Prep rusty metal for a new coat of paint
1 of 3
Photo 1: Light rust
rusted areas with
a wire brush to
remove flakes and
rust, then prime
with a rust-inhibitive
2 of 3
Photo 2: Heavy rust
Grind down heavily rusted spots
faster with a wire wheel and a
drill or angle grinder.
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Photo 3: Problem spots
Coat deeply rusted areas with
a special primer that chemically
converts rust to a paintable
That old wrought iron fence or
steel gutter may look terrible,
but with the right preparation
and primer, most rusty metal surfaces
can be restored to almost new.
The first step is to clean off loose rust
and flaking paint and then apply a rust-inhibitive
primer. You don't need to get
down to bare, shiny metal—just clean
off the flakes and powdery surface rust
that prevent paint from adhering.
However, badly rusted areas need more
prep work and possibly a special primer.
Start with a wire brush (Photo 1).
If the area is heavily rusted and pitted
and wire brushing by hand is ineffective,
use a drill with a wire wheel (Photo 2) and a primer that adheres
to rusted surfaces, such as Krylon Rust
Tough or Rust-Oleum.
For spots that are very badly rusted
or too delicate or detailed to clean thoroughly,
use a product like Rust-Oleum
Rust Reformer, which soaks into the
rust and changes it into a non-rusting,
paintable surface (Photo 3).