How to Paint Metal Boxes

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp or plastic sheeting
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Soft cloth
  • Spray primer suitable for metal
  • Spray paint suitable for metal

Many household items are made from types of metal alloys, including patio furniture, storage sheds and boxes and filing cabinets. Over time and with exposure, metal items can develop rust or the paint can fade from exposure to sunlight. When the metal loses its luster, it’s time to give it a face lift with a new coat of paint. Painting metal objects requires some elbow grease and a little time, but you can achieve a professional finish on your metal.

Place a tarp or plastic sheeting over the surface where you will be painting.

Remove decorative or hardware items from the box such as handles, latches and pulls.

Sand the box with fine-grit sandpaper. You do not need to sand the previous color off of the metal, but instead sand it until the surface feels a little rough to the touch.

Wipe the metal with a soft cloth to remove the sanding dust.

Prime the metal with primer suited for metal paint. A good primer will help protect metal from rust and even the color of the paint. Spray-on primer is the easiest way to get a smooth finish with no brush lines. Allow the primer to dry completely.

Spray paint the metal with paint made for metal items in the color of your choice. Do not overspray the item or the paint will drip. Spray one light, even coat of paint over the metal and allow it to dry completely. If the color is not dark enough, spray a second light coat. Allow the metal to dry completely before using it.


  • Wear gloves when painting to avoid getting paint or primer on your hands.


  • Paint in a well-ventilated area. If the area is not properly ventilated, wear a mask.


About the Author

Kaye Morris has over four years of technical writing experience as a curriculum design specialist and is a published fiction author. She has over 20 years of real estate development experience and received her Bachelor of Science in accounting from McNeese State University along with minors in programming and English.