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Q.I build deck railings, awning frames, and other structures out of welded, galvanized steel tubing. I can’t get paint to stick for very long. So far I have only tried Rustoleum after using a mild acid rinse. It lasted about two years before the paint started to peel. Is there a product or technique that will last longer?

A.James Benney responds: Yes! Following proper preparation and application of the right product under the right conditions, the paint should never peel, but should provide many years of service before it simply wears away or oxidizes enough to warrant redoing.

We wipe down all new galvanized metal with a rag or sponge saturated with pure white vinegar (that’s your acid rinse), then we rinse thoroughly with clear, clean water and let it dry. This is to remove slick manufacturing residues that will prevent your paint product from adhering to the metal. You have to treat all surfaces, because you will have problems with any areas you miss.

Under warm, dry conditions (this is important!), there are many paint products that can now be applied directly to the metal, including most high-end latex paints. Often on gutters and downspouts, we will use our latex or oil trim color as a first and second coat. On railings and awning frames we recommend Benjamin Moore’s IronClad Retardo as both a primer and finish paint because of its unusual durability and its soft, low-luster finish. Whether brushing or spraying, make sure you cover it with a nice full coat on each application. You might be surprised how long it lasts.

James Benney, of Paintcraft Associates, is a painting contractor in Orinda, Calif.