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Why I Don't Paint My Weight Plates - Part 2

Updated: Feb 14

In December 2021, I wrote a blog post detailing why I don't repaint my old cast iron weight plates. I'm writing this blog post in April 2023, and I will update you on what happened to all of those weight plates that I left unpainted.


I recently moved house and my business (To Be Personal Training Exeter), and found myself in the fortunate position of having a large garage. I immediately set aside space for a power rack and bought second-hand Olympic weight plates (all of my weight plates at that point were for standard diameter bars). I wanted old-fashioned cast iron weight plates and not bumper weight plates for a number of reasons:

  1. They're cheaper

  2. I think they look cooler

  3. They're shallower, so you can fit more on your bar. What's the point of having a power rack and barbell rated to 400kgs if you can only fit 140kgs of your bumper weights on them?

My new weight plates needed cleaning, so I used my tried and tested method of soaking in diluted citric acid. Details of this method can be found here.


The magic ingredient

Soaking in a wheelbarrow

Before and after

Before and after

Now that my plates were clean, I needed to decide whether to paint or protect them, so I reflected on what happened to my weight plates from December 2021. Here's what I concluded:


  1. If your weight plates are being kept in an environment where moisture can develop, unpainted weight plates are prone to rust. My 2021 weight plates were kept in a shed that was sat on concrete blocks above soil. There was no moisture protection in the shed, so quite often dew would form on the weights. This led to rust developing if I hadn't recently reoiled the weights.

  2. The weight plates with least paint (those that had had most paint worn off with use) were far more prone to developing rust (no sh!t, Sherlock).

  3. Despite some weight plates having a lot of bare iron, and my shed being far from the best environment for storage, and me forgetting to reoil them with WD40, the weights plates were in surprisingly good condition after over a year of storage.


My new garage is a far better environment for storing my weight plates. More specifically, there is far less moisture. So, I decided not to repaint my new Olympic weight plates. I also decided to clean up my old standard weight plates and leave them without repainting too, well, most of them. I had 4 old-school 10kg plates that had originally been painted yellow. When the yellow paint had begun to chip and peel, they looked awful. So back in 2021, I used my angle grinder with a wire wool attachment to strip them back to bare metal. Unsurprisingly, these plates were the most prone to rust. I decided to repaint these to see whether I liked the finish. Here's a before and after photo:



I'm actually very impressed with these. All I did was brush off loose rust and clean the plates, before applying 3-4 light coats of Hammerite spray paint. The process was quick, easy and very satisfying, and the finish seems surprisingly good (although time will tell).


Back to my new Olympic plates, I decided to experiment with the protective finish. In my previous blog, I explained how I protected my weight plates with a coating of WD40. This time, I bought iron paste/polish that is usually used to protect cast iron decorative fireplace surrounds. I haven't seen any fitness nuts on any forum, anywhere, who have tried this solution, so if you decided to go down this route (and it makes sense!) remember you heard it here first! I applied the paste as per the instructions, and so far, so good!


To summarise my discoveries when experimenting with weight plate maintenance:

  • If your weight plates are going to be kept in a moisture-controlled environment, it's less important that they are painted, and you can keep them looking good with the occasional clean and protective finish (WD40 or iron paste).

  • If your weight plates are not going to be kept in a moisture-controlled environment, there's more of an argument to be made for repainting them, particularly if there's a lot of exposed iron.


Thanks for reading, and happy weight plate maintenance!






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