Tips for Painting Galvanized Metal

Before painting galvanized metal, such as drip strips around eaves or roof flashing, take the following steps so the paint will adhere properly and not peel:

  • Go over the metal with a wire brush to remove any oxidation.
  • Wipe the galvanized surface down with white vinegar. The vinegar is a mild acid which acts to etch the galvanized coating so the paint will stick.
  • Prime the surface with a primer made for metal.
  • Apply two topcoats of paint on top of the primer.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Jill Asks: We’re painting our house. Do we have to do anything special to paint the galvanized metal around the edge of the roof?

Danny Lipford: Almost every house has some type of galvanized metal. Now, it might be an eave strip running around the edge of your roof, or valley metal, or you may even have some galvanized metal sawhorses like I have here in the shop. After a while this stuff can start looking bad, and if you’re wanting to paint it, here’s what you need to do.
First, if it’s oxidized like this, use your wire brush just to knock a little bit of that oxidation off, and then wipe it down. And then this is the key thing, use white vinegar. Wipe it down very thoroughly with the white vinegar. It’s an acid, and it’ll etch it so the paint will stick.

You still want to prime it like you would any metal. After the primer is dried, then two coats of topcoat paint, and the galvanized metal around your place is going to look a lot better.


  1. When you wipe it down with white vinegar do you then just let it dry or do you wash it with water after the vinegar and then let it dry

  2. I have a new garden trellis made from galvanized wire fencing. Not sure I want to chance painting it and having the paint peel sometime down the road, but I would like it to rust, not stay gray. What can I do to encourage the galvanized wire to rust?


  3. Hi I’ve bought an old fashioned hip / slipper bath for my tiny bathroom and would like to paint it or enamel it can you tell me whether this can be done cheers

  4. I would not take a wire brush to a galvanized surface. You may end up with problems later on from the scratched areas rusting, although, galvanize does tend to heal itself when oxidation occurs. While white vinegar might be a good cleaner, the surface of the galvanize needs to be treated to accept paint. Chromate paints were popular but are a messy step. There i a chemical called Alodine, which can be purchased from airplane supply companies. Alodine is a clear liquid that can be wiped on, then rinsed with plain water. It will create a conversion coat that will allow paint to adhere properly, without degrading the galvanize. It can also be used for preparing aluminum for paint. The last time I purchased it was about $12 for a quart, which will probably do galvanized trim on several homes.


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