Instructionals | News | Advice

How to Repair Rust

By Jim Dugan
Professional Contractor & DIY Expert

Need My Help? Chat now!

Rust results when unprotected metal is exposed to moisture and air. If left alone, oxidation will ultimately weaken or destroy metallic objects. To repair rust, you need to dedicate yourself to extensive preparation, or a recurrence will be right around the corner.

Rust Removal

Before doing anything else, eliminate as much existing rust as possible. Be sure to wear a pair of thick, protective work gloves and some goggles, or you could end up with particles embedded in your skin or eyes. Once you're protected, scrape big chunks of rust free using a coarse, rigid wire brush and/or a durable metal putty knife. This is especially effective at removing oxidation from durable metallic surfaces, such as wrought iron gates and fences, aluminum siding, water pipes, mailboxes, etc. Unfortunately, these tools can damage sensitive, flexible metal surfaces. Use a very low-grit sandpaper on these surfaces. Once you've eliminate major bits of rust, smooth the metal with a finer-grit sandpaper.

Eliminating Rust

To completely repair rust, you'll need to apply either a rust converter or a rust-inhibiting primer. If you choose the latter technique, you'll have to paint the surface with lacquer or an oil-based enamel.

Tips and Warnings

Not all primers will seal rust. Be sure to use either an iron oxide base or some other type of primer, specifically engineered to seal rust. If you opt for a rust converter, always follow the manufacturer’s pre- and post-care instructions, or the oxidation is likely to reoccur.

Car Rust

If you've got rust spots on your car or truck, you should probably hire a professional to permanently repair it. You can try to seal the area yourself using a rust-inhibiting primer and some touch-up paint; however, the spot will likely stand out, and a recurrence will prove possible if not likely.