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How to paint a metal gate

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Difficulty: Low

This job should be straightforward, regardless of your experience.However before you get started on any of our 'how to' guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.

Give people the right impression before they even enter your garden by redecorating your metal garden fencing or gate. It's quick, easy and affordable, yet the benefits are great. Redecorating can prevent rusting as well as increasing the durability and life of the gate. Find out the best way to paint your metal fence or gate here.

What to consider when painting a metal fence or gate

Do I need to use special paint?

Yes, metal paints are specially designed for the task in hand which means they’re tough, durable and in most cases can be wiped clean and can be used on all types of metal surfaces. In the majority of cases, exterior metal paint is oil based as this makes it resistant to water, strong sunshine or changes in temperature. 

If you also use the recommended primer or undercoat on your surfaces before you paint, you’ll increase the lifespan of your metal paint which means you won’t need to redecorate as often.

How do I know which paint to use?

Some types of metal paint can't be used outside so it's always best to check the product details to find out whether the paint is suitable for exterior use or not. There are plenty of options available though so finding paint suitable isn't tricky.

When should I paint my metal fencing & gate?

The summer months are the best time to do this, as it's dry and will allow the paint to set better. It's always recommended to check on the weather forecast at least 24 hours prior to applying paint.

How to paint a metal fence & gate

Step 1

Firstly, lay down a dust sheet or plastic sheeting to run underneath your gate to protect the flooring area around whilst you work. This will prevent the paint dripping or spilling onto the flooring and potentially staining it. 

Step 2

If the metal has rusted or is uneven use sandpaper to smooth it down as much as possible to remove any lumps and bumps or flaking paint. It's recommended that you wear a respiratory face mask and goggles when you do this. 

Step 3

New or pre-painted metal should then be thoroughly cleaned before painting starts to get rid of any grease or dust. Wash the surface with a mild detergent or sugarsoap to ensure best results. 

Step 4

When the surface is dry, use a small to medium brush to apply a primer onto the metal. By doing this, it will increase the life of your paint and decrease the chance of the metal rusting as quickly.

Step 5

Assure the primer is dry then, using a small brush or spray gun, paint on a layer of your coloured exterior metal. Paint the whole area then leave it to dry completely. 

Step 6

If required apply a second coat of metal paint to the gate, but most good quality metal paints generally only take 1 coat, especially if you did apply a primer. 

Step 7

Clean your brushes as soon as you finish painting to preserve them for future use. Metal paints are quite thick, so they will require white spirit to clean them thoroughly.

Where should specialist paint be stored?

Carefully label and securely seal all your paints before storing. You may want to remind yourself where you used each type of paint to make them easily recognisable for future touch-ups. Keep all paints in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight or other heat sources and also off the floor to avoid rusting. 

If you only have small amounts of paint left think about decanting leftovers into smaller containers to save storage space. Always wipe the tops of tins before you close them to stop them sticking too much and making re-access difficult.

Safety advice

  • Avoid eye splashes by wearing protective goggles and wear a disposable suit to protect your clothing, unless you have old clothes you aren't worried about staining.
  • Always wear appropriate gloves making sure they are suitable. For sanding wear tough cloth ones, for water-based paints use impermeable gloves, and for solvent based products use gloves that are solvent-resistant.
  • Make sure you wear a dust mask when prepping the gate to prevent inhalation of the dust produced.
  • It may also be necessary to wear a respiratory facemask when using some paint products so always check the recommendations on the packaging.
  • Use step ladders safely when painting high areas. Make sure there are no slippery substances at the bottom of the steps. Wear suitable shoes and take care when climbing and working on the ladder.
  • If you get metal paint on your skin, wash with warm soapy water straight away and if you get paint in your eye wash with clean, warm water until all the paint is removed.

Tools for the job


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