Rust never sleeps, they say. The longer you leave exposed, rusting pipes untreated in your yard
...well, you are ruining your pipes as they are eaten away by the elements. Rusty pipes, such as those leading to a gas
meter, also make a house
look a bit shabby and unloved. Let's take a look at how to deal with rusty pipes on your home's exterior. Spring is the perfect time to tackle this project!
Step 1. Select your paint
Go with a good brand like Rust-Oleum. By the way, Rust-Oleum has a fabulous website
with lots of helpful advice for beginners
. The company even has a special section on best products for really rusty surfaces
. I recommend you check it out before
heading to the paint store.
You will want to use an oil-based enamel paint
. Oil-based paints are sticky and are not water-soluble. This makes application and cleanup a little tougher, but it's so worth it because oil-based paints are made to last. You have a choice between brush-on paint
or spray paint
. Personally, I prefer the traditional brush-on kind. On the other hand, spray paints mean no messy brushes to clean up when you're done!
Step 2. Surface Preparation
Bust Rust!(click thumbnails to view gallery)
Using a wire brush
, scrub the rusted area vigorously
to remove as much rust
as possible. Put your weight behind the brush for maximum results. Use coarse-grained sandpaper
to get rust out of the tightest spots that a brush won't reach. Periodically use a brush or broom
to knock off accumulations of fine dust
. The surface will remain a rusty orange color. That's okay. Just strip the surface of anything that might flake.
Yes, these days you can buy primers specifically for application on badly rusted surfaces
. The paint is absorbed into the rust and glues it down. And there are other prepping chemicals that remove rust, such as rust strippers and rust releasers. But why go to the expense if some elbow grease cleans the surface nicely?
the surface down afterwards. First, wetting the metal means you'll have to wait for it to dry completely before you can paint, which will take at least one day. Second, it's not necessary, because the wire brushing will remove surface dirt and oil
along with the rust. Any remaining fine dust will get mixed in with the paint. That's okay, too.
Wire Brush Tips
When it comes to painting metals, surface preparation is critical. Here is how to get the most from your wire brush, this simple yet essential surface prep item:
Step 3. To prime or not to prime?
- Go cheap. A basic wire brush with an unfinished wood handle should only set you back about $2. These can be found in the painting prep section of your local hardware store. Yes, there are lots of fancier ones in the tool department, but don't be sucked into buying one of these. The good old plain ones do the job just as well.
- I also find the wooden brushes are easier to handle. The cool-looking plastic ones get hot and slippery in your hands once you've worked up a sweat, meaning you're more likely to get blisters.
- Bigger is better. Opt for a bigger brush with more bristles, as that is the one that will work hardest for you. I say this particularly for ladies with small hands who might be tempted to go for the cute little mini wire brushes. Yes, they're cute, but they're also pretty useless.
- Brush surgery. Using a small hacksaw, trim the tip--perhaps a quarter inch or so--of your wire brush. This will help you get into corners you could not otherwise reach.
Manufacturers will always tell you a primer coat is essential for treating rusty metal
. That's not quite true. For one thing, some rust-control paints (including the one I used) are designed for application directly onto the metal
. This means you can skip the priming step, especially if perfection is not required.
For example, in the project featured in my gallery, I painted rusty pipes leading to a gas meter. This meter is located in a low-visibility area, mostly hidden behind shrubs
and fairly sheltered from the weather
. I didn't want to fuss over the job, so I just made sure to prep the area very well with a wire brush, then applied a nice thick coat of oil-based rust-stopper enamel paint.
If I had been painting to treat rust on something more valuable or visible, such as patio furniture
, I would definitely have used a primer
coat first. Bottom line: let the needs of each individual project guide you.
Step 4. Painting: the easiest easier part
Choose a warm, dry day with low humidity for the painting stage. Apply your paint with firm, deliberate strokes. Enamel paint is a bit tacky and needs to be brushed on with care to ensure it adheres properly to the base surface. As is always the case when painting, don't load the brush. Aim to keep paint as near as possible to the tip of the brush.
Step 5. Cleaning up
Clean up for oil-based paints is done with mineral spirits
and is trickier than cleaning up acrylic (water-based) paints. Because you can't just rinse the paint or the dirty mineral spirits down the drain -- it's not eco-friendly
, people! -- aim to use as little spirits as possible. Before immersing your brush in the spirits, paint an old board or some newspaper with as much excess goop as you can unload off the brush.