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How to Paint an Aluminum Fence Like a Pro

You’re staring at that old, weathered aluminum fence, thinking it’s time for a facelift. Painting aluminum is more challenging than slapping on some layers with a roller. If you want your fence to look new and that fresh coat of paint to last, you must prep it properly. 

We’ve got the inside tips from the pros to turn even the most neglected fence into a neighborhood showpiece. We’ll walk you through each step, from cleaning solutions that cut through grime without damaging the metal to specialty primers and paints. 

With some elbow grease and these expert techniques, you can give that tired old fence a makeover that will have the neighbors talking. So grab your supplies because the class is in session for DIY aluminum fence painting 101.

Why Paint Your Aluminum Fence?

Painting your aluminum fence has several benefits. For one, a fresh coat of paint helps protect the aluminum from corrosion and weathering over time. Aluminum fences come pre-treated with a baked-on polyester coating, but exposure to elements like sun, rain, and pollution can cause the coating to fade and break down. Adding a protective layer of paint helps prevent damage and keeps your fence looking new.

Improved Appearance

A painted aluminum fence looks more attractive. The paint allows you to choose a color that complements your home and landscaping. Opt for a solid color, or get creative with patterns like stripes. Either way, a painted fence helps your property stand out and adds curb appeal. If your fence already shows signs of wear, like scratches, dents, or rust spots, a coat of paint disguises imperfections and gives your fence a facelift.

Customization

Painting your aluminum fence lets you customize its look. You can paint just the posts to make a statement or the entire fence for a cohesive appearance. Consider painting the outside face of your fence one color and the inside face another for contrast. Distress the new paint with sandpaper to show hints of the aluminum underneath for a rustic look. The possibilities are endless when you paint your fence.

Cost Effective

Painting an aluminum fence is an affordable alternative to replacing the fence altogether. The necessary supplies—primer, paint, brushes, or a sprayer—cost only a fraction of a new fence. And because aluminum fences are low-maintenance, a fresh coat of paint can last many years before needing touch-ups. For the DIYer, painting your fence saves money that would otherwise be spent hiring a professional.

Ultimately, an aluminum fence adds protection, improves appearance, allows for customization, and is cost-effective—reasons enough to grab a brush and get started. Your home and wallet will thank you.

Also read How Quality Fencing Enhances Home Value and Security

Prep Work Is Key When Painting an Aluminum Fence

When painting an aluminum fence, preparation is half the battle. Take the time to do it right, and you’ll get professional-looking results that last.

First, inspect your fence for any damage or needed repairs. Patch holes, replace missing slats or hardware, and tighten any loose parts. Clean your fence thoroughly to remove built-up dirt and grime. Scrub it down with a degreaser or heavy-duty cleaner and rinse well with a hose. Let all parts dry completely before painting.

Lightly sand the fence surface with fine-grit sandpaper (around 220 grit) to rough up the slick aluminum and give the new paint something to grip onto. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth. Apply a coat of aluminum primer for the most durable finish. Look for a primer specifically intended for aluminum and follow the directions on the can.

Check your local weather forecast and avoid painting if rain is expected within 24 hours. You’ll want a stretch of warm, dry weather to allow for proper drying and curing of the paint. Set up your work area by laying down drop cloths to protect the ground, plants, and nearby surfaces from drips or splatters.

For the best results, use premium quality latex or oil-based paint formulated for exterior use on aluminum. Latex paint dries faster but requires more coats, while oil-based provides superior protection. Apply at least two coats, waiting 24 hours between coats. Use a brush to paint the pickets and posts, then use a small roller for large, open areas.

Take your time and be meticulous. Pay attention to ensure even coverage and check for drips or missed spots. Once complete, your new paint job will need 7 to 14 days to fully cure before the fence can withstand everyday use and weather exposure. With the proper prep and patience, you’ll have an aluminum fence that looks like the pros did it!

Supplies You’ll Need to Paint an Aluminum Fence

You’ll need to gather some essential supplies to paint an aluminum fence like a pro. The quality of your tools and materials will directly impact the result, so take your time here. You’ll need:

Paint:

Choose a paint specifically intended for aluminum or galvanized metal use. An acrylic latex paint works well and provides good coverage in 1-2 coats. For the best protection, use a paint with built-in primer.

Primer (Optional)

You may need to prime first for severe rust or corrosion. Use a primer designed for aluminum, like an etching or zinc-rich primer.

Paintbrush

Get a brush designed for painting fences and exterior surfaces. A 3-inch angled sash brush is an excellent all-purpose choice. You’ll also want a small brush for trim and hard-to-reach areas.

Paint Tray

It will make it easy to dip your brush and roller into the paint. Disposable trays with liners are very convenient for cleanup.

Paint Roller

Use a 3/8-inch nap roller cover for most aluminum fences. A roller can speed up your work and provide an even coat.

Paint Roller Frame

Choose a sturdy roller frame to hold the roller cover.

Paint Roller Extension Handle

An extension handle allows you to paint higher areas without a ladder.

Paint Thinner

For cleaning brushes and rollers. Mineral spirits work well for oil-based paints and water for latex.

Protective Gear

Wear old clothes, gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator mask. Aluminum paint contains harsh chemicals, and the dust from sanding can be toxic.

Sandpaper

Lightly sand any bare aluminum with fine-grit sandpaper (220+ grit) to rough up the surface and provide a tooth for the new paint to adhere to.

Paint Can Opener

A can opener designed explicitly for cutting open paint cans will prevent sharp edges.

Stir Sticks

Use wooden sticks to mix the paint thoroughly before and during application.

With the right tools and supplies in hand, you’ll be ready to start prepping your aluminum fence for a smooth, professional-looking paint job. Take your time and pay attention to the details—the result will be well worth the effort.

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting an Aluminum Fence

So you’ve decided to paint your aluminum fence. Congratulations, you’re about to upgrade your home’s curb appeal seriously! To get pro-level results, follow these steps:

Clean the Fence

The first step is to clean your aluminum fence thoroughly. Use a pressure washer or scrub brush to remove dirt, grime, or debris. Make a DIY cleaner with dish soap, white vinegar, and water for stuck-on messes. Rinse well with water to remove any remaining cleaner residue. Allow the fence to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Lightly Sand Rough Areas

If there are any rough areas, scratches, or imperfections in the aluminum, lightly sand them with fine-grit sandpaper (around 220 grit) to smooth them out. Wipe away dust with a tack cloth.

Apply a Primer

For the best results, apply a coat of aluminum or etching primer. These special primers contain chemicals that help the topcoat paint adhere securely to the aluminum surface. Follow the directions on the primer product to apply it correctly.

Choose a Durable Paint

For aluminum fences, use an acrylic latex or oil-based paint. These paints are specifically designed for use on metals. Popular brand options include Rust-Oleum, Sherwin Williams Duration, and Benjamin Moore Aura. For the most protection, choose a paint specifically meant for exterior use.

Apply Two Coats of Paint

Apply a first coat of paint, waiting 2 to 3 hours for it to dry as directed by the product instructions. Then, apply a second coat, waiting for it to dry completely. Two full coats of paint are needed for the best protection and coverage. Use a paintbrush to get into corners, edges, or hard-to-reach areas. Then, use a paint roller for large, open sections.

Consider a Clear Topcoat

For extra protection from the elements, apply 2 coats of a clear acrylic sealer or topcoat over the final coat of paint. Re-apply the topcoat every few years to maintain protection. Your newly painted aluminum fence will now have a smooth, durable finish and look new for years to come!

Also Read Fencing Solutions for Every Home: Exploring Fairfax Fence’s Offerings

Common Questions on How to Paint Aluminum Fence

Have some questions before tackling an aluminum fence painting project? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers to help you get started.

What kind of paint should I use?

For aluminum fences, use a paint specifically for metals like aluminum or galvanized steel. These paints contain special bonding agents that allow the paint to adhere better to slick, non-porous surfaces. Popular options include rust-preventing primers like galvanizing paint or etching primers, followed by acrylic latex or oil-based paint.

Do I need to sand or prime the aluminum first?

Lightly sanding aluminum before painting helps the paint grip better, but it is not always necessary. At a minimum, wipe down the fence with a degreaser like mineral spirits to remove dirt or oils. Priming aluminum, especially if it’s never been painted before, is highly recommended. A primer helps create a strong bond between the paint and the aluminum. For the best results, apply two coats of primer, waiting 2 hours between coats.

How many coats of paint do I need?

For an aluminum fence, plan on applying at least 2 coats of paint for the best coverage and protection. More coats, typically 3 to 4, may be needed for a darker color. Apply each coat evenly, waiting at least 2 to 3 hours between coats until the paint is dry to the touch. The final coat should look like a smooth, continuous layer with no visible brushstrokes.

How long will the paint job last?

With proper preparation and application, you can expect an aluminum fence paint job to last 3 to 5 years before needing touch-ups or re-painting. The lifespan depends on factors like:

  • The quality of the paint and primer used. Higher quality, metal-specific paints last longer.
  • The number of coats applied. More coats mean better protection and durability.
  • Exposure to weather. Fences in areas of extreme heat, sun, or moisture will require repainting more often.
  • Wear and tear. Fences around high-traffic areas or that receive more physical contact tend to need repainting sooner.

Conclusion

So there you have it, folks – the inside scoop on how to make your old aluminum fence look like new with a fresh coat of paint. With the proper prep work and materials, even an amateur DIYer like yourself can get professional-looking results. 

Take your time, don’t skip any steps, and pay attention to the details, like taping off areas and watching the weather forecast. Before you know it, you’ll have the best-looking fence on the block and can sit back with some lemonade and admire your handiwork. 

When the neighbors stroll by and compliment your fence, smile and take all the credit – no need to mention you had a little help from this article!
Ready to make your old aluminum fence look amazing? Fairfax Fence is the best fence company in northern Virginia. We install top-quality fences for homes and businesses at reasonable prices. Improve your property’s appearance with our expert work. Contact us now for a chat and let us create the fence you want!