Tips on Painting a Metal Electrical Panel

For a fresh appearance, try painting electrical boxes and panels.

Renters and homeowners have taken creative approaches to camouflaging industrial gray electrical panels. Some frame fabrics, pictures and posters to hang over the panel. A permanent and less visually jarring method of camouflage is to paint the panel the same color as the wall. If you are looking for a creative flair, you can always paint the panel in a decorative fashion.


A good paint job is only as good as the surface preparation. Because electrical panels are smooth, paint — especially latex paint — will not adhere to its surface. Roughen the surface with fine sandpaper or a special acid etch product, also called a wash primer. Be certain to read the directions before applying the product. Also ask the salespeople at the paint or hardware store about the product. Tell them you plan to prime an electrical panel and ask if the wash primer you have chosen is suited for the task. Completely clean the surface after it has been roughened and before you apply primer.


After you have cleaned and sanded (or wash primed) the electrical panel’s surface, you can begin to prime the panel. Primer ensures better paint adhesion. Primer also hides dark shades and surface imperfections. Some primers seal metal surfaces better than others. Be certain to read primer labels and ask a knowledgeable salesperson before you purchase a can of primer.

Types of Paint

Interior home paints are either water- or oil-based paints. Oil-based paints have a longer drying time and must be cleaned up with turpentine. On the positive side, oil based paints last longer. Latex paints are more popular because the water-based paints dry quickly and can be cleaned up with water and soap. Either one of these paints is appropriate for use on an electrical panel. If you are interested in painting your panel with a landscape or other, more artistic decoration, consider using acrylic paint. Be aware that acrylic paintings must be finished. A satin finish works well at sealing the painting.