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How to paint a stainless steel sink

Updated February 21, 2017

Many people are surprised to learn that an old stainless steel sink can be rejuvenated with a coat of fresh paint. However, because paint does not adhere well to metallic surfaces, inexperienced do-it-yourselfers can often run into trouble with this project. If you're planning to paint a stainless steel sink, there are a few things you need to know before you get started.

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  1. Use warm soapy water and a coarse brush to thoroughly clean the stainless steel sink. Rinse the sink.

  2. Ensure that no water is leaking from the handles or dripping from the faucet of the stainless steel sink. Turn off the main water valve leading to the sink if you cannot stop the dripping or leaking.

  3. Dry the stainless steel sink completely with rags. Apply a small amount of white spirit to a dry rag. Wipe down the sink to remove any soap residue that may interfere with adhesion. Allow a few minutes for the white spirit to evaporate and dry.

  4. Use blue painter's tape to cover any areas you do not want painted.

  5. Scour the sink with a wire brush to abrade the surface. This promotes adhesion.

  6. Open the container of etching primer or bonding primer. Use the 3" oil-based paintbrush to apply the etching primer or bonding primer to the stainless steel sink. Use the brush to smooth any runs or drips.

  7. Once you have applied the primer, use white spirit to clean the paintbrush. Massage the white spirit into the bristles of the paintbrush with your fingers; then wash the brush three times to ensure that all of the primer has been removed.

  8. Allow one full day for the primer to cure.

  9. Open the container of latex paint. Use the 3" latex paintbrush to apply paint to the stainless steel sink. Continue painting until the entire stainless steel sink is completely covered. Use the brush to smooth any runs or drips.

  10. Allow two hours to dry. Apply another coat if necessary. Clean the paintbrush with water, using the same process as before.

  11. Tip

    Use an etching primer or bonding primer that contains zinc phosphate or a calcium plumbate. Although you do not have to wait a full day for the etching primer or bonding primer to cure, your paint job will last much longer if you do. If you do not want to do this, allow at least two to three hours for the primer to dry before you begin painting.


    Never attempt to paint a stainless steel sink without using an etching or bonding primer first or you will end up with chipping and peeling. Never attempt to clean a latex paintbrush with white spirit or it will be ruined. Likewise, never attempt to clean an oil-based paintbrush with water or it will be ruined.

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Things You'll Need

  • Coarse brush
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Rags
  • Wire brush
  • Etching primer or bonding primer
  • Oil-based paintbrush (3")
  • Latex paintbrush (3")
  • White spirit
  • Latex paint

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.

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