Copper pipes are durable enough and they’re useful in many situations. For this, a large number of buildings use pipes made from copper. But not everyone likes the color or the overall appearance. Which is where the question arises, “can you paint copper pipe?“
In short, yes. Copper pipes can be painted over. But if you do not follow certain precautions then it can do more damage. Plus, not all paints will stick. So, given that you follow the proper instructions you can definitely paint copper pipes.
As you read through this article you will know more about the proper guidelines for painting copper. Furthermore, the article also contains some maintenance tips for your pipes.
Fundamentals of Copper Plumbing
Even in this age of PVC, copper is a very popular material for creating pipes. Many plumbers prefer working with copper pipes due to their many advantages.
Copper is significantly more environmentally friendly than the alternatives. Furthermore, copper pipes are long-lasting. So, when durability is required, plumbers will often suggest you get a copper pipe. Also, because of the structure of the copper, there is no risk whatsoever, of it reacting with water and contaminating your water supply.
These advantages make copper pipes the material of choice for many plumbers.
Can You Paint Copper Pipe? What Happens if You Can?
Just like most plumbing in modern houses, copper pipes can be placed inside the walls so that they remain out of sight.
However, sometimes this is just not an option. While copper pipes do make your home look more rustic and add a different vibe to it, it does not match everyone’s style. Furthermore, the copper color does not always match the theme of the interior design.
In such cases, people find the need to paint the copper pipes. So let us come to the question at once: can you paint copper pipe?
As mentioned before, yes. You can. Choosing the correct paint type will ensure that it sticks with the copper surface. But are there any risks in applying paint on copper? In other words, should you paint copper pipes?
If you follow the proper instructions then there will be no risk to your pipes. In fact, painting over exterior pipes will extend their durability! Direct sunlight on exposed pipes deteriorates the condition of the plumbing. The paint provides a sort of buffer and protects the plumbings.
For indoor plumbing, painting copper does not increase the lifetime of the pipes, however, if you do it the right way then it will not damage the pipes, and will not contaminate the water in any way.
What Paint will Stick to Copper?
One of the main concerns people have about painting copper pipes is selecting the appropriate paint. Without choosing the proper paint, you cannot paint on copper – it will simply not stick. So an important question to ask is what paint will stick to copper?
It’s best to use oil-based paint as such paints will form a strong bond with the copper surface. Before actually buying the paint check the label to see if it is suitable to use on metal. Because if you use oil-based metal paints then you will have no issue regarding the paint not sticking with copper.
However, this is not just any copper surface you are going to paint on. The pipes will carry water and if this water is heated then the pipe will get heated as well. The paint needs to withstand this heat on a regular basis. So what paints should you use on copper pipes?
Apart from being oil-based, you should also choose heat-resistant paints. Luckily, many modern paints come with great heat resistance. Check out this Heat Resistant Metal Paint to get the desired result.
Plus, it’s a good idea to add a primer to make the copper surface suitable for bonding with the paint. In this regard, epoxy-polyamide primer works the best. After adding this primer you can also use acrylic color to paint the copper pipes. But make sure the paint is heat resistant.
Many people also ask, “how long will it take for the color to dry on copper pipes?” Well under normal temperature, if you use oil-based metal paint the copper pipes will dry to the touch after about 6-8 hours.
Can You Use A Spray Paint for Copper Pipe Painting?
Sure. There is no harm in spray painting copper pipes. If you are an experienced spray painter then it will save time. But look at the label before buying spray paint. You are already aware that oil type and heat resistant paints work best in this type of job.
So, when buying a Spray Paint for Copper Pipes choose the color type that will be suitable.
In fact, spray painting on copper pipes is not so different from applying paint in any other way. The dos and don’ts of both spray painting and applying paint in any other way is almost the same. These best practices are discussed in the next section.
One additional thing you have to notice while spray painting is to cover the surface behind the pipes (i.e. the wall behind the pipes). You definitely don’t want to accidentally spray paint the wall behind your pipes.
Another pro tip is to keep the copper pipes at a normal temperature before spraying.
What’s The Best Way to Paint Copper Pipe?
Painting copper pipes half prepared is a big no-no. That will do more harm than good. So what is the best way to paint copper pipes? Let’s get to it.
Step 1: Clean The Surface
Well, no matter what the surface, you never want to apply paint on it if it’s dirty. That is because the dirt will create holes in the paint and prevent you from getting a smooth finish. So, clean up your copper pipes with a sponge and warm water.
There might also be some oily and greasy substances in your pipe that you cannot get rid of using a sponge and water. To remove these, apply Degreaser.
Step 2: Sand The Clean Areas
After that use sandpaper to smooth out the surface for good measure. This will create an even platform for you to paint on. Now before you start applying your paint you have 3 more duties.
The first one is to ensure that while the paint job is going on, the heater stays off. The additional heat during the painting can harm the consistency of the paint. Secondly, use a table cloth or any other cloth to protect your floor from the paint dripping from the pipes.
Add primer before you finally start adding the paint. Be sure to purchase paint and primer that is suitable for copper.
Step 3: Start Painting
Now you are finally ready to paint. Keep the copper pipes at normal room temperature while you paint. As you know the paint will require 6 hours to dry. You only apply another layer after the first layer has dried off. So have patience – the whole process can be a bit lengthy.
And that’s it! You have successfully painted your copper pipes! But to make the paint last longer, our recommendation is to add a protective topcoat. For this topcoat, you can add Polycrylic which goes well with oil-based colors.
These are steps recommended and followed by the professionals. It might seem a lot of work but remember that the beautifully colored pipes are worth the effort.
Tips to Make Copper Pipes Look New
Now, if you decide against painting visible copper pipes, then you need to make sure that the pipes look good and shiny. A dusty old pipe will destroy the vibe of the room. The question is, how can you make copper pipes look new?
We have found the following points to be very helpful:
- Rub the pipes with a sponge and warm water to clean them regularly. Don’t let the water set on the pipes, rather dry it off.
- Then look for grease in the pipe and apply Degreaser to get rid of it. You might also have to use sandpaper to remove any oxidization from the pipes.
- To make the copper look shiny and new, clean the pipes again with a solution made from salt and vinegar. To make this solution add one tablespoon of salt to one cup of vinegar. If you want to avoid the hassle of preparing this solution you can simply buy a Metal Polisher.
How Long Does Copper Pipes Last?
Copper is a durable material. The 3 most common types of copper in use are K types, L types, and M types. The expected lifetime for M, L, and K type copper pipes are respectively 20-50 years, 50-100 years, and more than 100 years.
Can Copper Pipes Get Rust?
Good copper pipes will not rust. It is not possible for rust to form in absence of any of the three: Iron, Moisture, and Oxygen. There is very little iron in proper copper pipes. However, you might see greenish spots which indicate the deteriorating condition of the pipes.
By now you have the answer to “Can you paint copper pipes?” Remember the paint will give some protection to exterior pipes. But painting pipes that are inside your house is purely for decorative purposes. There is no problem in painting copper pipes as long as you follow the best practices, clean the pipes, and use the correct paint type.