Best Paint for Aluminum: 10 Top Picks + Preparation Tips

Opened red, yellow, and green paint cans surrounded by brushes and color samplers.

Whether you want to give your aluminum items a quick makeover or you want to give them a fresh coat of the same color, you’ll need proper paint for it.

This is because aluminum is extremely smooth, so it’s not compatible with just any paint out there.

Not only that, but you’ll also need to prepare your aluminum for painting, even if you use latex or acrylic paint, to help it adhere.

If you’re looking for the best paint for aluminum, this guide will have you covered!

We’re going to have a quick look at the top 10 options to consider along with preparation tips. Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

The best overall option to consider is the Krylon ColorMaxx Acrylic Latex, thanks to its excellent coverage and versatility with surfaces. However, if you’re looking for something a little more affordable, you can go for a budget-friendly option like the Montage Signature Interior/Exterior paint. 

If you’re looking for spray-on paint and you don’t mind paying extra, the Krylon ColorMaxx Spray Paint is the way to go!

Main Recommendations

The best overall paint for aluminum: Krylon ColorMaxx Acrylic Latex

The best paint for adhesion without heavy priming: Majic Diamond Hard RePurpose Paint

The best spray-on paint for aluminum decorations: Krylon ColorMaxx Spray Paint

The best budget-friendly paint for aluminum: Montage Signature Interior/Exterior

The best enamel painting for weather protection: Diamond Brite Latex Enamel

1. Krylon ColorMaxx Acrylic Latex

Krylon K05633007 COLORmaxx Acrylic Latex Brush On...
  • BRUSH ON PAINT – Krylon COLORmaxx Acrylic Latex Brush On Paint delivers premium coverage and...
  • INDOOR/OUTDOOR PAINT – Whether your paint project is inside or outdoors, this gloss acrylic latex...

Starting off with one of the best options out there, the Krylon ColorMaxx combines the features of both acrylic and latex in one product.

The paint is originally brush-on, but you can use it with HVLP paint guns with proper dilution.

The formula is easy to spread, and the colors are remarkably vibrant because of its water-based acrylic structure.

In addition to metals like aluminum and wrought iron, ColorMaxx can be also used to paint a wide range of materials, including plastic, wood, ceramic, wicker, and drywall, which makes it extremely convenient if you like to do your paint jobs by yourself.

When it comes to price, ColorMaxx is slightly more expensive than some other options, but it’s an excellent pick if you’re looking for versatility!

2. Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover

Rust-Oleum 1976502 Painter's Touch Latex Paint,...
  • Use for a variety of indoor and outdoor project surfaces including wood, metal, plaster, masonry or...
  • Water-based acrylic formula is low odor, resist chips and provides long-lasting protection

Rust-Oleum is one of the biggest names in the paints and stains industry, and the Ultra Cover paint lives up to the name of the brand!

This latex paint is made from a water-based acrylic formula that is designed to have a relatively low odor and to last for quite some time, even under relatively harsh weather. 

This makes it a good choice if you’re looking for aluminum paint for outdoor surfaces where items are prone to chipping.

Similar to the Krylon ColorMaxx, this paint works with a huge range of materials, and you’ll need to buff up the surfaces before applying it.

However, it’s self-priming paint, so you won’t need a primer before using it with aluminum.

3. Majic Diamond Hard RePurpose Paint

Majic PAINTS Interior/Exterior Satin Paint,...
  • Color: White
  • IDEAL FOR DIY PROJECTS: Repurpose furniture, trim, cabinets, doors, or any project you have in in...

Another great option to consider if you don’t want to spend a lot of time priming your aluminum is the Majic Diamond Hard Repurpose Paint.

The enamel acrylic paint is specifically designed to paint metal surfaces like aluminum but can be used with wood, glass, and vinyl plastic as well.

The paint has a satin finish and comes in a decent array of colors, which makes it a handy pick if you don’t want to spend much on aluminum paint.

4. Montage Signature Interior/Exterior

Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly...
  • ✅ EXTREMELY VERSATILE - Montage Signature is the #1 choice for all of your professional painting...
  • ✅ SUPERIOR COVERAGE & PROTECTION - All of our specialty finishes let you brush smoothly & evenly...

If you’re on a budget and you’re looking for decent paint that works with aluminum surfaces, you should consider the Montage Signature Paint.

This one comes in a wide array of pastel colors with a low sheen that works very well in indoor and outdoor decorations.

The paint is also available in a semi-gloss finish if you prefer shinier results.

The Signature paint has remarkably good coverage, which also makes it an excellent choice for beginners who are painting metals for the first time.

5. Krylon ColorMaxx Spray Paint

Krylon K05588007 COLORmaxx Spray Paint and Primer...
  • SPRAY PAINT AND PRIMER – Krylon COLORmaxx Spray Paint and Primer provides a smooth application...
  • INDOOR/OUTDOOR RUST PROTECTION – Whether you’re giving new life to indoor or outdoor furniture,...

If you like the Krylon ColorMaxx brush-on paint but you’re looking for a spray-on alternative, this one is for you!

The ColorMaxx Spray Paint saves the hassle of diluting and adjusting the brush-on version, offering easy application straight out of the box!

The paint is made with the same quality as the previous one and comes in a huge range of finishes and colors to match your needs, although it’s quite pricey in comparison.

6. JetCoat Fence and Barn Paint

Jetcoat Farm Pride Acrylic Outdoor Fence and Barn...
  • ACRYLIC WATER-BASED FORMULA - Our premium fade-resistant acrylic paint is fortified with UV...
  • LIVESTOCK-FRIENDLY - With a safe and non-toxic dry finish, this durable paint resists fading,...

This JetCoat Fence and Barn Paint is originally designed to work on wood and rough plastics, hence the name. 

However, the water-based acrylic formula can work surprisingly well with aluminum and other metals, provided that you rough them up with fine-grit sandpaper and apply a coat of primer first.

The paint has a nontoxic satin finish when it dries with excellent coverage and resistance to UV light, which also makes it a fine pick for outdoor use if you’re looking for simple black paint.

7. Rust-Oleum Hammered

Rust-Oleum 7215502 Hammered Metal Finish, Black,...
  • Weather and corrosion resistant coating protects exterior/interior surfaces like wood, metal,...
  • Oil-based formula provides a durable protective coating with excellent rust prevention

While acrylic and latex paints are usually considered the best options for painting metals, this oil-based paint from Rust-Oleum can be an excellent option if you’re going to leave the aluminum structure in the rain.

The formula gives a decent hammered finish and protects from rust, but you’ll need to apply a few coats of the formula for better protection. 

You can also use this paint if you want to hide scratches, dents, and imperfections caused by rust. The paint also dries pretty quickly and needs no priming, which saves you quite a lot of time!

8. Behr Exterior

Behr paint is one of the most popular options when it comes to barns and fences, but it can also work very well with metals, including aluminum.

Unlike the JetCoat one, this one is oil-based paint, so it’ll withstand the elements of weather much better and resist chipping with time, although it’ll take a while to dry up in comparison.

The product is super affordable for those who don’t want to spend a fortune on paint, although it’ll require some thinning for better coverage and spreadability.

9. Diamond Brite Latex Enamel

Diamond Brite Paint 1-Gallon Latex Gloss Enamel,...
  • Interior/exterior High Gloss finish
  • Excellent adhesion, durability and moisture resistance

If you’re planning to paint your aluminum structures or decorations brilliant white, you should consider this latex enamel paint.

Not only does this paint provide an excellent shade of glossy white, but it’s also surprisingly durable and lasts for a very long time without chipping away.

The Diamond Brite Latex Enamel paint is originally brush-on, but you can also modify the consistency of the paint to spray it easily with little effort.

The paint has decent adhesion, but you might want to prime the aluminum prior to using it.

10. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum 7783830 Stops Rust Spray Paint,...
  • Weather and corrosion resistant coating protects exterior/interior surfaces like wood, metal,...
  • Oil-based formula provides a durable protective coating with excellent rust prevention

Last but not least, if you want a good alternative to the Krylon ColorMaxx spray that provides similar features while giving you a wider range of color options, you might want to check this one out!

The Rust-Oleum spray paint is an enamel spray, so it provides excellent resistance against corrosion and rust. It also has a similar glossy finish and dries up in a few hours.

You can also use the paint on many surfaces, including metal, wood, concrete, and several types of plastic.

How To Prepare Aluminum for Paint

While it may take some time, preparing aluminum for painting is quite simple.

Here’s a quick look at the necessary steps that you need to take before painting aluminum for the best results:

  1. If the aluminum has no paint on, clean it up with some warm water and degreasing soap (this one is excellent). You can also use a wire brush to scrape rust away if there’s any.
  2. If the aluminum is painted, apply some paint remover (find it here) on the aluminum and scrub it to remove the paint; this should also degrease the aluminum.
  3. Rinse the aluminum well to get rid of all compounds used.
  4. Rough up the surface of the aluminum using coarse-grit sandpaper (80 to 100 grit) followed by fine-grit sandpaper (220 to 400 grit) to help the paint adhere. This pack is perfect.
  5. Wipe and rinse the aluminum again.
  6. Apply 2 or 3 primer coats on the aluminum using spray-on or brush-on method, depending on the size of the item. Allow it to dry between every coat.
  7. Use fine-grit sandpaper to level any imperfections in the primer coat (optional).
  8. Apply 2 or 3 coats of latex or acrylic paint with an HVLP spray gun or by hand. Allow it to dry between every coat.
  9. Apply a final coat of clear sealant of your choice to preserve the paint, whether it’s glossy, satin, or matte, and then let it dry completely for a few days.

Oil Eater Original 1 Gallon Cleaner and Degreaser...
  • Powerful Cleaning: Dissolves Grease, Oil And Dirt From Any Washable Surface
  • Usda Approved: For Use At Food Service Facilities (A1, A4, A8)
Citristrip QCSG801 Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel,...
  • CITRISTRIP Safer Paint & Varnish Stripping Gel is easy to use.
  • Stays wet and active for up to 24 hours allowing stripping of multiple layers in one step.
Fandeli Sandpaper Sheets - Multipurpose 80,120,...
  • Super heavy paper that works on all surfaces
  • High Quality Aluminum Oxide mineral

Final Verdict

There you have it! A brief guide that walks you through all the top recommendations to help you buy the best paint for aluminum.

As you can see, there are plenty of great options on the market to choose from.

Regardless of the choice you make, always start your painting process with light sanding because aluminum is very smooth.

Last update on 2022-05-18 at 10:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!