Will Acrylics Stick to Metal? Expert Tips and Tricks


using acrylics on metalWill acrylics stick to metal. Yes they will, WITH a little legwork in the beginning. Before you get started you will need to do some prep work. While I always prefer a substrate with a little more ability to “grab” the paint, some surfaces that are nonporous are trickier, because you have the whole issue of being twofold.

Making sure the surface is clean, protected are prepared so that the color will look good and there won’t be show through, and second, that the coat of paint will remain intact.

I don’t know how common it is to use acrylics on metals items, which can include aluminum, tin, pewter, etc., but there are a few things that stand out in my mind:

  • Miniature figurines
  • Jewelry
  • Yard art
  • Jewelry
  • Wall hangings (I saw someone doing this with tin foil suncatchers)

For small objects such as scale model figurines that require attention to detail, I give some good recommendations here. If your object is larger, one thing that would be good to look into would be the application of a product that is spray paint in nature. I like Rust -Oleum for this purpose…it has great coverage and will withstand things like being outside. You may eventually want to apply a finishing sealant or top coat as well.

prime before you paintDefinitely check your surface beforehand for flaws, dings or scratches (which are very noticeable on metal objects), and prime first. Something like Rust-Oleum that is a white primer should be used, this company also makes paint+primer, but I like to start with a base coat first, then allow to dry.

Afterward choose and apply your top color and repeat what you did earlier with the primer. Finally you may want to apply a protective coating of something else, especially if your final work is going to be displayed outdoors.

Some things may not even need primer that are strictly decorative – check out this example I found below. I always like Mexican folk art. These wall decorations were made from aluminum flashing, a type of material used in home DIY projects for weatherproofing purposes.

You can see how that ordinary craft paint seems to go on well…

Image credit: Image by Mark Mantano

Pretty cool huh? You could also do something like this with tin foil objects like cake pans, cookie cutters, etc.

Yes I Have Tried It Myself…

I thought I would give you an example of my own as well. Long story short…One year I won an auction on eBay for a cast-iron (you can feel the weight, for sure) replica of Aladdin’s lamp. It was my late husband that wanted this and I was planning to give it as a gift.

He also said that he wished he could find one that is gold or bronze looking (kind of like in the movies…) So I took it upon myself to paint it gold, it’s been awhile so I can’t remember if I used spray paint or brushed it on.

painting on metal acrylics

Can you tell from the pictures above that I did not start with a coat of primer (even though I’m always preaching it…Lol) Intentionally. If there is a special effect you are going for, whether it be an antiqued or vintage look, you may have seen some objects that have that deliberately tarnished look. That is what I was going for here. At any rate, he was really jazzed to get this!

As this was a piece of home decor, my craft paints worked just fine. For some of my own yard art, depending on the design, I prefer spray paint, as it promotes better longevity of the color coat, not to mention I can do the work outside, too. Here is a good example.


Metal surfaces may not be always thought of as paintable but with a little prep they certainly can be. Good luck with your projects!


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