Asked on Jul 22, 2013

What Type of Paint to Use on Metal Trunk?

Nancy G
by Nancy G
Hi, Does anyone know what type of paint is best to use on this beat up metal trunk I have? I want to keep the color black, which is the original color on it.
Thanks in advance!
side view of the trunk
front view of trunk
  30 answers
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Jul 22, 2013
    Hi Larissa, I like the rustic look also but this piece is for my daughter so I'm going with what she wants (and BOY does she want..LOL). I'll do a semi-gloss black paint and for the brass parts I'm thinking of repainting them in a more muted copper color. I'll finish it off w/legs and re-line the inside of the trunk. Off to buy the rustoleum black paint and then to the craft store to get some more copper craft paint. Thanks!!!
  • What an awesome mom! She'll never forget you took the time to do this "her way" :-) Sweet!
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Jul 22, 2013
    Patricia Presto & Larissa, thanks so much. Since I permanently messed up my left arm (and I'm left handed) it might take me a while to finish it but will post pics afterwards. The trunk she was looking at in an antique store was $225.00 & I scored this trunk for only $10.00 :)
  • Z Z on Jul 23, 2013
    Oh you poor sweet dear. I hope you're at least not in pain. I too will be looking forward to your after photos. You got an awesome deal. I would love to still have the old trunk my son picked up somewhere when he was a teen, but I think that got dumped by my hubby before we moved out here.
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Jul 24, 2013
    thanks Becky but the surgeon managed to screw up my ulnar nerve transposition royally. It's been love 1 1/2 yrs now and I can always tell when the weather is changing. Some days my hand shakes so bad I swear it takes on a life of it's own, LOL...then other days I can get maybe 1/2 a day before the shaking starts :( blah, poor me :) I'm still "Boston Strong" ladies so my stubborn determination will make it happen by hook or by crook :)
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Jul 24, 2013
    PS.......I checked the trunk yesterday and I'm not sure it's steel after all! It might be some type of leather?? over something else? Anyone have any ideas as to what it could be?
  • It sounds like you are determined to paint this even with a problematic hand. (that's awful, sorry to hear). Anyways, I would suggest that you use chalk paint on this. It pretty much sticks to anything and once it's waxed, it's very durable. You can buy the same brand of wax as chalk paint - but if you want, you could also use Minwax paste wax. There are lots of manufacturers of chalk paint - Annie Sloan, CeCe Caldwell, American Paint Company - so you should be able to find one in your area. Can't wait to see the "after".
  • Z Z on Jul 24, 2013
    Dang that's awful. I know we all make mistakes, but when surgeon does it yikes! I hope someday soon someone figures out how to repair nerve damage.
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 24, 2013
    If it's leather, you may want to try cleaning it with saddle soap, and then use "leather honey", or neetsfoot oil to recondition the leather. That may be all it needs to bring it back to life. You could then make a new monogram plate to attach with your daugher's name on it to cover the existing initials. I just hate the thought of painting over the original leather. If you want it black (it looks green in the photos), perhaps some liquid black shoe polish, made for leather would work.
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Jul 24, 2013
    @Z the surgeon WAS supposed to be repairing the nerve damage! some twisted way it's now sort of funny to me. @ Leslie D, it's so much of a "hot mess" that I think after cleaning it up, I'll check to see then whether it's all leather or just parts of leather like the bindings are (which someone had painted over anyway a shiny black) & take it from there. Heck, I figure anything I do will hopefully improve the look of it now. Thanks for the input Ladies!
  • Leslie D Leslie D on Jul 24, 2013
    I thought it look really shiny, but thought i may just be the flash from the camera. Someone may have clear-coated it at some point in its life. It's a great find for $10, and my motto is "there is nothing I can do that can't be fixed" (especially on a $10 item)! Make sure you post your "after" pics on this thread when you're done. Can't wait to see it! I'm so impressed that you are working on this stuff one-handed and that you haven't let a tragic mistake get in the way of moving on with your life and things you enjoy.
  • Karon Nelson Roberts Karon Nelson Roberts on Jul 24, 2013
    Rustonal--I know I didn't spell that right lol-- for cars. I found it in the Auto area at a big-box store. It worked good on my step-rails on my truck.
  • Z Z on Jul 24, 2013
    Oh my! I bet you're fearful of going "under the knife" again then. I know I would be.
  • Linda Wetherell Linda Wetherell on Jul 24, 2013
    nothing please, take the paint off, then put a finish on it
  • Rich Rich on Jul 24, 2013
    My advice is go online and look for a restorer and ask for advice on what you should do. I would strip all the paint off and then saddle soap it and start from there. I had a trunk like that in the service and wished I could take it home. No go. Darn.
  • Rich Rich on Jul 24, 2013
    You are given a lot of ideas and all seem like they will work for you. One other thing, with the brass, just buff it and wax it and keep it rustic and worn look. Of course I am a man and your daughter won't like the idea. I know I had 2 daughters and 20 adapted daughters. ( I was adapted by them).
  • Julie Moyna Julie Moyna on Jul 24, 2013
    wow...I'm in the same situation. I use Eastwood rust converter to no sanding and then I'm going to spray off white and stencil something from the graphic fairy!
  • Melody Drinkwater Wagner Melody Drinkwater Wagner on Jul 24, 2013
    Can't wait to see your after pics.
  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on Jul 24, 2013
    Yeppers can't wait for the "Reveal"!!
  • Judy Judy on Jul 24, 2013
    I used Rustoleum on a trunk that I refinished being careful not to get any runs, hard to wait for the paint to dry between coats...the trunk that I refinished had a old wallpaper lining in it which was pretty well shot and peeling so I replaced the paper lining as well..turned out awesome and the lady i refinished it for was tickled to death as the trunk belonged to her grandmother. I think the brass would be beautiful polished and sealed with a clear sealer. Good luck, know you aree doing something that will be passed down..
  • LaVerne DeHart LaVerne DeHart on Jul 24, 2013
    Ladies, since we are talking about what are possibilities for Larrisa's trunk, i have a question. I also have a trunk that looks very similar. i think it is metal but it is painted all black. My question is: what to do with the handle? The handle is leather and looks as if it was once one piece of leather but since it is so old it's about 7 pieces of thin leather still strapped together and in tack with the hardware. How would I go about replacing that.? Should i try to glue it together? Any ideas?
    • Mary Mary on Oct 27, 2014
      @LaVerne DeHart there are websites where you can purchase fairly cheaply, trunk handles. Search leather trunk handles
  • Z Z on Jul 24, 2013
    @LaVerne, without a photo it's hard to say for sure, but you could try to glue it. If that doesn't work then replace it with a piece of leather belt from a thrift store if you don't have one you want to cut apart.
  • Julie Moyna Julie Moyna on Jul 25, 2013
    Ladies, there are some amazing trunk restoration sites. To really restore is very complicated and detailed...pulling the strips and pins out to removing hardware! Depending on how much time, effort and money, they have tutorials and supplies to buy and will answer any question you ask. I do remember that one restorer is in Oklahoma. Hope this helps.
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Jul 25, 2013
    @ Richard Girou, you're right, I'd leave it more rustic myself but whomever owned this before me decided to polyurothane the brass & all the pieces that you see are "shiny" & they are now peeling off. They also let it drip halfway down the front of the trunk as well. So I went and bought Rustoleum "Hammered" paint in black, which is a nice sort of compromise as it will make it look a bit more rustic, doesn't need any primer, and am hoping that will work well. It's still to hot here to use it & I have limited places to paint it. I'm also going to sandpaper off the poly from the brass gently & then "wing it"....I'll need to replace the wallpaper lining but plan to use fabric for that but that's toward the end stage & put on legs. Then I'm calling it a DAY! LOL
  • Barbara R Barbara R on Jul 25, 2013
    I just wouldn't go black but a lovely pastel color. And leave the brass attachments alone, just clean them with brass cleaner BEFORE you paint (so you don't mess up the new paint job lol). If you go black, it will remain black forever and never be able to lighten it up. If it's for your girl, black is SO serious. With a lighter color, you can still stencil pretty stuff on it and her initials, too!
  • LaVerne DeHart LaVerne DeHart on Jul 27, 2013
    Becky, thank you for your reply. I do not know to post a picture yet, although I'm trying but failing. But i think the glue is a good idea since the handle is like many straps of thin leather only where the actual pull handle part is. The part where it is attached to the hardware is in tact. I think I will try glue before I tear it apart and try to attach new leather. thanks again
  • Z Z on Jul 27, 2013
    You're welcome @LaVerne. You can find out how to add photos among other things on Hometalk here: It's the second question under ASKING AND SHARING
    • See 1 previous
    • Z Z on Aug 12, 2013
      I'm glad to have helped you @LaVerne.
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Jul 28, 2013
    @Barbara Rodgers, I agree w/you fully and that's what I would do BUT my 27 yr old daughter wants it to be black and it's a gift for her 3 yr wedding anniversary so that's what she's getting :( As for the brass attachments, that's a good idea! I might just leave them rustic, I'll see how badly the brass is compromised. Thanks!!
  • Nancy G Nancy G on Aug 04, 2013
    Hi all, haven't tackled the trunk yet due to an allergic case of poison ivy as well as one of my furbabies very sick & in the vet's office all wk. Good news is my daughter saw the trunk & now wants it "rustic" which will make my job a million times easier. I promise to post pics when I am done! Thanks