How to Paint a Stainless Steel Sink in the Kitchen

If your kitchen needs a face-lift, you may be wondering how to paint a stainless steel kitchen sink at home. Stainless steel is incredibly strong, but it is non porous like wood or porcelain. Therefore, it needs special preparation before it can be painted.

First the stainless steel should be wiped down with a tri-sodium phosphate compound, which will dull the surface and make it more receptive to paint. Another method is to sand the surface down. The resulting rough texture will more readily absorb whatever paint you will apply to the sink.

6 Steps to Paint a Stainless Steel Sink:

Materials Needed:

  • A paint sprayer
  • Primer
  • Steel wool or sandpaper
  • Trisodium phosphate cleaner
  • Paint
  • A mask or well-ventilated area

Step 1: Prepare Your Sink

Because stainless steel is such a hard metal, it will not take paint easily. Spray on your trisodium phosphate liquid, also known as TSP, and wipe down your sink.

Be sure to apply the TSP to all visible surfaces in the interior and exterior of the sink. You will notice that TSP takes away the natural shine that most stainless steel sinks have. This dulling effect is good because it means it is creating a rougher surface.

You can also take a strong sandpaper and scuff the surface of the sink. Again, you want to make sure you get all areas.

Step 2: Prime the Surface

Take your primer paint and apply it to the surface of the sink. You can do this with a simple hand-held brush or roller. A sprayer will get a much more even coverage, though if you want a more rustic look, go ahead and use the paintbrush. A primer will prepare the surface for paint and will give the pigment something to grip onto when applied.

You can apply more than one coat of primer, depending on your preference. Let each coat dry between applications. Likewise, let the final primer coat dry completely before continuing to the next step.

Step 3: Scuff the Sink

Before you coat a stainless steel sink with paint, you will have to again rough up the surface with sandpaper or steel wool.

In addition to the primer, this rough texture will give the colored paint something to adhere to. Do not use your TSP for this step, as it will also remove the primer you already applied. Simply take your sandpaper and run it over the sink as you did before.

Step 4: Apply First Coat of Paint

Take your pigmented paint and apply the first coat. Using a sprayer will result in a more professional, even appearance. You may have to rent a machine if you do not own one.

However, using a regular paintbrush or paint roller will also work. If using these tools, be sure to use long, even strokes that all run in one direction. With a sprayer, application is generally even, so you do not have to be as careful with paint flow.

As with your primer, allow this coat to dry completely before continuing.

Step 5: Scuff Again and Apply Subsequent Coats

Using your sandpaper or steel wool, rough up the surface of the sink again. Though this seems unusual, especially since you just applied a nice new coat of paint, this additional texture will ensure a durable final product.

After you have sufficiently sanded the surface, apply another coat of paint. Be sure to apply each coat evenly in order to achieve a smooth look.

Repeat this step for as many coats as you prefer. Most stainless steel sinks require at least two coats of paint.

Step 6: Allow to Dry and Apply Protective Gloss

After everything has dried, it is time to apply the final protective coat. This can also be a high-shine product, what is also called a “toilet glaze.” This simply means that the final glaze will be nonporous and food-safe. Be sure to wear a mask when applying this coat, as it can have strong fumes. Always work in a well-ventilated area.

What Types of Paint Should Be Used on a Stainless Steel Sink?

Urethane Paint

If you want to retain a glossy look to your sink, urethane paint is the way to go. Combining strong polyurethanes with pigment, a urethane paint dries to a hard and durable finish.

Most urethane paint is highly shiny because of its chemical makeup. This can keep a sink looking fresh and new for years to come. This type of paint can also be the most affordable of the paints listed here.

Two-Part Epoxy Paint

This type of paint is a two-step process of pigment and epoxy that yields long-lasting results. The epoxy element is actually a resin that must cure over time, and it is the same ingredient that is in most super-glues. That means it is extremely resilient and durable. This type of paint is also used on garage floors because it is so unlikely to chip or stain.

Automotive Paint

Automotive paint can be great to coat a stainless steel sink because of its smooth and even consistency. It can also come in several colors and glosses, so if you want variety in finishes, you may want to use this type of paint. Many automotive paints are also durable, though a final protective coat may need to be applied to prevent scratches long-term.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use spray paint on a stainless steel sink?

While using a paint sprayer is recommended, cans of spray paint are usually not recommended for this application. They will not adequately adhere to the stainless steel surface. It is better if you buy canned paints and then use them in a professional paint spraying machine.

Can I directly use paint on stainless steel?

Painting a kitchen sink may seem simple, but with stainless steel you will need to first scuff the surface and apply primer. Because of its strong and nonporous surface, paint applied directly to stainless steel will quickly chip off.

Can I use acrylic paint on stainless steel?

It is unwise to use acrylic paint on stainless steel because it may not be food safe. Acrylic paint is also liable to chip and crack soon after application on a stainless steel sink.


Overall, painting a stainless steel sink is a fairly easy process. However, it does require extra steps that are necessary to the success of your project. Remember that texture is the key when dealing with a nonporous surface like stainless steel.

With a painted stainless steel sink, you will get the benefits of having a customized sink that will stand the test of time. Due to its chemical composition, stainless steel resists rust and corrosion and is easy to clean.

With the appropriate primer, paint and sealant, your newly painted sink can look great while remaining functional. Painting your sink a fresh new color is also a great way to breathe new life into a sink that has some scratches or stains.

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