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How to paint metal buckets

Updated February 21, 2017

Decorating with metal buckets is easy and inexpensive, even when you customise your paint job. Some people leave the pails plain and unpainted, but painting metal buckets brings colour and vibrancy to your garden, table top or front stoop. Use colours to match or complement your current colour scheme or decorate the bucket with creative designs and themes. Whether you use the bucket as a flower pot, candy dish or water collector, a custom paint job adds to a metal bucket's simple charm.

Prepare the bucket for the primer. Sand out any rust spots, then wash and thoroughly dry the bucket.

Shake the spray paint primer and spray the bucket according to the paint manufacturer's directions. Apply a thin coat so the primer does not drip. Prime all surfaces of the bucket.

Set the bucket aside to dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

Shake the can of spray paint. Spray a light coat of paint over the entire bucket. Allow the paint to dry and repeat applications of paint until the colour is even.

Set the bucket aside to dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

Shake the can of clear spray shellac. Spray a light coat of shellac over the entire bucket. Allow the shellac to dry.

Tip

To add decorative detail, apply shaped stickers or stripes of painter's tape to the bucket after you paint it with the primer. Spray a light coat of paint over the entire bucket. Allow the paint to dry and repeat until the colour is solid. Remove the stickers or tape after the paint is dry. You will now have white shapes or stripes on your custom-painted bucket.

Warning

Follow the paint manufacturer's instructions regarding ventilation, inhalation and other safety concerns. Cover all surfaces around your painting area. Spray paint drifts in the air and can damage items you did not intend to paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal bucket
  • Spray paint primer formulated for metal
  • Spray paint
  • Clear spray shellac
  • Painter's tape or shaped stickers (optional)
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About the Author

Jennifer Erchul has been a freelance writer since 2002. Writing primarily about family and travel, her work has appeared in the "Idaho State Journal," "Portnuef Valley Parents Magazine" and "Western Flyfisher." She writes for numerous websites and is a published author. Erchul studied English and psychology at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.