Healthyhandyman is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

6 Best Primers for Rusted Metals 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer applied on metal

When your railings, mailboxes, and other metal features become old and rusted, they can destroy the curb appeal of your home and business. Replacing these items can get expensive and time-consuming, as well. A better alternative is to use a rusted metal primer.

This protector and primer in one will leave your metal fixtures looking brand new while also protecting it from future damage. Not only that, but many of these products have a color built-in, so if you don’t want to re-paint, you don’t have to.

Before you start your rusty project, you need to locate an effective primer for rusted metals. With the overload of brands and products on the shelves these days, that is not always easy, though. Nevertheless, we have accomplished it for you!

We found the six best rusted metal primers available. Each review in the article below will share details such as chemical composition, cure time, effectiveness, and much more. If you are ready to transform your old mailbox or a vintage bike, keep reading below!

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to apply
  • Multi-use
  • Best Value
    Second place
    TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter
  • 500 sq ft per gallon coverage
  • Easy to apply
  • Multi-use
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    XIONLAB 2 In 1 Rust Converter & Metal Primer XIONLAB 2 In 1 Rust Converter & Metal Primer
  • Non-flammable and eco-friendly
  • Cleans easily
  • Easy to apply
  • FDC Rust Converter Ultra FDC Rust Converter Ultra
  • Easy to clean water-based formula
  • Easy to apply
  • Multi-use
  • Rust-Oleum 7769830 Stops Rust Spray Paint Rust-Oleum 7769830 Stops Rust Spray Paint
  • Dries and cures quickly
  • Multi-use
  • Durable and protective coverage
  • The 6 Best Primers for Rusted Metals – Reviews 2021

    1. Corroseal Water-Based Rust Metal Primer – Best Overall

    If you are looking for the best of the best, we suggest the Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer. This product allows you to remove rust, protect it from future damage, prime, and paint your item all in one step. You can pick it up in a 1-quart, 1-gallon, or 5-gallon bucket depending on your project. Plus, 1-gallon of this primer will cover between 200 and 250 square feet.

    Corroseal is a water-based solution, so you won’t have to worry about strong chemical smells. The formula also has a latex primer to give your item a brand-new look once it’s done. You can use this rust remover on the interior and exterior metal equipment, mailboxes, railings, machinery, marine equipment, and even automobiles. It’s also easy to clean with just soap and water.

    This rust and primer product dries in as little as 15 minutes and cures completely within 24 hours. The formula is non-flammable and non-corrosive making it safe to use. Additionally, it’s easy to apply with either a brush, roller, or spray gun. This is a great product for restoring metal surfaces and extending the life of metal equipment.

    Pros
    • Non-flammable and corrosive
    • Effective covering and restoring
    • Easy to clean
    • Easy to apply
    • Multi-use
    • Water-based formula
    Cons
    • Nothing noteworthy we can see

    2. TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter – Best Value

    TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter

    A more affordable option than our top choice is the TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter. This product is available in a quart or gallon bucket depending on the size of your project. You can use this formula to stop rust from spreading on your metal fixtures and get it ready to be painted the color of your choosing. With a phosphoric acid-base, the only downside is there is a stronger smell than our first pick. We recommend using this primer in a well-ventilated area.

    The TotalBoat can be used on many metal surfaces including boats, cars, tools, steel doors, and both interior and exterior pieces. You can use this on rusted metal to restore it to life, or you can use it on new metal to preserve and protect it from corrosion. Not only that, but it’s easy to apply with a brush or sprayer.

    This product has a water-thin formula that can cover up to 500 square feet per gallon. It dries within 15 to 20 minutes and cures within 24 to 36 hours under dry conditions. Although there is a bit of a stronger smell to this product, it is still the best primer for rusted metals for the money.

    Pros
    • Effective at restoring and protecting
    • 500 sq ft per gallon coverage
    • Easy to apply
    • Multi-use
    • Dries and cures quickly
    Cons
    • Stronger odor

    3. XIONLAB Rust Converter & Metal Primer – Premium Choice

    XIONLAB 2 In 1 Rust Converter & Metal Primer

    If you want a product with an extra protective punch, we suggest the XIONLAB 2 In 1 Rust Converter & Metal Primer. This handy formula not only turns your rusted metal into a smooth surface, but it also primes it for paint. You can pick this option up in either a pint or gallon, as well. What’s more, it can cover up to 125 square feet per pint and 1,000 square feet per gallon.

    This formula is water-based and UV resistant. It will remove existing rust, create a protected surface from further corrosion, and prime the surface for paint. Even better, this formula can be applied to damp metal surfaces, as well. Apply the XIONLAB with a brush, roller, or dilute it with 20% water for application with a spray gun.

    This product cleans up quickly and easily with just water. The formula is non-flammable and eco-friendly. It contains less than 1% VOC, and it has no lead, oil solvents, or resins. Additionally, you can use any type of paint over this primer. Choose from oil, water, enamels, and much more. In fact, you don’t even need a top coat as this product has a built-in color. The only downside to this option is the price tag as it’s more costly than our top two products.

    Pros
    • Effective rust remover, protector, and primer
    • Requires no topcoat
    • Non-flammable and eco-friendly
    • Cleans easily
    • Easy to apply
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. FDC Rust Converter Ultra

    FDC Rust Converter Ultra

    The FDC Rust Converter Ultra is a water-based formula that is available in a gallon tub. This is a professional grade product that can cover up to 500 square feet per gallon. It can also be used on many different metal surfaces including cars, machinery, railings, tools, marine equipment, and any other interior or exterior items that need attention.

    The FDC works to remove chipping rust and create a smooth surface for paint. It also helps protect the surface from future corrosion. This will also eliminate the need for you to sandblast, scrape, or grind away loose rust particles that can fly everywhere. Applying this formula is also easy with a brush or roller, though we don’t recommend using a sprayer with this product.

    Another drawback of this product is that it does have some smell for the other ingredients. FDC is also made to prime metal for oil paint, which is customary for metal especially on exterior fixtures. Made in the USA, you will also find this formula is easy to clean with soap and water. Finally, this primer takes about 30 to 40 minutes to dry and 36 to 48 hours to fully cure.

    Pros
    • Easy to clean water-based formula
    • Easy to apply
    • Multi-use
    • Effective at restoring, priming, and protecting
    Cons
    • Has a stronger smell
    • Not recommended for a sprayer

    5. Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Spray Paint

    Rust-Oleum 7769830 Stops Rust Spray Paint

    Our fifth choice is the Rust-Oleum 7769830 Stops Rust Spray Paint. As the title suggests, this is a 12-ounce spray can that covers up to 20 square feet per can. You can use it on the interior or exterior rusted metals to remove corrosion, add a protective layer, and prime it for a topcoat. This oil-based formula dries to the touch in 15 minutes and cures completely within 24-hours.

    The Rust-Oleum makes it easy for the topcoat to stick to the surface. Unfortunately, the oil base makes this formula harder to clean, plus there is a stronger chemical odor. Besides that, this is an easy to apply spray that creates a durable, protective coating.

    Something else to consider with this product, however, is it can require two-coats on surfaces that are particularly damaged. What’s more, the formula is highly flammable, so caution is advised. Other than that, this is not the worst option if you wish to use a spray can instead of a traditional bucket or primer and protector.

    Pros
    • Dries and cures quickly
    • Multi-use
    • Durable and protective coverage
    Cons
    • Strong odors
    • Can require two coats
    • Hard to clean
    • Highly flammable

    6. Krylon Rusty Metal Primer

    Krylon K06903700 Rusty Metal Primer

    Our final pick is the Krylon K06903700 Rusty Metal Primer. This is another spray bottle option that is available in a 12-ounce can. It’s an oil-based formula that is meant to smooth uneven surfaces, provide corrosion-protection, and create a tacky surface for the topcoat to stick to. Unfortunately, this product falls short of the mark on many of these things.

    First, Krylon doesn’t do a credible job of smoothing the surface of your rusted surfaces, nor does it protect it from future damage. On the other hand, it does create a good base layer for your topcoat. On the downside of that, it can take up to three days for this formula to dry and cure.

    It’s also important to note that the oil-based formula has a strong chemical odor and will need a lot of ventilation while you are applying it. We suggest and recommend using this product outdoors only. You can use this product on many metal surfaces, however, such as railings, cars, mailboxes, etc. Be advised that it’s highly flammable and toxic, though. Also, you will find the primer hard to clean, plus it will require several coats. Even though this is made in the USA, it is our least recommended product for removing and priming your rusted metal pieces.

    Pros
    • Creates tacky surface for a topcoat
    • Multi-use
    Cons
    • Is not effective at removing rust or protecting surfaces
    • Hard to clean
    • Toxic and flammable
    • Takes a long time to dry and cure
    • Requires several coats
    • Strong fumes

    Buyer’s Guide

    Rust on your metal fixtures and equipment no longer has to mean they need to be replaced. Using a metal primer will not only restore them to their former look, but it can save you a lot of time and money. The trick, unfortunately, is finding the right product that is effective and worth the elbow grease.

    Shopping Tips

    Each rusted metal primer has different features and formulas. Depending on your project and the type of metal you are choosing can make a difference in the product you choose. To give you a better idea of what you should be looking for, we have provided some tips below.

    • Primer Formula: For the most part, you will find these primers to have either an oil or water base. Water-based primers are easier to apply, but they tend to leave a thinner layer behind. Oil, on the other hand, is harder to spread, but it will leave a much thicker base layer for your topcoat. Additionally, oil primers are better for outdoor equipment and fixtures, especially when using an oil topcoat. The oil base and paint will stand up better to the elements.
    • Corrosion Eliminator: Without getting too technical, these primers work by changing the chemical state of the metal. They essentially convert the rust to a stable (smooth) surface you can paint. When looking at the label of a product, look for active ingredients such as tannic acid, 2-butoxyethanol, phosphoric acid, and ferric acid. Although there may be other acids, they are the most effective. On a side note, true rust converters are water-based. Oil converters are not converting the rust but instead applying a thick layer of primer over it to create a smooth surface.
    • Protection: You will notice many of these products also claim to protect the metal from future rust. This is done by creating a protective layer between the metal and any moisture that could come in contact with the item.
    • Toxicity and Fumes: Although many of these products are water-based does not always mean they are odor-less. Working in a well-ventilated area is always recommended if possible. If not, you should wear either a mask or a respirator. Oil-based primers will have a much stronger smell, as well. These formulas are often flammable, toxic, and hazardous. Caution is recommended.
    • Dry and Cure Time: It is important to note that dry and cure time is typically two different things. While the surface may feel dry to the touch after a few minutes, it could take a day or two to fully cure. Make sure that you check your product for both time frames and keep all metal items out of the elements and away from moisture or anything that could damage the surface until it has fully cured.

    Tips on Applying a Primer for Rusted Metal

    Once you have found the right product for your rusted metal piece, you will need to get set up and ready to apply the formula. Take a peek at some of these tips on using these products as effectively and painlessly as possible.

    • Remove Loose Rust: Regardless of how good the rust converter is in your metal primer, you will still want to remove any loose pieces of rust. You can do this with a sander, grinder, or even a putty knife to get off the big chunks. Keep in mind, there is no need to sand it down to a smooth finish as that is what the converter is meant to do.
    • Set Up Your Station: As we mentioned above, even water-based formulas can have some fumes and chemicals you do not want to breathe in. If you can paint outside, it is the best course of action. If not, make sure you open windows and use a mask. Also, be sure to cover your work station and any other areas that could come in contact with the liquid.
    • Applying The Product: First, you should note that most of these primers instruct you to avoid using them on freshly blasted steel or newly galvanized surfaces, so bear that in mind. Second, be sure to read the coverage area of your product to ensure you have enough to complete the project. Also, always err on the side of caution and get more than you think will be needed. Thirdly, you want to check the label for the recommended application tools. The majority can be brushed, rolled, or sprayed. Some formulas will need to be diluted to be sprayed, however. Beyond that, make sure to apply in an even layer and follow all other instructions including keeping the surface wet with the product for certain lengths of time to ensure the chemical conversation takes effect.
    • Cleaning: Water-based formulas are a lot easier to clean. Most of them only require soap and water, while others can be removed with only water. Have some handy, though in case of spills. Oil, on the other hand, is a lot harder. Typically, you will need a paint thinner to remove an oil primer. You will also want to clean up mistakes, spills, and drops as soon as possible. The longer they sit, the harder it is to get off. This type of paint can also stain your clothes and skin, so it’s best to wear protective gloves and old clothes.
    • Top Coats: Not all primers require you to use a top coat, but just about all of them are designed to allow you to paint over them in the color of your choice. Be sure to check your label for what type of topcoat can be used. Also, the primer must be fully cured before applying the topcoat, as well.

    divider 8

    Conclusion

    We hope you have enjoyed our reviews on the six best primers for rusted metal. If you want the best of the best, we suggest you go with the Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer. This is an easy to apply option that will turn your rusted item into a brand-new looking piece.

    If you need something more affordable, we recommend going with the TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter. This is another effective option that has a no-hassle clean-up, quick cure time, and long-lasting results.

    Related posts

    Other categories

    Project ideas

    Hand & power tools

    woodworking

    Garden

    Automotive