Can You Use Tempera Paint On Metal?

Tempera paint is a craft paint popularly used in children’s art and craft projects. You can use tempera paint on various surfaces, including papers, rocks, and walls. Can you use tempera paint on metal?

The answer is yes. You can use tempera paint on metal. But tempera paint is not permanent paint. So it won’t be as durable as other paints such as oil paint or acrylic paint. So, it is important to prepare the surface before applying the paint so it can adhere better to the surface.

Tempera paint is non-toxic and washable paint that you can use on metal. You can use tempera paint to create beautiful artwork on your dull metal surface. The paint usually gives a matt finish, but you can make the paint shiny.

Can You Use Tempera Paint On Metal
Tempera Paint on Metal

Using Tempera Paint On Metal: Can You Do That?

Using tempera paint can be fun as you can create beautiful designs and artwork on the metal surface. But remember one thing, tempera paint is not going to last for a long time on the metal. Why? Because tempera paint works better on an absorbent surface. The surface that can absorb the paint better will have better adhesion to the paint. The paint will flake and crack from the non-absorbent surface like metal after a certain period of time.  

Metal is a non-porous surface. It cannot absorb the paint well. So, using tempera paint for a long time on metal is not the best option. If you want your paint to last a long time on the surface, you should use acrylic or oil paints, as they can adhere better to the non-absorbent surface, including metal, plastic, wood, etc. 

Tempera paint on metal Surface
Tempera paint on metal Surface

However, if you want to create temporary artwork on metal or have only tempera paint in possession, you can paint metal with tempera. You can make tempera paint permanent. After you make your paint permanent, you can use them on various surfaces, and the paint will withstand wear and tear for a long time. However, you can turn your tempera into acrylic that will also withstand water and provide longer durability on metal.

How To Use Tempera Pain On Metal

Assuming that you have decided to use tempera paint on your metal surface, let’s see how you can use tempera paint on metal.

Surface Preparations:

Before applying paint to the metal, you need to prepare the surface that will be painted. To prepare the surface, you need to:

Cleaning the Metal

First, you must ensure that the surface is free of dirt and debris. Dampen a piece of cloth and use it to clean the metal surface. You can use soap and water to clean the surface. Once you wipe the surface, let it dry before applying paint. If the surface is jagged, consider giving it a light sanding. Sanding will provide excellent adhesion of the paint and also an even finish. 

Metal Surface for Tempera Paint
Metal Surface for Tempera Paint

Apply a Primer

If possible, apply a primer on the metal. Priming the surface is not mandatory, but it will enhance the paint’s adhesion and improve the paint’s overall impression by providing a nice appearance. 

Paint Preparation

After preparing the surface for painting, it is time to prepare the paint. Before preparing the paint, it is important to choose the right tempera paint. You can use powdered tempera or liquid tempera. Using liquid tempera paint is a better choice because it comes in a ready-mix bottle, and it is very easy to use liquid tempera paint.  

 Preparing the Tempera Paint 

Pour a small amount of paint into the palette to prepare the paint. Add a little amount of water and give the paint a stir. Add water or paint to the mixture until you get a creamy consistency. 

If you make the paint too thin, the paint will be runny. And it will not adhere better on the surface. On the other hand, if you make the paint too thick, it will not spread better on the surface. So, giving the right consistency to paint is very important. You can take the consistency of honey, for instance. 

Applying the Tempera Paint 

As both the surface and the paint are prepared now, you can apply the paint on the surface now. To do that, you need to use a small brush. Take a paintbrush; apply the paint with long even strokes. It is better if you can cover the whole surface in one stroke. This will give you an even finish.

Applying the Tempera Paint on Metal Surface

For the best result, apply two-three thin layers of paint. Allow each layer to dry before applying the next one. Avoid using too much paint at once, as this will make the paint drip or run. Take a small amount and apply it to the surface.

Finishing Touches 

Adding a Protective Top Coat 

After finishing the painting, you can add a protective top coat. This top coat can be a clear sealant or varnish. Simply apply a thin layer of sealer over the dried tempera paint. Make sure to cover the whole surface evenly. Allow the sealant to dry completely. 

Add Designs and Patterns

To create a decorated surface, you can add design and pattern to the dried tempera paint. You can create different artwork on the surface, like painting a cat, butterfly, or your pet dog’s face on the metal body. 


You can use tempera paint on the metal surface. The downside of using tempera paint on metal is that the tempera is not permanent paint. So it will not last a long time on the metal surface. The plus side is that tempera paint is inexpensive. You can create beautiful artwork on the metal surface with tempera paint without cutting the pocket.

Tempera paint can be made permanent and shiny, so even if the paint is not permanent and offers a matt finish, you can change these facts about tempera.