Painting stock tanks has become quite popular recently, and who can argue why? They look great! Check out @arrowsandbow’s stunning stock tank pool on Instagram! However, you should know that stock tanks are made with a galvanized zinc coating which resists just about everything … including rust and paint. Stock tanks are built to take a lot of abuse, so they do not need to be painted, and the galvanized coating actually makes it more difficult to paint easily. Read more below to learn about painting a stock tank!
I’ve received a flood of questions lately about painting stock tanks, especially whether the inside needs to be sealed or painted. The short answer is “no!” I’m a recovering house painter, and the number one rule we lived by is to NEVER paint galvanized metal. Ever. EVER.
The most common (and valid) question is whether stock tanks can hold up to chlorine or salt (if using the ECO salt system from Intex). The short answer is yes they can. While stock tanks aren’t completely immune to rust, the galvanized zinc coating is meant to resist wear and tear, and, so long as the coating hasn’t been compromised (gouged or scratched) a small amount of chlorine should not hurt it. That said, go easy on the chlorine (no more than 1-2 tablets per week). I’m going on 2 seasons of chlorine use and haven’t noticed any rust whatsoever. Stock tanks routinely last for 20+ years on farms, where they’re subject to abuse by livestock, tractors, and harsh elements.
That said, if you decide to paint your stock tank, I heavily discourage owners from painting or sealing the inside of the tank with anything (paint, flex-seal, etc.) since paint just doesn’t hold up well to water. It’s possible to do, but as Cuckoo4Design says in her blog post, “it was flaking almost immediately. So save yourself the money and don’t try to do what I did.” It’s far more likely to peel and you’ll regret doing it to begin with. Stock tanks are tough by their very nature and, frankly, they’re cheap enough (compared to in-ground pools) to replace in 10 years if they rust.
Painting the outside of the tank is less risky. If you choose to paint the outside, here are the six steps I recommend:
Remove the (inivisible) oil coating with acetone or paint thinner. Remember your gloves, eye protection, and mask! Simply apply some thinning agent to a rag and wipe down the surface a few times.
Sand and scuff the surface with a FINE GRIT sandpaper (link to Amazon). Remember, you don’t want to compromise the galvanized coating with a heavy grit paper, or you’ll expose the bare steel and end up with rust.
Wash and remove the dust from the sanding step, using a rag with mild soap and water.
Apply an etching solution like white vinegar (a mix of water and ammonia is possible too, but is more dangerous). The light acidity of vinegar will create microscopic pores in addition to the sanding, providing a better surface for the primer and paint to bond. Then give it a quick wipe down with water and a rag.
Apply a LATEX-based metal primer like Rust-o-leum Latex Primer (link to Amazon). Avoid oil-based or alkyd primers, as they are more likely to peel. For the best application, it is recommended to brush or roll the primer layer as it will force the paint into the pores of the metal better than spraying. Also, never paint in direct sunlight (excessive heat causes bubbles and pre-mature drying), and ideally it should be applied below 85 degrees F in the shade.
Apply a LATEX-based paint in your color of choice. Again, avoid oil-based or alkyd paints and be sure to give it at least 24 hours to dry, otherwise it can smudge or scrape off easily.
So that covers it! Have you tried painting your stock tank? Let me know in the comments below!