What Is the Right Way to Paint a Galvanized Metal Fence?

What Is the Right Way to Paint a Galvanized Metal Fence?

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There are several reasons why you might want to paint a galvanized metal fence. Maybe you just want to add colour to a new fence. Or maybe you have an old fence that’s looking a bit shabby but is still in good shape otherwise.

There are several things you need to know about how to paint a galvanized metal fence, so let’s take a closer look.

Get the Right Products

If you want to paint a galvanized metal fence, especially if it is or will be installed outside in the elements, you really need to make sure you get the right products.

Not all paint products are made for metal, and often, it’s a good idea to use an industrial paint system like what might be used on ships. This kind of paint is made for metal and is made to last a long time under harsh conditions. The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time and money painting a galvanized metal fence, and then have all your paint flake off a short time later!

Speak to a paint specialist at a commercial paint supplier and find out what they recommend for your application. Ask for material data sheets for the paint too. This will tell you what you need to know about application, drying and overcoating times and coverage rates, so you can plan and cost the fence painting project properly.

For Existing Fences

If you have an existing galvanized metal fence that you want to paint, the good news is that as long as the metal is weathered a little, you probably don’t need to do too much preparation.

However, it’s always a good idea to use a pressure washer to remove surface rust or dirt that might be stuck to your posts. This will help to ensure you have a clean and smooth surface for the paint.

Choose days with good weather to apply the paint and use brushes or rollers rather than trying to spray paint. Not only will spray paint be very bad for the environment in this kind of situation, but you will use many times more paint trying to do this outside!

The good news is that because you are painting outside, you won’t have any ventilation problems, and the paint should dry relatively quickly, particularly if there is a little bit of a breeze. Make sure you still follow overcoating guidance from the manufacturer though. You want to make sure that the different layers of paint adhere properly.

For New Fences

If you plan to paint a galvanized metal fence before you install it, the process is going to be a little different. Ideally, you will know this before the material is galvanized, so you can ask the galvanizers not to “passivate” the galvanizing. This is an oily protective coating that is usually applied after the galvanizing, and while you can paint passivated material, there’s a lot more preparation to be done before you can!

Next, you will have a few basic products that you will probably have to apply in sequence:

  • A galvanized iron pre-cleaner, or GIP, which is a product that cleans the surface and removes any remaining grease or oily residue
  • A primer, often an etch primer, which “etches” into the galvanized metal fence surface, to create a better bond
  • A universal undercoat or UC, which is used to create a smooth, flat surface for your paint – this is not essential, but your paint manufacturer might recommend it depending on what products you are using
  • Your color coat – this could be gloss, semi gloss or a matte or satin finish, and usually, at least two coats are applied

Typically, painting new galvanized metal fences is a longer and more complex process, and it does add a considerable cost to the fence system. However, “duplex coated” fence, which is fence that is galvanized and then painted is usually a lot more corrosion resistant, which might be necessary depending on where it is being installed.

If you are painting new galvanised metal fence, it’s a good idea to do it indoors in a well-ventilated space, so you can control the elements and get better results.

Why You Want to Do This Right

You might be wondering what the motivation is to follow a complex process to paint galvanized metal fence.

The simple fact is that if you just slap paint on without following the proper process, it will not stick well, and it will flake off very soon. Your metal fence will look worse than it did when you painted it, and there’s every chance you will have to strip all the paint off and do it again.

An alternative to painting might be powder coating, but while this is a faster option, there may still be situations where painting a galvanized metal fence is a better idea.