Best Primer for Rusted Metal

Best Primer for Rusted Metal

Metal home accessory and décor is such a long-lasting and elegant showstopper in and out of the house. But this durable material has a downside: rust. Do you know you can remove that rustiness hiding the beauty of your metal surface easily?

A primer is a perfect solution. Using a primer will help you remove rust effortlessly or prevent the rust from taking place. Either way, it will serve its purpose of refurbishing, or in no time your metal surface will be free of rust.

Read this article to find out our picks on the best primer for rusted metal that will do the magic. But first, take a look at the rusted metal primer comparison table below, so you can make a quick pick if you’re in a haste.

Best Primer for Rusted Metal

Why Use a Primer on a Rusted Metal?

rusted metal primer reviews

Ferrous metals like iron and steel can oxidize to form rust. This oxidation reaction weakens the metal and can cause the failure of the metal parts. In order to avoid rust and corrosion, a variety of different coatings can be applied to the metal.

Not all metal surfaces can rust. However, ferrous metals like iron and steel can form rust through an oxidation reaction.

Oxidation reaction occurs when a chemical reaction on the metallic or ironic surface of the unprimed metal surface comes in contact with atmospheric moisture such as humidity, rainfall, mist, and haze.

This atmospheric moisture is made of water molecules which, when in contact with the metallic surface, break the bonds in-between the metal molecules and, as a result, form oxide compounds that are those orange-red discolorations seen on metal otherwise known as rust.

Unless prevented with the use of preventive measures such as primers, this oxidation reaction continues to make way into the interior design of the metal until it weakens, falls apart in areas, hence causing metal fatigue and failure (weakening and reducing the entire metal design into pieces).

That said, here are a few reasons you should consider using a primer for rusty metals:

Read Also: Best Paints to Resist Mildew 

For preventive measures

A metal primer contains rust inhibitory materials, and they also come in different colors.

Before using a primer, it is always a good practice to remove the rust through wiring, cleaning, wire brushing, or degreasing before priming and coating the surface.

The metal surface should first be cleaned appropriately using some chemical solvent or treatment, not minding the choice of the primer.

This pretreatment process removes all oils and other available specks of dirt from the metal surface. We recommend degreasing.

Prepare and clean the metal surface with trisodium phosphate or any solvent the manufacturer suggests; this is to remove rusts, dirt, or loose paint (if previously painted). Afterward, apply a rust-proof primer on the metal surface to be treated.

For long-lasting paint on metal surfaces

For the best and durable during a metal painting project, priming before painting is a required step. Primers have a protective substance that helps to prevent or battle rust and improve the surface properties

As a surface concealer

Primers do not only help to bond paints and adhere to metal surfaces; they can also solve problems on the base surface as well.

Primers can serve as concealers because of their filling elements. For a rusted metal, using a primer helps to hide or fill in some metal defects. Primers generally add additional protection from weathering and atmospheric moisture and aid in other paint enhancement.

Although primers can adhere to both heavy and light metals, however, different metals have different surface porosity. For example, if you are working with steel, it will have a different surface porosity than copper.

For steel coatings, priming is essential to prevent corrosion and rust formation.

Rusted Metal Primer Reviews

1. TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter

TotalBoat’s primer is one of the budget-friendly yet top leading primers. When applied on a rusted surface, it effectively combats rust instead of chipping away rust. It converts merely the rust into an inert substance leaving the surface ready for priming.

TotalBoat primer can preserve, restore, and protect the metal from further rusting.

This primer is easy to use, and its thin formulation allows you to choose the application process that best suits you. You can apply the primer in an aerosol can and spray or with a brush, a roller or a spray bottle.

Ensure to run over your metal surface with a wire brush to clean off unwanted rust or loose paint before you prime and afterward leave the primer to cure according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Many applications- by brush, spray can or rollers
  • Effective
  • 500 sq ft per gallon coverage
  • Requires post-treatment cleaning

2. Corroseal Water-Based Rust Metal Primer

The Corroseal Water-Based Rust Metal Primer does not remove rust – instead, it changes rust into a substance that can be easy for paint to adhere to.

The one-step converter property of this product makes up for its industrial strength. This primer restores rusted metal surfaces, prolongs the metal, and further protects it from future rust.

The versatility of this product makes it suitable for use anywhere – residential and even commercial purposes.

With multiple means of application available, You can decide to either apply it using a spray can or a brush.

Being non-flammable, this product it is easy to apply, and its water-based nature makes clean-off hassle-free.

  • Non-flammable
  • Non-corrosive
  • Versatile form – makes it suitable for use on any metal at home or commercial purposes
  • Water-based formulation – Eases clean-up.
  • One step rust converter
  • 200-250 sqft per gallon coverage
  • Has a pungent smell
  • It’s somewhat costly

3. FDC Rust Converter ULTRA Primer

The FDC rust converter ultra primer is also another economic but effective primer. Just like others, it makes rust inert and converts rust into a black coating that can easily be painted over, which then makes it able to seal out moisture and prevent corrosion.

The effective formulation of the primer makes it a right choice if time is an essential factor. With this primer, there is no need for prep work such as degreasing, heavy scrubbing, scraping, or sandblasting. Hence easing your workload and saving your energy and time.

This product is highly versatile, and this makes it suitable for metal, cars, handles, gates, metal pipes, and all kinds of outdoor metal structures.

  • It’s affordable
  • Water-based
  • No surface prep needed
  • Versatile- can be used on virtually all metal surfaces
  • Cleans up easily with water
  • Requires multiple coats

4. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint

This primer is formulated as an oil-based primer that is suitable for heavy-duty rust on metals. This product is formulated only for use on metal surfaces. It not only prevents rust but serves as a  protective coating for the metal from further corrosion.

Read Also: How to Remove Paint from Metal Door

The product goes deep into the layers of rusted metal and converts the rust into a black enamel. It creates a good surface that helps it bonds tightly to the metal surface, without the fear of topcoat or paint or the application itself peeling off.

  • Heavy-duty rust converter
  • Very effective rust primer
  • It creates a good surface bond
  • It takes days to cure

5. Krylon Rust Protector Primer

The Krylon Rust Protector is a 2- in 1 primer versatile that not only saves and protects your metal surface from rust, but it also serves in painting the primed surface.

This product comes in different colors to match your treated surface, and Its final finishing comes in glossy, semi-glossy, and matte.

The application of this primer is quite easy because it is packaged in a spray can with less risk of drip marks.

Another great feature of this primer is its dry time. Unlike other primers, it takes less than 10 minutes to be completely dried off the treated surface.

  • Numerous colors to choose from
  • Drip-free
  • Gloss, semi-gloss, and matte finish
  • Easy application
  • Several layers required

What to Consider When Buying a Primer for Rusted Metal

Best Primer for Rusted Metal

Rust is bound to happen. However, you can prevent further occurrence by buying the best primer for rusted metals using our buyer’s guide.

When it comes to combating rust, there are so many products that will claim to solve all your rust problems and protect your metal equipment.

But as we all know, not all of them meet up to their claims effectively. How then do you know the right one to go for? The significant differences in both the methods and formulations of primers are what distinguishes them from good and bad.

Read on, let’s tell you how to pick the best primer for rusted metal that not only cures rust but protects your metal surface from further corrosion.

The following are essential considerations to make when deciding upon a rust primer.

The purpose: Prevention or treatment?

It is essential to take into consideration your metal’s condition because a rust treatment is not a one size fit all treatment. Different primers are designed to meet different needs.

Some primers are designed in such a way that there has to be rust present to convert for them to be effective, this may be a problem if you are working with a new piece of metal.

Heavily rusted metal requires a high-quality, heavy-duty rust primer. But new metal only requires a protective coating. Lightly-rusted metal does well with a bonded or converted base layer and topcoat of paint.

How effective is the primer?

The effectiveness of a rust primer is Important when deciding which to buy, each primer to its level of efficiency.

The buyer’s guide and reviews from previous buyers are your trusted option to estimate how effective a primer will be on your project.

Read Also: How to Paint a Metal Building

Does it require any prep work?

Metal primers deal with rust in different ways and different requirements. Some may need you to have a very smooth metallic surface. To attain that level of smoothness,  means you have to wire scrub down the rusted metal surface, which can be time-consuming and tiring.

However, some primers require very little prep time. If time is an essential factor, you may want to go for the no-prep primer, but if not, you can carefully scrub off all the rustiness and apply a standard primer.

How does the final surface look?

An ideal rust primer is one that leaves you a well-prepped surface to paint your preferred color. Primers come in different colors. You can get a paint color to match. So, if you intend to paint over the primer treatment, the final surface look will matter to you.

Frequently asked questions

What is a metal primer?

A metal primer is designed for use on metal surfaces. They have rust inhibitors incorporated into their formulation.

These will not only prevent rust from forming but will eliminate any rust already established on the surface and create a good surface for the paint to adhere to (if painting)

What happens if I prime over rust?

It is always a good practice to clean off metal rusts and fallen out paints before priming. Failure to this the rust debris from the rough surface will not allow the primer to adhere correctly, and eventually, cause more corrosion and further rust.

Before priming, it is advisable to use a rust converter. This product will convert rust remains to stable compounds that won’t further disintegrate into the metal.

Does primer stop rust?

Yes! The right primer specifically designed to solve rust problems will not only stop rust but protect your metal from further rust.

Metal rust primers have elements in their formation that have rust preventing properties and combats further chemical oxidation of the metal—hence keeping the causative elements of rust at bay.

Read Also: Can Vinegar Remove Paint from Metal?

How do you prime rusty metal before painting?

However, badly rusted metal areas need more prep work and possibly a special primer. Start with a wire brush (Photo 1). Scrub partially rusted metal areas with a wire brush to remove flakes and powdery surface rust, then prime with a rust-inhibitive primer. Once done, you can paint over rust.

Does metal primer stop rust?

About Rusty Metal Primer

Rust-Oleum® Stops Rust® Rusty Metal Primer stops rust and prevents corrosion. Apply to heavily rusted metal (use Rust-Oleum® Stops Rust® Clean Metal Primer on clean or lightly rusted metal). Bonds tightly to rust to form a surface top coats can adhere to.

What kind of paint do you use on rusty metal?

Now we’re sure you want to paint over that unsightly rust. Use Rust-Oleum 769 Damp-Proof Primer as it needs minimal preparation, and penetrates the rust all the way to the metal! You can apply it on slightly moist or dry surfaces, for durable corrosion protection.

What is the best rust inhibitor primer?

The 6 Best Primers for Rusted Metals

  • Corroseal Water-Based Rust Metal Primer – Best Overall. Check Latest Price.
  • TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter – Best Value.
  • XIONLAB Rust Converter & Metal Primer – Premium Choice.
  • FDC Rust Converter Ultra.
  • Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint.
  • Krylon Rusty Metal Primer.

What is rust primer?

Converts rust to an inert substance and leaves a protective coating that prevents further rusting. Use on bare, clean metal to prevent rust.

What is red oxide primer?

Red oxide metal primer acts as a preparatory or protective coating that prevents rust formation on the ferrous metal surfaces exposed to humidity and air. Used for gates, railings, and outdoor equipment the primer is applied to the rusty surfaces before applying a topcoat.

Does epoxy primer stop rust?

Epoxy primer actually seals out the oxygen from the metal, leaving no chance of rust or corrosion forming on the surface like some cheap spray bomb type primers. Two-part epoxy primers go one step further by including zinc phosphate, which increases its corrosion-inhibiting properties.

Do you need primer with Rustoleum?

Priming is not required for most surfaces. Priming will always help for adhesion and covering surface defects. We recommend priming for woods high in tannins(cedar, redwood, mahogany and fir) and knotty woods. Priming these surfaces will prevent tannin bleed and cover rough surface defects.

Which is better red oxide or epoxy primer?

Epoxy Primer has better chemical resistance, abrasion resistance and adhesion than Redoxide. Epoxy primer will chalk under UV, thus a topcoat is recommended when used outdoor. Redoxide on the other hand has better UV resistance, easier to apply because it is one part and cost cheaper than Epoxy Primer.

Can I use Rustoleum primer over rust?

Rustoleum manufacturers paint and primer and offers a product line specifically for covering and protecting metal surfaces. They can be used on metals that are rusty, provided you prepare the surface so the primer or paint properly adheres to it. The primer and paint also protects the metal from further rusting.


Rust is the Achille’s heel of metals, and it is almost avoidable. But, if you value your metal accessory, you should decide what happens.

Will you be prepared to combat rust with the best primer for rusted metal, or will you watch it disintegrate your metal equipment? Your guess is as good as mine.

Rust treatment is a serious business, but the good news is that you don’t even need to break a sweat. I hope this article has equipped you with all you need to refurbish and protect your metal equipment from further rusting.

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