How to Paint a Metal Electrical Panel

Service panels don’t have to be unattractive.

No law or code requires household electrical panels to be gray. If yours is located in a prominent location, you can change the color to make it blend in with the decor. Other methods to hide it include hanging a picture over it or building a small cabinet around it, but painting it keeps it fully accessible. Spray-on metal paint gives the most reliable finish, and you won’t need much of it. One can should take care of the whole job.

Step 1 – Open the panel door and unscrew the cover plate that protects the circuit breakers. Carefully remove it by pushing up as you pull the bottom out.

Step 2 – Use a utility knife to scrape off the labels identifying the circuits from the cover plate. Make a diagram of the circuits so you can relabel them.

Step 3 – Rub the cover plate with lacquer thinner to remove all the gum and residue from the labels, then sand it with 220-grit wet/dry sandpaper. Spray primer on any areas that you sand down to the bare metal. After the primer dries, spray on two coats of metal paint from a can. Let the first coat dry, then sand it with 220-grit paper before spraying the second coat.

Step 4 – Replace the cover plate when the paint has dried, then cut out a piece of cardboard that completely covers it and wedge or tape it over the plate.

Step 5 – Mask the wall around the panel with painters’ grade masking tape and paper.

Step 6 – Carefully remove the paper on the inside of the cover that identifies the house circuits, it there is one. Save it, if possible. If you have to damage it to take it off, make a copy on a separate piece of paper.

Step 7 – Rub the inside and outside of the panel door, and the metal flange around the panel, with lacquer thinner, then sand it with 220-grit sandpaper. Spray primer on all the bare metal, then spray on two coats of metal paint, sanding in between coats.

Step 8 – Let the paint dry overnight, then relabel the circuits as they were before.