How to Paint a Metal Pole Barn

Written by beth sergent
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How to Paint a Metal Pole Barn
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Painting a pole barn can add not only a splash of colour but years of life onto the structure. When painting, always remember doing it right the first time is cheaper than doing it over. With an investment of time and a high-quality exterior paint, the investment in your pole barn will reap dividends for years to come.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paint
  • Rust-inhibitive primer
  • Power washer
  • Paint scraper
  • Disk sander
  • Scaffolding, ladders
  • Paint gun or paint brush, roller

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  1. 1

    Remove any loose paint with a paint scraper or a power washer placed on a setting that will remove the paint without damaging the surface.

  2. 2

    Clean the barn with a solution appropriate to the surface. Mix one part distilled white vinegar with three parts water to clean galvanised steel. Mix a simple solution of bleach and water to kill any mildew. Mix these solutions separately, or a cleaning solution of your choice, into a one-gallon sprayer or power washer for application, rinsing and drying thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Sand any rust from the metal with a disk sander using sanding disks of at least 80-grit. Sand until satisfied the rust is removed or clean metal is visible.

  1. 1

    Rent or borrow proper scaffolding and ladders, assembling them where needed before beginning. Note any safety precautions when using this equipment.

  2. 2

    Cover any plants, landscaping, windows, doors, etc. using dust sheets, masking tape and tarps to protect these areas from paint. This step is especially essential if using a paint sprayer, guarding against overspray.

  3. 3

    Prime areas where rust was present with a rust-inhibitive primer paint. These primers can be purchased in quarts, gallons and spray cans. Spot-prime these areas as needed. Remember rust is like a fungus and will continue to spread if untreated.

  1. 1

    Consider a high-quality acrylic enamel paint manufactured for direct-to-metal application and adhesion to slick surfaces. Acrylic paints have a quicker drying time, are soap and water clean up, and typically require water as a thinner if using a spray gun. However, always consult the manufacturer’s label when using a spray gun.

  2. 2

    Consider high-quality oil-based enamel paint for durability and adhesion to slick surfaces. Oil-based paints have a longer drying time and require paint thinner for clean up and thinning purposes.

  3. 3

    Spray the coating (if using a paint gun) onto a small area of the barn to test how evenly it flows onto the surface. Add more water or paint thinner (depending on your paint) if the coating is runny or has clumps to achieve a smoother finish. Rolling or brushing the paint onto the barn should also include testing a small area to determine if any thinning or adjustment of application materials are required.

  4. 4

    Apply one coat at a time, preferably when the weather is warm but not excessively hot. Application of many acrylic paints can be made in temperatures as low as 1.67 degrees C though application of oil-based paints require temperatures be at least 15.6 degrees C. Reapply paint according to the brand's label, noting just because the surface is dry to the touch doesn’t mean it has cured for another coat.

Tips and warnings

  • Purchase a roller and brush specifically made for either oil or acrylic paints.
  • Surfaces previously painted with oil-based paints require use of oil-based paints when repainting. Surfaces previously painted with latex paints can be recoated with latex or oil-based paints.

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