What is the Best Primer for Rusted Metal?

best metal primer for rust

If you ever see a piece of rusted metal in your home or workspace, just know that you could have prevented that with a little primer.

Primer stops metal rusting, keeping your metal bird feeder nice and shiny, even through the harsh weathers.

But what even is a primer?

To make sure we are on the same page here is a small explanation of what a primer is.

A metal primer is a product that you usually spray or paint on metal to help prevent rusting and corrosion and at the same time creating a good surface for paint to stick to.

The primer is made of chemicals and acids that go deep within the rusty metal and bonds with the rust to prevent the rust happening on the main piece of metal.

You can use primer to rusty pieces of metals, or completely clean metals. It can prevent and reverse rusting all together.

We believe that all metals that can be seen or critical metals that need to last for a long time, should be primed before painted to help elongate the lifespan.


The Top 5 Best Primers for Rusted Metal


Priming metal that is exposed to the elements should be the utmost priority due to weathering causing rusting.

But which primer should you use for your project? Let’s look into our top five primers for rusted metals.

1. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Metal Primer

Rust-Oleum 7769830 Stops Rust Spray Paint, 12-Ounce,...
544 Reviews
Rust-Oleum 7769830 Stops Rust Spray Paint, 12-Ounce,...
  • Use to prime exterior or interior heavily rusted metal surfaces only
  • Oil-based formula provides a durable protective coating with excellent...
  • Dries to touch in 15 minutes and covers up to 20 sq ft

*Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Most Rust-Oleum products are considered great value since they are relatively inexpensive and they work on everything.

And this Rust-Oleum rust primer is no exception.

Rust-Oleum is probably the most popular primer on this list for a reason. It just works.

This primer can be used inside and outside since this is an oil-based product.

The good thing about this primer is it bonds tightly to rust while forming a surface on which top coats can adhere very well without inviting any corrosive air and moisture.

In simple terms, it does everything you would want a primer to do, it attacks rust and it prevents future rust from forming.

And this is one of the products on this list that is actually in a spray can. This means that it takes only a few minutes to apply and only a few minutes to dry.

Although you don’t get a lot of primer in a can, this is the gold standard of primers.

It is effective at what it does, and it does what it says it does.

ProsCons
• Easy to use
• Covers up to 20 sq ft
• Dries to touch in 15 minutes
• Provides good adhesion for topcoat
• Weak sprayer nozzle

2. TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter

TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter (Gallon) | Metal...
194 Reviews
TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter (Gallon) | Metal...
  • STOP RUST IN ITS TRACKS: TotalBoat Rust Primer is a metal treatment...
  • WIDE RANGE OF USES: Phosphoric acid-based rust converter is ideal for...
  • SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE: Restore, Preserve, and Protect metal from...

*Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you couldn’t tell by the brand name, the product was actually created with boats in mind funny enough.

However, this is probably the highest quality liquid primer you will find for any application.

It does what you expect a primer to do, such as restore, preserve and stop metal from rusting even more.

It comes in a nice big gallon that can cover a large amount of surface area.

This is simply one of the better primers out there that can be used for preventing metal rusting on cars, campers, trucks, trailers, bikes, boat trailers, outdoor metal railings, steel doors, rebar, tools & more

Unlike the other products on the list, we actually have no complaints about this best metal primer for rust.

It’s simply great at what it is made for!

ProsCons
• Highly versatile
• Water-thin formula
• Can cover over 500 sq. ft. per gallon
• Converts rust into an inert substance
• Can be hard to clean
• Too thin and dripping

3. Corroseal Water-Based Rust Metal Primer

Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer, Rust...
2,773 Reviews
Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer, Rust...
  • Paint, prime and convert rust in one step - water based rust converter...
  • Restore metal surfaces, extend life of metal equipment by protecting...
  • Non-flammable and non-corrosive, water-based formula cleans up with...

*Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Corroseal Water-Based Rust Metal Primer is a very special product due to the fact it can paint, prime in one step.

This primer is known for its ability to convert rust back into its original metal form.

This means that it can increase the lifespan and prevent any rust from happening in the future.

Corroseal’s rust converter product is almost as easy to use as the famed Rust-Oleum.

This primer can get around 250 square feet a gallon and can be used on nearly everything, from marine and automotive to household.

Some reviews say that this product can be a little inconsistent. It affects different types of rust in different ways, even if it is on the same piece of metal.

So if you need something more consistent, consider some other products. But if you just need something to restore metal, this could be it.

ProsCons
• Easy to use
• Water-based formula
• Non-corrosive and non-flammable
• 200-250 sq ft per gallon coverage
• Cleans up easy with just soap and water
• Inconsistent
• Temporary fix

4. FDC Rust Converter Ultra Primer

Sale
FDC Rust Converter Ultra, Highly Effective Professional...
1,112 Reviews
FDC Rust Converter Ultra, Highly Effective Professional...
  • CONVERT RUST: Convert rust to an inert coating that seals out moisture...
  • SAFE TIME & MONEY: Eliminates the need for sandblasting, grinding or...
  • EFFICIENT: 1 Gallon Covers 500 square of smooth, nonporous surface –...

*Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This primer is a very interesting product.

The whole idea behind this specific primer is that it makes the rust inert and then seals out moisture, preventing further corrosion.

This means the user of this product doesn’t have to deal with sanding or scraping away all the tough rust.

All you have to do is apply some of this primer on the metal, and it should just fall off.

Even better is that it can work in all weather conditions and can cover a lot of surface area compared to its competitors.

ProsCons
• Multi-use
• Covers 500 sq ft per gallon
• Needs no scraping or sandblasting
• Needs multiple coats

5. Krylon Rust Protector Primer

Krylon K06903700 Rust Protector Primers, Rusty Metal...
242 Reviews
Krylon K06903700 Rust Protector Primers, Rusty Metal...
  • The product is 12 OZ, Rusty Metal Primer, Dry To A Smooth, Durable,...
  • Elegant and smooth finish
  • The product is manufactured in United States

*Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Krylon Primer is also interesting, but not for what you would imagine.

This product is not about preventing rust, but rather preventing the rust from corroding the metal and increasing paint adherence.

If you have ever tried to paint metal before, you will know that this can be a tricky task, so a primer specifically made to help your ability to paint the metal is great.

However, the reviews for this product aren’t the best.

Many users claim that the can that it comes out with is very inconsistent.

Even though this is something to consider, the results are good enough to balance that downside out.

ProsCons
• Fast-drying
• Dries to smooth finish
• Provides better paint adhesion
• Sprayer issue

Considerations When Buying the Metal Primer


Choosing a right primer is a hard choice. There are so many different factors on choosing which one will be best for your project.

Although, we have some good suggestions if you don’t know too much and just want to pick some up immediately, if you are a person who cares about everything they are doing, you may want to consider the factors of the primer you are using such as…

1- What’s Your Use?

Different primers are made for different things.

For example, TotalBoat primer was designed specifically for boats, however, it happens to work for a lot of different applications.

You should find a primer that was designed specifically for your use case.

Some primers are designed so that there has to be rust already present to be effective.

This obviously will be a problem if you are working with a new piece of metal.

But a general idea is that, the rustier your metal is, the more heavy duty your primer should be.

2- How Much Do You Need?

Well this totally depends on your project.

You should find at the surface area you will need to cover and research about how much a gallon of a particular primer can cover.

For example, the Rust Primer from TotalBoat can cover 500 square feet per gallon.

So, you can do some basic math to calculate how much you will need.

Spray bottles are a little trickier, since a lot of the primer will be wasted.

I think it is a good idea to buy too much rather than too little.

If you buy too little, you will have to go all the way back to the store and they might not even have it in stock anymore.

3- How Effective is The Primer?

Each primer is a little different. Some claim that only one coat is needed, while others say multiple coats are needed.

This doesn’t make one better than the other though.

To find out how effective it is at fighting rust you have to trust the reviews.

The buyer’s reviews will be the only way for you to get a rough estimate of how effective the primer is.

Or I guess you could just buy a lot of different types and try out which is the most effective for your project.

4- Does the Primer Need the Prepping?

This is a major factor in my choice of primer. Some primers require you to have a perfectly smooth piece of metal.

Meaning you have to scrub down the rusted metal surface and remove all of the rust possible.

This tends to cause multiple hours of sanding, and we all know sanding metal is not the most fun.

But luckily, there are some primers that require no prep. These are a godsend when you are in a rush.

Some variants are not as effective, but you will be surprised how good it can be even if you don’t remove the rust.

So, if you have time and don’t mind, you can scrub the rust off your metal and get a standard primer.

Or you can use a no prep primer if you don’t have the time or if you don’t want to.

5- Will You Be Painting the Rusted Metal?

You should also consider which primer you want to use if you are planning to paint the metal.

Some primers have ugly colors that are hard to hide, and some primers leave blotches that are visible even after you paint them.

The more heavy-duty primer, again in general, leaves the most consistent paint job on top.

What happens if you paint over rust?

Painting over rusted metal is not recommended. Just in case you do not remove rust from metal before painting, the rust will eventually remove the paint. As a result, you will be seeing peeling paint film on the metal surface very soon. So, it’s crucial for you to remove all rust from the metal surface before you paint.

Does primer and paint slow down rust?

Yes, it does. provided you use the primer and paint products that are designed to stop the rust. Primers that comes with a rust preventing properties fights with already present rust and also prevents further oxidation of the metal. Hence keeping off the elements of rust for a longer time.

What other products can I use to kill metal rust?

There are various household products like vinegar, bleach, coke, ketchup, baking soda, WD-40, and many others that are known to eat through the rust and corrosion.

Although I do not prefer using them if there are only minor rust issues you can use them for sure and later scrub the rust off with an abrasive pad before priming and painting.

Can I use rusted metal primer on non-rusted metal surface?

If you pick a high-quality metal primer for rusty surface, most probably it can also be used on other metal surfaces, irrespective of whether it is rusty or clean.

While the rust-fighting properties that come with it will offer protection against any future rust problems, the primer will still do its job by creating a surface to get the paint to adhere better. Rust-Oleum rusty primer metal is one good example that can be used for rusty as well as a clean metal surface.


Rust Converter Vs Rust Remover: What is the Difference?


It may sound at first like a rust converter and rust remover are close to the same things.

But there are important differences between them that you should know before making a purchase.

This means when you have a rusty surface that needs to be treated, knowing whether to use a rust converter or remover will save you time, effort, and money.

What is a Rust Converter?

As the name implies, this product will convert a rusty surface into one where paint can stick.

The products used for the conversion are normally plant-based acids which makes them non-toxic.

This means that the rust does not go away, but it is instead converted to an inert substance that stops the oxidation and allows you to paint over it.

You can apply a rust converter fairly quickly after removing the loose materials.

In addition, many converters are also primers that allow for the paint to stick right away.

What is a Rust Remover?

A rust remover strips the rust away from the metal.

This product uses concentrated acid that is quite corrosive, so be sure to wear the proper protection before using it.

Protection is needed even if you choose a non-toxic rust remover. In addition, it may take time for the acid to fully eat away at the rust itself.

To be fully effective, the surface will need to be coated with the rust remover and covered so that the acid does not evaporate.

You may need multiple treatments to fully remove the rust depending on how extensive it is in the metal. A special rinse will be required when the remover has done all it can.

Such rinses will include an ingredient that prevents flash rusting from occurring.

When to Use Each Product?

Rust converters are best for items that you will eventually paint, such as the body parts of an automobile, fence railings, or storage tanks to name a few.

If you get a rust remover that includes primer, then you will only need to apply one coat.

Rust removers are best for surfaces that need the rust fully removed from the area.

These are items that you do not want to apply paint such as tools or the inside of a gas tank.

If you need it to be bare metal, then a remover is the right product.

Both rust converters and rust removers are valuable items when you need to get rid of the rust from metal surfaces.

Knowing the difference may save you a considerable amount of time and effort in your work.


How to Properly Restore Rusty Metal Before Painting?


If you have metal tools or parts that have rust on them, getting rid of it can be a laborious process.

However, you can save time, effort, and energy by prepping the areas of rust before you paint over it which will create a long-lasting solution.

What follows are the tools, supplies, and techniques you will need to remove the rust the right way.

Tools

  • Angle Grinder
  • Corded Drill
  • Wire Brush & Wire Wheel

Supplies

  • Rust-Inhibitive Primer
  • Rust-Oleum Reformer

In certain situations when the rust is too tough to remove, you’ll also need some eye protection and gloves to do the work properly.

Getting Started

The first step is to clean away the loose rust and any flaking paint before you apply the primer.

You do not need to clean all the way down to the metal. Just remove all the loose materials so that the primer and the paint will stick.

If the area is particularly rusty, then you may need a special primer and more work to do the job.

The wire brush will be handy as you can clean away the loose particles easily.

Go over the area a few times and then brush with your gloved hands to see if there are any loose particles.

Once all the loose particles are gone, add the primer to the surface. The primer should be a rust-inhibitor which will stop the oxidation process.

Once the primer is dry, you can paint over the area and restore it to a like-new condition.

You can even use spray paint if you want as long as it is designed to be used on metal surfaces.

Dealing with Fully Rusted Areas

But what if the area you want to cover is so rusted that the surface is pitted?

In that case, your wire brush will not be enough.

This is where a drill connected to a wire wheel will help you smooth out the surface as best as possible.

Once you have removed all the loose particles and smoothed out the surface as much as possible, add the primer.

You’ll want to choose a primer that will stick to a rusted surface, so be sure you get the right product for your needs.

A product such as Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer can penetrate the rusty areas.

This not only stop the oxidation, but they can turn them into surfaces which will accept paint.   

Rust-Oleum 215215 Stops Rust Rust Reformer Rust...
For use on exterior or interior rusted metal surfaces only; Dries to touch in 20-40 minutes and covers up to 12 sq ft
$5.94

*Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dealing with Problem Areas after Cleanup

Sometimes you can get rid of all the rust, but sometimes you’ll have areas that are still rusty despite all the work that you have accomplished.

There are special primers that can convert the rusty spots to a surface where paint will stick.

Once that is accomplished, you can paint over the rust. You may find that metal fences or sheds are the best places to use a special primer.

Conclusion

As you can see there are lots of different primers and factors that you can look for.

It can be hard to choose the best primer for your job due to all of these factors and more.

However, hopefully this article pointed you in the right direction.

Keep in mind the primers we suggested, especially the Rust-Oleum which I personally prefer most of the time to prime rusted metal items.

They may not be perfect for your project, but all of them will be effective at keeping your metal rust free for the foreseeable future.

And maybe you even learned something, so you will be in your prime for choosing a primer.

What is the Best Primer Brand for Rusted Metal?

If you are still confused, here is a quick comparison table of the above brands/items you can look at.

Hopefully this can help you make better decision when picking the best primer for rusted metal.

*Last update on 2020-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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