How to Paint Lead Weights

Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloths
  • Trisodium phosphate cleanser
  • Steel wool
  • Water hose
  • Professional painter's tape
  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer
  • Oil-based spray enamel
  • Gloves

The phrase "lead weights" can either be in reference to older bodybuilding equipment or fishing tackle. Essentially, each of these items is painted the same way. Because lead weights are made of nonporous metal, they are unable to absorb the adhesives within paint. You must apply a type of acidic primer that is capable of etching lead surfaces. You should also choose a particular kind of paint that will remain durable against heavy friction and consistent exposure to moisture.

Move the lead weights outdoors, and place them on heavy-duty drop cloths. Wait for a warm day, free from high winds.

Wash the lead weights with a trisodium phosphate cleanser, using steel wool. Rinse the weights with a water hose. Wait two to four hours for the weights to dry.

Protect areas of the weights you don't want painted with painter's tape.

Coat one side of the lead weights with galvanized metal etching spray primer. Keep the spray can about 8 inches from the weights as you apply. Wait two hours.

Flip the weights over and prime the other side. Wait at least four hours for the primed lead weights to cure.

Coat the primed lead weights with oil-based spray enamel. Keep the spray can about 8 inches from the weights as you apply. Wait six hours before moving the weights.


  • Lead is a toxic substance. Be sure to wear gloves and work outdoors. Once the weights are sealed with the appropriate types of primer and paint, they will be rendered harmless.

    Never paint unprimed lead weights, or the paint will peel.

    Don't use an ordinary acrylic latex or oil-based primer on lead weights, or the finish will fail.

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.