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Best Primer for Rusted Metals 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

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A rust primerWhere did the expression “shake the rust off” come from? While shaking won’t get rust off, priming it will. You can do amazing things with metals nowadays, making cherished items around your home prepared to last for the long haul. With primers meant to be used with rusted metals, you can either reverse the effects of rusting or prevent it altogether. Either way, you’ll have metal surfaces ready to be admired. To find out the best primer for rusted metals, read on for our top five reviews.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

ModelPriceQuantityEditor Rating
small TotalBoat TB-0912
Best Overall

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small Rust-Oleum 7769830
Best Value

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small Corroseal 82331
Premium Choice

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FDC 13 Rust Converter
small FDC 13

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small Krylon K06903700

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The 5 Best Primers for Rusted Metals

1. TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter – Best Overall

TotalBoat TB-0912

Already in the running for best brand name, TotalBoat’s primer does wonders for the job at hand. If you were ever worried about rust, you just may have found your perfect match with TotalBoat. Its method is rather brilliant. Instead of chipping away at the rust, TotalBoat turns it into an inert substance, leaving surfaces ready for primer or paint. Even better is that this primer’s ability can be used for so many different things. As this is a phosphoric acid-based rust converter, you will find that it is ideal for rusted metal on cars, campers, trucks, trailers, bikes, boat trailers, boats, outdoor metal railings, steel doors, rebar, and tools. With TotalBoat, you will be able to restore, preserve, and protect metal from rusting even more.

When used on new metal, you can ensure maximum adhesion and protect the metal from the elements. This product is easy to work with, and you can choose the application process that is right for you. Make sure to go over your work area with a wire brush to remove any unwanted rust or loose paint before you prime, and afterward, you’ll want to give this a full night to dry out. This product is recommended for pros and DIYers alike. One gallon covers 500 square feet.

If there is anything negative to say about this product, it’s that it comes with no bells or whistles, it’s not the easiest to clean after, it smells kind of weird, and it’s easy to use just a little too much, but at the end of the day, it treats rust, and that’s what we’re here for.

  • Many uses
  • Makes rust inert
  • 500 square feet per gallon
  • Hard to clean

2. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint – Best Value

Rust-Oleum 7769830

Rust-Oleum is well known in the priming biz, so of course we have it on our list of best primers for rust! This can be used for both interior and exterior objects, and it can even handle heavy-duty rust. Meant only for metal surfaces, this is an oil-based formula that not only prevents rust but offers a wonderful protective coating on the metal you are treating. Once you get going with your project, you’ll be done in no time, as Rust-Oleum dries to touch in 15 minutes. With this product, you will be able to do projects of up to 20 square feet.

While this does a wonderful job of dealing with rust, we can’t forget that it is an excellent primer as well. The adhesion of Rust-Oleum is top notch, especially in areas of heavy use. When you add it all up, the result is a product that we consider the best value primer for rusted metal.

As this is spray paint for the most part, or at least, it is used in a pressurized can, you do run the risk of getting a dud or two if you order this product. But if that happens, just give Rust-Oleum’s customer service a call!

  • Great adhesion
  • Dries to touch in 15 minutes
  • Might get a dud in the mail

3. Corroseal Water-Based Rust Metal Primer – Premium Choice

Corroseal 82331

With Corroseal’s water-based rust metal primer, you can paint, prime, and convert rust in one step. What you can get out of that one step is impressive! This primer restores metal surfaces, extends the life of metal equipment, and protects it from future rust and corrosion. This primer is also inflammable. Clean-up is easy, thanks to the fact that this is a water-based primer. All you’ll need is a little water and soap. This product is also easy to use, as you get to choose the application process.

This product ought to yield about 250 square footage of use per gallon. Meant to be used for all marine, automotive, household, and industrial applications, Corroseal should not be used on freshly blasted steel or galvanized surfaces.

However, this product is inconsistent at best. While it usually does exactly what it says it will do, it doesn’t other times, and when you’re dealing with rust, you don’t want to sit around and see if the primer you used actually works.

  • 250 feet per gallon
  • Non flammable
  • Inconsistent

4. FDC Rust Converter ULTRA Primer

FDC 13

First, the label on this product is pretty awesome looking. Second, the FDC rust converter ULTRA primer makes rust inert, which then makes it able to seal out moisture and prevent corrosion. With this product, you don’t need to sandblast anything and there’s no grinding and scraping. Not only are you saving money, but you are also saving time. Also, one container gives you quite the bang for your buck — one gallon covers roughly 500 square feet! As the company points out, that’s an entire dumpster! This primer will have your metal ready for all sorts of weather conditions, and even better, if you aren’t pleased with it, FDC has a 30-day, no questions asked, money-back guarantee.

Sadly, this product doesn’t work too well. While the price is intriguing, the end results are not, which is why it is the second-to-last entry on our list of reviews.

  • No sandblasting needed
  • Does not work very well

5. Krylon Rust Protector Primers

Krylon K06903700

When thinking about rust, you hardly consider elegance, but Krylon has promised an elegant finish. While this is less of a preventative product for rust, it does offer extra corrosion protection while increasing paint adherence. This comes in a 12-ounce can.

While the overall consensus is that this product is just okay, there is one constant: The sprayer hardly works! Either nothing comes out, or it sprays everywhere. That seemed to be a good enough reason to have this at number 5 on our list.

  • Protects against corrosion
  • Wild sprayer!

Buyers Guide

Getting a primer for your next job is a pretty big deal because you want to do it right the first time. It’s especially important when the wellbeing of the material is at stake, depending on the type of primer you are using. There’s a bunch of things to consider before you make a purchase, so let’s get you primed for that.

What’s the use?

Do you plan on using your primer as treatment for something that has already happened to the area or material in question, or do you plan to use it as a preventative measure? Primers that are made specifically with rust in mind need actual rust in order to work. The more rust you have, the more of a heavy-duty primer you’ll need.

Painting after?

What kind of paint job are you planning? Certain primers that deal with rust can cause splotches when it comes to color, though that is easily fixed with more coats of paint. Corroded areas are normally the culprit of splotches, so we recommend a heavier primer on those areas.

How much do you need?

This goes without saying, but a can of spray paint won’t go as far as a big gallon of primer.


There are plenty of different types of primer out there, and even in the subset of primers for rusted metals, it’s hard to know which one is the best. While you may have felt rusty before reading these reviews, we hope that you are primed and ready to shop now. So, what will it be? You could go with our top pick, the primer from TotalBoat. Or if you are looking for value, you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true Rust-Oleum. Whichever direction you decide to go, we hope that these reviews have informed and educated you.

Featured Image Credit By: Chris Isherwood, flickr

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!