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topic 42007

Can I paint a walk-in cooler?

A discussion started in 2006 & continuing through 2017


Q. I own a couple of pizza restaurants called Papa Joe's Pizza and would like to paint the aluminum walk-in cooler the colors of the high school next door. I actually messed up the walls of the cooler by thinking they were stainless steel and used oven cleaner--ouch--black mess! The school colors idea is just a cover up (no pun intended)! So I really need some help. No bad weather conditions to worry about.

Mama Joe
pizza - Dripping Springs, Texas


A. None of us can answer that. Should you, probably. How to: Go to a real paint store and get a primer made for aluminum. Wash the cooler with an abrasive pad (not steel wool) with a little TSP [trisodium phosphate [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]] from a wallpaper store. Rinse, dry, prime and paint. Make sure that the primer and the paint are compatible. Spray is optimal. If you roll, use a short nap roller.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

June 7, 2011

A. You can paint the inside of your cooler. first you need to check with your local health codes and make a decision from there. To paint it you would use a moisture cured urethane and a similar product for another finish coat. On the other hand if health codes will not permit that, they do change from location to location, you can go in and lightly sand all corners and walls install and install rfp covering. RFP will pass just about all health codes nationally.

James Finley
- Austin, Texas, United States

November 26, 2011

Q. How does one tell if the construction is galvanized steel or aluminum and is there a difference in what kind of paint to use for a walk in cooler according to what construction material used.

Bob Burns
- Trucksville, Pennsylvania, USA

November 28, 2011

A. Hi, Bob.

A magnet will quickly reveal whether the metal is aluminum or steel. While the ideal treatment for aluminum involves chromates, these are not suitable for a food location anyway, and a galvanized primer should be fine for aluminum as well. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, amadeya42.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

White spots in Walk-In Cooler

April 21, 2017

Q. I sometimes clean walk-in coolers for customers. I notice that there are whitish looking spots on the surface before and after cleaning. Is this an indication that the manufacturer's finish is wearing off? And is there a way to get it all looking like new again? Is there a clear coating you can spray on or what?

James wright
- New Cumberland Pennsylvania USA

A. Hi James. Galvanizing is a functional finish rather than a decorative one, and it gains most of its corrosion resistance from a slow reaction with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Avoiding white rust is difficult in an enclosed space or one where condensation collects. You can paint it but you probably won't successfully clearcoat it because the paint must be a 'self-etching primer' and it's hard to make such a coating transparent and decorative.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

November 14, 2017

Q. If I use a galvanized primer in the walk-in cooler does that mean I can use latex over it or is there a special paint I have to use as well or just anything compatible?

Victoria Trahan
Interior Designer - Flatonia,Texas Usa

November 2017

A. Hi Victoria. Latex will probably be fine once you have a good adherent layer of primer in place.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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