How Can You Paint Your Truck Tool Box?

A truck tool box could either be made of aluminum, steel, or plastic. Most people own aluminum truck tool boxes. That’s because they are lighter and cheaper than steel, yet stronger and more durable than plastic.

So you probably own an aluminum truck tool box. These tool boxes are coated with aluminum oxide. The coating protects the aluminum from corrosion when it rains.

Aluminum oxide is an oily substance which does an excellent job preventing corrosion. However, if you don’t properly prepare when painting your tool box, the substance will hinder the adhesion of bonding primers and paint.

The result is paint finish which is likely to crack, peel or scale under extreme conditions. This would cause you to keep repainting your tool box. So, if you want to avoid this fate, how should you approach the painting process?

What You Require

Before you do anything, ensure you have the following items with you:

  • Degreaser
  • High-temperature paint
  • Paint-sealer
  • Sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Etch primer


Use an 80-grit sandpaper to sand the surface of your truck tool box carefully. For a more flawless paint finish, sand the surface a second time – but this time, use a finer sandpaper.

When you come to the priming stage, the etch primer will use the sandpaper scratches to penetrate the aluminum surface.

Clean And Degrease

If you don’t want to repaint your tool box every month, you should take your time when preparing the aluminum surface. You want to have the best quality finish.

Don’t start painting the tool box directly. First, clean the entire surface of the box. After that, apply degreaser to the entire surface. It will remove any grime or grease or oil on the surface of the box.

Ensure you prepare the surface and paint that same day. Don’t put it off. Aluminum oxide will form again on the surface pretty quickly.

If you paint the tool box without degreasing, the aluminum oxide will make it difficult for the primers and the paint to adhere. After a while, you will notice that the paint on the box has begun to crack, peel, and scale.

After sanding, you clean the tool box with the degreasing cleaner and then use the tack cloth to wipe the aluminum surface dry. You want to ensure you have removed any small dust or metal particles that remained on the surface even after cleaning.

If you paint directly, without getting rid of the particles, the paint might begin to flake. Dust and metal particles may also cause rust.

Run your finger over the surface of the tool box. How does it feel? Oily? If it still feels slick, repeat everything you have done. Only begin painting when you are confident that you have breached the coat of aluminum oxide.


Next, dip a piece of cloth in rubbing alcohol. Rub it gently down the tool box. Don’t apply the etch primer on the surface before the alcohol has evaporated from the surface of the tool box.

Give the etch primer aerosol a vigorous shake for about two minutes. You will then apply two coats of etch primer to the surface of your aluminum truck tool box.

Apply the first etch primer coat to the aluminum surface. After that, wait for five minutes, and then apply the second layer.

The five minutes gap between the two coats allows the etch primer to “flash off.” This refers to the chemical compounding process.

After you have applied the second coat of etch primer, don’t start painting before 20 minutes elapse. This will give the etch primer enough time to cure.

The primer assures you that the paint will adhere to the aluminum surface. Otherwise, the paint job might start flaking and chipping off after a while. All these preparation processes are necessary if you want your paint job to last.


The paint you use should be high-temperature or all-weather paint. The truck tool box sits exposed on the truck bed. It has to withstand harsh weather and the high temperature of the sun every day, all year round. If you don’t use an all-weather paint, your paint job will begin to flake and scale.

Adhering to the instructions on your spray can, apply light, even coats of paint to the aluminum surface.

Don’t be in a hurry. If you rush it, you might spoil the job. Ensure you give each coat enough time to cure before you apply the next one.


After applying enough coats of paint and allowing them to cure, spray a quality paint sealer on the painted surface.

And if you want your finish to be completely flat, you can buff out the shine using a steel wool pad after painting the surface.

Why You Should Paint Your Truck Tool Box

The truck tool box spends most of its lifetime exposed to the elements. It withstands the hot sun, the rains, snow, and ice. If you don’t pay attention to it, the tool box will begin to succumb to wear and tear.

Painting the tool box increases its durability. It prolongs your tool box’s lifetime. According to carcareninja painting makes the tool box more presentable. That’s something you want as a professional. Your clients will take note of your conscientiousness. It will add to the professional image you want to portray.

Bottom Line

There you have it. A simple enough process. You can do it yourself at home. It’s critical that you paint your aluminum truck tool box once in a while.

It is exposed to the elements throughout the year. After a while, the tool box will begin to take a beating. To counteract the wear and tear, you should paint your truck tool box now and then.

However, as you have learned, painting an aluminum tool box is not something you do directly. It’s crucial that you clean the entire surface first. You sand it and then degrease it. After that, you prime it to prepare it for the paint job. Finally, you paint it and seal it.

By following these easy steps, you can guarantee a longer life for your truck tool box.

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