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6 Best Paint Primers For Rusted Metal [2023] [Buyer’s Guide]

Are you looking for the most suitable paint primer to coat heavily rusted metal surfaces?

Best Paint Primer For Rusted Metal

Well, you’ve come to the right place! This article provides you with a comprehensive review of the 6 best paint primers for rusted metal available on the market.

We are well aware of how difficult prepping and priming a heavily rusted metal surface is. The preparation process of clearing rust is not only exhausting but also long and tedious - which we can all do without. And that’s exactly where paint primers come in handy!

They have varied chemical formulations that stick on the rusted metal surface, not only effectively killing the prevailing rust but also preventing it from further corroding. As such, they eliminate the need to physically scrub rust entirely and require minimal to no prep before application.

Now, that we’ve got you hooked, let’s jump right into our recommendations!

Best Paint Primers For Rusted Metal

A low angle shot of a metal red structure under the clear blue sky

Whether you're restoring a vintage piece or working on a DIY project, these primers are known for their effectiveness in preparing and protecting rusted surfaces. So, without further ado, here's the list of the 6 best primers for rusted metal.

1. Corroseal 82331 - Best for One-Step Application

First up in our guide, we have the elite Corroseal corrosion inhibitor that comes packaged in a sealed plastic bottle or bucket. It is available in three volumes, namely 1 gallon, 1 quart, and 5 gallons, respectively, and can be used to considerably restore metal surfaces and extend the life of the equipment.

Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer, Rust...
  • Paint, prime and convert rust in one step - water based rust...
  • Restore metal surfaces, extend life of metal equipment by...

Why Did We Like It?

This primer by Corroseal has the ability to remove rust, prime, and paint any rusted metal surface in one quick and simple step. Initially, this product comes off as white during the application, but it starts turning back as the rust begins converting into a stable substance called magnetite. This innovative chemical conversion process removes the prevalent rust and prevents further rust from developing.

Since this product is a water-based rust converter while being a latex-based primer, it is significantly easier to apply and clean than its counterparts. The formulation of this primer is non-toxic and non-hazardous; hence, it does not require you to take too many precautions during application. 

Furthermore, this is a very effective primer and can be used for automotive, marine, as well as general household, and industrial purposes. One gallon of this product can efficiently cover up to 200-250 sq. ft. It can additionally be applied via brush, roller, or spray - whichever is more convenient for you.

What Could've Been Better?

It is essential to make sure that you do not apply this primer on freshly blasted steel or other newly galvanized surfaces. Standard surface prep is required before applying this product to the rusted metal surface. If this is not executed correctly and enough coatings of this primer are not applied, the rust may reappear on the metal surface.



Pros

  • Non-hazardous formulation
  • Convenient to apply
  • Easy to clean up with soap and water
  • Provides one-step corrosion control
  • Affordable and time-saving




Cons

  • Rust reappears if not applied properly



Volume: 128 fl oz | Corrosion Resistance: High | Adhesion: Excellent | Coverage: 200-250 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 30 minutes | Application Method: Brush, roller, sprayer

2. FDC ‎13 - Best for Large Coverage

The FDC Rust Converter Ultra effectively halts pre-existing rust while simultaneously preventing future corrosion by forming a durable and protective layer on the metal surface. This primer comes packaged in a 1-gallon recyclable plastic jar with a built-in handle to pour the liquid out with ease.

FDC Rust Converter Ultra, Highly Effective Professional...
  • CONVERT RUST: Convert rust to an inert coating that seals...
  • SAFE TIME & MONEY: Eliminates the need for sandblasting,...

Why Did We Like It?

This rust converter efficiently converts the existing rust on a surface into an inert coating that alternatively seals out moisture and oxygen to prevent further corrosion. Therefore, investing in this product eliminates the need for you to engage in the tedious process of removing rust via sandblasting, scraping, and grinding the surface. So, overall this primer saves you both time and money.

What’s more, it is incredibly weather-proof. As such, it can protect your metal surfaces from all kinds of variable weather conditions. Other than that, one gallon of this high-quality primer can easily cover up to 500 square feet of smooth, nonporous surfaces.

To top it off, the brand FDC is so confident of this product’s performance that it provides all its customers a 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee!

What Could've Been Better?

Some users noticed frothy brown lumps forming in the liquid of this product. This usually occurs due to exposure to too much oxygen and moisture; hence, it is essential to store this product in a sealed and dry place. This primer also takes 48 hours to cure completely, which may be an issue for certain users who wish to paint the surface afterward.



Pros

  • Weatherproof formulation
  • High coverage
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Easy to apply and clean
  • Time and energy-saving product




Cons

  • Forms brown lumps in the liquid
  • Long cure time



Volume: 128 fl oz | Corrosion Resistance: Moderate | Adhesion: Good | Coverage: Varies | Drying Time: 1 hour | Application Method: Brush, roller

3. Rust-Oleum 7769830 - Best for Rust Conversion

As you probably recognize, Rust-Oleum is a popular and esteemed name in the paint and primer manufacturing industry. Their cutting-edge innovation, inspired by their founder, sea captain Robert Fergusson, had led them to create durable and long-lasting rust prevention solutions. This reputation of theirs, therefore, consequently transfers to this primer for rusted surfaces in model 7769830.

Sale
Rust-Oleum 7769830 Stops Rust Spray Paint, 12-Ounce, Flat...
  • Use to prime exterior or interior heavily rusted metal...
  • Oil-based formula provides a durable protective coating with...

Why Did We Like It?

This primer is an ideal product to prepare heavily rusted interior and exterior surfaces for further painting. Its oil-based formula forms a protective and durable coating on any metal surface it is applied to. This coating not only covers the already present rust to form a smooth base but also inhibits the formation of more rust.

So this primer effectively covers all kinds of heavily rusted surfaces to form an even and long-lasting topcoat that easily adheres to all kinds of oil paints. The unmatched adhesion of this primer is especially handy because of its ability to withstand considerably heavy-use and demanding environments.

If that wasn’t enough, this primer takes only about 15-30 minutes to dry to touch and can therefore be reapplied for more coats just a few minutes apart. Equipped with a comfort tip and a wide finger pad, this spray can also considerably reduce finger fatigue due to continuous spraying.

What Could've Been Better?

One can of this primer spray only covers up to 10-12 square feet of area, which is considerably lesser than its counterparts. This increases the overall expense of the application and is therefore not ideal for priming large projects.



Pros

  • Easy to apply
  • Excellent prevention against rust
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Prevents finger fatigue
  • High bonding and adherence




Cons

  • Limited coverage



Volume: 12 fl oz | Corrosion Resistance: High | Adhesion: Excellent | Coverage: 120-160 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 2 hours | Application Method: Brush, roller, sprayer

4. Krylon K06903300

Krylon is one of the most trusted and highly rated paint and primer brands in the US. Consequently, this company has created a range of rust-preventing primers that double up as paint while providing high-performing rust protection and are available in 34 different shades. This particular model (K06903300) we are reviewing, however, has a unique clear satin finish.

Sale
Krylon K06903300 Rust Protector and Preventative Enamels,...
  • Dries in 8 minutes or less
  • Smooth durable rust-fighting finish

Why Did We Like It?

Before discussing anything else, we have to mention this spray-on paint primer’s enhanced and fast-drying capability. It dries in a record time of 8 minutes and fully cures in just 2 hours, approximately 15 times faster than other leading rust-removing competitors.

This particular clear-colored primer once applied hardens to a tough yet smooth satin finish that effectively covers all rust on the metal surface it has been sprayed on. Apart from that, the potent formulation of this primer also efficiently prevents any further rust or corrosion from forming on the metal surface. In fact, it has performed considerably better than its counterparts in a variety of sanctioned corrosion tests.

Hence, this rust-removing primer by Krylon not only significantly reduces the time spent priming degraded metal surfaces, but is additionally easy to apply. If that wasn’t enough, the wide range of colors and finishes available in this paint and primer are sure to win your heart!

What Could've Been Better?

The spray nozzle built into the spray can of this primer is relatively low quality. For this reason, when the can is shaken before use as per instruction by the brand, the nozzle tends to leak and dribble paint. Consequently, this can tend to overspray and leak when sprayed, making it a rather messy process.



Pros

  • Quickest drying time
  • Easy to apply and recoat
  • Provides a smooth, durable finish
  • Passed a variety of corrosion tests




Cons

  • Faulty/low-quality spray nozzle



Volume: 12 fl oz | Corrosion Resistance: Moderate | Adhesion: Good | Coverage: Varies | Drying Time: 1 hour | Application Method: Brush, roller

5. TotalBoat ‎B013F9SM3Y

The TotalBoat rust primer by Jamestown Distributions is one of the most effective rust-removing solutions on the market and is popular for professional repairs. The formulation of this solution is water-thin, making it extremely high-coverage and convenient to apply.

TotalBoat Rust Primer Converter (GALLON) | Metal Treatment...
  • STOP RUST IN ITS TRACKS: TotalBoat Rust Primer is a metal...
  • WIDE RANGE OF USES: Phosphoric acid-based rust converter is...

Why Did We Like It?

First and foremost, we would like to highlight that this is a more concentrated and thereby potent rust-removing solution that you can use on both rusted and new metal surfaces. This primer functions by converting the existing rust into an inert substance and thereby inhibiting its growth. Furthermore, it also ensures eliminating all chances of new patches of rust forming on the same metal surface.

This primer is easily one of the most versatile rust-removing solutions in the market and can be applied to an array of stainless, steel, and cast iron surfaces such as automobiles, machinery, metal railings, etc. One gallon of this primer can cover an impressive 500 square feet area which is unmatched by its competitors.

You’re only required to do basic cleaning of the metal surface with a wire brush before applying this product. Once applied, you need to leave this concentrate overnight, and the following day you will notice the rusty metal will turn black. This color change indicates that the rust has been transformed, and your metal surface is ready to be painted!

What Could've Been Better?

Certain customers found that this chemical primer leaves a powdery white residue after application. While this residue is easily brushed off in most cases, some people found it extra hard to remove. This powdery substance is even more challenging to remove when it gets wet, and hence you should ideally keep your metal project indoors and away from water.



Pros

  • Has unmatched coverage
  • Superior rust-removing performance
  • Easy to apply
  • Minimal preparation required
  • Wide range of uses




Cons

  • It leaves a white powdery coating



Volume: 128 fl oz | Corrosion Resistance: High | Adhesion: Excellent | Coverage: 350-400 sq. ft. | Drying Time: 4-6 hours | Application Method: Brush, roller, sprayer

6. Krylon K06903907

As we mentioned above, Krylon is one of the most popular paint and primer brands on the market. Its new and innovative range of Rust Protector primers provides superior corrosion prevention and is available in 34 stellar shades. This particular primer we are reviewing, however, provides a white semi-gloss finish that is durable and paint-ready in a matter of minutes.

Krylon K06903907 Rust Protector Primers, White Primer
  • Extra corrosion protection for bare and painted surfaces
  • Smooth durable rust-fighting finish

Why Did We Like It?

Straight off the bat, we’d like to emphasize this primer’s superior fast-drying formula. Much like the previous Krylon primer we reviewed, this too dries to the touch in just 8 minutes and can be recoated within 2 hours of application.

This primer is formulated to provide extra protection against rust and corrosion on both bare and painted surfaces. Hence, it is the perfect preventive measure for metal surfaces that require high-performing protection against rust.

The final hardened film this white primer forms on metal surfaces is exceptionally durable by nature and has the ability to last a lifetime. In addition to that, this primer, much like the last Krylon primer we reviewed, also passed various corrosion tests with flying colors. Hence, this too performs its functions better than most of its competitors.

What Could've Been Better?

Since this paint primer has a more preventive function, it does not work on already rusted and actively spreading metal surfaces. Therefore, this is only ideal for priming new metal objects and project surfaces or reinforcing rust protection on an already painted surface.



Pros

  • A very fast-drying formula
  • Easy to apply
  • Provides durable, long-lasting protection
  • Ideal for bare and painted surfaces




Cons

  • Does not get rid of active rust



Volume: 12 fl oz | Corrosion Resistance: Moderate | Adhesion: Good | Coverage: Varies | Drying Time: 1 hour | Application Method: Brush, roller

Best Rusted Metal Primers Comparison Table

ProductVolumeCorrosion ResistanceAdhesionCoverageDrying TimeApplication Method
Corroseal 82331128 fl ozHighExcellent200-250 sq. ft.30 minutesBrush, roller, sprayer
FDC ‎13128 fl ozModerateGoodVaries1 hourBrush, roller
Rust-Oleum 776983012 fl ozHighExcellent120-160 sq. ft.2 hoursBrush, roller, sprayer
Krylon K0690330012 fl ozModerateGoodVaries1 hourBrush, roller
TotalBoat ‎B013F9SM3Y128 fl ozHighExcellent350-400 sq. ft.4-6 hoursBrush, roller, sprayer
Krylon K0690390712 fl ozModerateGoodVaries1 hourBrush, roller

Buying Guide For The Best Rusted Metal Primer

Now that we’ve come to the end of our top 6 paint primer reviews, we wanted to highlight a few pointers to help you make your decision. We have, therefore, attached this buyer’s guide to briefly mention some of the essential factors you must consider while choosing a primer for rusted metal. So without any more fuss, let’s get right to it!

  1. Types Of Primers For Rust

There are mainly 3 types of primers that deal with rust, namely rust converter, rust remover, and rust stopping primers. Each of these primers, thereby, has varied and unique formulations that function in different ways.

The rust converter for starters does away with the rust by converting it into an alternate inert substance upon application. This inert compound usually stops the process of oxidation from occurring and further protects the surface from future rust.

Rust removers, on the other hand, are usually formulated with concentrated acids which effectively strip away the rust from the metal surface.

Finally, we have the rust-stopping primer that simply coats a metal surface and cuts off the oxygen supply in order to prevent rust or corrosion from developing on it. Hence, you will need to decide on which kind of primer to buy depending on what you intend to achieve with it.

  1. Quantity/Coverage

The quantity of primer depends completely on the size of the metal surface you plan to coat. The coverage, alternatively, decides on the quantity of primer you need to purchase. This is because certain primers have high coverage and hence require low quantities to cover large areas.

On the other hand, there are other low-coverage primers that will require more quantity to cover the same area. Hence, you must always take a close look at the quantity and coverage provided by a primer to check if it suits your project needs.

  1. Effectivity

Different types and brands of primers have varied rates of effectiveness. While some only require a single coat to remove or prevent rust from developing effectively, others might need multiple coats for a similar result. A primer that requires multiple coats will, therefore, be required in a much larger quantity to effectively cover the same surface area.

You can determine the effectiveness of a prime by taking a thorough look at the user reviews. Hence, depending on these reviews and your budget, you can choose a primer that most suits the project’s needs.

  1. Preparation Required

A vital factor to consider while purchasing primers is the amount of prep a surface requires before. While some primers on the market will need you to have a perfectly prepped and smooth texture, others can be applied on entirely unprepared surfaces.

Since, we know how long, tedious, and exhausting sanding metal for prep can be, no-prep primers are usually the go-to product. However, it’s worth noting that most primers on the market recommend a minimal amount of prep that includes scratching out the most chunky bits of rust for optimal performance.

Primers For Rusted Metal FAQ's

  • Why do I need to use a primer on rusted metal?

    Using a primer on rusted metal is essential for several reasons. First, it helps to stop the progression of rust and prevent further corrosion. Second, it provides a smooth and stable surface for paint application. Lastly, it enhances the adhesion of the paint, ensuring a long-lasting and durable finish.

  • Can I use any primer on rusted metal surfaces?

    While some general-purpose primers may work on lightly rusted surfaces, it is recommended to use a primer specifically formulated for rusted metal. These primers are designed with rust-inhibiting properties and better adhesion to ensure effective protection and a smooth paint finish.

  • How do I prepare the rusted metal surface before applying a primer?

    Before applying a primer, it is important to prepare the rusted metal surface properly. Start by removing loose rust, dirt, and debris using a wire brush or sandpaper. For heavier rust, you may need to employ a rust converter or rust remover. Once the surface is clean, ensure it is dry and free from any contaminants before applying the primer.

  • How many coats of primer should I apply on rusted metal?

    The number of primer coats needed for rusted metal can vary depending on the severity of the rust and the specific product instructions. In most cases, applying one or two coats of primer should be sufficient. However, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for optimal results.

  • Can I paint directly over a primer for rusted metal?

    In most cases, you should apply a topcoat of paint over the primer for rusted metal. The primer acts as a base layer, providing corrosion protection and improving paint adhesion. Choose a paint that is compatible with the primer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

  • The process of painting rusty peeling rods on the fence. Man paints a brush with a fence, hand closeup. Spring work or repair

    Conclusion

    It is fundamental to understand the vital role that primer plays in maintaining and extending the life of metal structures. They not only provide an essential layer of protection from rust and corrosion but also act as a perfect base for the application of paint, thereby enhancing the final finish. However, choosing the right primer for rusted metal surfaces can be a daunting task, especially given the plethora of options available in the market.

    From the above 6 best primers for rusted metal, here are the top three expert recommendations:

    For a one-step application, the Corroseal 82331 is an ideal option. Its water-based formulation allows for easy application and clean-up, while its effective rust conversion process extends the life of your metal equipment.

    For larger projects, the FDC ‎13 is a good option. Its high coverage, combined with a weatherproof formulation, provides durable protection against future corrosion. Its ability to convert existing rust into an inert layer further saves you time and money.

    Finally, for rust conversion, the Rust-Oleum 7769830 is the right choice. Renowned for its effective rust prevention solutions, this primer prepares heavily rusted surfaces for painting, creating an even, long-lasting topcoat.

    In conclusion, these primers stand out in terms of ease of use, effectiveness, and other unique features, offering you the best value for your money. By picking any of these top three options, you get a top-performing, reliable product that suits your specific needs. Remember, the right primer can make a significant difference in the lifespan and appearance of your metal surfaces. Take the time to choose wisely and reap the rewards of durability and stunning visual appeal.

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