5 Best Primers for Rusted Metal In 2020

Do you want to learn how to remove rust from metal without having to waste your energy or time scrubbing? You’ve come to the right place.

Today, we’ll be talking about the best primer for rusted metal, and how you can use it to create a nice, paintable surface on rusty metal.

When I was a child, my dad and I would do lots of DIY work around the house. It was a beautiful life of painting, repairing plumbing fixtures, and more.

Of the things that my dad taught me, one that has been most handy throughout my life was how to remove rust effortlessly. He said, “Don’t waste your time removing it, just convert it.”.

With a good rusty metal primer, you get to convert rust into a stable compound that can be painted over. No hassles involved.

Let’s get down to business.

The Best Primer For Rusted Metal

1. Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter

When it comes to converting rust, the Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter does wonder. That is why I have it as the top. From the ease of application to the effectiveness, this is the best primer for rusty metal.

As the name suggests, the Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter doesn’t remove rust – it converts it into a black enamel that can be painted on. With industrial strength and versatility, this is a product that can be used anywhere – residential and marine areas, and even for commercial needs.

Being non-corrosive and non-flammable, the product is super easy to use. You can choose to either apply it with a brush or spray it on.

As the product is water-based, you can clean it off your hands with water and soap. It’s no hassle.

Effectiveness is the main factor to look at when seeking a rust converter. Because you see, many products that promise to deal with rust don’t leave up to the promise. Well, tell you what?

Initially, this rust converter was formulated for commercial use in marine environments. Hence, it was formulated to be powerful. If it worked in such an environment, how much more effectively could it work in a residential environment?

Forget sandblasting and heavy scrubbing to remove rust. The Corroseal converter works like a charm, and the best part is that it eliminates the need to sandblast or scrub.

Just wipe away any loose parts of the rust; don’t tire yourself doing hard scrubbing. Then, apply an even coat of the solution.

In minutes to just a few hours, depending on the extent of the rust, you’ll see a hard black enamel that is cured and ready for painting.

The only issues with this product are: it’s a bit pricey (which is understandable considering the effectiveness and ease of use). And, it has an unpleasant chemical smell (which fades away).

Pros:

  • Non-corrosive
  • Non-flammable
  • Water-based – makes clean-up easy
  • Versatile – can be used on any metal at home or commercially
  • Highly effective – converts rust efficiently in no time

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive (but worth it)
  • Has a chemical smell

 

2. Rust Converter ULTRA by FDC

If you’re looking for a more economical option, the Rust Converter ULTRA by FDC would be an excellent choice. For less than 50 bucks, you get 1 gallon worth of rust-fighting solution. That’s a quantity you can use for a long time if you’re using it for personal needs.

Just like the previous product, the Rust Converter Ultra deals with rust by converting it into an inactive black coating that can easily be painted over.

As the converter is very effective, it eliminates the need to do any prep work, such as sandblasting or heavy scrubbing. Hence, if you’re looking for a product that makes your work easy, this one would be a fantastic pick.

Versatility is one of the reasons why this product is such a preferable choice. As such, you can use it to fight rust on tools, cars, and virtually all kinds of outdoor structures including gates and metal pipes.

Not all rust fighters can be used on boats and other marine vessels. That’s because if the product is not well formulated to resist water, it will come right off. Well, if you’re looking for a rust converter you can use on marine vessels, the Converter Ultra should be one of your top choices. It is formulated for use in any environment, including the ocean.

How easy is it to use? I’d say very easy. First off, it doesn’t need any thinning. You can apply it straight from the bottle.

Again, you can apply it either by spraying or brushing, whatever is convenient for you.

And you know why it is so suitable for use at home? Because it doesn’t contain very dangerous chemicals. It will not corrode your hands if it accidentally gets on them, and it also doesn’t release poisonous fumes.

But take this precaution while using it: don’t get it on fabric or concrete. It stains them badly and the stains are very hard to remove.

Pros:

  • Very fairly priced
  • Water-based
  • Versatile – works on any metal structure
  • Effective – no need for prep work
  • Not corrosive and no dangerous fumes

Cons:

  • Puts stubborn stains on concrete and fabrics
  • Not as effective as the Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter

 

3. TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter

Are you on a tight budget? Do you want a really economical but good product that effectively deals with rust and creates a good surface for painting over your metal? Check out the TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter.

A gallon of this product goes for just over 30 bucks, which is a really good and relatively inexpensive price range for such a high-quality product.

On top of that, the product has lots of coverage. Just this one 1-gallon bottle can cover up to 500 square feet of the surface. That’s plenty of space that you can cover! Think about all the rusted items you could treat.

And moreover, the product can be kept for future use. Provided you seal the product properly with the lid, you can certainly store it away for future use.

As the name denotes, the TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter works by changing rust into something harmless to the metal, and yet ready to receive and hold paint.

The product basically stops the metal from getting eaten any further and protects against future corrosion at least for a while.

When looking for a rust converter, one of the important things to think about is the ease of use. You don’t want to go for a product that gives you a headache or fails to give you lots of choices with regard to how it can be applied.

Thankfully, the TotalBoat is formulated to be easy to use. Because first off, it is thin enough to put in an aerosol can and spray. You can apply the solution with a roller, a brush or a spray bottle.

There are two issues I found with this product. The first issue is the smell. It smells like a coal stove, which of course, isn’t pleasant.

The second problem is the fact that the product needs post-application cleaning. You see it leaves a whitish product on the surface, which you got to clean before painting.

Overall, it is a fantastic product and definitely a great choice for someone on a budget.

Pros:

  • Many application methods – by brush, roller, or spray can
  • Effective on rust
  • Economical
  • Easy to apply

Cons:

  • Needs post-application cleaning
  • Has a coal stove smell

 

4. Krylon Rust Protector Primer

The Krylon Rust Protector Primer is a bit different from the primers I have discussed above for one reason. Unlike the others, this one works as both a primer and paint. And that, of course, makes your work easier, as you don’t have to paint afterward.

So, you get to hit two birds with the same stone – that of protecting your metal surface from rust and that of painting the surface.

I know you might be thinking this – what if the surface I want to paint and protect from rust is of a different color from this primer?

Well, that’s a great question. With the Krylon primer, the choices of colors are seemingly endless. They range from white and red oxide to clear and classic gray. You have over 30 colors to pick.

What about the finish, you ask? You also get the freedom of choosing from gloss, semi-gloss, and matte finishes.

As you can see, the product is pretty versatile, and getting exactly what you need is not only possible but also easy.

There’s another thing that makes this product better than the rest – quick drying. As you might already know, most other products, whether paints or rust protectors have long drying periods. You have to wait over 2 hours, even up to a day for the product to dry.

And you know what could happen in the process – dirt, dust, fingerprints, and all sorts of accidents that could damage the application.

But the Krylon primer dries in less than 10 minutes to a hard, smooth finish. As such, the chances of your application getting damaged are minimal.

I love that the paint/rust protector comes in a spray can, which makes the application easy. When you apply to hold the can in a horizontal position and maintaining a distance of 2 feet from the object, the paint should go on smoothly with no drip marks.

Note: this product is a paint and rust protector.

Pros:

  • Over 35 colors to choose from
  • Spray can product for ease of application
  • Fast drying – in under 10 minutes
  • Drip-free
  • Gloss, semi-gloss, and matte finish options

Cons:

  • Crappy instructions
  • Not very opaque, so several layers might be needed to hide the underlying color

 

5. Rust-Oleum Protective Enamel Paint

Got a piece of metal that is heavily rusted? Maybe you’ve even tried some other product to remove or convert the rust, but it didn’t work, at least not completely. Tell you what? If the Rust-Oleum Protective Enamel Paint cannot do it, virtually nothing can.

This is the strongest rust converter I have come across that is safe for use at home.

The product reaches deep within the rust layers, converting the rust into a black enamel. It bonds very tightly to the surface, meaning you won’t be dealing with the problem of the application peeling off.

Apart from that, the product creates a good surface that top coats/paints can adhere to for ages.

But the Rust-Oleum is not good only for converting rust. This product also offers protective benefits. It works to prevent further corrosion.

Dripping can be a great problem when trying to apply primers and paints. Whether the product will present this issue depends on the consistency. You will love the consistency of this particular product. It is not so thick that the application becomes a hassle.

Neither is it so thin that it drips and gets on your hands and everything it shouldn’t be getting on.

The product is of just the right consistency for application with a brush, without getting on your hands.

I have just one problem with this primer – it takes quite a while to dry cure fully. You have to wait several days before applying the paint, or else you will end up with a bad paint job.

Aside from that, it’s a pretty good rust converter and paint primer.

Pros:

  • Good consistency for ease of application
  • Very effective rust converter
  • Converts even the deep rust
  • Creates a good surface for the paint to adhere to

Cons:

  • Takes days to cure

 

Best Primers For Rusted Metal Buying Guide

When it comes to fighting rust, there are many products out there that claim to have the power to do the job. But as well all know, not all of them work and do that safely.

When looking for the best primer for rusted metal, don’t purchase just any products. Think about the following factors when deciding which one to buy.

How does it work?

Products solve rust in different ways. They can convert the rust, remove it, or even just cover it and keep the surface sheltered from elements so it doesn’t rust anymore.

In this article, I am going to focus majorly on rust converters. These are ideal for those who don’t intend to do any hard scrubbing. The products I will talk about convert rust into a nice paintable surface and prevent any further rusting.

How effective is it?

The effectiveness of the rust fighter also matters.

And of course, you must be looking for a product that works, but there are different levels of effectiveness. A product that converts the rust with just one round of application is preferable. You also want it to keep providing its rust-fighting benefits well into the future.

When it comes to effectiveness, reviews are what you want to look at. You got to hear it from those that have used the product.

How does the final surface look?

Unless you intend to paint over the application, the appearance of the resulting layer matters. Keep in mind that most products leave a black enamel coat.

There are, however, other products that leave other colors, like white, gray, and so on.

The ideal product is that which leaves a surface you can paint on, so you put on the color you want.

Does it require any prepping or finishing?

Some products are created such that before application, you have to scrub the surface and remove as much rust as possible. But I have to say, preparation can be a pain. It also consumes time.

Also, some products require finishing work, mostly cleaning. These are usually the ones that leave a colored substance on the surface.

I would recommend getting a product that requires little to no prep. It is understandable to have to remove the loose rust. What is exhausting is having to do the hard scrubbing. Also, look for a product that needs little to no finishing work.

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

1. What is a rusted metal primer?

A rusted metal primer is a metal priming product that stops rusting and corrosion on metal while creating a good surface for the paint to adhere to. It’s typically made of acids and other chemicals that penetrate the rusted surface and bond with the rust.

2. Can I paint rusted metal?

Painting over rusted metal is not practical. The surface is too rough and the rust will usually remove the paint. Before painting over rusted metal, brush off the loose rust. Then, use a good rust converter to turn the remaining rust into a stable compound that won’t eat into the metal anymore or cause the paint to peel off.

3. Is it okay to use a rusted metal primer on metal that is not rusty?

Most high-quality rusted metal primers can be used on any metal surface, whether rusty or clean. Their rust-fighting properties will offer preventive benefits against rust, while the primer will do its work of creating a surface for the paint to stick to. Corroseal and Rust-Oleum are good examples of rusty metal primers you can use on clean metal.

4. Does primer stop rust?

Most primers have rust preventing properties. That means they can keep the elements of rust at bay. However, only a few products can fight rust that is already on the metal. If you want a primer that can deal with rust that is already on the metal, look for a rusty metal primer.

5. What is the black coat that forms on rusty metal when I use a rusty metal primer?

Rust conversion is an innovative method of dealing with rust. With this, the rust doesn’t have to be removed. It is instead turned into a black enamel called magnetite. Magnetite is stable and unlike rust, it doesn’t spread or eat into the metal. And again, magnetite can be painted on.

Final Word

Rust – the nemesis of metal. It will eventually come, and when it comes, you can either watch as it downgrades your metal items, or you can put up a fight. Fortunately, there are products out there that offer the perfect solution against rust.

These days, you don’t even have to do hard scrubbing to deal with rust. With the best primer for rusted metal, you not only solve the rust without wasting all your calories but also make the rusted metal paintable.

I hope my review has been helpful. With any of the products I have talked about, you can rest assured rust will not take away the beauty of your metal items.

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