How to Update Old Appliances With Stainless Steel Paint

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Stainless steel appliances make a kitchen look sleek and modern.
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Nothing dates a kitchen like an old stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher. And while you'd like to deck out your kitchen with the new stainless steel appliances that are so on trend, buying them will put a big dent in your bank account. Well, if your old appliances still work well, you could try updating them with stainless steel paint, instead.


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You've got two choices: spray-on stainless steel paint, or the type you brush on. You can apply this product to more than just appliances, by the way.

Stainless steel paint can give your appliance a new life.

Stainless steel pain isn't appropriate for every appliance, so here are some things to keep in mind before you jump into a project:

  • Reserve spray-on stainless steel paint for smaller projects such as cabinets, mini-fridges, and hardware.
  • You must use a high-temperature stainless steel paint on your range or toaster. Check to make sure the product is appropriate before you buy it.
  • Don't paint the cooking surface of glass-top stoves, or the observation window in the front of the door.
  • You must prime plastic surfaces before applying stainless steel paint (use a magnet to determine if they're plastic).
  • Different paints result in different finishes, from flat matte to brushed satin to mirror shiny. For that reason, stick to the same paint to harmonize your entire kitchen, and be aware you might find it challenging to match any existing stainless steel appliances you own or purchase later.
  • You don't need to disconnect your appliances or remove food from the fridge before painting.

How to Apply Brush-On Stainless Steel Paint

This process requires three to five full coats. Apply the paint vertically for refrigerators and horizontally for ranges and dishwashers. Make sure to shake the paint before use, open it and stir it well, and continue to stir it frequently during the painting process. If you buy your paint from a store, ask them to shake it on their machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Window cleaner or ammonia

  • Paper towels

  • Masking tape

  • Water-based primer (as necessary; see step 2)

  • Respirator or dust mask

  • Disposable gloves

  • Brush-on stainless steel paint base coat (a kit isn't necessary, but it contains everything you'll need)

  • Brush-on stainless steel paint topcoat (a kit isn't necessary, but it contains everything you'll need)

  • Roller and foam brush (if you didn't get a kit)

Step 1: Clean the Appliance

Clean the appliance with window cleaner or a 50/50 mix of ammonia and water. Dry it completely with a paper towel.


Step 2: Mask Off Areas, Then Prime as Needed

Apply masking tape to protect any areas you don't want to paint, and remove knobs and handles, if possible. If the surface isn't metal, apply a coat of water-based primer. Let it dry completely.


Once you begin working with the paint, wear a respirator or mask and put on disposable gloves.

Step 3: Apply the First Coat

Apply a thin layer of base coat using a high-quality mini-roller. This first coat will look terrible. Don't wreck it by slapping on more paint while it's still wet—don't worry, it will improve with additional coats! Immediately drag the foam brush over paint coat, working in the established direction. Wait 60 minutes to let the paint dry.

Liquid Stainless Steel sells their product in a kit with roller and foam brush included, but you can also buy loose cans.

Step 4: Apply Additional Coats, Then the Topcoat

Apply two to four more thin base coats, dragging the foam brush over each and allowing 60 minutes between applications. Leave the final coat to dry for 2 hours.

Stir the topcoat, but don't shake it. Apply it with a roller and then drag the foam brush through it, just as you did with the paint. You can add up to three topcoats—just one results in a satin look, two creates a semi-gloss finish, and three gives a high-gloss finish. After applying the paint, wait 2 hours before removing the masking tape to allow the paint to fully dry. Wait 24 hours before using the stovetop; otherwise, appliances are ready for use.

Spray-on stainless steel paint is suitable for refrigerators and dishwashers, but not for ranges or toasters.

How to Apply Spray-On Stainless Steel Paint

Things You'll Need

  • Stainless steel spray paint

  • Drop cloths

  • Respirator or mask

  • Disposable gloves

  • Degreaser

  • Liquid soap

  • Sandpaper

  • Paper towels

  • Masking tape

Before you begin, put down drop cloths to protect the surrounding area and work in a well-ventilated room. Make sure to wear a respirator or mask. Disposable gloves are a good idea, too.


Step 1: Clean the Appliance

Clean dirt off the appliance using a degreasing agent, followed by soap and water. Lightly sand off any glossy finish, using a fine-grit sandpaper. Remove all the dust with a damp paper towel. Dry off the appliance completely.

Step 2: Mask Off Areas, Then Apply a First Coat

Use masking tape to cover any areas you don't want painted. Shake the can well, then use slow, steady side-to-side strokes to spray on a thin coat of paint, holding the can 6 to 8 inches from the surface.

Step 3: Apply a Second Coat

Wait for the paint to dry—check the can for specific times—then spray on a second thin coat.


Leave your project to dry for 24 hours before removing the masking tape and using the appliance, or you could mar the smooth, glossy finish.