A fresh coat of paint can give old, rusty weight plates a new lease of life, but it can actually make them look worse if you don't do it right.

The last thing you want is to end up with embarrassing weight plates you have to hide. 

In this guide, we'll tell you all there is to know about painting weight plates so you can do it yourself with confidence.

You won’t need any specialist equipment to paint your weight plates, but make sure you have the following:  

  • Paint  
    We recommend using an enamel oil-based spray paint on your weight plates, but you can also use traditional brush paint. Look for a reputable brand like Rust-oleum or Krylon, who will have a range of specialist metal paint that will work well on plates.
  • Safety Gear  
    Spray paint can be hazardous, so you should wear a mask, gloves, and eye coverings. It can also get everywhere, so it's a good idea to wear protective overalls and lay down a tarp or rags to capture any paint that doesn’t land on the plates.
  • Cleaning Products 
    It’s important to clean your weight plates before you paint them. Make a mixture using 1-part white vinegar and 2 parts water to create a cleaning spray that is effective but not so tough that it damages the plates. You’ll also need a coarse brush to scrub with.  
  • Wire Brush
    If your weight plates are rusty, then you'll need to use the wire brush to file them down before you paint them.  
how to paint weight plates

Preparing The Weight Plates

Preparing your weight plates is the secret to success with this DIY project, and it is essential you don't skip this step.

You should move outside to a well-ventilated area to paint, but you can do the prep work indoors if you prefer.  

Here’s what you’ll need to do:  

  1. 1
    File Down The Rust 
    Rust doesn’t look good and can impact the paint's ability to stick to the surface of your weight plate. Use the wire brush to file the rust down and leave the surface as even as possible before painting. If you don’t do this, you can end up with a patchy and uneven coat of paint, so don't skip it.
  2. 2
    Clean The Plate   
    It's important to clean any dirt, grime, or marks from the weight plate. This will make your weight plate look better but will also allow the paint to coat the plate evenly and make the job a lot easier. Spray your white vinegar cleaning solution all over the plate and scrub it clean. Rinse it off with warm water to finish.  
  3. 3
    Apply Primer  
    Primer is an undercoat of paint that is used as a base layer. By applying it all over the weight plate, you give an adhesive coat to which your spray paint can stick to. This will give you a fuller coat of paint and make the repainted weight plate look much better.  
cast iron plate

How To Paint Old Weight Plates For Your Home Gym

Painting weight plates is fairly easy and can be done by anyone at home. You can use spray paint or traditional paint on your weight plates, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each.  

Traditional brush paint is thicker and gives a smoother finish, but it takes a lot longer, and it might not give you even coverage.

Spray paint is much quicker, and the dispersal method gives a much more even coverage, but it is thinner and will provide less protection. We always use spray paint because it works well on all types of weight plates, making the project a lot quicker.   

The type of paint you use can make a big difference. Your weight plates will see heavy wear and tear, so you’ll need to use a tough paint.

Look for oil-based enamel paint, which is very durable and will also provide some added protection to your weight plates 

When selecting your color, it’s a good idea to try and match the existing color or choose a dark color. Lighter colors can sometimes look patchy, but black, grey, or dark blue will all work well.

Once you’ve decided on your paint, you’ll need to follow the steps below!

1. Move Your Weight Plates Outside  

Spray painting can be hazardous, and it’s important that you only use it in a well-ventilated area. If you can, move your weight plates outside before you start painting, or open up doors and windows to increase the airflow. Ensure you're wearing protective gloves, eye coverings, and a mask.

2. Remove Rust  

Most weight plates are made from cast iron or steel, but if you have rubber plates, you can skip this step.

Metal plates can become rusty due to exposure to water, and while surface-level rust won't impact the structural quality of the weight plate, it can really impact how it looks. Paint will cover up the rust, but you need to file this down so it can land more evenly on the surface.  

Take your wire brush and file down the rusted parts of the weight plate. Try to get it as smooth as possible so the spray paint can land evenly on the surface.  

painting weight plates for home gym

3. Clean The Plates  

It’s imperative to remove the dirt and grime from your weight plate before you paint it. Spray your white vinegar solution across the weight plate and leave for a few minutes.

The acidity will remove some of the dirt, and you should use your brush to scrub the rest off. When you’re finished, rinse the plate with water and leave it to dry 

Related Article - How To Paint Olympic Barbells For Home Gym

4. Apply The Primer 

Primer is used as an undercoat to help you get an even coat of paint. Your primer should ideally be the same type and brand as your spray paint. Rust-oleum offers a range of primers suitable for use on metal, and some brands even offer 2 in 1 primer and paint mixtures. You should coat the weight plate in the primer and leave to dry for 2-3 hours. 

5. Paint The Plates 

Hold the can of spray paint about 8 inches away from your plate and slowly spray one side. Leave this to dry for about an hour, flip the plate over, and then paint the other side.

Depending on the paint you're using and the type of weight plate you have, then you may need to apply several coats to get the desired look.   

6. Leave To Dry

Once you've applied your oil-based enamel spray paint, you should leave the plates to dry for about 12 hours. After this point, they should be safe to use again.  

Painting Rubber Weight Plates 

The exact instructions for painting your plates may vary depending on the type of weight plates you have. Rubber or neoprene weight plates are common, and regular spray paint can struggle to adhere to this surface.

This could leave your rubber weight plates looking patchy, so you need to use an acrylic spray paint which works effectively on rubber. Popular brands like Rust-Oleum, Krylon, and Montana all offer a range of acrylic paints, which will work well on rubber weight plates.

how to paint rubber weight plates

Why Paint Your Weight Plates? (Benefits Explained) 

Painting your weight plates might seem like an unnecessary chore, particularly if they’re kept where nobody can see them. However, there are some real benefits to giving them a fresh coat of paint:  

Hiding The Rust 

Cast iron and steel weight plates will, over time, develop rust. Unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse the rusting process, and while you can file down some of it, you can't remove it.

However, you can paint over rust and cover it up if you use a thick paint. Dark colors will work best and make your old plates look brand new.  

Extra Protection 

Paint may seem like it’s just for aesthetics, but it can actually help protect your weight plates. A tough enamel paint will help prevent moisture from interacting directly with the metal and can stop oxidation from happening.

This will stop your weight plate from rusting and help to give it a longer lifespan.

Matches Your Gym  

Your home gym may be your pride and joy, and painting your weight plates is a great way to get everything to match.

You may have picked up your gym equipment and weight plates second hand, but by repainting it all, you create a gym that looks custom-made just for you and gives you something to show off to friends and family.  

Improves The Look (For Resale!) 

Repainting weight plates can make them look brand new again. This is useful if you’re buying used weight plates that you want to look new again, and it’s also useful if you’re looking to sell your plates.

A fresh coat of paint is a quick and easy way to improve the look and help you make some money by reselling them.  

Common Questions About Painting Weight Plates

What are weight plates coated with? 

Weight plates usually have a powder coating which actually helps the paint to stick and makes the repainting job easier.  

Can you paint directly over already painted weight plates? 

Yes, but if you have flaking paint, you'll need to sand it off because it could stop your fresh coat of paint from sticking properly.  

How many coats of paint should be on weight plates? 

This generally depends on the quality of your paint and the condition of the weight plates, but we recommend using a primer and then applying 2 coats to the outside of your plates.  

How long should you wait before using the weight plates after painting? 

Your weight plates may seem dry within an hour, especially if you’re using spray paint, but you should always wait at least 12 hours before using them.  


Painting your old weight plates can make them look brand new again. It's quick and easy to do, but it's important that you do it right, or you can actually end up making them look worse.

We recommend using a good quality spray paint for your work and always prepare the material properly beforehand. Hopefully this guide has helped explain how to properly spray paint your weight plates, and you now feel more comfortable doing it yourself.  

Last Updated on April 16, 2024

Paul J

Paul J

Paul J is is an ex-professional footballer who has seen a gym or two and is an expert at knowing what is required for home gym setups. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually going for a run in the park or out for coffee.