Sprucing up your radiators, metal furniture or outdoor gates and fences can feel like a huge task, but choosing the right paint will make it so much easier. With so many different options on the market, though, it can be tough to know which to opt for.
This article will walk you through all the pros and cons of oil-based, water-based and spray paint formulas. Plus, we've got all the information you need on gloss and satin finishes as well as heat resistance and preventing rust. If you're still not sure, take a look through our list of the 10 best paints for metal currently available through Amazon, Halfords, Tesco and Argos.
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Outdoor metals and areas of high foot traffic will need paint that's as durable as possible to reduce the risk of damage. Oil-based formulas are the best option for this, as they have the highest level of durability. They're generally a little more expensive than other varieties since the mixing process is more complicated, but the result is a paint that withstands water, rust, stains and scuffs.
Although it's tough, oil-based paint is prone to fading over time, so you may need to reapply a new coat every few years. That shouldn't be too difficult, though, since oil-based paints can be applied directly to surfaces without primer if necessary.
One of the worst things about painting inside the house is the intense chemical smell of wet paint. Choosing a fast-drying paint can significantly reduce your exposure to paint fumes and it can be a convenient feature if you want to hurry in for a second coat.
Water-based paints are the fastest drying variety and they are resistant to cracks, chips and fading. However, they are much less rugged than oil-based formulas. They're best for surfaces that aren't frequently interfered with, as the paint could be more vulnerable to damage in high-traffic areas of the home.
If you're not keen on breaking out the brushes and rollers, spray paint may be a much better option for you. Spray cans ensure an even coat over irregular-shaped items such as embossed furniture or light fixtures. As well as getting into those hard-to-reach cracks, the spray will also eliminate brush marks and drips for a cleaner finish.
Unfortunately, it's not as cost-effective as cans of regular paint, so it won't be ideal if you're planning on painting large surface areas or you're shopping on a budget. Plus, because of the harmful nature of aerosols, they're best used in open-air spaces. It's not advised that you use spray paint indoors, especially if the room is not well ventilated.
Get even coverage with a paint sprayer.
Choosing between gloss and satin will largely depend on your personal preference. Gloss is generally twice as shiny as satin, and people usually base their decision solely on the way it looks, but it's also important to consider the application process, maintenance requirements and the intended area of use before making your choice.
Grab some washable wall paints for easy maintenance.
If metal is frequently exposed to moisture, it can begin to rust, and the corrosion could cause structural damage if left untreated. If you are planning to use your metal paint on garden furniture, outdoor fences or kitchen and bathroom fittings, choosing a rust-resistant formula is key to preserving the metal and avoiding rust.
Heat-resistant metal paints are also popular. They're ideal for use on radiators and pipes as well as grills, fireplaces or any other heated appliances. It's essential you choose a heat-resistant paint in these cases, as other paints could be dangerous when exposed to high temperatures. Plus, they will blister and peel away in high heat, so always check for heat resistance if it will be needed.
Try exterior wood paints to spruce up fences and decking.
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Universal All-Surface Paint
An All-Surface Rust and Heat-Resistant Paint That Can Be Applied Directly Without Primer
Quick Dry Satin Paint
Get an Even Satin Coat That’s Dry in Under 2 Hours
Premium Radiator Spray Paint
A Rust and Heat-Resistant Spray Paint That Can Withstand Temperatures up to 100°C
Direct to Rust Metal Paint
9 Glossy Colours to Make Your Garden Gleam, Rain or Shine
Directorust Multi Surface Satin Paint
A UV-Resistant Formula in a Range of Bright Colours and Pastel Tones
Directorust Multi Surface Spray Paint
13 Vibrant Options for Even Coverage Over Irregular Surfaces
Direct-to-Rust Gloss Metal Spray Paint
A Rust-Resistant Primer, Undercoat and Topcoat Spray That Dries in 20 Minutes
Radiator Satin Paint
A Non-Yellowing Formula for Brightening up Old Radiators
High Heat Paint
Matt Black Paint Withstanding Temperatures of up to 600°C
Metal Black Paint
A Quick-Drying Durable Gloss for Interior and Exterior Paintwork
If you need paint that's both rust and heat-resistant, this satin finish tin from trusted brand Rust-Oleum is an unrivalled choice. In 16 different colours and 2 sizes, you'll be sure to find a tin that's just right for your project.
The all-surface formula is ideal if you want perfectly matching tones and an even finish across various different materials. The oil base makes it a 2-in-1 paint and primer, so you can apply it directly to wood, metal, plastic and more.
This water-based formula will be completely dry in just 1-2 hours, so it's an excellent choice if you want to reduce your exposure to paint fumes inside the home. The satin finish allows for even coverage that isn't too overwhelming in its sheen.
The 2500 ml tin will cover approximately 30 square meters and with 3 volumes to choose from, they've got the right tin for any task, big or small. Plus, with 13 colour options, you'll be sure to achieve a look that's perfect for your home.
It can withstand temperatures of up to 100°C with no risk of flaking or fading. The spray paint can be applied directly to any metal surface without the use of a primer, so it's a quick and easy way to achieve a seamless, stroke-free finish.
This brand is a favourite for outdoor DIY since the water-repellent formula makes it ideal for moisture-rich areas. Whether you use it for railings, furniture, or even garden ornaments, this paint will retain its glossy, high-shine finish for years to come.
The multi-surface formula means you can use the same tin on metal, wood, ceramics and more. It can be applied directly to rust for complete protection from corrosion and it's even UV-resistant, so it won't fade if used on fixtures or furniture that sits in the sun.
While the UV resistance provides great protection from the sun, the formula isn't heat-resistant, so it can't be used on high-heat appliances. For standard surfaces, though, you'll get great coverage with this tin.
Aerosol isn't ideal for use indoors, so if you're planning on painting something inside the house, you will need to ensure you have appropriate ventilation. Still, for a fresh coat of paint on outdoor railings and furniture, this would be ideal.
This quick-drying radiator paint provides even coverage of up to 9 square meters, needing just 30 minutes of drying time. The white satin finish will ensure your radiators look as good as new, blending in discreetly with most home interiors.
Unfortunately, the formula is not rust-resistant, so if you have noticed corrosion on your radiators or pipes, this paint won't be ideal. However, the non-yellowing formula is an excellent solution to general ageing or wear and tear.
The paint only comes in black, so it may be too dark if you are planning on painting a large surface area. For some heated appliances that you'd like a matte black finish on, though, it's the perfect way to restore the metal to its former glory.
It hasn't been confirmed whether this formula is oil or water-based, so if you're specifically looking for one or the other, you'll be better off purchasing a different tin. Although, since this paint is said to be long-lasting and quick-drying, you'll still be getting the best features of both paint varieties.
Written and researched by Alicia Byrne
No. 1: Rust-Oleum｜Universal All-Surface Paint
No. 2: Johnstone's｜Quick Dry Satin Paint
No. 3: Polar｜Premium Radiator Spray Paint
No. 4: Hammerite｜Direct to Rust Metal Paint
No. 5: Jenolite｜Directorust Multi Surface Satin Paint
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