Best Spray Paint Primer for Metal – Top 6 Picks, Buyer’s Guide, Feedback, Pros, Cons & More

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Crucial to getting a perfect paint job is ensuring the paint sticks on well. We know how frustrating it can be to watch your pristine finish peel off or be attacked by rust.

To help you get around this, we have compiled the top 6 spray paint primers for metal.

Top Pick

We’ve all at some point wanted to touch up the paint on our cars. The oil-based formula of this spray paint primer enables the paint to stick on well and protects the surface from rust.

Runner Up

If you are tackling a paint job in the engine bay or the exhaust system on your car, this is a top-tier option. It has an excellent heat resistance and has high bonding features.

Also Great

Dedicated to fighting off rust, this spray paint primer provides strong protection against corrosion and gives the paint an ideal surface to bond to. It dries fast and is user-friendly.

Now that we have reviewed the top ones, let’s look into detailed reviews of each

#1: Best Automotive Spray Paint Primer for Metal - Rust-Oleum 2081830 Stops Rust Automotive Primer Review

Since your car is bound to take some abuse from the environmental elements, you are better off using a primer before applying the color coats. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust oil-based primer provides a durable and lasting solution to this. 

It dries in a matter of minutes, meaning you can recoat quickly and speed through the paint job. Moreover, owing to its durability, it can be wet sanded too!

Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Rust-Oleum 2081830 Stops Rust Automotive Primer

 

Durability/Adhesion: As it has an oil-based formula, Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Automotive Primer holds its own very well against temperature changes and moisture. However, since it is oil-based, it smells quite a bit!

Heat Resistance: Since Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Automotive Primer is oil-based and intended for automotive surfaces, it can take significant heat. However, it is not intended for use near engine or exhaust parts.

Rust Resistance: Of the many features, rust proofing is this primer’s best strength. If you are working on a metal surface that has become a victim of rust, this primer gives new life by enabling your color coats to stick on firmly. It should be noted that careful preparation is required before laying on the primer.

Viable Surfaces: This metal primer spray is mostly intended for automotive metallic surfaces. However, it shows good results on automotive fiberglass too. However, if you intend to tackle furniture, you may be better off with something else. 

  • Fast drying
  • Rust resistance
  • Durable
  • High coverage of up to 12 square feet 
  • Wet sandable
  • Spray tip may clog up
  • High odor
  • Risk of overspray

Best Automotive Spray Paint Primer for Metal

The Best Automotive Spray Paint Primer for Metal is Rust-Oleum 2081830 Stops Rust Automotive Primer because it is designed to work well on rusted automotive surfaces and allow the color coats to stick on firmly.

#2: Best Heat Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal - VHT ESP100000 FlameProof Coating Flat Grey Primer Can Review

Being a widely used solution to painting jet engines and space re-entry vehicles, this heat-resistant primer is bound to work well on the metal surface of your choice. If you expect your metal article will experience high temperatures, this primer helps ensure the paint won’t be affected.

However, keep in mind, in order to get optimum results, the required curing process is quite complicated.

Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy VHT ESP100000 FlameProof Coating Flat Grey Primer Can

 

Durability/Adhesion: This matte finish ceramic silicone base primer spray provides a layer for paint to bond well even under high temperatures. 

Heat Resistance: Withstanding intermittent of up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, out of all the features, heat resistance is the greatest strength of this primer.

Rust Resistance: This ceramic silicone-based primer will provide sufficient rust resistance to metal. However, we do not recommend using it solely for this purpose.

Viable Surfaces: This high heat primer works well on many metallic surfaces that are expected to reach high temperatures. These include engine bay parts, exhaust manifolds, headers, and more.

  • Heat resistance
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Rust resistance 
  • Free to choose from multiple colors
  • Easy to use
  • The application process is complicated

Best Heat Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal

The Best Heat Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal is VHT ESP100000 FlameProof Coating Flat Grey Primer Can because it holds up well against high temperatures, of up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, and is great for high heat metal surfaces.

#3: Best Rust-Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal - Krylon Automotive Rusty Metal Primer Review

If your main goal is to attain superior protection against rust, this automotive primer from Krylon is one of the best options. Not only does it help the paint stick on a rusted surface that has been prepped, but it also protects against future rusting. 

Moreover, it is user-friendly, dries in a matter of minutes, and gives you high value for your money.

Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Krylon Automotive Rusty Metal Primer

 

Durability/Adhesion: We found that this Krylon spray is sufficiently durable for use on automotive metals. However, it might not hold up too well in environments with high moisture content.

Heat Resistance: Again, while it is great for normal automotive surfaces, it is not suitable for use near or on engine and exhaust parts. Or anything that gets too hot!

Rust Resistance: This primer spray from Krylon provides excellent corrosion and rust protection. It also gives the paint a surface to stick on when used on rust-stricken surfaces. However, the surface must be prepared beforehand for the best results. 

Viable Surfaces: This metal primer spray is designed to provide the best results when painting automotive metallic surfaces. However, it may not stick well on shiny and slippery surfaces, such as chrome or other high gloss materials. 

  • Strong rust protection
  • Fast drying 
  • Easy to use 
  • Good value for money
  • Covers more than 10 square feet
  • The spray tip may not be adequate
  • The nozzle may give an uneven spray

Best Rust-Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal

The Best Rust-Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal is Krylon Automotive Rusty Metal Primer because it tackles rusty surfaces well and provides a finish that resists corrosion and enables new paint to stick on well.

#4: Best Stain-Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal - Rust-Oleum 272479 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer Review

This multi-surface primer gives great coverage and helps prevent stains from oily chemicals. This makes it an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor materials. Not only does it give the paint an adequate surface to stick on, but it also helps mend the object you are tackling.

Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Rust-Oleum 272479 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer

 

Durability/Adhesion: Since this primer works well over numerous surfaces, it is formulated to be durable and provide excellent adhesion. It gives a smooth finish and can be expected to last a long time.

Heat Resistance: While it may tolerate quite a bit of heat, owing to its oil base, it is not particularly intended for hot surfaces and may not provide the best results. 

Rust Resistance: Since it is intended for painting metal surfaces, among many other surfaces, it is good at resisting rust. However, we do not recommend using it solely for this purpose.

Viable Surfaces: This works on a vast range of versatile surfaces, such as metallic objects and wood furniture, as well as ceramics, masonry items, and more. Make sure the surface to be painted is dry before you apply this primer. 

  • High coverage of up to 12 square feet
  • Multi-surface
  • Blocks stains
  • Durable 
  • Good value for money
  • Slightly high drying time
  • Provides thin coats

Best Stain-Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal

The Best Stain-Resistant Spray Paint Primer for Metal is Rust-Oleum 272479 Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Plus Spray Primer because it has excellent stain blocking capabilities that help the surface escape oil and water stains, giving you more flexibility in your projects.

#5: Best Sandable Spray Paint Primer for Metal - Dupli-Color DAP1689 White General Purpose Sandable Primer Review

This sandable primer allows you to achieve a more uniform and smooth topcoat. It gives your coat of paint a smooth, even surface to adhere to. Moreover, it helps in body repairs, too, as it fills in minor scratches and cracks. It works well on both painted and unpainted items.

Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Dupli-Color DAP1689 White General Purpose Sandable Primer

 

Durability/Adhesion: Since it is sandable, this spray can take quite a bit of abuse. A coat of this stuff sticks on well. 

Heat Resistance: While it is quite durable, this spray is not noted for insensitivity to high temperatures. As such, we do not recommend using it on hot metallic items.

Rust Resistance: We do not recommend using this spray if you expect the target object may be in an environment with high moisture content. 

Viable Surfaces: This spray works well when coupled with paint for metal surfaces. It shows good results on both interior and exterior furniture, wood, fiberglass, and metallic surfaces. Since it is sandable, it gives you a high degree of flexibility in your project.

  • Sandable
  • Good coverage of more than 10 square feet
  • Easy to use
  • Special spray tips (EZ Touch Fan Spray Nozzle)
  • Multi-surface
  • The paint is quite runny and thin

Best Sandable Spray Paint Primer for Metal

The Best Sandable Spray Paint Primer for Metal is Dupli-Color DAP1689 White General Purpose Sandable Primer because once it is dry, you can further sand and polish the surface, enabling the coat of paint to stick on firmly.

#6: Best Flexible Spray Paint Primer for Metal - Seymour 16-828 Primer Review

With this spray, you can expect excellent adhesion. It sticks on well and allows your paint for metal surfaces to latch on firmly. This enamel paint and primer spray can be sanded after it is applied, making your metal surface spray painting a lot easier and efficient. 

Moreover, it is free from many toxic compounds such as heavy metals.

Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Seymour 16-828 Primer

 

Durability/Adhesion: The enamel-based formula of this spray makes it quite durable. This means it can put up well with abuse. Moreover, it can hold its own quite well against chemicals, giving you a high degree of freedom in your project.

Heat Resistance: This spray has a considerably high heat resistance of up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning you can comfortably use it in your outdoors projects

Rust Resistance: We found that this spray provides decent resistance to rust and corrosion, meaning you won’t have to worry too much about moisture during your spray painting project. 

Viable Surfaces: Owing to its sturdiness, this spray can be freely used on bare metals and bare wood. It shows good results when used on furniture and automotive parts. It works a treat when used alongside spray paint for metal.

  • Sandable
  • Durable
  • Multi-surface
  • Compatible with many spray paints for metal 
  • Free from lead, cadmium, mercury, chromates, or chlorinated solvents
  • The spray tip may be hard to press

Best Flexible Spray Paint Primer for Metal

The Best Flexible Spray Paint Primer for Metal is Seymour 16-828 Primer because it is sandable, meaning you can further improve the finish after you cover the target surface, which allows you to get the paints to stick on better.

best spray paint

Buyers’ Guide

Type of Surface:

It’s no secret different primers will behave differently on different surfaces. You need to carefully consider the surface and its characteristics. Is it metallic and slippery? Or is it wooden and coarse? These are all factors you will need to consider to get just the right primer and paint.

As a general rule of thumb, oil-based spray primers work best when it comes to smooth surfaces, such as metals, plastic, and the like. On the other hand, their water-based counterparts perform the best on porous surfaces, such as bricks, concrete, softwood, and more. 

Most brands usually indicate the intended surfaces on the can, so be sure to keep an eye for that before painting. 

Condition of the Surface:

Though your surface might originally have been a smooth metal, if it is now a victim of corrosion, that changes the type of primer you are going to need. There are purpose-made sprays that tackle specific problems. 

If your surface is in a poor state, with the paint flaking and rust spreading, you will be better off laying down a coat of heavy-duty primer before you slap on your coat of paint. Otherwise, you don’t need to go for something too fancy.

If the surface is stained or prone to staining, to get the best results, you will need a stain-resistant primer that counters all those pesky oil and water drips that leave lasting marks on your paint job. 

Moreover, if you expect the surface to be very slippery, you may be better off with a sandable primer that you can further sand to make it suitable for your paint to adhere to.

Environment:

The durability and longevity of your paint coats depend, in part, on the primer you used. So, before painting, carefully consider the environment you plan to put your project through. 

If your target surface is going to be under the sun a lot or you are tackling a paint job in your vehicle’s engine bay, you are definitely going to need a primer that can stand up to high temperatures and broad temperature fluctuations. Any other primer is going to degrade pretty quickly, leaving your paint defenseless against the harsh temperatures.

As another example, if you are working on a project that involves proximity to water and moisture, say, a paint job on a boat, you need to get something that can fight off rust and give the surface sufficient protection against corrosion. 

Type of Spray Paint Used:

Before you pick out your primer and spray paint for metal, stop and check: are they compatible? If you are going to use a high heat paint, you need a high heat primer.

In the same way, be sure to check if the intended surfaces for both products are the same or at least overlap. If you use a purely metal surface primer and then slap on a coat of purely plastic paint, you most likely will not get the desired results. 

It’s a good idea to check with your local hardware store for the best combination of the two. Sometimes you have to be careful about the particular brands too since the same type of product is bound to vary from brand to brand. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you use spray paint on the primer?

We recommend that, for the best results, you use primers with your spray paints as they help ensure the paint sticks on well. This will help prevent fast degradation of the paint as well as flaking and peeling. Primers also help protect your paint coats from rust and heat. Make sure the surface to be painted is dry before you apply primer. Make sure the primer is compatible with your chose spray paint for metal. 

Do you need to prime the metal before spray painting?

Though this varies from surface to surface, it is almost always a good idea to use a primer before spray painting as it will allow for a better paint cover. Moreover, if the metal is going to be in harsh environments, such as directly under the sun, near a lot of water, then priming is crucial to protecting the paint. Dry the surface well before applying primer. 

Should you sand the primer before painting metal?

Sanding the primer is a way to ensure that the paint sees a smooth and flat surface to stick to. In most cases, it is a good idea to sand the primer before painting. However, some primers may not be dry sandable. Meaning, you will need to wet the surface before you attack it with sandpaper. Only do this after you have given the primer a couple of hours to fully dry.

How do you prepare metal for painting?

Before you start, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area and are wearing the appropriate safety gear. Each surface will require a slightly different preparation method. However, generally, if the surface has already been painted once before or is rusted, use abrasive sandpaper or steel wool to get as much paint and rust off as possible and to de-gloss the surface. 

Use mineral spirits to get rid of any grease and oils. After making sure the surface is dry, lay down 2-3 coats of primer and give it a few hours to dry. Now you’re ready to apply your paint coat.

How many coats of primer should I use on metal?

We recommend using 2-3 coats of primer to cover your metal project. However, this number varies with the condition of the surface as well as the environment. If you are targeting the metal on your furniture, you probably won’t need too much primer.

Final Verdict

This is where we leave you with our conclusion and top pick. After much consideration, we have chosen Rust-Oleum 2081830 Stops Rust Automotive Primer as our top pick. 

We love the resistance against rust that it offers. As well as its durability and the flexibility in the type of surfaces it can be applied to. It is fast drying and can be wet sanded after it has dried. This makes for a higher quality finish and a pristine overall paint job.

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