Prep and Paint Exterior Metal Railing.

Commercial buildings such as condominium and apartment buildings use metal fencing for security and aesthetic reasons. Maintaining the exterior metal railing will reduce costs and provide long lasting performance for the facility manager or owner.

Our commercial painters provide maintenance services for the exterior of buildings, and painting railings is something that we do often. Winters in the Toronto area are harsh and unkind to exterior surfaces. Every spring and summer, facility managers engage in preventative maintenance to protect the integrity of exterior surfaces and improve the look of their properties.

Basic Prep for Metal Railings Before Painting.

  • First remove all the loose rust by wire brushing or sanding it. Remove any peeling paint down to a sound surface. If there is a lot of railing to prep, it’s a good idea to use power tools to speed up the process.
  • Dust off the surfaces as much as possible. You can use a vacuum cleaner or a blower for that purpose.
  • Before using any paint or primer it’s a good idea to clean the surfaces from any residue or stains. Using rags with mineral spirits is the best technique for that. Store any solvent soaked rags in water daily, to avoid possible combustion.

Commercial painters should follow basic safety procedures. Eye protection, masks and gloves are a must. If you are working in the sun, use a good sunscreen with UV protection.

Painting the Metal Railings.

After all the loose rust is removed, the glossy areas are sanded and the dust is removed, it is time to paint. Before we apply the topcoat we need to prime all exposed surfaces with the appropriate primer. We can paint rusted areas and exposed metal with a metal grade primer, made specifically for that purpose. Sometimes we can spot-prime with the top coat, especially if we use a Direct To Metal product (DTM). If the metal has a lot of oxidisation we use a “rust converter” type of of spot-primer. (Note: galvanized metal should not be primed or painted with alkyd paint, see information below)

We apply paint by brush, roller and “painter mitts’ made specifically for that purpose. Spraying can also be used during non windy days and after we take all precautions to protect surrounding areas from overspray. Whatever the method of application is, using the right coating for metal railings is important. What is also important is following the paint manufacturer’s recommendations for that product.

Black Iron railing in Housing complex

Painting Galvanized Steel Railing.

Galvanizing is the shop process of coating iron surfaces with a coat of zinc. This factory treatment can last many years under normal circumstances. More information about galvanized metal can be found here.

Harsh weather like the weather we have in Toronto will shorten the lifespan of that protection. Commercial buildings such as condominium and apartment buildings paint their railings for both maintenance and aesthetic reasons. Black railing looks really good in most exterior landscapes and is the most popular choice of colour. There is nothing wrong with painting galvanized metal railing, as long as the appropriate prep work is employed. Unfortunately, to most people the condition of the railing looks fine and the ideal prep-work is very intense. The inevitable shortcut of surface preparation is the main reason that paint failure occurs.

Surface Preparation for Galvanized Steel Railing.

Galvanized metal is shiny and the main problem with painting it, is adhesion of the paint. Sometimes property managers are more concerned with how it looks and decide to paint it without the proper prep:

  • Wash the surface with a solvent to remove any oily contamination.
  • Roughen the surface to dull the shiny surface.
  • Apply a high quality acrylic super adherent primer.

Note: Never apply alkyd paints on exposed galvanized metal. One of the reasons of paint failure is because of the application of alkyd coatings on galvanized metal. The alkyd reacts with salts that zinc produces during the galvanizing process. As a result, adhesion will always be compromised. It is not uncommon to see alkyd paint on railing blister, and peel off the surface in big strips of paint. In fact, it is common for railing to look good from far away and when prepping it, most of the paint comes right off.  

Ecopainting has a lot of experience painting railing outside commercial buildings. We know the main reason a paint job will last longer is the right amount of prep-work. Our crews are very aware of that and shortcuts are never an option for us or the customer.

If your property has any railing that could use some attention get in touch with us. We will meet with you, assess the condition of the surfaces and prepare a detailed proposal to address your needs.

1 thought on “Paint Exterior Metal Railing”

  1. Thank you for informing us that alkyd paints on metal railings cause adhesion problems that result in unattractive paint peel offs. This is a nice tip to remember for Dad’s plan to have his wrought-metal railings in verandah professionally painted this Tuesday. I’d take note that it is good enough to roughen up the railing and apply it with good quality acrylic primer for best effect.


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