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How to Paint Metal Chains

Never use ordinary latex or oil-based paint in place of metal spray paint.
chain image by Glen Jones from Fotolia.com

Things You'll Need:

  • Pressure washer
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloth or cardboard
  • Spray etching primer
  • Metal spray paint
  • Mineral spirits
  • Paper towels
  • Clear coat for metal


For extra durability, apply a light coat of metal spray clear coat to help protect the finish.

If you want to paint a small metal chain, like the kind associated with jewelry, do not use an etching primer. Instead, fill a bowl with 1 cup of metal paint, and dilute it by stirring in 1 oz. of mineral spirits. Soak the chain in the thinned paint for 20 minutes. Lay the chain on paper towels to dry, and then repeat this process until the chain is the desired color.

If you are planning to paint a metal chain, you will need to consider two important factors. First, because metal surfaces are not porous, paint will not adhere to them until they have been treated with a specific type of abrasion primer. In addition, because chains interlock, they painted surface will be under constant duress as the metal components rub against one another. You will need to select a durable type of paint, or the finish will quickly wear away.

Lay the chain on a concrete surface outdoors.

Clean the metal chain with a pressure washer. Allow the chain to dry out completely.

Lay the chain on top of a heavy-duty fabric drop cloth or a piece of cardboard. Apply a very thin coat of etching primer to the chain. Work meticulously to ensure that all of the metal is covered. Move the chain to expose all the surfaces.

Allow the etching primer to dry for 1 hour, and then flip the chain over and apply primer to the other side. Allow the etching primer to cure for 4 hours.

Apply two coats of metal spray paint to the chain in the same manner as you did the primer. Allow 2 hours of dry time between coats.

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