How To Remove Spray Paint From Metal

Spray painting is such an inexpensive and effective way to makeover any tired-looking furniture or decor around your home, replacing the need to buy new pieces entirely and also preventing you from having to bring out the old paint can and brush.

Spray paint also dries a lot faster than paint from a can so you won’t be hanging around for hours waiting to move your piece back into position. However, as good as spray paint is, it can be difficult to remove from particular surfaces, including metal.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Metal

If you’ve accidentally sprayed some paint onto a metal surface whilst spraying something else or you’ve decided to switch up the look of your spray-painted furniture and return it to its metallic glory, then you’ll need to follow the correct ways to remove it properly.

We’ll be sharing our best tips and tricks for effectively removing spray paint from metal here today.

Recently applied spray paint

If you’ve only just applied your spray paint and you’re not happy with the outcome and would like to remove it, or maybe you’ve accidentally sprayed another metal surface by mistake, then you could try this method to get the original surface back.

For this method, you’ll want to grab yourself a bucket or bowl of warm water, a microfiber cloth, and also some mild dish soap. Using a microfiber cloth is important as you don’t want to end up scratching the surface of the metal.

  1. Start by applying a few drops of your dish soap to the spray-painted surface.
  2. Dip your microfiber cloth into the warm water and then gently rub the spray-painted surface. Make sure to rinse the cloth out frequently so you’re not rubbing the removed spray paint back onto the metal surface
  3. You may want to reapply the dish soap to the surface as it will probably have been rinsed off with the wet cloth
  4. Repeat this process until all paint is removed

If this method doesn’t do the trick, then you could also try using a clay bar to remove recently applied spray paint.

For this method, you’ll need a clay bar (can be bought from an automotive retail store, home improvement store, or online), warm water, a microfiber cloth, and a clay bar lubricant (or you can DIY your own out of dish soap).

  1. Cut off a section of the clay bar
  2. Spray or rub the painted surface with clay bar lubricant or dish soap
  3. Rub the clay bar directly onto the designated surface with firm pressure, you may need to add more lubricant as you go along.
  4. Wipe the surface with your damp microfiber cloth to try and remove excess paint and build-up of lubricant.
How To Remove Spray Paint From Metal

How to remove tougher spray paint on metal surfaces

If you’ve tried the methods above and been unsuccessful then it’s time to move on to something more heavy-duty.

One of the most effective ways to remove stubborn spray paint from a metal surface is using a stripping gel. Citristrip is a good one, but you can use any stripping gel suitable for metal surfaces from your local home improvement store.

For this method, you will need stripping gel, a paintbrush, a plastic scraper, a lint-free rag, gloves, protective eyewear like goggles or glasses, and also a respirator or protective mask.

  1. Place on your protective gloves, eyewear, and also your respiratory equipment first
  2. Place your object on a rag or surface you don’t mind getting dirty or potentially damaged
  3. Paint the stripping gel onto your object using a paintbrush until it is covered in a thick coat. However, instructions will alter from brand to brand so ensure you read thoroughly before
  4. Most striping gels will work in around 30 minutes, but you know it’s ready to remove when the paint has started to bubble
  5. Using a plastic scraper (a metal one will scratch the metal surface underneath) gentle scrape off the bubbled paint. Any paint you scrape off should be put into a bag that can be tied up and thrown away
  6. Try to remove as much excess paint off with a damp rag
  7. If you’re finding it difficult to remove paint from small crevices, then using an old or spare toothbrush is recommended
  8. You can reapply the stripping gel again and then repeat the process until all paint is removed
  9. Once all the paint is removed, you can get rid of the uneven surface by wiping over with acetone on a microfiber cloth until the metal is smooth and shiny again

At-home solutions for removing spray paint from metal

If you’ve been using water-based spray paint, then you can also try using rubbing alcohol on a microfiber cloth or rag to remove tough patches. The cloth does not need to be saturated with rubbing alcohol so squeeze out the excess liquid.

You should also wear gloves and wear a mask to protect yourself from the strong odor of the alcohol.

If the spray paint that you are trying to remove is oil-based, then acetone will be the best option to try. Just like with the rubbing alcohol, you’ll want to make sure to use gloves and a mask as the scent is very pungent.

You’ll need to rub a microfiber cloth that is considerably damp with acetone and rub the surface until all the paint is removed.

Fine-grit sandpaper will also do an effective job of removing spray paint from metal surfaces. You should lightly rub the sandpaper on the metal surface, make sure not to apply too much pressure so you don’t scratch the surface.

Once you’ve removed all the paint, you should finish with a metal polish to ensure a smooth surface finish for painting afterward or for making the metal look brand new again.

If you don’t have any metal polish in your home, you can always use white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, or mild dish soap with diluted water with a microfiber cloth to wipe on the surface.

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