How to Remove Rust from Metal
Posted in Home Improvement on March 30, 2019
Rust! To me, it's the ultimate eye-sore. Besides being ugly, rust weakens metal. So to make your metal railings, outdoor furniture, garden tools, and hand tools last longer, you need to do something about it — now!
The bad news about rust is that you can't ever stop it completely. Where metal, air, and moisture can be found, rust is sure to follow. The good news is, you can at least temporarily remove it and slow its return.
How you choose to remove rust often comes down to how much there is and the size and shape of the surface it's on.
Most of the products we show are available at paint stores, hardware stores, and home centers. A few of the products are a bit more specialized, but they're available on the internet.
- 1 Using Power Tools
- 2 Removing Rust With Hand Tools Sometimes the old ways are the best. Scraping and sanding with a little (or a lot of) muscle power may be old-fashioned, but it works! Photo 3 shows a variety of rust-removing products. Match the sanding or scraping tool to the project: A wire brush works on most surfaces; sanding cords and tapes are great for narrow gaps; steel wool and synthetic scraping pads work on all degrees of rust; sanding blocks are a good choice for flat surfaces; sanding sponges are great for sanding curves and other shapes; an English muffin is a lousy sanding tool, but a great snack! Most of them are familiar. A couple may be new to you: A wire brush loosens rust and cleans almost any metal surface. Steel wool and the new synthetic scraping pads (fake steel wool) work on almost all degrees of rust. Sanding blocks are great for flat surfaces. Some blocks use precut, adhesive-backed sand-paper. Others use regular sandpaper that you cut to fit and then wrap around the block. A sanding sponge is flexible, so it's perfect for sanding curves and other-wise hard-to-sand shapes. Sanding cords let you get into small gaps, like the kind you'll find on wrought iron railings (Photo 4). Cords come either flat or round and in different grits. Clean out small gaps and spaces with a sanding cord. They're available in different grits, much like conventional sand-paper. Work the cord back and forth—think of it as dental floss for metal. How to Dissolve (or 'Convert') Rust
- 3 How to Remove Rust from Hand Tools
- 4 Anticorrosion Primers and Paints
Using Power Tools
The number-one rule of rust-busting is this: Always get rid of as much rust as you can, down to bare metal, if possible.
If you don't, you've created the perfect starting point for more rust and eventually, you'll be redoing the same area. You have better ways to use your time than to redo a project!
Removing Rust With A Cordless Drill
With decorative steel railings, where there are always bends and twists, a wire brush chucked into a cordless drill is the easiest way to remove rust (Photo 1).
Strip away rust quickly with a wire brush chucked in your electric drill. The brushes come in different wire grades (fine, medium and heavy) to match the degree of rust you're removing. We're using a medium-grade brush on our railing.
Wire brushes come in fine, medium and heavy grades. Either a fine or medium brush will work on light rust; save the heavy one for bad cases.
Removing Rust With A Sander
For de-rusting large, flat surfaces, try a power sander. A belt sander or palm sander will work, but you'll get the best results with a random orbital sander (Photo 2).
Remove rust from larger areas with a power sander. A random orbital sander is a good choice. It works quickly and smoothly with great results. Start with a 40- to 60-grit sanding disk, depending on the degree of rust — the heavier the rust, the lower the grit number. Progress to higher numbered sanding disks (less grit) as the rust is removed, for a smooth finish.
The random sanding pattern works a large area (like the back of our metal lawn chair) and helps prevent sanding lines or gouges.