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Using a pen to write on metal isn’t something that many artists might consider themselves doing, but there are many items you can customize and interesting pieces you can make this way! Whether you are looking for a new craft to add to a business, a new interesting art project to try out, or are just a metalworker that needs a new metal marker for the workshop, this article is all about how to find and use the best marker for metal.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is a Paint Marker for Metal?
- 2 What to Look for When Buying Paint Markers for Metal
- 3 Our Picks for the Best Marker for Metal
- 4 How to Use Paint Markers for Metal
- 5 Use and Care Tips for Your Metal Marker
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Paint Marker for Metal?
Paint markers for metal work very similarly to other markers available on the market. The main difference between paint markers for metal and normal markers is that markers for metal dry faster than normal markers and apply more readily to smooth, non-porous surfaces such as metal. Metal paint markers should not wipe away easily once dried and will be resistant to external elements such as sunlight, abrasion, or rain. Nowadays paint markers for metal come in a range of different colors which you can mix and match for your art or crafts projects.
When choosing a paint marker for metal you will encounter acrylic and oil-based paint markers. There isn’t a stark difference between these two markers and overall, you would be fine choosing either for your project. However, if you are hoping for the best results possible you will find the distinction between the two to be important. The main difference comes down to how thick each marker paint type is. Oil-based markers are thicker than water-based markers and will be harder to wipe off and have a less fluid distribution. The thickness of the oil-based markers also means that they may need to be activated before they can be used. We go into more detail about the two different kinds of paint markers that can be used on metal later in the article.
You can use paint markers for metal in a variety of different art projects. People who do metalworking often used paint markers for metal to make markings for measurements and planning. Many people use these markers on other art projects such as creating event signage, wall art, or painting locks or keys as gifts or decorations. You could even decorate watering cans for your garden, or the lids of glass jars in your kitchen! Metal markers are also quite versatile too and they can often be used on other mediums such as vinyl, glass, ceramic, or wood with ease.
What to Look for When Buying Paint Markers for Metal
When you are looking to start drawing or marking metal you will want to choose the perfect marker for your needs. To choose the perfect marker you will need to make sure that you understand the factors that contribute to making the best paint marker for metal. Whether you are an artist or work with a trade or craft, the guide below will explain what you should look for while choosing your paint marker for metal.
Type of Marker
As mentioned earlier in the article, there are water-based and oil-based paint markers for metal available on the market. Neither of these markers is inherently better than the other, but one type may be more suited to a particular application or art style than the other.
Oil-based markers are commonly used for writing or marking on metal because they are thick, durable, smudge-resistant, and highly visible on surfaces. The downside to these markers however is that their thickness makes them tricky to work with. Oil-based markers are prone to clogging and you will have to “activate” the marker before and during use. Activating the marker refers to shaking it to aid the flow of the paint and to prevent clogs or blockages from occurring.
Water-based markers are much more forgiving than oil-based markers. When working with water-based markers you will not need to worry about activating the paint and intermittently shaking the marker to keep the paint flowing, but the paint is also thinner and may be less opaque in one coat than an oil-based marker would be. Water-based markers are great if you think you will need to remove some of the paint in case of errors, or if you would like to create different layers of intensity with your colors. To avoid smudging your water-based paint on your metal you will need to allow it to dry for a couple of minutes before attempting to layer your paint.
Color Range and Opacity
Depending on the nature of your project you will also want to consider the range of colors available. If you are creating a drawing or artwork on metal then you will likely want a fairly sized range of colored markers available to you. If you are feeling adventurous you can even find metallic or pastel-colored metal markers on the market! However, if you are just measuring and marking metal to be cut then you will just need a black or white-colored marker and will be ready to go. Make sure to browse the full selection of colored markers available to you when purchasing a paint marker for metal.
Drying Speed, Adherence, and Durability
Different paint markers will last on metal for different amounts of time. Using markers on metal can be tricky since the metal is not porous and does not absorb the paint. Paint that has not dried can easily be smudged around the metal or end up on other surfaces if touched or transferred. Usually, you will want a paint marker for metal that dries quickly but remains durable and resistant to weather and abrasion over time.
If you are creating something that will be exposed to rain, snow, abrasion, or sunlight you should make sure to use markers that are weather-, UV-, and abrasion-resistant. If you fail to choose a permanent marker for metal your work will fade, peel or wash away over time. On the other hand, if you are using your markers for measurements and markings then you may prefer something that dries slowly and fades or washes away easily. Less permanent metal markers will be perfect if you are just making measurement markings.
Art supplies should be thought of as an investment, you usually would not want to purchase a cheap set of markers only for them to not work correctly and cost you your artwork. Cheap markers can seem like an offer that is too good to be true because they usually are! Try to work out the price per marker if you are buying a set of markers to make sure that you don’t get tricked into buying a useless product.
Buying quality markers, however, doesn’t need to be something that breaks the bank. There is a whole range of affordable marker brands available that will serve you well for your projects, just remember that you get what you pay for. High-quality markers with long-lasting paint will be more expensive than lower-quality markers.
If you only plan on using the markers for one or two projects and aren’t sold on using markers on metal or other surfaces just yet, then there is no need to invest in a premium set for the time being. Maybe start with a middle-of-the-range set so that your first experience will be a pleasant and affordable one, without having to worry about ineffective markers or a hefty price tag!
Our Picks for the Best Marker for Metal
Now that you know what to look for to find the best markers for metal, we are going to share our three picks of the best pen to write on metal with. These picks are each from a different price range and each has its own advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before making a purchase. Luckily, we have reviewed these markers for you so you just need to worry about choosing which marker you want before getting started with your project!
Premium Choice: STEELWRITER Metal Marking Pen
If you are looking for the best marker for metal, you don’t need to look any further than the metal marking pen from Steelwriter. The paint readily adheres to even glossy metals with ease and can easily be removed with a wet cloth if you make a mistake or want to erase your markings at a later stage. The Steelwriter metal marking pen is not a permanent marker for metal. These markers are oil-based, with a mild odor and no toxic ingredients.
It is also non-smudging, vibrant, and opaque. The paint is also not so thick that it barely runs, nor does it flow everywhere from being too thin. Another great point to consider is that the tips of the markers are long, rounded, and durable. The only downside of the metal marking paint pen from Steelwriter are that it is quite pricey for just one pen and that the range of colors is quite limited.
Best Overall: SHARPIE Fine Point Oil-Based Paint Markers
Sharpie is a very well-known stationery brand with a good reputation and history. This set of paint markers is affordable while still being of very good quality. The pack includes five markers of colors black, white, blue, yellow, and red. Unlike the markers from Steelwriter, these oil-based markers are fast-drying and cannot wipe easily off of surfaces with the use of a wet cloth.
The colors of these markers are quite intense and will show and stay on even dark and shiny metal surfaces with ease. You can use these fine pointed markers for drawing or letting and not have to worry about a consistency that is too thick or too thin. The markers have a bit of an unpleasant odor once and the markers require shaking before and during use in order to prevent clogging.
Best Value for Money: MORFONE Metallic Paint Markers
This set of 10 metallic paint markers from Morfone is the most affordable suggestion on our list. The colors included in this pack are white, black, silver, gold, light green, dark green, blue, purple, and red. The white in this paint marker set is the opaquest of the colors included while the others may need multiple layers to show up as opaque. Keep in mind that the white applies to look transparent but dries to appear opaque. The colors on the caps of the markers are not an accurate representation of the colors themselves and you will need to swatch the markers to get a better understanding of their shade.
The 2 mm tip on the markers is great for detailed work while the high flow rate of the markers makes them good for covering larger areas too. The tips on the markers however are not the most durable and will wear down with use. Being water-based the markers are easier to work with than the other options since they will flow more readily and are less likely to clog up. These markers do dry more slowly than the other options, however, but this can be beneficial for beginners who may want to fix mistakes or make changes before the paint has time to dry.
How to Use Paint Markers for Metal
Using paint markers is quite simple, it’s just like working with a pen or paintbrush. The product you buy may come with specific drying times that are longer or shorter than we have stated. Always read the instructions on your product and follow their guidelines over the suggestions in this article.
Prepare Your Markers
To get started you will shake the pen to mix the paint and help to ensure even flow. Make sure that the cap of the marker is firmly attached while you shake or it can make quite a big mess. Keep in mind that not every paint marker for metal has to be shaken, but it is a good idea nonetheless.
Next, you can remove the cap and prime the tip of your marker by holding it upright and pressing down on the nib a few times. Priming the tip of your marker helps to push out any excess air and helps ensure a smooth, even flow.
Test Your Markers
Use a scrap piece of paper to pump down the nib until the paint draws into the tip and starts flowing evenly. You can use this time to get a feel for the flow of the marker and take note of the color and opacity before getting started.
Create Your Artwork
Once you have tested the marker and are happy with the results, you can start to draw or write on your metal. Make sure that your metal surface is free of any dirt, oils, grease, or grime before you try to use your marker on it. If you find that the flow of your marker is slowing down or becoming intermittent you can shake the marker again. Make sure that you replace the cap on the marker before you shake it. Allow the paint some time to dry before adding subsequent layers.
Clean and Store Your Markers
Once you are satisfied with your painting you can wipe the nib clean and replace the cap back onto your marker. Be sure to lay it down for storage horizontally in a cool, dry place. It is also important to keep your markers away from direct sunlight.
Use and Care Tips for Your Metal Marker
While paint pens for metal are very fun to use, they can also be tricky to properly care for. The majority of markers that are not carefully stored and maintained will dry up or begin to clog. Below are a few tips and tricks to help you care for your markers and have them last you as long as possible. We have also included a few tips that will make the drawing process a bit easier and suggested ways you can try and experiment with your new markers!
- When priming the tip make sure to not pump out too much paint. Pump the marker gently to avoid having the paint overflow and pool up from coming out too fast.
- Use a piece of paper to practice applying the correct amount of pressure on your marker as you draw or write. This will help to ensure that you create lines with a consistent flow.
- If you create a pool of paint from pressing too hard you can use some paper towel to soak it up. While the paint is still wet, place the tip of a paper towel into it in order to soak up any excess.
- Try layering your color atop one another. Make sure that you allow the first layers to dry completely before adding any new layers.
- Keep your tip clean as you work. Use a paper towel or rag to wipe down the tip of your marker and keep it clean of any excess paint. Excess paint can dry out and clog up the tip of your marker.
- Make sure that your marker has been properly cleaned before putting the cap back on and storing it after use.
- Make sure that the cap of your marker is properly secured onto the marker while in storage or not in use.
- Store your markers horizontally. If you store your markers vertically the ink can run downwards and cause leaks or dry out your marker.
- Store your markers in a dry area that is not too hot or too cold. Extremes of temperature can cause your paint to clog.
- Keep the markers away from direct sunlight.
Now that you know what to look for in a paint pen for metal you can get started with all your metal medium projects. There are many options available for purchase but knowing what you need can help you find the best marker for metal. Remember to properly care for your markers so that they can be used on many more projects in the future. Working with markers on metal is quite exciting and unique and there are many opportunities for creativity waiting to be tried out. Once you have your markers you can easily jump right in and give it a try for yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Can Metal Paint Markers Be Purchased?
Paint markers for metal can be purchased in arts and crafts stores or online. There may even be good markers available at hardware or construction supply shops. Just be sure that you properly read the product description to make sure that the marker you choose is suitable for use on metal.
What Do I Do if My Marker Has Dried Up?
If your marker dries out you can soak the tip in some rubbing alcohol to loosen up the ink. This isn’t a foolproof method however and if it does not work for you, you will need to replace your marker. Try to avoid letting your markers dry out by cleaning and storing them correctly after each use.
Can I Write on Stainless Steel?
Yes, you can easily write and draw on stainless steel using your marker for metal. All the markers suggested in this article are suitable for smoother metals such as stainless steel, but any marker that is made for metal should be suitable too.