November 15

5 Tips for Painting a Commercial Metal Building


Metal buildings can be used as office buildings, storage facilities, warehouses, and for many other purposes. Property owners use these metal buildings because of their cost-efficiency.  Inexpensive maintenance costs and environmental friendliness are key features of commercial metal buildings. 

There are two main reasons for opting to use metal buildings over other materials: their strength and durability. Metal buildings can be designed with different types of metal materials to make them more valuable and aesthetically appealing. Steel is a popular material to use because it is strong, stable, durable, and insect- and termite-resistant metal. 

In order for metal buildings to last longer and maintain their beauty, regular care is necessary. Over time, metal buildings need to be painted. The color can fade from exposure to the sun or rust can develop because of moisture. 

There is a right way and many wrong ways to paint metal buildings. Building managers and property owners need to know about painting metal building methods so that they hire the right contractor to do the job.

Restoring Your Metal Building

paint metal building

Of all the improvements you can make to beautify and add value to your metal building, nothing is more cost-effective or makes a bigger impact than a fresh coat of paint. A metal building can be painted for protection or for functional and aesthetic reasons. 

Painting a metal building is a manageable project with adequate planning and professional painters on the job. The results last longer when the right techniques are used. 

One of the challenges of painting a metal building is keeping the coatings on the surface of the metal panels. For the best outcome, these basic steps need to be followed:

1. Surface Prep

rusted metal

Like any other paint job, surface preparation can make or break the completed project. It’s important to remove old loose paint so the new coat of paint can adhere properly. A scraping tool, putty, knife, wire brush, or pressure washer can be used to remove old paint and dirt.  

The downside to metal buildings is that you have to deal with rust that forms on the surface. If all rust is not removed, it will compromise your paint job. Depending on the extent of the rust, different tools and solutions can be used to remove most of it. The remaining rust residue can be removed using a wire brush.

Before moving forward, the surface of the metal building must be clean. Any lingering particles, oil, or dirt can be washed away with water. Some painters add trisodium phosphate, TSP, to the water. Rinse the metal panels clean and leave them to dry for at least two days. 

2. Prime

For metal surfaces, it’s best to use a rust-inhibiting or galvanizing primer. Cover the doors, windows, and trim with painter’s tape or plastic sheeting. Apply the primer over scratches or dents on the metal surface. A paint sprayer can be used for application. Let the primer dry for at least 24 hours. Do your research on the type of primer to use for the various types of metals. 

3. Paint

Use a paint sprayer to paint the metal building after the primer has dried. Use acrylic paint on metal surfaces, as it provides better results and lasts longer. Allow the painted panels to dry thoroughly before applying the second coat.  Make sure to use high-quality paint for the best coverage. If the metal is well primed, a good premium exterior paint will work. There are circumstances where it is best to use metal-specific paints.

4. Different Types of Metal

  • Galvanized metal is coated with zinc to combat rust. Surfaces with zinc-coatings require a water-based acrylic primer. Oil-based coatings can interact with zinc and cause peeling. It is best to use a direct-to-metal paint product that is formulated for zinc-coated metal.
  • Ferrous metal is a metal that contains iron. You are more likely to encounter rust with this type of metal. An oil-based primer should be used to prevent corrosion. This will also create a bonding first layer between the metal and paint. Apply two coats of oil-based paint after the primer has dried. 
  • Pre-primed metal needs to be cleaned and painted quickly before it starts to rust. If you wait too long, bubbling or peeling will appear later on. 
  • Factory-Baked Enamel over metal requires minimal maintenance and only requires painting if the enamel begins to deteriorate or if you need to change the color. 

5. Paint Colors

paint colors

There are several color options for a metal building to accentuate the aesthetics of the building and protect it from damages.  Using lighter or reflective colors will hold color better and are an energy saver as well.

Choosing the Right Professional Painter

One of the most important things to consider when getting your metal building painted is the amount of related experience the painting contractor has. Before you choose a painter for your next project, there are important questions that need to be answered. 

  • How long have you been in business?
    • You want to make sure the painters you choose have years of experience under their belt. Verify how long they’ve been in business with the Better Business Bureau.  
  • Are they insured?
    • Any contractor doing work on a metal building should be licensed (if required), insured, and bonded. A license guarantees that they’ve met certain qualifications and are authorized to work in your state.  A painting contractor who’s insured covers their workers if they are hurt on your property. A respectable contractor will have general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.  Don’t forget to ask to see a copy of the policy.
  • Do they offer a warranty?
    • A reputable painting contractor should offer a warranty on their services. Items covered in a warranty should include labor and materials. 
  • Do they use subcontractors?
    • Knowing if company employees will be painting is important. Always ask if some of the work will be done by less experienced and credentialed contractors. If so, move on to the next painting contractor.
  • What brands of paint do they use?
    • High-quality paint should be the answer they give you. Lower-grade paint will not last as long as premium-grade paint. Check the brands they typically use for certain surfaces. Make sure they put in writing how many coats will be applied.
  • Do they clean up?
    • At the end of a workday, experienced painters clean up the workspace in or outside of the building. Items like old trim, drop cloths, paint buckets, and any other painting equipment should be removed. It should be a priority to keep the work area neat and clean during the paint job and when it’s completed.
  • How much prep work is included in the estimate?
    • Every business or property owner getting a paint job needs to know how their metal building will be prepped for painting. If the walls need to be repaired or surfaces sanded, it should be in writing. 
  • Can you provide a list of references?
    • Quality painting contractors have nothing to hide. They are proud of their work and want others to brag about it.  Get a list of past customers and contact them to describe the work, communication, and overall quality of the painting contractor.  
  • Have they been recognized for great service?
    • Check review sites to see if a painter has been recognized for outstanding service and quality work.  Membership in professional trade organizations like the Painting Contractors Assn also helps in narrowing down a reputable painting contractor.
  • How long will the job take?
    • With any commercial project comes delays due to weather or equipment malfunction. The time to complete a paint job depends on how much of the building will be painted.  Other factors include the number of painters on the job and the weather forecast for an exterior project. 
  • How much will it cost?
    • Always ask for an estimate.  Prep work, materials, and labor are some of the costs that should be in writing. It is also important to know if a deposit is required before work can begin.

Restore Your Metal Building with a New Coat of Paint

When your metal building is showing signs of fading, rust, peeling, or bubbling, it’s time for a new coat of paint.  You need to hire professionals who are experienced in surface preparation, metal primers, and good painting techniques. 

The Painting Pros can restore a metal building with superb results. We know what it takes to make your home or business look great. Professionals don’t leave marks of amateurs. With The Painting Pros, you’ll get straight lines and smooth strokes every time. 

Painting a metal building will protect it from exposure to the elements. Our team of painters will ensure the project is completed on time with a high-quality finish that is sure to last. We only use quality paint that’s right for your metal building. Painting is an investment in the value of the building. 

We pride ourselves on being the painting company that performs above customers’ expectations. We do not consider the job complete until the client is fully satisfied. 

Our painters are polite and professional. We work around you and clean up our mess every day so you never feel like you’re living or working on a construction site.

You can’t afford to hire just anyone to do the job. Choose painting professionals who are committed to quality and your satisfaction. We can handle any job, big or small. Contact us today for a free quote. 


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