How to Properly Apply Enamel Paint

A can of yellow enamel paint.
What You'll Need
Old cloth, sheets, or newspaper
Tack cloth
Scrub brush
Enamel paint

Enamel paint is a thick material used to get a hard-surfaced, glossy finish. It comes in both oil-based or water-based varieties and sticks to almost all surfaces. While it can be used for almost all purposes, like arts and crafts or painting furniture, applying enamel can be tricky. However, once the art is perfected, you will get a finish with advantages that remain unmatched by many other types of paint.

Pick a Workplace

It is important to find the right workplace before you paint. Ensure the area chosen has ample ventilation to allow the paint to dry quickly. Breathing enamel can be harmful as it contains many chemicals and toxins; thus, free-flowing air is very important for preventing accidental suffocation. Additionally, your workspace must keep small children and pets out.

Once you've chosen a space that meets these criteria, lay down some old cloth, sheets, or newspaper to safeguard anything you don't want to be painted.

Clean and Prime

Next, clean and smooth the surface that needs to be painted. Any dust and debris can interfere with paint adherence, so it's important to be thorough when removing it. A tack cloth will remove any loose debris, but you should use a scrub brush with warm soapy water if anything proves stubborn.

Apply a coat of primer afterward to help safeguard the piece you're painting, making it durable and resistant to warping, rusting, and molding. Priming also ensures the surface remains smooth and glossy after the enamel has been applied.


Once the primer dries, you can add a topcoat. Use a clean brush that is free of dust and other elements. Dipping the brush in turpentine will ensure it is absolutely clean.

Mix your enamel paint with a stir stick and dip your brush into it, wiping off all excess paint. Then, start painting at the center of your piece and work your way outwards. This allows you to concentrate on the most visible areas of the surface first. Continue on to do a second coat if needed after the first is dry.

Seal the Paint

Apply a layer of sealant to give the surface a solid and complete finish. It protects and shields the paint from damaging environmental substances like smoke, dust, air particles, etc. Avoiding this step could result in a discolored, chipped, rusted, or ruined surface.

Let the Paint Dry

Allow the surface to air dry. Enamel paint dries very quickly and should not take more than an hour. However, it is good to keep it untouched for a few hours to ensure complete drying and release of all the paint fumes.

Clean Up

Enamel paint, when dried, is very hard to remove, so it is a good idea to clean up any paint while it's still wet if it's spilled or splattered. Clean the tools properly before storing them. Leftover paint may ruin brushes and make them unsuitable to use again.