Can Propane Tanks Be Painted – What Paint and Color to Use?

painting propane tanks

Propane tanks serve essential purposes in your daily life; it helps to heat your home in winter, save on energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, etc.

But having them around can prove to be something of an eyesore.

Many people wish there were a way to make their pill-shaped behemoth less obvious by blending them into the surrounding landscaping area.

Fortunately, you can paint your propane tank. However, to paint the tank and make it look like a decor piece, you should consider a few things first.

For example, you should always use paint that is designed specifically for use on metal surfaces and is resistant to rust. According to NFPA 58 guidelines, the paint for propane tanks must be heat-reflective and light-reflective.

Be sure to avoid using any dark colors, as the ability of dark colors to absorb heat can cause the propane to overheat and expand and even increase the pressure inside the tank. So you will need colors like silver, light gray, or white.

Why Do You Need to Paint a Propane Tank?

Depending on the size of your home, propane tanks can come in oblong sizes ranging from 120 gallons to over 1,000 gallons.

I know from experience that it’s a lot of glaringly white metal to stare at daily just outside my window.

So, it’s a common practice for people to paint their propane tanks, and it’s something done to make the tanks less of an eyesore.

Those who have put a lot of work into making their landscaping look its best may even choose to bury the propane tank somewhere to keep it out of sight.

For many, burying the tank is not an option. For others, it is simply too much effort to want to undergo.

Painting the propane tank is a good choice in cases such as this. It can help the tank more easily blend into the surrounding area and be less noticeable.

Painting Your Propane Tank: Step-by-Step Guide

To safely paint your propane tank, you can follow the guide below…

Step 1. Get Rid of Any Debris and Rust

Before breaking out, the paint can; you will want to first wipe the propane tank down to remove any surface debris and grease from cooking.

Then, you will want to take care of any rust in place. In order to do this, you can use a wire brush or sandpaper.

Use one of these methods and scrub the rust away from the outside of the propane tank.

Step 2. Clean the Surface

After you have wiped the surface clean of any debris and sufficiently removed any rust, you are ready to clean the tank.

Use dish soap and water to remove the grease and other residues from the tank using either a sponge or a cloth.

Rinse it clean using plain water, and then dry it off. Allow the tank to dry completely before you move on to the next step.

Step 3. Prepare the Propane Tank for Painting

By now, you should have a propane tank that is totally clean and dry while also being free from any signs of rust.

To get the tank ready for painting, you should take some painter’s tape and mark off any areas on the propane tank you do not want to paint.

This usually includes the area with the data tag since you will need to be able to read the important information regarding the propane tank itself.

Alter the painter’s tape has been applied, you can then apply a primer to the tank.

The primer you use should be specifically formulated for propane tanks and can be found at hardware and paint stores.

Choosing an off-white or white primer is your best bet. To apply the primer, you are free to use a sprayer, roller, or brush.

It is best to work in a side-to-side motion in order to ensure you are evenly covering the whole surface of the propane tank with primer. Allow it to completely dry before you move on.

Step 4: Paint the Tank

With all of the above steps taken into consideration, it is now time to start painting the propane tank.

Much like with the primer in the previous step, you are free to use a sprayer, roller, or brush to apply the coats of paint to the tank.

Be sure that you use the same side-to-side method of applying the paint to be sure that the paint is evenly applied to the surface.

Let it completely dry before you apply another coat of paint if you need one.

If you want to get a little more creative with the appearance of your painted propane tank, you can add some details.

Again, be sure to use paint that is safe for propane tanks to customize it with images, lettering, stencils, and more to create patterns and visual appeal.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you use those all-important light shades of rust-resistant, heat-reflective paint.

how to paint propane tanks

Why Should You Use Light Paint Colors On a Propane Tank?

As mentioned, avoiding using dark colors on your propane tank is best.

This is because light colors instead reflect that light away.

On the other hand, dark colors attract more heat from sunlight and absorb it in a way that light colors do not. This eventually can be dangerous and problematic because the heat absorbed can heat the metal exterior of the tank.

To elaborate on that, propane is a fossil fuel – though it is considered to be a green fuel and does not hurt the environment.

Propane vapor is heavier than air, but it is still not as heavy as water. It remains in a gaseous state that remains heavier than air, and this gas can be easily agitated.

This is especially true when the propane tank gets hot.

When it heats up, so does the gas in the tank. As it starts warming up, pressure can build in it, leading to explosions or combustion.

To avoid the risk of combustion and other such damages, be sure you keep the propane as cool as possible by keeping it out of direct sunlight when you can and painting it a light color.

If you live in an extremely cold climate with little sunlight, you might get away with painting it in a darker color than usual, one that is not heat- and light-reflective. But be sure to look at local and state rules before proceeding.

What colors are best to use?

As I mentioned, some of the most common colors people choose to paint their propane tanks are white, light gray, and silver.

Brands such as Rustoleum Krylon and Valspar have some of these options to check at their official sites or stores like Amazon.

Pastel colors and beige hues are other color options, but they tend to be less common.

You can talk to your propane supplier for information about this if you want to use one of these less common creative paint colors.

What Else Can I Do to Decorate My Propane Tank and Improve Appearance?

Besides painting, there are several other ideas to hide your propane tank and make them less noticeable.

Fencing in your tank can be an excellent idea that not only disguises the tank but also protects it from being bumped or damaged.

You can use wood, metal, or even a combination of both to create a beautiful fence around your tank and add some landscaping for extra decoration.

You can also use shrubs and tall grasses to cover up your tank and provide some extra privacy.

Planting a variety of plants around the tank will also help to draw the eye away from it.

Adding some decorative elements, such as a trellis or an arbor, can also add some extra beauty to your propane tank.

I also love the idea of how a family disguised their tank into a beautiful animal, a stunning art piece, or a fun painted feature. This can be done with the right artist and some creativity.

For those who are looking to add a more natural feel to the tank, you can consider using pebbles and stones.

Covering the tank with these will help it blend in with the landscape and give it a more natural look.

Finally, you can also disguise your tank with outdoor furniture or other decorations.

Placing a bench, a table, or even an outdoor rug around the tank can help draw attention away from it and make it less noticeable.

The Bottom Line

Painting a propane tank is safe if you keep the safety concerns and subsequent practices in mind.

But since propane containers are metal, you will also need to choose a paint that is made specifically to be used on metal.

This type of paint will almost always be resistant to rust, so you won’t have to worry about it forming on the propane tank if you leave it exposed outdoors.

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