Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

September, 2009

Painting on Sterling Silver

Q. Found this site in searching for a resource for enamel paints. I paint Sterling silver tiny charms and resell. I am always looking for more durable paints for this purpose as sometimes these enamels ( which are model car enamels ) do not want to adhere properly. No one can tell me how or what product to use to make it adhere as the surface of these charms cannot be roughed up. Just wondered if you know anything about this and what if any type paint or primer can be used that would adhere and i would feel secure that it would not come off. Help!! If you can!!!!!!

A. I have never tried to paint sterling silver, but if I were to try I would probably either use a two-component epoxy primer to achieve good adhesion, or I would apply a vinyl butyral wash primer. The wash primer approach might work, but it must be applied with a spray gun, and you should achieve a very thin film, only 0.3 - 0.5 mils. Since you probably don't own a film thickness gauge and might not know what 0.3 - 0.5 mils relates to, I suggest the wash primer be applied so thin that you can easily see through it. Thereafter, allow the wash primer to thoroughly dry before applying the enamel.

Wash primers are generally not available from hardware stores, but you should be able to purchase them from automotive paint stores or from industrial paint stores.


Ron Joseph

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