Can Galvanized Steel Be Painted?

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Can Galvanized Steel Be Painted?

Can Galvanized Steel Be Painted

There are certain metal products where users regularly have questions about whether painting is acceptable without sacrificing product quality, and a great example here is galvanized steel. Because of the protective layer of zinc that’s already present on galvanized steel, helping it maintain excellent corrosion resistance properties, a common question arises: Can galvanized steel be painted?

At Wasatch Steel, we’re here to not only provide clients around Salt Lake City and other parts of Utah with all their steel supply needs, from steel tubing to steel sheet, plate and more, but also to assist with basic expertise in important areas like these. Galvanized steel can indeed be painted without sacrificing its quality – as long as you’re taking a few important steps, that is. Here are some important tips if you’re looking to begin this process.

Choosing Proper Paint

Before we get to the practical steps for painting galvanized steel, it’s important to start with your choice of paint. The most crucial aspect here is that the paint you select is compatible with zinc-based coatings, as many standard paints are not.

When shopping for paint, make sure it’s clearly marked as safe for use on galvanized surfaces – and if you’re unsure about a particular option, don’t hesitate to ask a store expert. Most such paint types will be oil-based and direct-to-metal (DTM), which means they’re specifically designed to bond with metal surfaces that already have rust or corrosion present.

Cleaning Surfaces

Before you begin painting, it’s important to ensure the surface of your galvanized steel is completely clean and free of any contaminants like dirt, oil or grease. Failure to properly clean and prepare the surface will lead to paint failure, and this is often the reason behind negative user experiences with painting galvanized steel.

To clean your surface, begin by wiping it down with a cloth or rag to get rid of any visible dirt or dust particles. Next, use a mild detergent solution and water to wash the surface thoroughly, followed by a rinse with clean water. If there are any noticeable organic materials present, you may want to use an alkaline or acidic solution and solvent, respectively, to get rid of these contaminants.

Full Rinse and Dry

If you do need to use any kind of detergent or other cleaning solution on your galvanized steel, it’s very important to make sure the surface is completely rinsed and dried before you begin painting. Remaining residue or moisture can interfere with paint adhesion and lead to a subpar finished product.

This means using clean water to do a final rinse of the entire surface, followed by complete drying – usually through natural evaporation, but you can also use a cloth or even compressed air for this. Make sure to leave plenty of time for the surface to dry thoroughly, as painting over a wet or damp surface will almost certainly lead to issues with consistency and durability in the paint job.


One of the single most important parts of this process is priming, which should never be overlooked when painting galvanized steel. The surface of galvanized steel is not as compatible with conventional paints as others, so you need to apply a primer that’s specially designed to bond with the zinc coating.

For most DTM-style paints, this will involve simply applying one coat over the entire surface and then waiting for it to dry thoroughly before moving on to applying the paint itself. Some experts will recommend a second coat of primer for additional adhesion, and this can be a good idea if you’re dealing with thicker or more complex galvanized steel surfaces.

Paint Application and Final Thoughts

With your primer fully dried, it’s time to apply the paint itself. Use a high-quality brush or roller to get even coverage over the surface, and make sure you allow proper drying time between coats if you’re planning to apply more than one.

In terms of final thoughts, always remember that the key here is compatibility – many standard paints will not work well with zinc-coated surfaces, but there are plenty of specialized options available. As long as you take the proper preparation steps and choose the right paint, painting galvanized steel can provide excellent, long-lasting results.

At Wasatch Steel, we’re here to assist with not only your galvanized steel needs, but also to pass along valuable tips and expertise like these. For more on any of our steel products or services around SLC or other parts of Utah, contact our team today!