How to Prime and Paint Galvanized Metal


Inside: The best paint technique for painting metal to look galvanized; how to prime and finish an old card catalog to turn it into a piece of vintage looking furniture.

I love redoing furniture and finding new life in lifeless things; but sometimes it’s a terrifying endeavour. Sometimes, the vision feels so far beyond what is realistic, that it doesn’t seem possible, as was the case with this metal card catalog. I took a chance and here’s how I primed and painted the galvanized metal.

I’ve done a few other painted metal projects, including painting vintage metal lockers. I used a different technique for those and opted to paint them with chalk style paint. Also check out my faux concrete painted outdoor planters and my DIY bed risers too!

Supplies to Paint Metal to look Galvanized

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Updating a Metal Card Catalog with Metal PaintWeathered Card Catalogue Before

Step One:

First things first; I had to build a base for it to sit on. Having it up off the floor makes it infinitely easier to use (and means one day it could be an end table in another room of the house!) I decided that what would make it even EASIER was to build it a little table for it it sit on.

Cut 1x2s to build the base

Using wood glue, my drill (I have this one) and wood screws, I created two basic H-frames. Build a basic H-frameThen I cut some 1x4s; eight of them into 20″ lengths. I just used my circular saw.

Cutting the plank table top

Cutting the plank table top for DIY table

I used those as slats to create the top and the middle shelf! (Seriously, you guys. I was SO nervous to build something, but this took me less than two hours start to finish. And there may have been some mega happy dancing going on!)

Simple DIY Wooden table

Add the slats to the table with glue and a nail gun

I confirmed that the card catalog fit and wasn’t wobbly on the table base and set to work.Weathered Card Catalogue needs paint

Step Two: Priming the Metal Card Catalog

I started with a good cleaning of the card catalogue and then a solid coat of stain blocking and gripping primer. I’ve never really primed or painted metal before and I was quite surprised at how quickly it dried to the touch. I used a 2″ foam brush to apply an even coat.Weatherd Metal Card Catalogue first primer coat

Step Three: Painting the Metal Card Catalog

The next step is the most exciting. I used Modern Masters Platinum paint in silver. I taped off the hardware, because I actually couldn’t figure out how to get it off.Modern Masters Paint Set

Let’s talk about this paint for a minute. It’s incredible. It has ACTUAL metal in it, so it bonds incredibly well. I used a soft bristle brush to apply it to my card catalogue.Weathered Metal Card Catalogue First coat of Modern Masters

The silver tint is a semi-opaque and it says right on the bottle that it will require three coats to get good coverage. Three coats were perfect to get rid of that drab beige.Weathered Metal Card Catalogue After Three coats of Silver Metallic Paint

Step Four: Finishing the card catalog to give it a vintage finish

Then came the glaze. I’ve never used a glaze before. I’ve waxed and top coated things – but never glazed. The neat thing about the Modern Masters Furniture and Cabinetry Glaze is that it is customizable. You just add in whatever tint you want in whatever saturation you want to achieve your desired look. I was going for a weathered and galvanized look. I poured about 1/3 of a cup of glaze into a cup and added about a teaspoon of Dark Brown tint. (In the end, I had mixed too much! So a little glaze goes a long way!)How to mix the Furniture Glaze by Modern Masters

Here’s the process I used. I followed the basic guidelines in this tutorial post by Redoux Interiors – but she was working on a wooden table top. I wanted this too look like grunge-y metal.

Applying Furniture Glaze on Metal Step One

Step One was to cover the card catalogue with one coat of glaze. I used a 1-inch craft brush because it gave me good control and I just slapped it on.

Applying Furniture Glaze on Metal Step Two

Step Two was to add a hefty drop of the actual Dark Brown tint to my rag and ‘pounce’ it onto the cabinet. Do this in a random pattern.

Applying Furniture Glaze on Metal Step Three

Step Three is to rub that in. Use a good deal of pressure and work in circles. Normally, you wouldn’t do circles – but I found this distributed the darker colour in a ‘perfectly uneven’ way.

Applying Furniture Glaze on Metal Step Four

Step Four is to go back and get rid of those circles! I dragged a 2.5″ angle brush across the cabinet and then followed that with a light hand and my rag to eliminate any curvy lines.

The other beautiful thing about this glaze is that it’s slow drying, which gives you plenty of time to work with it once it’s on your piece. It also means it’s easy to layer and create wonderful depth. I’m really enamoured with this product. After I got the whole cabinet to this point – I let it sit and cure for 24 hours while I worked on finishing up the little table base.
Weathered Wooden Table Base

I just kept layering and dry brushing until I got it to where I thought it made sense. In the end, I decided to add some mending brackets to the front of the table to tie it all together with the card catalogue. I sprayed them gold and them went over them with the Furniture Glaze to give them a bit of a patina.

I’m so happy with how this turned out. I was nervous throughout this whole project. But I think this will be the perfect addition to my photography studio set up. Weathered Metal Card Catalogue with Modern Masters Paint and Glaze

Weathered Metal Card Catalogue Galvanized Steel Up Close

Faux Galvanized Steel on Metal using Modern Masters Paint and Glaze

You’d never even know this piece was once a gross drab beige… It looks like it was always an industrial galvanized piece. Weathered Metal Card Catalogue with Distressed Wood Table

And because it isn’t attached to the little table, I will be able to use both in different locations down the line. Win win, I’d say 🙂

Other Galvanized Metal Painting Tutorials

Lisa from Recreated Designs has her own take on how to paint something to look like metal.

Unskinny Boppy has a great tutorial for how to use metal flashing as decor using spray paint to make it look aged and galvanized. So cute!

An Oregon Cottage has pretty much the cutest tutorial I’ve ever seen for painted galvanized Christmas houses. Like I can’t handle this….It’s way too cute!

Here are some other posts you might like!

This post contains affiliate links and we were provided product for review by Modern Masters. You can see our full privacy and disclosure policy here.


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