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April 11, 2024

The Best Paint for Metal (Including Best Heat Resistant and Spray Paint)

Metal paints give metal surfaces new life and long-lasting protection from rust and other damage

Image credit: Shutterstock/MDV Edwards

Welcome to the Thomas guide to the best paint for metal 2024. Thomas has been connecting North American industrial buyers and suppliers for more than 120 years. When you purchase products through our independent recommendations, we may earn an affiliate commission. 

When sprucing up metal surfaces, it’s important to have the appropriate coats and tools. Not just anything works as paint for metal surfaces and you’ll need specific metal paints for the job, whether you want to provide aesthetic appearance or prevent rust from forming on both outdoor and indoor metal surfaces. Without the right paint, there can be issues with paint adhesion or smooth application. Whether working on outdoor or indoor projects, industrial equipment, or home repairs, having the proper paint for metal is essential.

Giving metal surfaces a new face is not the only benefit of good metal paint. It also prevents rust and gives long-lasting protection against corrosion and weather damage, to name just a few of its benefits. Once prepped and primed, the painted surface can shine like new with the right paint for metal. This not only looks aesthetically pleasing but protects the metal underneath.

Here is a list of the best paints for metal, followed by a buying guide to help you select the best paint for metal.

Whether you need metal paint for an industrial product or a home project, this list has a variety of options to help get the job done. Here are our top picks for metal paint, based on thousands of reviews.

Best Rust Resistant Paint for Metal Surfaces: Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel | Buy Now

Best Paint and Primer Combo for Metal: Krylon Color Master | Buy Now

Best Spray Paint for Metal Surfaces: GLIDDEN Max Flex | Buy Now

Best Multi-Use Paint for Metal Surfaces: Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch | Buy Now

Best Industrial Metal Paint: Rust-Oleum Professional | Buy Now

Best Acrylic Paint for Metal Surfaces: BEHR PREMIUM Direct To Metal | Buy Now

Best for Exterior Metal Surfaces: Valspar Anti-Rust Armor | Buy Now

Best Heat Resistant Paint for Metal Surfaces: Rust-Oleum High Heat Spray Paint | Buy Now

Best Paint for Metal With Glossy Finish: Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint Six Pack | Buy Now

Best Paint With Textured Look For Metal: Rust-Oleum Hammered | Buy Now

Scroll down to read more about these top picks for the best paint for metal according to many happy buyers.

*Prices listed in this article were as shown in US$ on amazon.com, lowes.com, and homedepot.com as of January 2024.

1. Best Rust Resistant Paint for Metal—Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel

When preparing to paint metal, it’s important to ensure the surface is protected from rust. That’s where Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel can help. It’s suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and has a corrosion-resistant formula to help protect from rust. The oil-based paint dries in about two hours; a quick dry while allowing enough time to ensure the coat is even.

“I’ve used this in the past and love it,” one reviewer wrote. “I sprayed a canoe about 6 years ago. After seasons of use and abuse over rocks and sand, scrubbing, pressure washing, and chemical baths between different watersheds, lending it out to friends, and leaving it out in the elements it still looks good. Nice gloss. Polishes up nice. Repairs easy, nearly invisible over aged paint.”


  • Size: 32 oz
  • Sheens: Flat/matte, satin, gloss
  • Colors: 22

BUY NOW: US$13.66 (Was US$15.59), Amazon

Also Available at: Walmart, Ace Hardware, and Lowe’s

2. Best Paint and Primer Combo for Metal—Krylon Color Master

Part of working hard is working smart. So when there’s a product that combines two steps into one, it’s probably the smart choice. Krylon Color Master integrates the process of priming and painting into one easy process, saving the user time and effort. This spray paint has a conical tip, and dries in approximately 10 minutes, making quick and tidy work of any project.

“I got a couple of old, metal tractor seats that had been sitting outside for years,” one reviewer wrote. “I wanted the natural rust look so I didn’t want to paint them. I brushed off the loose rust and then sprayed three light coats of this on. Works and looks great, no rust on your pants. There is a light sheen. I have them sitting outside in the elements.”


  • Size: 12 oz
  • Sheens: Gloss, metallic, satin, flat, matte, semi-gloss
  • Colors: 53

BUY NOW: US$18.75, Amazon

Also Available at: Walmart

3. Best Spray Paint for Metal—GLIDDEN Max Flex

For a quick and simple paint job, spray paint is the easiest option. GLIDDEN Max Flex spray paint promises no dripping or streaking, and a drying time of as little as five minutes. Good for both indoor and outdoor use, it has a specialized formula for a professional finish. It also has a distinct spray pattern that provides a wider and smoother finish.

“I got this paint to use on some rusty, wrought iron, support stakes in my garden,” explained one customer. After a very light sanding, I sprayed each one using the Glidden Max Flex paint. It was so easy to use. No runs, great coverage with only one coat on each side and it dried to the touch in five minutes! I would definitely use this paint again.”


  • Size: 12 oz
  • Sheens: Flat/matte, gloss
  • Colors: 18

BUY NOW: US$7.98, The Home Depot

4. Best Multi-Use Paint for Metal—Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch

Some projects have more than just a metal surface to paint. That’s the benefit of a multi-purpose paint, such as Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch latex paint. It works on a variety of surfaces, including metal surfaces, wood surfaces, masonry, and even unglazed ceramic. It applies smoothly and is resistant to chipping or fading. The paint dries to the touch in about 30 minutes.

“This paint was great,” one reviewer wrote. “It covered well. The paint was a semi-gloss finish as opposed to the satin finish we usually purchase for our metal porch railing. We painted one half of the porch on Thursday. The look was fantastic. It looked like a new railing. On Friday the mailman thought it was still wet but complimented on how clean it looked.”


  • Size: 32 oz
  • Sheens: Flat/matte, semi-gloss, gloss
  • Colors: 23

BUY NOW: US$16.48, Amazon

Also Available at: Walmart, and Ace Hardware

5. Best Industrial Metal Paint—Rust-Oleum Professional

Commercial and heavy-duty projects need industrial-quality paint. Rust-Oleum Professional protective enamel paint is an oil-based metal paint developed specifically for metal surfaces in industrial environments. Within two to four hours of applying, it dries into a glossy, smooth finish. The paint holds its color and quality, even when exposed to the elements. This paint is made to be durable, and is rust, chip, and corrosion resistant.

“I do a lot of metal work on trailers, truck frames, etc,” one reviewer explained. “I have always liked Rustoleum paints for those projects. May have to thin this paint to spray it on. When done properly, this is one of the best products. Commit yourself to a top-notch prep job and this paint will reward you with long life and good protection”


  • Size: 128 oz
  • Sheens: Gloss
  • Colors: 6

BUY NOW: US$70.54, Amazon

Also Available at: Walmart, and Ace Hardware

6. Best Acrylic Paint for Metal—BEHR PREMIUM Direct To Metal

As an alternative to oil-based paints, acrylic is a solid choice. BEHR PREMIUM Direct To Metal paint has an added benefit above other acrylic options. As the name suggests, it’s able to be applied directly to properly cleaned metal surfaces. It adheres to a variety of metal bases, and is washable with just soap and water. The paint is resistant to corrosion, and designed to handle harsh outdoor elements.

“I used this paint to redo all the metal doors on my old job,” wrote one customer, “because they were beginning to rust. So I sanded the doors down and cleaned them off. With two coatings, I was able to make the doors look brand new. Even with the first coating, you can tell right away this paint was well worth it.”


  • Size: 128 oz
  • Sheens: Semi-gloss, eggshell
  • Colors: 1

BUY NOW: US$48.98, The Home Depot

7. Best Exterior Paint for Metal—Valspar Anti-Rust Armor

For exterior metal surfaces, from doors to playground equipment, Valspar Anti-Rust Armor is a perfect choice. This oil-based metal paint is resistant to both stains and rust, as well as chemicals and abrasion. It’s durable enough to handle the outdoor elements, and strong enough to handle a solid scrubbing. It’s UV resistant, so it’s perfect for house and garage doors.

“I have been in the Real Estate Business for 47 years,” one reviewer explained. “I have never come across a better paint. The day before we had gotten the wrong color paint, really bright yellow so we quit painting. Today we painted over the yellow, and over old dull paint, and this paint covered, even the yellow, perfectly. Seems too thick when you start, but it spreads like velvet.”


  • Size: 128 oz
  • Sheens: Gloss
  • Colors: 1

BUY NOW: US$48.11, Amazon

Also Available at: Walmart, Kroger, and Lowe’s

8. Best Heat Resistant Paint for Metal—Rust-Oleum High Heat Spray Paint

When working to restore and protect high-heat surfaces such as automotive parts, it’s important to have a product that can handle the temperatures. Rust-Oleum High Heat spray paint can handle sporadic heat from heat-generating surfaces as high as 2000°F. It’s both gas and oil-resistant, and protects from damage caused by the elements. It binds well to bare metal and has a comfort spray tip to help prevent finger fatigue.

“We used the Rust-Oleum High Heat to refurbish our 15-year-old fireplace” wrote one reviewer of this cheaper paint, “with excellent result. The “Flat Black“ sprayed on evenly and quickly, easily hiding all the old dirty looking interior. Now our fireplace looks clean and new without worrying about the high temperatures when we Enjoy our favorite cozy area of our living room. Great product!”


  • Size: 12 oz
  • Sheens: Flat/matte
  • Colors: 1

BUY NOW: US$7.98 (Was US$14.99), Amazon

Also Available at: Lowes

9. Best Glossy Paint for Metal—Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint Six-Pack

A good, glossy paint can restore a metal object to its former glory. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust spray paint comes in a convenient six-pack to ensure there’s enough to handle even large painting projects. It helps revive heavily rusted surfaces, and dries to the touch in two to four hours. The glossy finishing provides a pristine look to any metal surface, and it’s durable enough to handle extreme weather conditions.

“This paint was used to cover a garden open-metal shelf rack that we use to pot various plants each spring,” one reviewer wrote. This time was just a touch-up to cover a few scratched areas and to replace the glossy look. The rack stays outside all year in full sun and full winter exposure. High altitude with high UV exposure all year long. This paint is long-lasting”


  • Size: 12 oz per container
  • Sheens: Gloss
  • Colors: 31

BUY NOW: US$45, Amazon

Also Available at: Walmart, and Lowe’s

10. Best Paint With Textured Look for Metal—Rust-Oleum Hammered

Some metal surfaces just look better with a textured appearance. While most products finish with a smooth surface, Rust-Oleum Hammered gives metal surfaces a more coarse appearance, as if having been worked by a hammer. This oil-based paint helps to hide flaws while protecting from rust. It blocks moisture and dries in about 30 minutes, finishing with a beautiful glossy sheen.

“Used on a wrought iron porch railing that was in really bad shape,” wrote one reviewer. Came out really good considering what I was working with. I let it dry overnight and now it’s unexpectedly raining this afternoon. So far it’s holding up great. I’ve been painting for almost 30 years and this is definitely one of the best I’ve used on this type of application. Overall a great paint.”


  • Size: 32 oz
  • Sheens: Gloss
  • Colors: 8

BUY NOW: US$22.98, Amazon

Also Available at: Walmart, and Ace Hardware

The Best Paint for Metal Surface—Summary

Whether you’re looking for metal spray paints, an oil-based formula, acrylic paint, or other water-based formula to paint multiple surfaces, or even to create a smooth texture and upcycle metal chairs or other metal furniture, our list has an option for you. The products on our list can handle any project from bed frames to window frames.

When looking at the best paints for metal surfaces, our choice is Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel paint (US$70.54, Amazon). It’s appropriate for indoor and outdoor projects, and the oil-based formula prevents rust and corrosion on the metal surface underneath. If you prefer spray paint products for your metal surfaces, we recommend Krylon Color Master paint (US$18.75, Amazon). It’s both a rust-resistant primer and a paint, making the painting process a much more simple undertaking. Using spray paint can also help you paint evenly even with irregular surfaces.

As with any paint job, it’s important to have the right tools, in addition to good metal paints. Quality paints are obviously important, but there are other things to consider as well when painting metal.

Type of Paint

When selecting metal paints, there are several paint bases to choose from, and each has its own benefits.

  • Oil-based paint: For outdoor projects, oil-based metal paints are the best bet. Oil paint is very durable, and is generally easier to clean. With oil-based, primer isn’t necessary, although it will give you a smoother finish. Oil-based paints tend to be more expensive. Oil-based paints are made with either plant-based oil or pigments, combined with a solvent. The solvent tends to create a strong odor, so it’s important to ventilate the area well when using oil paint.
  • Acrylic paint: This is a water-based paint that also has great adherence. It produces fewer fumes, which makes it useful for both indoor and outdoor projects. Acrylic water-based paint is also less durable, so it won’t last as long against the elements outdoors. That said, water-based metal paints are more affordable than their oil-based counterparts, so that’s something to consider as well.
  • Latex paint: Similar to acrylic, this is a water-based paint. It tends to have a less glossy look than acrylic paint, and it tends to have a greater variety of options. For those who are eco-conscious, water-based paints are more environmentally friendly.
  • Spray paint: This is less a type of paint, since spray paints can be oil or water-based, but more a method of application. They bring a level of convenience to any project since spray cans are easier to work with. They can handle irregular shapes, such as patio furniture or other types of metal furniture. There’s also no concern of visible brush strokes lingering.

Other Considerations

Unless using a product that is both a primer and paint in one, most products will need a primer. For ferrous metals, consider iron oxide primers. An oil-based primer will provide a smooth surface for painting, but takes a while to dry. When applying paint, consider what the best method is and what will make it easier. For touch-ups on existing paint, you need little more than paint pens to get the job done. Look at what type of brush works best for the project at hand, whether it’s a wire brush, synthetic brush, or a roller. If you’re using spray cans, you can get a comfort grip accessory with a pistol grip design for easier use.

We hope our review of the best paint for metal has been helpful, and you were able to find the best oil paint, acrylic paint, or other type to paint metal surfaces. For more suppliers of related products for painting plastic surfaces and other surfaces, including floor coatings, anti-slip paints, epoxy coatings, and masonry water repellents, consult our additional guides, or visit the Thomas Supplier Discovery Platform.

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