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Paint Galvanized Steel Reliably


Q. I was wondering if it would be possible to paint some galvanized steel beams and extrusions I have with any kind of paint. And if so, would the paint last, and would it ruin the galvanized finish?

Rick Navarro
- Anaheim, California


A. Galvanized material can be easily painted successfully. Surface preparation is the key. You need to ask the paint manufacturer if your paint is suitable for a top coat for galvanized material and what the proper surface preparation should be. The paint will enhance the galvanized coating. It will act as a barrier protection for the galvanized material and subsequently the galvanized material will allow the paint to last longer because there is no underlying corrosion. Painting over galvanizing is often referred to as a "duplex coating." It is routinely done for street lights, DOT applications, and various architectural applications.

Mike Stroia
- Canton, Ohio

"Duplex Systems: Painting Over Hot-Dip Galvanized Steel",
free download
from AGA


A. Yes, Rick, it is done routinely, but among other things galvanized finishes that are not going to be painted are chromated, whereas galvanized finishes that are to be painted are not. Painting a chromated galvanized finish is not done as easily -- but any galvanized finish can be painted. The American Galvanizers Association has several free on-line brochures.

Although URLs break or change over time, as of April 2015 the following URL leads to an excellent 12-page booklet called "Duplex Systems"

Ted Mooney,
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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

(2007) -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hello,

I need to know if by any means can we paint on 11 Gauge Galvanized Steel? If yes, then what is requirement for surface preparation and all other information.

Thanks in advance.



Purnendu Adhvaryu
designer - Ajax, Ontario, Canada


A. This is a tough question to answer without full context, Purnendu . . . because an individual consumer may be perfectly satisfied with a do-it-yourself paint job, but might find the same quality on an OEM part to be unsatisfactory.

When a consumer is trying to paint existing galvanized steel it may be hard to get good adhesion, but scrubbing with trisodium phosphate [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] and a tampico brush, followed by a self-etching primer made for galvanized steel may be good enough.

But when an OEM wants to paint galvanized steel, it starts with specifying the galvanized steel. Ideally it will be galvanneal, as used on auto bodies. If not, at least the final chromate treatment should be omitted. Then a conventional phosphatizing treatment at the factory. ASTM D6386 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] specifies the "Standard Practice for Preparation of Zinc (Hot-Dip Galvanized) Coated Iron and Steel Product and Hardware Surfaces for Painting".

The American Galvanizing Association calls galvanizing followed by painting a "duplex coating" as Mike has advised, and they have several booklets with full details at Good luck!

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Latex Self-Etching Primer

February 12, 2009

Q. Hello. I am the Materials Manager for a metal stampings organization currently stamping and welding a galvanized steel commercial washing machine console. We are currently sending this part out after stamp and weld to a subcontractor to paint. Throughout the 1.5 years this has been in production we will get random spikes in fallout from our paint supplier in the range of 90-100%. They are blaming the galvanizing and/or "outgassing". The material used is at this spec: "HOT DIPPED GALV G90 CS EXTRA SMOOTH, NON CHEM TREAT COATING PER ASTM A653 [link by ed. to spec at TechStreet] ZERO SPANGLE - EXTRA SMOOTH FINISH". The issue is what appears to be dirt / trash in the paint. What are possible causes of this? Is there a very specific pretreatment that should be required to E-coat/paint this type of steel? Thanks!

Eric Baker
- Louisville, Kentucky

A. Hi Eric. The best pre-treatment is zinc phosphatization. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Phosphating Metal Pretreatment
by Freeman

Painting galvanized mesh wire for a jewelry display

April 3, 2015 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. Hi I'm Cynthia,
I'm creating a jewelry display using galvanized wire mesh for an art show. I want the mesh to be a certain color other than the steel look. The more attractive your display the more likely you would sell your items. Therefore what type of paint can I use to paint my wire and not have it peeling or be toxic for my jewelry?

cynthia coleman
- boston
  ^- Privately contact this inquirer -^

April 2015

A. Hi Cynthia. We appended your question to a thread on the subject. I suggest scrubbing with TSP, followed by a "self-etching" latex paint made for galvanized surfaces, followed by your choice of type and color of paint.


Ted Mooney,
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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 30, 2015

Great information! I read through all the Q&A and had a few sub-questions. I have camper with a shell that is electrogavlanized. It's about 20 years old and generally in good shape. It has a couple of small rust spots were the galvanized wore off (chips, scratches, etc.) The prior owner painted it a couple times and the paint was coming off in sections, so I took all the paint off with a wire brush head on a angle grinder. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do next and fear making a bad decision that causes poor adhesion.

Q1: I was planning to degrease it, lightly sand it, use vinegar as an acid and then paint with primer. Was going to use 123+ primer, but may use a spray can version if I find one at HomeDepot. Once primed I was going to either roll on a acrylic paint or find a gray spray paint that works with galvanized metal. Hopefully this provides good adhesion and is relatively resistant to scratches and chips from rocks. Does this sound like a good plan or do you recommend something different?

Q2: Given it's a camper shell I can't re-galvanize it per se. Too big. But I see cold galvanized spray cans at the store. Would choosing one of those be a better route vs painting?

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. I put so much work into this that I would hate to make a bad decision now.

Brett Halli
- San Jose, California USA

June 2015

A. Hi Brett. Sorry I wasn't able to respond in timely fashion. I think your plan is/was ideal as long as you are sure that the primer is designed for this. You want a latex (water-base) primer because zinc reacts with alkyd chemicals, and "saponifies" (forms a soap layer) between the metal and the paint. I think the cold galvanizing sprays may be appropriate for patching small rust spots, but I doubt that they are necessary, or even as good, as a proper prime coat and top coat. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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