How to Paint an Outdoor Oil Tank? A Complete Guide

On average, an oil tank has a lifespan of 25 years. Different circumstances might reduce or increase the lifetime by a little.

But if the tank is placed outside, external factors leave a greater impact resulting in rust, corrosion, and holes. So, maintenance needs to be at the best level to prevent hammering your pocket with additional expenses.

Heading towards proper maintenance, the best thing you can do is paint the outdoor tank well. But this solution is entangled with a critical question of how to paint an outdoor oil tank.

Well, as critical it may sound on paper, the real job in practice is almost its opposite. Besides, it’s an easier process; it covers many durability factors and saves a good chunk of your monthly and annual savings.

How to Paint an Outdoor Oil Tank?

Simple few steps of the painting process don’t require any strenuous tasks. You can DIY paint it entirely without any second thought, even if you haven’t painted it ever.

Here are the steps to follow for better results.


The very first thing you need to do is to check and measure the current condition of your outdoor oil tank. It needs to be done gauging the level of work that would be required. If the tank has rust on it and previous paint has been damaged, you have to scrub these off.

But if the damage is at an extended level and the tank seems too damaged, you better think of getting a new one.


A proper cleaning would give you a basement for the painting, so you must be very careful about it.

Start with a degreaser, not a regular soap. Regular soap might work on visible dust and derbies but might leave unseen dirt. This can prevent paint from properly adhering to the tank.

To peel off the rust and hard dust, use steel wool. It works better to scrub even the hard surface without much effort.

Lastly, use a wet rag to rinse the oil tank after getting done with the cleaning job. Now leave it for a few hours to dry properly.

Applying Primer

As paint usually doesn’t get along with wood and metal, it’s recommended to go for a Primer. And the best available one for the metal surface is the etching primer. Etching primer ensures maximum adhesion of the paint to the different metal surfaces.

When the tank is completely dried out, you can start applying the primer. Before that, try to roll on a small cloth underneath the tank to avoid spoiling the ground. Try to use a polyester brush as a nylon brush might leave lines and spots in the finishing touch.


Interestingly, many people paint their tanks with regular paint without thinking for a second time that it’s metal. Ordinary paint is a water-based acrylic that doesn’t hold well on the metal surface. Regardless of the warning, if you use it, it’ll only create a bigger mess instead.

Go for an oil-based enamel paint, which is perfectly suitable for metal painting. With the brush or roller, paint the tank delicately. Usually, one coat is enough to protect the tank well, but if you insist, you can go for a second coat.

Besides, the color of the paint should be well reflective and light, preferably white or black. Don’t go for a deeper shade that absorbs heat from the sun.  


Dry the paint properly for at least a few hours or a day before your kids and pets jump over to touch it.

Frequently Asked Question(FAQ)

How do I protect my outdoor oil tank?

You can use paint to cover your outdoor tank, and in return, you’ll get superior protection against rust and corrosion.

How do you fix a rusty oil tank?

To fix a rusty oil tank, you must peel off the rust with a degreaser and steel wool. Dry it after rinsing properly and apply paint to fix your rusty oil tank.

Can you paint an outdoor oil tank?

Yes, you can paint an outdoor oil tank. Some people get confused as metal doesn’t receive regular paint well. For that reason using enamel paint works great on the outdoor oil tank surface.

What color should an oil tank be?

You can paint an oil tank in any color, but we recommend you go for a light-reflective color that absorbs less heat from the environment. Preferably white and black for better protection.

What paints to use on metal?

Metal’s paints acceptance is very selective as it doesn’t suit water-based acrylic paints. You have to use oil-based enamel paint to paint metal.

Do I need to Prime metal before painting?

Yes, the characteristic of metal prevents paints from adhering to it properly. That’s why it’s best to use a prime metal with etching primer for best absorption and adherence of the paint on the surface.


When it comes to DIY painting, it might scare the breath out of you. This happens mostly because painting job has a monstrous picture in people’s minds. And a big scary question how to paint an outdoor oil tank?

Nevertheless, compared to other types of painting, the outdoor tank painting is just a cup of tea. You just simply follow the steps mentioned above, and that would be enough to get the job done for you.

Outdoor tanks are directly exposed to sun, rain, wind, and snow. If not kept well maintained, you know what’s going to happen.

So, leaving it off for next summer won’t do anything other than inviting additional expenses and troubles with an open arm.

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