Power cages (or racks) are built to be tough, but even the best gym equipment can look worn and scuffed over time.
Painting your power rack is a quick and cheap way to restore it; however, it's important that you use the right materials and technique or you can leave it looking worse.
In this guide, we'll show you the proper form for painting your hardware, and give you some useful advice so you can do it properly.
Table of Contents
- Essential Things You Need To Paint Your Power Rack
- How To Prepare Your Power Rack For Painting
- Painting Any Power Rack - Step By Step Guide
- Why Paint Your Power Rack? (3 Benefits)
- How To Paint A Squat Rack - Is It The Same As A Power Rack?
- Frequently Asked Painting a Power Rack Questions
Essential Things You Need To Paint Your Power Rack
Protective clothes can help keep you safe, and it's important you wear eye goggles, gloves, and old clothing that can get dirty.
Most importantly, you need to have a mask that helps to filter out the potentially harmful fumes. Even in a cool, well-ventilated environment, things can go wrong, so a mask is essential.
Primer is used as a base layer and gives you an even canvas to work with. You can buy primer from any store and it's not very expensive.
Rustoleum also offers spray paints with built-in primer, but these tend to cost a bit more.
- Primer spray paint is designed to protect...
- Oil based paint with Stops Rust formula...
- Covers up to 12 sq ft and dries to the touch...
- Corrosion resistant spray paint provides more...
Brush paint can be useful if you're touching up some of the metal, but if you're looking to cover the entire steel surface, then you're better using a spray-on.
Spray paint works by releasing a pressurized liquid paint into the air which then adheres to the surface of whatever you're painting.
If it lands properly, your steel will be fully coated, providing a more even coverage than brush paint.
If you are using spray paint, then it's important that you choose one which is suitable.
For spray painting metal, you want to use an acrylic or enamel oil paint which is tough and long-lasting.
This should stick evenly on the exterior and help to prevent corrosion, abrasion, and chipping of the bars to help you maintain a high-quality rack.
Ideally, you should select an industrial-grade metal paint. Most major brands have specialist options for loading onto steel, and it's worth checking out Rustoleum and Krylon for the best paint for power rack work.
You'll typically only need 1-2 cans for this job.
Related Article - Best Home Gym Paint Colors
Powder coating is a very similar substance to paint which is made up of resins, fillers, pigments, and a polymer powder.
The powder coating literally bonds with the steel to create a painted look and provides a protective top layer.
Powder coating is often used on a bench or gym machines to help them last longer and make them less likely to rust, crack, or chip.
Rustoleum actually produces a range of powder coating options that do both painting and finishing services in one.
Soap & Water
A soapy water mixture is used to clean dirt, grime, and oil from the outer layer so that your paint can adhere to it properly.
A tougher cleaner can help eliminate the tougher dirt stains and remove excess rust staining.
You can buy acidic cleaner from the store, or if you want to save money, you can combine 1 part white wine vinegar with 4 parts water. 
Sanding your rack helps to remove any rust from the outside of the steel and provides some texture for the paint to adhere to.
An electrical cordless sander is usually best, like this orbital model from DeWalt, which you can pick up for about $100.
You can also manually smooth your steel using sandpaper, but it is a much slower and time-consuming process.
How To Prepare Your Power Rack For Painting
Preparing the power cage properly is the key to a successful job, and it's worth taking the time to prepare your fitness equipment because you'll get a much better end product.
Remove The Plates
Start by taking the plates and bars off the kit so you have full access. Move your bench and any other accessories out of the way too.
Move It Outdoors
Spray paint works well on steel but can be hazardous if you breathe in too much. You need to work in a well-ventilated area, so it's much safer if you can transport the cage outside.
If moving it outdoors isn't an option, you should open up your windows and doors to improve the airflow.
Cover The Ground
Even if you've moved the apparatus outside, you'll probably prefer not to ruin your lawn.
Lay down an old sheet or a tarp to cover the floor and to stop different colors from going everywhere.
Disassemble The Gear
Take all the posts and pieces apart by removing the bolts and screws from the holes. It should be reasonably easy to do, but make sure you look at the instruction manual.
By taking the posts and bars apart you'll be able to treat each piece of metal separately and get a more even coverage.
Clean The Metal
Use soap and water to leave it looking shiny and new. Focus on getting any visible dirt off the outer edges where it might impact the color of the paint.
Next, apply a white wine vinegar and water solution. This will deal with any stuck-on dirt and is intended to leave you with a much smoother surface that your paint can stick to more easily.
Sand It Down
Even the best paint can't stick to a really rusty exterior. Use grinding plates to get rid of visible rust.
You may need to spend a bit of time on this stage, but it's worth getting an even coat of color across your fitness gear.
Painting Any Power Rack - Step By Step Guide
1. Disassemble The Parts
Start by taking the cage apart as much as possible. Lay each part down on a protective tarp or covering in a well-ventilated area, ready to be painted.
If you can't disassemble it, then don't worry. Just ask a friend to help you move it outside onto a protective covering to be painted.
It may be harder to reach some areas, so you may need some brush wash for the corners.
2. Put On Protective Gear
Put on your gloves, eye protection, ventilation mask, and old overalls.
3. Clean The Outer Layer
Use a cloth and soapy water to gently clean the surface of the machine. Leave to dry for a few hours.
Next, apply your acidic cleaner to a cloth and wipe down the steel. This will help dissolve any dirt and grime and can start to remove the loose rust from the bar's surface. Leave it for 30-45 minutes, and then wipe clean.
4. Smooth The Metal
Take your electric sander (or manual if you don't have one) and gently go over all the outer areas.
Focus on the areas where the rusting is most prominent, and go over the areas with a little rust more quickly. Keep going until the layers of rust are as even as possible.
5. Apply A Primer
A spray paint primer usually works best, so hold the can about 8 inches away from the metal and slowly apply an even coat.
Leave it to dry for 20-30 minutes, flip each of the different fittings, and coat the other side.
6. Apply Your First Coat
Once the primer has dried, shake the spray paint can and hold it 8-12 inches away from the metal.
Slowly paint power rack until it’s completely covered, and then leave it to dry for 30-60 minutes, flip it, and continue spray painting the other side.
7. Apply Your Second Coat
Once you've finished applying the first coat, you need to let it dry fully and apply a second coat.
By putting a second coat on the equipment, you'll give a thicker finish which is less likely to chip or wear out.
Remember to go slowly and spend time covering all the hard-to-reach sections. Leave for 1-2 hours to fully dry.
Move it back inside and connect up the posts and bar. Make sure you thread all the bolts back in properly so that it’s safe to use.
Leave it for 24 hours, and then you can use it again.
Why Paint Your Power Rack? (3 Benefits)
Painted and powder-coated gear doesn't just look cool; it actually lasts longer.
A good paint and treatment should stop the steel from chipping and will protect your rack from rust and other cosmetic damage.
This helps to preserve your investment and keep it working as it should for longer. 
Better Looking Home Gym
Your home gym setup is a reflection of who you are and a sign of how you present yourself.
Some people like the rugged, rusty, and metallic look in their home, but if you prefer a clean modern gym, it is worth recoloring your power cage.
Read Also - Inspirational Home Gym Decor Ideas
Easier To Resell
When buying or selling used gym gear, the first thing you notice in the picture is the condition of the materials.
It can be tough to sell something which looks beaten up, but a fresh coat of paint with a decent finish can make it more attractive and help you get a higher price.
Related Article - Where & How To Sell Used Gym Equipment
How To Paint A Squat Rack - Is It The Same As A Power Rack?
Squat racks are specifically designed to help you squat properly, but they are extremely similar to power racks.
The only difference is that they are bigger, and they often have horizontal posts at the bottom to help catch the bar if it falls.
To paint your squat rack, you'll need to follow the exact same instructions but just remove the extra crossbeams so you can paint them separately.
Just be aware that because a squat rack is bigger you may need a bit more paint to do the job.
Learn More - Power Racks Vs Squat Racks
Frequently Asked Painting a Power Rack Questions
Will a power rack rust over time?
The frame is usually made out of steel so it will rust over time. A good coat of paint and a protective finish can stop that from happening, but you will need to use touch-up paint periodically to cover it.
How long does it take for paint to dry on a power rack?
This depends on the type of paint you use and it’s better to read the back of the label than to guess, but most spray paint will dry in 1-2 hours.
How long does paint last on a power rack?
A good enamel or acrylic paint will stand up to heavy use, and you should expect it to last 1-2 years before any wear or chips become obvious.
Can you directly paint over a previously painted power rack?
No, it would probably flake, so it’s a good idea to strip off the old paint so your new coat can adhere to it properly. You can buy paint stripper paste or liquids to remove it quickly.
Can power racks be left outside?
Leaving it outside for a short period of time is fine, but it's not advisable because the steel will interact with the moisture outside, which can lead to corrosion and rust damage. Even if you have a protective coat, it's a good idea to keep your gym gear inside.
Painting power rack equipment is a cheap and easy way to give it another lease of life. It will help to protect the materials and boost the overall value of the product, while also improving the look of your gym.
The key to this DIY project is to get the right paint and prep the steel first. So just make sure you wash and smooth it carefully, and use a tough enamel paint that will adhere to the metal.
Last Updated on September 9, 2022
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