Best Paint For Rusty Metal

From entryways, doors, patios, windows, and even furniture, metal brings an elegant yet durable construction to our homes and industries. However, in some cases, this metal is exposed to the elements and therefore prone to rust. If this rusty metal is not taken good care of, its structure not only deteriorates but can also pose serious health dangers to users around it.

Luckily enough, there are ways you can protect your metal equipment from deteriorating and restore them to its elegant and useful design. Painting on this rusted metal is one of the surest ways of ensuring that your metal remains in a pristine condition as much as possible.

In this article, we are going to explore some of the best paints that you can you use on rusted metal to restore it to its original usefulness.

Here is a Quick List of 5 Best Paints For Rusty Metal


Designed for both interior and exterior use, this paint is not only ideal to use on rusted metal but works well on ceramic, masonry, plaster, and wood as well. Its oil-based formula makes it resistant to chipping providing long-lasting protection.

It also produces a low odor making it ideal to use indoors. Furthermore, this paint dries up quickly helping you complete your projects faster. It also comes in almost all popular colors allowing you to match your colors to blend easily with other household items.

What We Like

  • It is exterior/interior paint with long-lasting protection
  • Dries to touch in 20 minutes
  • Comes in a variety of colors

What We Don’t Like

  • It is not ideal to use on galvanized metal as it is oil-based


When it comes to high-performance coatings, the POR-15 is one of the best paints you can have to deliver excellent results. It stops and prevents rust by forming a barrier that is impenetrable protecting your surfaces from everyday wear and tear, water, salt, chemicals, and other corrosive elements.

What makes POR-15 unique to most paints is its curing process. While most paints dry through evaporation, POR-15 dries faster in the presence of moisture. Moreover, once it dries, it forms a tough indestructible finish.

Because of its impressive properties, this paint is an ideal choice for automotive parts, farm equipment, industrial and marine equipment as well as in the construction industry. The coating is also tolerant to porous surfaces and can be used on wood, concrete, bricks, fiberglass, and many other surfaces.

What We Like

  • Forms an impenetrable coating that provides long-lasting protection
  • Can be used on porous surfaces
  • It dries in the presence of moisture

What We Don’t Like

  • You can only apply the topcoat after exposing the surface to UV-light


If you are looking for a one-step rust treatment solution then this is one of your best bets. Specially formulated for exterior/interior use, this paint is highly effective when painting rusty metal and works to prevent new rust from forming on surfaces. It dries up quickly and produces a low odor making it an ideal choice for use around the home.

What We Like

  • Provides long-lasting protection
  • Prevents new rust from forming on metal surfaces
  • Dries up quickly
  • Produces minimal odor

What We Don’t Like

  • Does not work well with galvanized metal


This paint works by neutralizing rust on metal and turning it into a tough black primer instantly. This helps give the metal surface long-lasting protection while also preventing new rust from forming on the surface.

Moreover, this paint gives the surface a smooth finish without the need for scraping and sandblasting. Its unique formula is designed o dry in less than an hour for faster project completion. It is also non-flammable and an ideal choice for working on vehicles, bridges, industrial equipment among many other surfaces.

What We Like

  • Industrial strength to stop and prevent rust
  • It converts rust to an indestructible coating
  • Dries quickly
  • It is non-flammable
  • Does not require sanding and scraping before application

What We Don’t Like

  • It is not available in many colors


This paint comes in an easy-to-use spray and works excellently in sealing and protecting metal surfaces from rust.

It forms a rubberized coating that gives the surfaces superior protection against corrosion, abrasion, and moisture. This makes sure that your metal surface is protected for the long term while also preventing the formation of new rust.

Although this paint will give your metal surface a smooth finish, the protective coating is not shiny as you would expect from other paints.

What We Like

  • Provides long-lasting protection
  • Prevents the formation of new rust
  • Prevents chemical corrosion and abrasion

What We Don’t Like

  • Does not provide the shine provided by most paints


Tips for Painting on Rusted Metal

Rusty metal is not only an eyesore around the home but can also pose a serious health hazard around the home or workplace. That is why it is important to deal with the rusty metal as soon as possible to contain further spread of rust and maintain a pristine look for your equipment and other metal surfaces. The most proven method of getting the rust under control is by painting. However, before you begin painting on your rusty metal, there are some preparations you need to undertake. Here are some additional tips on painting rusty metal.

1. Paint metals with only surface rust.

Painting on rusted metal can produce impressive results as long as the rust does not extend beyond the metal surface. However, if the rust has eaten through the metal structure weakening it or there are visible holes or pits on the metal, then there are high chances that painting on the metal won’t stop the rusting process or corrosion. But you can still restore the metal piece by filling the pits and holes with auto body filler before painting on the metal surface.


2. Begin by removing loose rust.

In most cases, you will need a primer for the paint to be able to adhere to rusted metal. Nonetheless, you must begin by removing as much loose rust as possible from the metal surface before applying the primer and finally the final paint. If you don’t do this, the metal will continue shedding loose rust and in the process pushing the dried paint out until it peels off or blisters. To avoid blistering and peeling off of the final coat, ensure you not only remove as much rust as possible but also remove any grits, grease, and grime from the metal surface. Let the metal surface dry thoroughly before beginning to paint on it.

3. Apply primer on the metal surface

In order to boost paint adhesion to the metal surface and prevent discoloration. You will need to apply primer to the metal surface before applying the final topcoat. Depending on the extent of the rust on the surface you may need to use different types of primers:

  • If the rust on the metal surface was extensive, you may need to prime it with an oil-based or water-based interior/exterior rust conversion metal primer. This type of primer is chemically formulated to convert the rust into a smooth, black and impenetrable surface ready for the topcoat paint.
  • If the rust on the metal surface is light, then you can use a water-based or oil-based interior/exterior rust-preventive metal primer. This type of primer acts by penetrating the rust and forming a bond with the metal. However, you will need to act immediately after removing all the surface rust because if you leave the metal to stand exposed to oxygen for some time, it will react and form a new layer of rust.

4. You can choose from a wide range of colors with commercial paints.

There are a number of water-based or oil-based metal paints that you can use to paint over the primed metal surface. Moreover, most of these commercial paints come in a wide o spectrum of colors. You can choose metallic colors such as gray to give the metal a lustrous look or go for a non-metallic color such as hunter green to give the metal a natural look. For the best results, ensure to apply as many coats of your chosen paint color and sheen while allowing each coat to dry properly as per the painting instructions before applying the next coat.

5. It is cheaper to paint on rusted metal than to replace it.

In most cases, the cost of painting on a rusted metal surface will be much cheaper compared to the cost of replacing the metal piece. Moreover, if done early enough, you get to maintain the structural integrity of the metal piece for much longer. Therefore, every time you see rust on a metal surface or a metal piece, ensure to paint on it to prevent further corrosion if you are to spare yourself heavy costs doing replacements.

6. Never use oil-based paint on galvanized metal.

Galvanized metal uses a zinc coating for protection. This can also corrode when exposed to heavy rain or powerful chemicals forming white rust. While you can remove this rust like you would any other metal, avoid using oil-based primers and paints with galvanized metal. This is because zinc reacts with binders in these primers and paints which will in the end cause the paint to peel off. Instead, use latex-based primer/ paint when working with galvanized metal.

FAQs on Painting over Rusty metal

How should you treat rust on the metal before painting?

The first step in painting on a rusted metal is removing as much loose and flaking rust as possible. Use a sturdy metal brush to clean as much rust as possible. Also, clean any grit, grease, and grime. Then let the metal surface dry before applying a rust-conversion metal primer.

What is the best paint to use on rusty metal?

There are a number of options to choose from. However, it depends on the level of rust on the metal surface and the metal type you are working on. You can review our guidelines above on which paint and primer are best depending on the circumstances you are working with.

Will painting over rust slow it down?

Yes, it should! As long as you prepare the rusted metal surface using the tips we have provided for you above, the paint will not only slow down rust but also prevent it altogether. Painting is one of the surest ways of restoring a metal surface to its original luster.

You don’t have to incur expensive costs replacing rusty metal pieces and surfaces for your equipment, tools, and even furniture to look as pristine as new. It is much easier, cost-effective, and convenient to paint over rusty metal and maintain the structural integrity and look of all your equipment. All you need to do is follow our guidelines and use the correct primer and paint for the best results.

Our guidelines will help you choose the best paint for rusty metal for your next project.

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