Painting a Wood Stove

Painting a wood stove can renew and refresh its appearance, as well as protect the metal surfaces. With proper preparation and using the right high heat resistant paints made specifically for stoves, you can give your old wood stove a facelift.

painting a wood stove

Can You Paint a Wood Stove?

Yes, you can paint a wood burning stove made of cast iron or steel. However, you cannot use regular paints meant for walls, furniture etc. on a stove. The key is to use a high temperature resistant paint formulated especially for stoves that can withstand the intense heat.

Using regular paint not meant for high heat will likely bubble, peel and burn off when the stove gets hot. High quality stove paints are designed to cure and bond at temperatures up to 1200°F or more.

Several good brands manufacture specialized paints for wood stoves, fireplaces, grills and other high heat equipment. Stove Bright, Forrest Paint, Thurmalox and VHT are some popular options.

When researching stove paints, look for the following key phrases on the label:

  • High heat paint
  • High temperature paint
  • Stove paint
  • Wood stove paint

Using the right paint is crucial for getting a long lasting finish on a wood stove that won’t deteriorate, discolor or burn off when exposed to fire.

How Many Coats of Paint on a Stove?

Typically 2-3 thin coats of stove paint are recommended for good coverage and protection. Applying too thick of a coat can cause drips, uneven finish and improper curing.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time between coats. Usually 1-2 hours drying time is needed before applying another light coat. Properly prepping the surface and allowing adequate dry time ensures proper adhesion.

If covering a dark color with a light paint, an extra coat may be needed for good opacity. Metallic and aluminum paints also often require an extra coat or two.

Prep Work for Painting a Stove

Proper preparation is crucial for the paint to adhere well on a wood stove. Here are the key steps:

  • Clean – Use a degreaser or ammonia-based cleaner to thoroughly remove any grease, oil or residue from the surface. This helps the paint stick.
  • Remove rust – Wire brush areas of rust vigorously. Smooth to bare metal. Rust left under paint will continue to spread.
  • Remove old paint – Scrape off any loose, cracked or flaking paint with a scraper or wire brush. Sound paint can be lightly sanded.
  • Sand – Lightly sand entire surface with fine 120-220 grit sandpaper. This scuffs up the surface for better paint adhesion.
  • Wipe clean – Use a tack cloth to remove all dust before painting. This prevents dust nibs in the finish.
  • Spot prime – For heavily rusted areas, prime just those spots with a high heat primer before painting.

Proper prep work ensures the new paint bonds tightly for a long lasting finish.

What Color Can You Paint a Wood Stove?

Wood stove paint is available in various classic and custom colors, though black is the most common color. Other popular colors include:

  • Metallic black
  • Brown
  • Gray
  • Blue
  • White
  • Nickel
  • Custom colors

Stove Bright offers the largest selection of colors in flat, metallic and gloss finishes. Thurmalox, Rutland and VHT provide several color choices as well.

Lighter colors often require an extra coat or two for good opacity on cast iron and steel. Metallic and gloss paints also may require additional coats since they have a thinner consistency.

Take your time applying multiple light coats when using light, metallic or gloss colored stove paints.

When to Paint a Wood Stove

It is best to paint a wood stove when it is completely cold and not in use. Painting requires adequate ventilation so fumes and smells dissipate.

Ideally, the stove should be allowed to cool for at least 12-24 hours after the last burn before prepping and painting. Painting when any heat remains can cause blistering issues.

If logistically you cannot wait for the stove to be stone cold, you can improve ventilation by opening windows and doors. Turn on exhaust fans and work quickly to avoid overexposure to fumes.

Follow all manufacturer drying recommendations carefully before restarting your first fire after painting. Most high heat stove paints take 24-48 hours to fully cure.

Is It Safe to Paint a Wood Stove?

It is safe to paint a wood burning stove as long as you:

  • Use a high heat paint formulated specifically for stoves
  • Allow the stove to be cold if possible before painting
  • Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid fume buildup
  • Follow all manufacturer safety and drying time instructions

Provide plenty of ventilation while prepping, painting and drying to allow fumes to escape. Open doors and windows and use fans or exhausts. Take breaks if needed.

Wear safety goggles and a respirator or face mask while wire brushing, sanding, scraping and painting to avoid inhaling particles.

Work slowly and cautiously. Rushing through the job increases chances of drips, uneven coats and exposure to fumes. Proper preparation is also key to success and safety.

As long as you take precautions, use the right materials and allow proper dry times, painting a stove is a safe DIY project.

What Kind of Wood Stove Can You Paint?

The most common materials for wood stoves are either cast iron or steel. Luckily, high heat stove paints are formulated to adhere well and hold up on both cast iron and steel.

For enamel-coated stove surfaces, the glossy finish needs to be properly prepared for paint. Lightly sanding provides tooth for better adhesion. Using a primer made for glass and enamel also helps paint stick.

Do not paint over stove glass windows or surfaces. High temperature glass paint should be used on the glass instead. Attempting to paint over glass can cause visibility issues and paint failure.

So in summary, both cast iron and steel wood stoves can be painted, including their nickel or enamel finishes. But avoid painting the glass portions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Painting a Stove

Here is a step-by-step process for safely prepping and painting a wood stove:

Supplies Needed

  • High heat stove paint
  • Painters tape
  • Tack cloth
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Wire brush
  • Paintbrush and mini roller
  • Paint tray
  • Safety gear – goggles, mask, gloves

Stove Painting Process

  1. Allow stove to fully cool if possible before starting. Ventilate workspace.
  2. Clean surface thoroughly with degreaser and soap. Rinse well.
  3. Scrape off any loose, cracked or peeling paint with a scraper.
  4. Use a wire brush to vigorously remove rust on cast iron or steel.
  5. Sand entire surface with 120-220 grit sandpaper to scuff it up.
  6. Remove any remaining dust and debris with a tack cloth.
  7. Use painter’s tape to mask off any areas you don’t want painted.
  8. If needed, apply spot primer to heavily rusted areas and allow to dry.
  9. Apply first thin coat of stove paint using a brush or mini roller. Allow to dry fully.
  10. Apply second coat and allow to dry again. Add third coat if needed.
  11. Remove painter’s tape and reassemble any stove parts once paint has cured fully.
  12. Allow paint to cure for 24-48 hours before starting up stove again.

Take your time with proper preparation and use thin, even coats of quality stove paint for best results.

Stove Paint Brands

Here are some top brands and specific paints to look for when painting a wood stove:

Stove Bright High Temperature Paint

The leading brand trusted by professionals, available in the widest range of colors. Withstands up to 1200°F. Excellent adhesion and protection.

  • Stove Bright Metallic Black – deep black tone with a hint of glittery metallic
  • Stove Bright Flat Black – matte black finish
  • Stove Bright Nickel – shiny silver nickel tone

Thurmalox Stove Paint

Another top quality brand, lead-free and withstands 1200°F heat. Dries to a smooth, reflective finish.

  • Thurmalox 290 Black – deep matte black
  • Thurmalox 290 White – bright gloss white

Forrest Paint Stove and Fireplace Paint

Good quality enamels and lacquers for stoves and grills. Withstands up to 1100°F.

  • Forrest Flat Black – matte finish
  • Forrest Gloss Black – shiny black
  • Forrest Metallic Black – speckled metallic

VHT FlameProof High Heat Paint

Budget-friendly option good for occasional use stoves. Withstands 600°F.

Rust-Oleum High Heat Paint

Another reliable budget option. Withstands temperatures up to 1200°F. Good for occasional indirect heat.

  • Rust-Oleum Flat Black Heat Resistant Paint
  • Rust-Oleum Metallic Finish Heat Resistant Paint

Rutland Stove Paint

Specialty acrylic paint for stoves and BBQs. Withstands 500°F direct heat.

  • Rutland Flat Black Stove Paint
  • Rutland Gloss Black Stove Paint
  • Rutland Metallic Black Furnace Paint

Krylon High Heat Paint

General purpose spray paint suitable for metals and stoves. Withstands temps up to 1000°F.

  • Krylon Flat Black High Heat Paint
  • Krylon Metallic Brass High Heat Paint

Seymour High Heat Paint

Industrial quality, fast-drying enamels for stoves and furnaces. 600-750°F ratings.

  • Seymour of Sycamore Semi-Gloss Black Stove Paint
  • Seymour of Sycamore High Heat White Paint

Other Stove Paint Considerations

  • High gloss paints can yellow from the heat – flat or satin finishes resist discoloration better
  • Darker colors like black, brown or gray hide imperfections well
  • Lighter paints work best on porcelain enamel or with a high heat white primer
  • Metallic and textured paints may require an extra coat for good coverage
  • Spray paint is easier for smaller repairs; brushes or rollers for large projects
  • Allow extra drying time in cool, humid conditions

With so many quality brands available, you can’t go wrong choosing a purpose-made stove paint from Rust-Oleum, Krylon, Seymour or other top manufacturers. Along with Stove Bright and Forrest, these paints are proven to withstand heat, add beauty, and protect wood stoves.

Prep Tips for Common Surfaces

Proper preparation helps ensure paint adhesion for a long lasting finish. Here are some tips for prepping common wood stove surfaces:

Cast Iron

  • Clean thoroughly with degreaser
  • Wire brush vigorously to remove loose paint and rust
  • Sand to scuff surface and smooth any pits
  • Dust and clean before painting

Sheet Metal Steel

  • Remove oil and grease residues
  • Use sandpaper or wire wheel to remove rust
  • Sand lightly to scuff and feather edges
  • Blow off or wipe away dust before painting

Enamel Coated Cast Iron or Steel

  • Lightly scuff sand to roughen and provide tooth
  • Use high heat enamel primer before painting
  • An adhesion promoter can also be used

Chrome or Nickel Plated

  • Sand lightly with fine sandpaper
  • Clean thoroughly with ammonia-based cleaner
  • Use primer made for glossy surfaces
  • Apply thinner coats of paint

Proper prep allows the paint to mechanically and chemically bond tight to the stove surface.

How Long Does Stove Paint Last?

With proper surface preparation and application, high quality stove paints generally last 1-3 years on average for wood stoves that see frequent use. Factors like temperature swings, moisture and frequency of fires impact paint lifespan.

To maximize stove paint longevity:

  • Properly prep and clean surface
  • Use a high heat primer if needed
  • Allow adequate drying time between coats
  • Apply thin, even coats of paint
  • Don’t overly scrub or scour painted surface while cleaning

Higher end stove paints like Stove Bright and Forrest Paint may last up to 5+ years with proper care and average use. Budget paints may fade and deteriorate sooner.

Look for signs of wear like fading, bubbling or cracking to determine when it’s time to repaint the stove for protection.

Stove Paint vs. Regular Paint

It’s crucial to understand the differences between true stove paints and regular paints not meant for high heat applications:

Stove Paint

  • Withstands temperatures up to 1200°F
  • Formulated for metal and cast iron
  • Flexible to allow expansion and contraction
  • Long lasting colors, sheen and protection

Regular Paint

  • Not designed for high heat exposure
  • Will bubble, crack, peel and burn off
  • Short lifespan if used on a stove
  • Can release hazardous fumes and odors

Regular paints, enamels and lacquers are not made to withstand the repeated expansion, contraction and heat that stoves endure. Using the wrong paint can be dangerous and will result in premature failure.

Only use paints specifically marketed as “Stove Paint” or “High Heat Paint” on wood stoves for safety and performance.

Stove Paint Cure Times

Follow all manufacturer recommended drying times carefully both between coats and for the final cure. Most quality stove paints take 24-48 hours for full cure.

Rushing the drying or reassembly process can ruin the paint job and release unsafe fumes into your home.

Here are some general guidelines for stove paint dry times:

  • Between coats – 1-2 hours
  • Final cure before heating up – 24-48 hours
  • Full hardness and maximum resistance – 4-7 days

Test paint thickness by gently touching it. It should be dry to the touch between coats. If paint feels tacky, allow more drying time.

Once fully cured, slowly bring the stove back up to temperature following a break-in schedule to further harden the paint.

Cleaning a Painted Stove

Once the finish has fully cured, general cleaning and maintenance can resume. Avoid abrasive scouring pads or cleaners which can damage the painted surface.

Use a soft cloth with mild soap and warm water for routine cleaning. For stubborn deposits, a wood stove cleaner product can be used per label instructions.

Avoid hitting or scraping the painted surface with poker tools or other hard objects. Be gentle yet thorough when removing ashes to minimize paint scratches and chips.

With proper care, cleaning and touch ups when needed, a freshly painted wood stove can look great for years, providing renewed protection and aesthetics.


Painting a wood stove properly not only improves its appearance but also protects the metal from corrosion and rust. With a quality high heat paint made specifically for stoves and proper preparation, you can give new life to an old stove.

Be sure to clean thoroughly, sand, apply thin coats of paint and follow all drying instructions carefully. This ensures great adhesion and performance for years of enjoyment from your painted stove.

Follow the tips outlined here for preparing, painting and caring for your wood stove’s finish. Taking the time to prep well and apply stove-specific paint will provide outstanding results.

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