Can Aluminum Railings Be Painted?

Posted On 13th March 2017
Can Aluminum Railing Be Painted

Can an aluminum railing be painted? Yes, but it can be much more challenging than painting a railing made of wood.

Have you lived your life with boring aluminum railings, and now want to paint them in a new and exciting color? Or maybe you've just bought a new home and think the aluminum fencing would look better in another color. No matter the reason for changing the color, the good news is that aluminum railings can be painted. The bad news, however, is that painting aluminum railings and fences isn't a simple endeavor.

The issue is that not all aluminum railings are ready for a coat of paint. During the manufacturing process, some aluminum railings are covered in a remarkably resilient powder coating, and some are anodized (Electrochemical Process).

Anodized and powder coated railings are extremely durable and are able to stand up to extreme elements without fading or corroding. This allows the aluminum railings to not require as much maintenance, as they won't peel, crack, flake, or rust. While both processes mean that aluminum railings will still look great without any support, painting them can be a challenge.

Best Way to Paint Aluminum

The best way to paint aluminum is the only way to paint aluminum. If you don’t follow each step closely, your paint will fail to stay on the surface. If you are going to paint your aluminum railings, it is essential to keep the following in mind:

Make sure the weather conditions are appropriate. If you are painting outdoor aluminum railings, make sure you wait for a bright, dry day. If possible, you will want to choose a day when humidity levels are low, as moisture can hamper the process.

Additionally, sunny, dry weather will work to facilitate a quick drying process. If you have interior commercial railings as opposed to exterior railings, the weather obviously won’t be a consideration.

Clean the railings. Before you paint, you need to make sure that you have thoroughly cleaned the railings. Get rid of any dirt, grime, oil, or corrosion, which could affect the paint's adhesion. To achieve the best results, it is best to use wire wool or a sanding sponge.

If you're concerned that there could be grease on the railings, you may even want to use a degreasing agent. Once your architectural railings are cleaned off, you will want to powerwash them as the last step in the cleaning process. It is essential that your railings areas clean before attempting to paint. This will ensure that the primer and paint will stick to their surface more effectively.

  • Abrade the surface. In order for the paint to stick to the aluminum, you must roughen up the surface. This is best achieved with a grit blaster, but if that is not available aluminum oxide sanding paper is the next best choice.
  • Acid Etch. If you want to go all out, you’ll take one extra step and acid etch the surface of the aluminum. Applying a coat of acid etch primer will remove all trace amounts of grease and dirt that may have escaped your initial wash.
  • Apply Conversion Coating. Immediately after the acid etches, it’s time for a conversion coating to be applied. This coat creates a surface that is in the best possible position to adhere to the new paint.
  • Apply a primer and paint. Now that your railings are as clean as possible, the next step is to apply a primer that is especially suited for aluminum surfaces. This is very important; primer made for other materials won't properly adhere to the surface.

Once the primer has dried, the next step is to paint your aluminum railings the color of your choice. Don’t worry about picking out paint for aluminum surfaces, as any paint will do.

Although you can paint aluminum railings, you should only endeavor to do so if it is necessary. It is a challenging task that will require proper preparation and knowledge.

Paint for Aluminum Surfaces

Any paint will adhere if the aluminum has been properly prepared, there is no one paint for aluminum surfaces. If you are painting over previously painted aluminum, you will need to remove the original layer of paint first.