Can you paint a grill? Experts reveal how to update your barbecue with a lick of paint

If it’s in need of a makeover, find out whether painting a grill is a good strategy

(Image credit: Future / Chris Snook T/A CS Photography)

Grills have plenty to endure. They’re out in all weather, and frequent use can start to show. Once the signs of wear and tear are there, you might be wondering if you can paint a grill to restore it.

Painting a house exterior can refresh the building itself, and paint can transform a garden shed, but while a grill is subject to the same weather conditions, there’s a complication. It has to cope with something else: the high temperatures of cooking.

To answer the question of whether you can and should paint a grill, we called on experts for their guidance and, below, is what they told us.

Can you paint a grill?

The answer to the question of whether you can paint a grill, and therefore whether you should, is: it depends. That’s because the type of grill matters. Discover all the details you need here.

Why paint a grill?

An outdoor kitchen with a grill and star tiled background

(Image credit: Future / Jemma Watts Photography)

There are some sound reasons to paint a grill. ‘Painting a grill can be a good idea, especially if you want to extend its life or simply give it a fresh, clean look,’ says Luke Kinser, Co-Founder of Virginia Builders, who has extensive experience with various paint types, including high heat paint suitable for grills.

‘It’s also a cost-effective way to rejuvenate an older grill instead of replacing it,’ he says.

‘When deciding to paint a grill, you should do so if the existing paint is peeling, rust is appearing, or you just want to change its aesthetic.’

Can all grills be painted?

While painting can refresh a grill, it’s not always an option.

‘Not all grills are suitable for painting,’ says Luke Kinser. ‘Generally, metal grills can be painted, while porcelain-coated grills should not be, as the paint might not adhere correctly and could ultimately lead to chipping and peeling.’

What type of paint should you use?

It‘s crucial to use paint that is suitable for a grill. ‘There are specific types of paints designed for high heat applications, which can withstand the temperatures a grill reaches,’ says Luke Kinser.

‘High-temperature spray paint, usually labeled as “grill paint”or “BBQ paint” is your best bet,’ he says. Try Rust-Oleum High Heat Tough Protective Enamel from Amazon, which is highly rated by its purchasers.

How to prepare a grill for painting

For successful grill painting, good preparation, as with all DIY projects, is key.

‘Preparation is crucial for ensuring the paint adheres well and lasts,’ says Luke Kinser. ‘Start by thoroughly cleaning the grill. Remove grease, dirt, or debris using a grill cleaner or a degreaser.

‘Next, sand the surfaces to remove rust and roughen up the existing paint so the new paint can adhere properly. If there are any significant rust spots, you might need to use a wire brush or steel wool.

‘Once sanding is complete, wipe down the grill with a damp cloth to remove any dust particles and allow it to dry completely.’

Paint a grill

An outdoor kitchen with a big green egg barbecue grill and festoon lights

(Image credit: Future / Chris Snook T/A CS Photography)

Check whether the paint you’re using requires a primer first and use one suitable for the high temperature application if so, allowing it to dry.

‘Apply the high-temperature grill paint in light, even coats, following the manufacturer's instructions,’ says Luke. ‘Multiple thin layers are better than one thick coat to avoid drips and ensure even coverage. Let each layer dry before applying the next one.

‘Once you’re done, allow the grill to cure according to the paint manufacturer’s specifications before using it.’

Work safely

Apply the paint outside or in a well-ventilated space, such as an open garage.

‘These paints will have a strong odor, so apply them outside for best ventilation,’ recommends Jeff Neal, coating expert and project manager at Installing Epoxy Floors.

‘Also, when sanding/prepping the surface, it’s a good idea to wear a dust mask. Sanding will create a lot of airborne dust, which is very unhealthy to breathe in.’

Check the instructions for the recommended temperature range and humidity before commencing grill painting, too, so you can be sure the paint will dry properly. If you’re painting outside, don’t do so on a windy day or in a dusty location.

You’ll also need to cover the surrounding area to avoid getting paint on other surfaces.

Be aware that the paint is for the exterior of a grill only. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Revive the rest of your yard along with your grill. Fence decorating ideas can turn it from bland to beautiful and painted patio ideas can give a seating and dining area style. You can remove rust from metal garden furniture to revive it, too.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.