How can I paint a large steel planter if I live in a small NYCapartment?
January 16, 2017 3:04 PM   Subscribe

I really like the shape & size of this big steel planter, but not the color, which will look mad cheeks with the rest of my stuff. I'm comfortable with the idea of painting it myself, but I don't know what kind of paint to use, how to prepare the surface, or even where I can do it, since I live in a New York apartment without a garage or tenant-accessible basement. Got any advice for me?

More questions: are there workshops in NYC where I can lug this thing, do all kinds of crazy work on this thing, let it dry for a day or two, and bring it back? Or are there places where they'd do it for me?

The company won't ship a painted one because they say it'll just get chipped in transit.
posted by paul_smatatoes to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a body shop near you? The one near us always had big strange special projects out front that were being powdercoated or painted.
posted by clockwork at 3:10 PM on January 16, 2017

@clockwork, like an auto body shop? (I don't know if there are other kinds, I'm ignorant here)
posted by paul_smatatoes at 3:15 PM on January 16, 2017

The Art Studio on the upper west side probably isn't a good place for you to go to paint the planter but they may be able to suggest one.
posted by qi at 3:27 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's plain unfinished steel. All you need to do is wipe it down with a lint free cloth dampened with lacquer/paint thinner to remove any wax or oil left on the planter and then paint it with a rust paint like rustoleum or tremclad. You can paint this pretty much anywhere with a roller by laying down a layer of cardboard underneath to catch any drips. Use a tinted primer as a base coat and then two coats of your colour coat using the directions for dry time between coats as given on the can.

It wouldn't hurt to lightly scuff the planter with a 600 grit sandpaper before painting (wipe down with a lint free cloth using the thinner afterwards).

Both the paint and thinner can be stinky so if inside you'll want to be able to open a window for several hours after painting.
posted by Mitheral at 3:32 PM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'd go with Rustoleum, specifically their rust-resistant oil-based primer and top coat. It brushes on to bare metal surprisingly well - I've never tried rolling it on - but given that you're dealing with big flat expanses of metal you might still find the brushmarks annoying. In that case, you could finish with a spray coat, the same Rustoleum paint is available in aerosol cans. OTOH I have had no problems getting a good looking coat of metallic rustoleum onto my radiators and steam pipes.

Oil-based paint is smelly and can be messy to clean up. I'd invest in a small drop cloth, or perhaps a large drop cloth if you choose to spray. Overspray - droplets that drift away from their target & end up where they don't belong - is a hazard if you spray, so you need to be extra careful.

If you brush on, buy a decent brush. If you're unlikely to do anything like this again, you can ditch it afterwards, the cleanup will be challenging. You'll need a quart of mineral spirits and a few rags for cleanup.
posted by mr vino at 3:55 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Are there any maker/hacker spaces near you? They probably have a "painting" area.
posted by sparklemotion at 4:01 PM on January 16, 2017

I've painted things like this with spray Rustoleum over a layer of newspaper on the sidewalk, and let them dry on the fire escape or the building's roof.
posted by nicwolff at 4:09 PM on January 16, 2017

There's a bunch of metal fabricators in the Gowanus, Red Hook, Greenpoint (in the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center), and elsewhere.

Call them up and tell them that you want to have something similar fabricated or painted, and they should be able to give you a quote. It may turn out that creating the planter from scratch and powdercoating it might be cheaper than getting it shipped, then lugging it to the fabricator.
posted by suedehead at 4:56 PM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

What color do you want to paint it? Looking at 'tapered square planter' at Wayfair alone offers several options. (Linked general search results and a couple of specific metal options; big box hardware retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's will also deliver. Painting in an apartment is a drag, and anything that will do a decent job of coating steel will have fumes to irritate you and your neighbors. In January, opening windows to try to disperse said fumes is a worse drag.)
posted by furtive_jackanapes at 5:28 PM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I spray painted things in an apartment by creating a kind of cardboard "closet" by cutting up big cardboard boxes and taping them together to create a 3 sided box with a roof.
I would place the item inside and be able to spray paint without worrying about getting the stuff everywhere.
posted by aviatrix at 6:16 PM on January 16, 2017

What's your budget? I'm in NYC as well and have expert painting skills (my website is on my profile)...I can even do painted finishes like copper patina, ombres, gold leaf, you name it. MeMail or shoot a txt to the # on my site.
posted by sexyrobot at 7:47 PM on January 16, 2017

It looks like it's already rusty- so the paint probably won't go on smoothly. That ok with you?
posted by spraypaint at 11:36 PM on January 16, 2017

The pictured planter is post weathering; it ships unweathered.
posted by Mitheral at 12:08 AM on January 17, 2017

Going to contact some metal fabricators for estimates before I decide on whether or not I should try to do it myself. Thanks everyone!
posted by paul_smatatoes at 8:40 PM on February 2, 2017

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