7 Ways How to Paint a Metal Bed Frame Black

Prime, sand, paint, seal, let dry.
7 Ways How to Paint a Metal Bed Frame Black
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

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It's surprising how metal bed frames can get damaged so easily. They begin to look tired and need a refresh every once in a while but is making your metal bed frame look like a new challenging proposition? Yes and no, you need patience when attempting this makeover. There are nooks and crannies everywhere on your metal frame bed that need to be exposed for a complete renovation.

What is the best way to proceed with a project of this size, and will you need assistance to make a great-looking renovation of the metal bed frame? Is there a specific paint that needs to be used for the longevity of the paint finish and to reduce airborne toxins from the paint?

Clearly, there are so many questions to be answered and we intend to give you an authoritative overview of how you can tackle this project at home and make your metal bed frame look new.

Let's get into it and learn:

Can you paint over a metal bed frame?

For clarification, the metal can be painted but does not paint over the existing paint coating, it will cause more problems in the long run such as peeling paint and an overall poor paint finish.

Depending on the age of the metal bed frame your bed frame may have been powder coated which can look awesome and be super hard wearing until the surface protection develops a fault and the powder coating starts peeling off in sheets.

Preparation is going to be the foundation to achieving a stunning paint finish on your metal bed frame, so here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Remove all of the bolts, nuts and washers that fasten your bed together and store them in a sealable plastic bag, you will need these to reassemble your bed. If some of the bolts are longer mark them with some masking tape to jog your memory of which end of the bed they came from.
  • Your bed will be covered in dust in places, this is mainly dead skin cells, no need to be alarmed most bed frames are exactly the same as the dust accumulates in hard-to-see areas. This will be removed with a soft brush or vacuum cleaner.
  • Take the components of your bed into a well-ventilated garage, if the sun is shining and the outside temperature is conducive to outdoor working then you can do the prep work in your yard.
  • If you have a spring base, remove the springs, it will make life easier for moving the bed components into your garage or backyard.
  • Remove all of the dust and detritus from the bed frame with a soft brush so you can make an assessment of the scope of the work needed to repaint your metal bed frame.
  • Assess the bed for damage such as bends in the supporting rails that need to be addressed before reassembling your bed frame.
  • If you live in an area of high humidity then it's possible to have rust on your bed frame which will need to be treated before starting the new paintwork.

These are just a few of the considerations you will need to make before painting the metal bed frame and you should be aware that this could take more than 24 hours to complete so you may need alternate sleeping arrangements.

1. Preparation for paint

Planning is a critical stage of any project regardless of size and value and without planning, you may be left twisting in the wind making what could have been an easy task become more difficult as you stop and start to run back to the hardware store for more key supplies.

What will you need? 

  • The undercoat, Paint, will you use spray paint such as an automotive type of paint or will you use an enamel style of paint and brush the paint the bed frame in a methodical manner? Which is best? It's personal preference and one is faster than the other and requires less effort.
  • You will need a selection of brushes such as a #4 and 38 brush, and the smaller brushes to access the nooks and crannies with a good coat of paint. Use the best paintbrush you can afford, it's irritating to find your hairs from the paintbrush sticking to the bed frame.
  • Sandpaper, now the sandpaper is sold in grit, you will need 80 grit to 220 grit to remove sufficient paint from metal. If you really want to do the best job of cleaning the old paint on the metal bed frame, use a power tool such as a disk sander, you will go back to bare metal but you will get a much better paint finish.
  • Wire brush and scraper, some paint will be stubborn and maybe flaking off in areas, the wire brush will expose the loose paint surfaces quickly, for hard to get to an area a small scraper is a useful tool.
  • PPE, personal protective equipment, at the very least you will need an n35 mask to trap the dust particles from sanding by hand or with a power tool. Safety classes to prevent debris from hitting your eyes.
  • A Paper towel and a spirit cleaner, and hand sanitizer are good enough in most cases, they will remove the grease and dust from the bare metal, try not to use water, it's slow to evaporate and can ruin your paint finish.
  • A dust sheet to lay the frame of the bed onto for painting to prevent damaging your floor surface.

Now the fun starts. Start with the areas that are not intricate and sand the main frame of the bed back to a suitable level ready for undercoat. The intricate areas such as spindles can be tedious but you will need to persevere to remove the paint effectively. 

If you find the spindles difficult to clean off completely, remove the sanding disk from the power tool and attach a soft wire brush to enable you to penetrate the hard-to-get areas.

If your bed frame is modern you should take care when working around the welds of the spindles, the spindles are made for lightweight tubes with a soft spot weld to hold the spindle in place, the weld has no structural value or purpose.

2. Applying the undercoat or base coat.

Whatever paint process you opt for you will always need to use an undercoat to make sure when you apply the first top coat it has a base theta it can adhere to and form a perfect bond preventing the paint from peeling in the future.

Like paint finishes, there are multiple types of primer come undercoat, and base coats available for you to choose from, so how do you know which is the best one for your top coat?

Well, it makes sense to take advice from the paint store and they will possibly suggest you match with the manufacturer's recommendations which will mean using primer undercoats from the same range as your paint, which is fine.

But to be honest, your metal bed frame is not in a hostile environment and has the sun beating down on the paint all day, or is exposed to inclement weather conditions so select a primer that has good coverage and is not watery when you apply it to the bed frame.

If your bed frame is older and has some battle scars such as dinks and dents then you may decide you want to use a primer undercoat with a filler added. The filler will just spray on and cover small imperfections but it does a pretty good job.

If you do have a dent that needs to be addressed use an automotive filler, it's a little more work and will need to dry before sanding but the end result will be worth the effort.

Ok, we are almost ready to start adding the primer but before we do we have one last step in the process to complete and that is wiping the bedframe to remove dust.

You will need a lint-free cloth and some alcohol-like hand sanitizer or a spirit bought specifically for the job, you need to be thorough in this process, dust could make the primer lift and you will need to start the process again.

If you want to make sure there is no dust use a tack cloth, they are used before spraying vehicles and are slightly tacky ensuring nothing is left behind before you start the primer process.

Sheet the floor and spray primer

With a clean sheet covering the floor, this will prevent dust from rising upwards and it will protect your floor surface. If you are using a spray primer cover one side of the bed frame section completely but spray in light coats to avoid curtain runs in the primer that will need to be removed.

If you use light dustings of the spray primer the primer will dry quickly and once the final component is coated in primer go back to the start and flip the bed frame section and repeat the process.

Once you have covered both sides of the metal bed frame with primer and it has dried you will need to inspect the spray for complete coverage, if there are places not covered start touching up or even give the bed frame a second coat of primer for good measure.

Liquid primer

Liquid primer is going to be applied with a paintbrush so make sure your paintbrush is clean and as far as you can see it's not losing bristles.

This is going to be a slower process than spray painting primer but nonetheless rewarding. It takes practice not to apply too much paint to the brush that will inevitably run and need to be sanded.

Apply the paint sparingly until you get the feel of the primer coating. Painting in this manner enables you to inspect every inch of the bed frame for defects.

Allow drying naturally.

3. Snagging

Snagging is an important process so don't be tempted to skip this stage because you feel you have made big improvements and you could be a master sprayer, why? Because you are likely not a master sprayer and there will be a need for some remedial actions to be taken if you are to achieve a stupendous paint finish that is going to rock your metal bed frame for years to come.

Yes, snagging is tedious but so is staring at a glaring mistake in the finished paintwork for the next goodness knows how many years so take your time and painstakingly go over every square inch of the metal work before moving to the next step.

Pay particular attention to welded spindles, the welds are often less than satisfactory leaving a gap around the spindle base. At this time you could smooth in some filler to make the bed frame look more expensive than its actual value.

Adding filler is easy and will give a better finish when everything is painted and reassembled, it will make an inexpensive bed frame look like a million dollars so consider this trick.

After you have snagged every inch of the bed frame you may need to reapply some primer undercoat to the areas you have sanded, to be honest, the more depth of primer the better the finish will be.

4. Almost ready

Well done if you have made it this far, you are almost ready to start applying the top black coat to your metal bed frame. However, there is a final step to complete and that is to wipe the entire bed frame down with a spirit to remove the dust and debris from the primer surface.

If you can find tack cloths then this is the perfect time to use the cloth, if not just be extra vigilant for errant dust particles and nooks and crannies around the spindles. After this amount of effort, it would be annoying, to say the least, if the paint finish was spoiled by a lack of preparation and diligence.

Even paper towels can leave behind dust particles, especially budget kitchen rolls so use a decent paper or lint-free cloth to complete this step of the project.

5. Spray painting

Finally, you are on the home stretch, well it appears that way and the preparation is completed so now you can give the rattle can of black spray paint a good shake and get painting.

But here is what you should know about spraying paint, the paint may appear to be a lot thinner than the primer you sprayed so you will need to be around 8 inches from the surface to be painted, and your hand needs to start moving while the aerosol button is depressed, don't stop or dwell while you finger is depressing the spray button.

Use smooth strokes that are even and uninterrupted, if you can spray a whole length in this manner you will have a much more even coating of paint avoiding ridges to build in the paint finish.


If you are unsure of how to apply spray paint, take a few practice runs on a piece of cardboard, this will enable you to understand the spray pattern and the rate at which the paint is being discharged from the can.

Even seasoned spray painters have a few practice runs to avoid errors!

The key is to take it steady and easy and apply light coats of paint and let that coat dry fully before applying the next coat. Now you will be dealing with some tricky areas such as the spindles. 

If you wish you could spray the spindles first, back and front, and let them dry to make sure you have good coverage without runs in the paint close to the joints. After that start to spray the structural area of the metal bed frame in long and even strokes.

If you do have excess paint leave it to dry thoroughly which may be a couple of days and then sand out the run marks and repaint.

What causes runs when spray painting?

If you spray too lightly, and with too much air, the paint looks dry and dull. If you paint too heavy, or with too much paint versus air from your spray gun, you end up with runs in your paint. It's a delicate balance to spray wet enough for a nice gloss and do it without runs.

Spraying from a rattle can be a hit and miss experience but with perseverance, you will achieve a reasonable paint finish.

Do you need to use a clear coat after painting a metal bed frame?

It's a great question and the answer is a clear coat will help protect your paintwork from surface scratches and give a glossy finish to the paint.

If you wish to apply a clear coat make sure the final coat of black paint is perfectly dry and then just the same as spray painting the metal bed frame apply the clear coat, you normally apply dusting coats of the clear coat and then the final coat is added wet, but let them to first coats be perfectly dry before repeating the process.

Clear coats can paper to have an orange peel effect, if this is annoying you gently rub down the clear coat using wet and dry sandpaper (very fine grit) to flatten the clear coat surface.

You will then need to apply a fine cutting paste similar to an automotive compound to buff the bedframe back to its former luster.

6. Hand painting

It's understandable that some of you may prefer brush painting as you know how to apply paint using a brush and you are ok with the extra time it takes to paint in this manner.

Either method is acceptable for painting a metal bed frame but if you are looking to cover a lot of area in a short space of time then spraying paint is the better option for most people.

The great thing about painting by hand is it's a much more personal experience and you literally will see every inch of your metal bed frame which is great if you have the time.

However, painting with a brush is not without its challenges, it takes a while to learn how much paint to load onto your paintbrush to avoid those unsightly paint runs we so much wish to avoid.

And then is it possible to get rid of those damn streaks in the paint?

How do you paint metal without streaks?

There are reasons why paint streaks happen when using a brush, the main reason is lack of experience so let's address the issue of paint streaks so you achieve a better paint finish.

Here are some pointers to help you prevent paint streaks from occurring when painting your metal bed frame:

  • Use a quality paintbrush. The best brushes are made from animal hair, no need to feel guilty about this as boar hair is a perfect paint brush and we know how boars need to be culled to maintain and protect farmland.
  • Get the right amount of paint on the brush, if your brush is dripping then you have too much paint and if it barely leaves a coat of paint it's too dry, you need to reach a happy medium or the sweet spot.
  • Let the paint flow from the brush to the metal bed frame, there is no need to add pressure to the paintbrush it archives nothing and contributes to streaks.
  • Leave end strokes in the same direction, it's ok going back and forth when applying the paint for better coverage but your final brush passes should be in one direction only.
  • The paintbrush is not the only way to hand paint, use a decent sheep wool small roller, for difficult areas touch in with a paintbrush and then roll the paint to remove brush marks.

The choice is yours how you paint your metal bed frame both choices have benefits and drawbacks but for most people spray painting is the easiest and fastest option.

What paint should you use for painting a metal bed frame?

Obviously, a paint that is suitable for metals, wood paints are not suitable, so a good automotive paint will give a great finish and the spray cans are pretty good at spraying a pattern that is going to give the best coverage.

Automotive paint will give you the option to add a clear coat if you like the glossy vibe in your bedroom. But there are other paints that you can spray that are specifically designed for use on metal.

Hand painting

It's a personal choice and there are some fabulous liquid paints on the market that will deliver an excellent result but enamel paint has been used traditionally for its superior finish and lack of brush stroke marks.

If it's suitable for metal then you will be fine. Your end result will be 95|% down to the way you have prepared the metal bed frame before you get to the final color coats. If you have a traditional metal bed frame, hand painting may be the way to go for a quality authentic finish.

7. Reassembling your metal bed frame

The steps are basic and should be the reverse of how you took your bed apart but here are some hints on how to get your metal bed frame back together again:

  • Assemble the base of the bed first, and make sure it is level and the supports are in the correct place mounted firmly. Now you have the main structure of the bed in place you can continue.
  • Add the headboard being careful not to scratch the newly painted surface.
  • Finally, add the foot bard to the bed and secure it tightly.

Did you have a squeaky bed prior to disassembly? This is caused by movement loosening the nuts from the bolt threads, you can prevent this by buying Ny-lock nuts. The nylon insert prevents the nut from working loose over time. 

Alternatively, you can use a liquid tread securing compound which is normally sold in small color containers for specific uses, you will not need the super strength used in Nascar, just the basics will keep your bed from squeaking in the future.

Is it worth the effort to paint a metal bed frame bed?

In these times of climbing interest rates and skyrocketing inflation it's a great idea to save money wherever possible and if that means getting involved with some DIY then the answer has to be yes, it's worth the hassle.

The devil's advocate would tell you it's only worth the time and hassle if the bed frame has some intrinsic value like it's an antique or a family heirloom.

If this is not the case and it's a flimsy cheap metal bed frame it's not worth the hassle of disassembling the lightweight tubing and buying expensive primer and paint, It's just not a viable option if you can compare what you will gain.

But that will be your call because the value has a different meaning to all of us.