The Best way to Paint Metal Railings

The best way to paint metal railings

Posted by Mike Gregory

I’ve been a professional decorator for many years and during that time I’ve painted a hell of a lot of railings. I’ve used multiple products and methods but keep coming back to the same system, not only because it looks brilliant, but also because I know it will last for years. I thought I’d put pen on paper so I can share what I think is the best way to paint metal railings. Maybe it will help you too.

The preparation of metal railings

First things first: you need to prepare the railings. Suppose your railings are previously painted and look very tired. The first thing you need to do is remove heavy dirt from the surface with hot water, a cloth, and a detergent like sugar soap. Any paint you put on dirt or mold will look good for a while, but it may not adhere very well to the metal and will fail over time.

You’ll also need to remove any flake paint with a scraper or sander, then sand the entire surface with sandpaper (aluminum oxide). This gives you a nice smooth surface to begin with and also helps with adhesion and longevity.

The next step is to prime any rust stains with Oxi (or Oxid) primer. This is mostly a precautionary measure as my chosen metal color has rust preventive in it in the product itself. That said, Oxi Primer definitely helps keep your metal railings rust free and looking fresh a lot longer.

The best color

In my honest opinion, the best old fashioned hammerit is the best metal railing paint and I’ll tell you why. You can apply Hammerite to bare metal without the need for a separate primer. Additionally, as mentioned above, Hammerite contains anti-rust agents, which means that rust won’t recur for a long time after you’ve painted your railings.

The other reason I like Hammerite is thick, creamy, and rich. Everything you need to put on thick coats of paint. The coverage is great and the finish is brilliant too. You get a few brush marks, but you can go with any metal color. Drying time is fast even for an oil-based paint and you can usually apply a second coat of the product on the same day.

The best way to apply the paint on the railings

I’ve tried different methods over the years, but the best I’ve found is using a medium pile mini (emulsion roller) and a brush. Hammerit is thick and gloopy like most other metal paints, making it difficult to brush everything on. The way to do this is to touch blobs of paint everywhere you can’t get the mini roller to get there. Usually in decorative swirls, at the top and bottom of each rail, under the handrail, etc. This is known as “cutting in”. Work on one section at a time, cut in the section, and then go back to get all the larger areas with a mini roller full of paint. Be generous with the color too !! The further you go, the better it will look and the longer it will take. Have enough stamens ready to catch any drops from your roller.

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