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I have some galvanized fence brackets that I want to use on some benches. Before construction I want to paint them black to match a table we have. I have been doing some research on how to do this so the paint will stand the test of time. From what I have seen the basic steps are as follows:

  1. Clean the metal with an acid (i.e. distilled white vinegar)
  2. Apply primer to the surface
  3. Paint using a latex based paint

Am I correct on this or did I miss something? Do I need a primer or can I do multiple coats of paint?

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You definitely want the primer. Latex paint has lousy adhesion on metal; it gets the nod on galvanized surfaces because oil based paints have a chemical reaction with zinc. The primary reason for the acid is to etch the surface and give the paint a mechanical bond. You really don't want to skip a primer when adhesion is such a big issue.

There are oil-based primers with a high zinc content, with zinc in the name or for galvanized metal printed loudly on the label. They offer superior performance in extreme temperatures and salt water environments. I doubt that it's worth going out of your way to find them, but it might be an option if you see one while you're in the store. You can go over them with a latex paint, just not vice-versa.

You might also be able to get them blasted for a reasonable price at a local powder coat shop or someplace similar. It really only requires a small amount of labor to glass bead something in a cabinet, but we all know shop rates can be wildly divorced from reality.

  • Do I need to use latex paint after the primer or can I use an oil based spray paint? – Steve Salowitz May 23 '17 at 15:31
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    You can not put an oil paint over latex. So your options are zinc primer with an oil or latex topcoat or latex primer with a latex topcoat. Best bet is to read the can and see if alkyd is an acceptable topcoat. – Matthew Gauthier May 23 '17 at 16:06

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