How to paint steel pipe

Written by emily patterson
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How to paint steel pipe
Steel pipe painted to highlight the location of the T-fitting. (pipe fitting image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com)

Steel pipes can be painted any colour needed for its intended purpose. The pipe must be clean and dry before painting to improve how well the primer and paint adhere to the surface. Choose a primer and paint that are specifically designed for metal, with a rust retardant formulated into the product to prevent rust from developing under the paint.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Hot water
  • Steel wool
  • Clean cloth
  • Plastic dropcloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Newspaper
  • Narrow blocks of wood
  • Paint stirring stick
  • Paintbrush
  • Steel rust retardant primer
  • Steel rust retardant paint

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Put on rubber gloves, and use hot water with steel wool to remove grease, dirt, and any remaining residues from manufacturing the pipe. Dry with a clean cloth.

  2. 2

    Stand the pipe vertically, if possible. Place a plastic dust sheet behind the pipe to prevent paint from getting on the wall. If the steel pipe is too long to stand vertically, place it horizontally with narrow blocks of wood spaced every 3 feet to raise it off the surface. If the steel pipe is already installed, use painter’s tape and newspaper to cover surfaces and protect them from overspray.

  3. 3

    Apply primer to the steel pipe. If the primer is a brush-on product, stir the primer with a paint stirring stick immediately before use. Dip a paintbrush into the primer about 1 inch into the can. Start from the top, or one side, of the steel pipe, and apply small layers of primer with a paintbrush. If the primer is a spray-on product, spray across the pipe with sweeping motions in small layers to prevent runs. Allow the primer to dry before painting according to manufacturer’s recommendations printed on the primer label.

  4. 4

    Apply paint to the steel pipe. If the paint is a brush-on product, stir the paint immediately before use. Dip a paintbrush into the paint about 1 inch into the can. Start from the top, or one side, of the steel pipe, and apply small layers of paint with a paintbrush. If the paint is a spray-on product, spray across the pipe with sweeping motions in small layers to prevent runs.

Tips and warnings

  • Use primer and paint from the same company. Manufacturers develop primer and paint to work together. Choosing a primer and paint from the same company will improve the results of the final finished project.
  • Runs can be sanded out after the primer or paint is dry. Use 180 grit sandpaper to remove the run. Follow with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches from the 180 grit sandpaper. Touch up the primer or paint with a thin coating of primer or paint.

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