comes to painting on top, you need to make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned before application. This is due to the simple fact that anodized aluminum will become less adhesive over time when contaminants, such as grease, oil, or particles from the air, become locked inside. While this doesn’t harm the anodized aluminum, it makes it less possible to paint.

That is why you should thoroughly scrub the anodized aluminum using dish soap (try and find dish soap specifically designed to remove grease and bacteria, such as Dawn). Use a scrub brush to scrub away any impurities thoroughly. When finished scrubbing, wash away the soap thoroughly. Any leftover soap will cause problems with adhesion.

Wait for the anodized aluminum to dry entirely before moving on to the next step. However, make sure that you are ready to prime and paint as soon as the anodized aluminum is dried. You do not want to leave any time for contaminants to disrupt the adhesive again.

2. Apply Etching Primer

Pour the primer into a painter’s pot where it is easily accessible. You will need to coat the item or building in etching powder thoroughly. Make sure that no spots are left untouched, as the primer will be necessary for thorough adhesion of the paint onto the anodized aluminum.

When finished applying the primer, you will need to let the primer dry completely. This should take at least two full hours. During this time, clean off the paintbrush thoroughly.

3. Use Sandpaper to Remove any Bumps

Sometimes, primer can leave unsightly bumps and nicks in the anodized aluminum. If this is the case, you will need to use your sandpaper to grind away the lumps for a smooth surface gently. This is important for a slick surface that will adhere to the paint while also offering a sleek finish.

Be careful when using the sandpaper as you do not want to remove any of the primers from the anodized aluminum. The good news is that you won’t risk nicks or scratching the anodized aluminum itself.

4. Apply the Paint

Apply a thorough coat of the paint to your anodized aluminum surface. Make sure the paint is oil-based, as this will allow for the best adhesion from the anodized aluminum since the paint is able to seep into the pores. Make sure the entirety of the surface is covered with a thick coat of paint.

Wait a full two hours for the paint to dry. If necessary, apply additional coats in the same manner. Depending on how light your paint color is, you may need up to 3 coats for the best results. While the paint is drying, wash your paintbrush thoroughly for the preparation of an additional layer.

Conclusion

Anodized aluminum provides an excellent surface for painting as it is readily adhesive and is designed with pores that soak up materials, such as primers and paints, with ease. However, you will need to make sure that the item or building component is thoroughly washed and dried before trying to paint, as this can cause adhesion issues. You will also need an etching primer and oil-based paint for success.

How to paint aluminum

An aluminum window frame is an insulating material for windows; it can save energy and lock in temperatures; however, an aluminum frame can be a bland part of your exterior home decor. Paint, as always, can add that zesty splash of color your house needs to stand out in the neighborhood, but a metal surface means that you still need to follow the rules of careful preparation.

Step 1 – Clean the Aluminum Window Frame

First, you need to thoroughly clean the window frame, so mix a bucket of soapy water and grab a clean cloth to scrub it down. You should take glass cleaner to the windows themselves before starting this project as well.

Step 2 – Remove Stains

Any stains on the metal, especially rust stains, might interfere with the color of the finished paint, so before proceeding any further, they must be removed. A water-based detergent and oil-free steel wool should be just the thing you need for any stains. Rust stains can be removed with a variety of household items, such as vinegar or baking soda if used in the right capacity. An old toothbrush can aid in removing rust from any hard-to-reach spots. Once the aluminum is clear, rinse with clean water and wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Step 3 – Tape the Around Frame

Tape protects surroundings from excess paint streaks and drips that result in an unprofessional look. Lay strips of tape both on the window, where the glass meets the frame, and around the outside of the frame to avoid getting your paint anywhere but on the aluminum.

Step 4 – Prime the Window Frame

Metal must be primed for the paint to adhere correctly. Use metal primer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which should be somewhere on the can, and allow the primer ample time to dry before you continue to the next step.

Step 5 – Paint Top Coat

Open the paint and stir it for about a minute to even the color. Dip a small paintbrush into it, and scrape all excess off on the side of the bucket. Smoothly drag the paintbrush up and down the window frame for an even coat of paint. Reapply numerous coats of paint until the aluminum is completely colored, with no metal shining through. Make sure you allow each coat of paint to dry before you apply the next.

Step 6 – Remove the Tape

To remove the tape, pull it off at an angle, away from the painted area. If your tape wasn’t perfect, never fear. You can use a razor knife to remove any paint that may have gotten on the window, but be careful not to scratch the glass.