How to Paint Aluminum- A DIY Painting Guide

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By Cynthia Anaya

Updated: Feb 05, 2024

8 min read

How to Paint Aluminum

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    Aluminum is one of the most popular materials used for construction, home furnishings, home exteriors(shutters, sidings, window frames), patio furniture, and many more because it is affordable, durable, sturdy, lightweight, corrosion resistant, and gives a modern look. Aluminum has got a natural silver look, but if you want to enhance the look and make it colorful, painting the aluminum surface is a good option. In this article, we have covered in detail how to paint aluminum, whether it's a new item or refreshing the old ones.

    Steps to Paint Aluminum Objects With a Fresh Coat of Paint

    Materials Required

    • Wire brush
    • Drop cloth
    • Gloves
    • Gears for eye protection
    • Sandpaper
    • Degreasing detergent
    • Spray primer(Self-etching)
    • Spray paint(acrylic)
    • Enamel sealant

    Step1 : Cleaning the Surface

    The first step before transforming the aluminum surface is to clean it properly, so find an open space to perform this activity, then put the drop cloth to avoid the surrounding surface from any paint spilling, mix a few drops of degreasing cleaner in a bucket of warm water, put a rag in the solution to remove dirt and dust from the surface. Afterwards, scrub the surface gently with a wire brush if there's rust because the paint won't stick properly if the surface has rust or dust.  Finally let the aluminum dry completely before starting the next process.

    Step2 : Sanding the Surface

    Sand the surface with sandpaper using protective gear like goggles, gloves, and a dust mask to prevent any dust particles from harming you. Sand every corner and edge of the object thoroughly using a power sander for a larger object, especially a coarse sander. Use fine grit when sanding for the second time. Clean the object again, adding degreasing cleaner in warm water to remove dust gathered from sanding.

    Step3 : Apply a Coat of Self-etching Primer Followed by Sanding

    A coat of primer is essential for aluminum surfaces because it enables the paint to stick properly. Buy primer in spray paint and spray a thin layer as per the directions given in the box, let the primer dry completely and sand the surface again using sandpaper and clean the dust with a rag.

    Tips Before Painting the Object

    Always buy the paint labeled with "exterior grade" for painting an item used for an outdoor area and never buy high gloss paint because glossy paint will highlight imperfections like dents and scratches 

    Step4 : Apply the Paint

    The application style of paint, i.e., brush or spray, depends on the size of the object and your personal preference. Follow the number of coatings as instructed by the manufacturer and also if sanding is needed or not. Allow the paint dry before moving to the next step.

    Application of Sealer

    Once the paint has completely dried, apply a minimum of two coats of sealer to protect it from any kind of peeling, scratching, or fading.

    Step5 : Post-painting Cleaning

    Once the painting process is winded up, it's time to clean up the mess. Wash the paint brush with warm water to remove the paint and keep the painting cans open until they solidify because liquid forms can't be disposed of in regular trash as they are hazardous.

    How to Paint the Aluminum Mesh Chair

    Aluminum Mesh Chair

    Buy the spray paint, clean the chair thoroughly, put tape on the areas where you want to avoid paint stains, take the chair in an open area and put a drop cloth to prevent paint from spilling on the floor. Apply the first coat of paint on both sides(front and back) of the mesh for best effect. Then, apply paint on the aluminum armrest and body. Leave it until it dries, then apply the second coat for the finishing. Let it dry, and it's ready to use.

    How to Paint Aluminum Siding

    To extend a fresh look to the old home, painting aluminum siding is a smart idea.

    Step1 : Prepare the Surface

    Wash the siding properly with a pressure washer to remove dust, dirt, and peeled paint, if any. Clean the areas with tough stains or dirt using a siding cleaner with the help of a stiff brush, wash it again, check for any damaged design parts and replace the damaged siding part. Sand the siding using a sandpaper for a spic and span siding surface and let the siding dry before applying primer.

    Step2 : Apply Primer

    Use an oil-based primer for aluminum siding.

    Step3 : Apply Paint

    Apply acrylic exterior paint over the primer because acrylic paint is best for exterior areas because it can withstand any weather condition and prevents peeling and fading. After one coat, sand the surface for any extra primer or unevenness. Let the first coat dry and then apply the second and final coat of paint.

    Step4 : Protection

    To prevent staining from roof runoffs, get installed gutter guards and trim plants regularly to ensure they don't touch the house and damage it.

    How to Paint Aluminum Door/Window

    Painting the aluminum door and window gives an entirely new and refreshing look to the indoor and outdoor house. Follow the steps in the below lines to finish the work:

    Step1 : Clean It Properly

    Clean the door and window thoroughly using soap water using a scratch brite pad. Clean the frame too. Remove the paint spots using a paint scraper and let it dry completely.

    Step2 : Masking

    Cover the surrounding area using newspaper or drop cloth, tape around the window and door frame, and a latex glove over the door handle to prevent paint stains.

    Step3 : Cover the Rubber Seals With Tape

    Cover the rubber seals with masking tape and cover the glass with paper to avoid paint spillage.

    Step4 : Apply Primer

    Once you are sure that the windows and doors are ready, apply etch primer, as it is rust-resistant. Once the primer dries, using sandpaper, sand the surface once

    Step5 : Painting

    It's time to paint the door and window. Let the paint dry before you use it.

    Step6 : Remove the Mask

    Once the work is winded up, unmask the door and window for the perfect look.

    The Best Paint for Aluminum Siding


    • It is easily available
    • It is easy to work with
    • It dries quickly
    • Brands of acrylic paints are Valspar, Season Flex satin exterior tintable paint
    • It costs between $20-$50 per gallon
    • Per gallon covers around 250-400 square foot
    • The disadvantage is it doesn't mix well with other paints

    Acrylic Latex Paint

    • The brands of acrylic latex paint are Sherwin Williams Weathershield exterior
    • It is resistant to peeling and cracking
    • Easy to work with
    • Kids, pets and eco-friendly as it doesn't have hazardous chemicals
    • It costs between $20-$50 per gallon
    • Per gallon covers around 250-400 square foot
    • The disadvantages are it is prone to rust and not suitable for non-primed metal

    Self-Etching Primer

    • The brands that sell this primer are Rust-Oleum Flat Aluminum Primer
    • One coat is sufficient with these primers
    • Rust resistant
    • It cost between $50-$65 per gallon
    Comparison Metrics Acrylic Acrylic Latex Paint Self-Etching Primer
    Cost($) 20-50 20-50 50-65
    Appearance Satin to gloss Satin to gloss Dull matte
    Options of Colors and Textures Various finishes and colors are available Various finishes and colors are available Merely color options are available
    Use Easy to work with Easy to work with Little complicated to use
    Environmental Angle   Environment, kids and pet friendly  
    Durability     Most durable


    A common question arises regarding how to paint aluminum because aluminum is commonly used in homes in various forms, such as window frames, furniture, sidings, etc. The answer is to follow the simple steps given in the article for different items and paint the objects. You will love to see the result. For the best result, make sure to adhere to the instructions and tips before starting the painting work.


    How to Paint Aluminum Siding?

    Paint it conveniently following simple steps discussed in the article. The steps are cleaning the object and applying primer and paint.

    How Long Does It Take for Primer to Dry?

    Usually, it takes around 24 hours for the primer to dry, but in the case of humid weather, it may take longer.

    How Often Will I Need to Repaint Aluminum Siding?

    With proper preparation and application of paint, the aluminum siding lasts between 5-10 years.

    How to Paint an Aluminum Door?

    The aluminum door is painted in a few steps. Clean the door with water, mask the surrounding area with a drop cloth or newspaper, the door frame with tape, and the door handle with latex gloves. Cover the glass also with paper. Put primer, then paint it, and finally unmask.

    Can You Paint Straight Onto Aluminium Without Prep?

    It is possible to paint onto aluminum without sanding and primer, but the result is unimpressive. Aluminum is non-porous, so it doesn't absorb the paint, resulting in peeling, and the finish is low-quality.

    Should You Use a Spray Paint Gun, Paint Brush, or Roller to Apply Your Paint?

    It depends on the size of the space.

    • Spray paint gun- It is used for a larger area for smooth results. As it is expensive, it'll cost more if used for a small area.
    • Paint brush - Paint brush is useful for smaller areas. It is affordable and easily available in various shapes and sizes. Paintbrush is effective in carving fine and detailed designs.
    • Roller - Rollers can be used for consistency in application.

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