MAINTENANCE : Don’t Allow Metal Surfaces to Rust in Peace

Associated Press

Rust is the enemy of any iron, steel or galvanized metal you have in your home. It is an eyesore and if not removed or tested properly, rust can eventually destroy the metal it attacks. It can also stain adjacent painted surfaces.

Remember that rust will attack through the smallest scratch or bare spot. It will then undercut the surface until the paint or other finish blisters, cracks and pops off.

Rust can be removed with a wire brush, a rotary wire brush attachment on an electric drill, a hand grinder, electric orbital sander, with commercial chemical compounds, and even with common household preparations.


Remember to wear safety goggles and work gloves when using power tools; wear goggles, protective clothing, and rubber gloves when handling caustic chemicals or solvents such as kerosene or turpentine.

How to Remove Rust

* Before repainting rusted areas, remove as much of the rust as possible, down to a firm metal surface. On metal surfaces, use a wire brush or an electric drill brush attachment. Then sand down to bare metal with medium-grit silicon carbide paper. You can use an orbital electric sander on flat surfaces. Finish with fine sandpaper or steel wool.

* On a large job, you can lessen your work by applying a rust converter--a special primer that turns solid, well-bonded rust into a protective coating. First brush off loose rust flakes down to a solid surface. Then use an old paintbrush to apply the primer. Follow label directions to let it cure before painting.

* An electric hand grinder with a conical stone removes dime-size rust spots from metal without damaging the surrounding paint. Use it carefully to avoid penetrating the metal. Follow with primer and paint.

* To remove rust from wrought iron, rub with a kerosene-dampened cloth, then scour with extra-fine steel wool. If this fails, use a coarser grade of steel wool.

* To remove rust from unpainted metal furniture, scrub it with a cloth dipped in turpentine. You can also remove rust from iron or a tinned surface with a raw potato dipped in rottenstone polishing material.


* Stubborn rust on your tools? Rub them with a soap-filled steel-wool pad dipped in kerosene or turpentine. Finish them off by briskly rubbing with wadded aluminum foil. On small tools or other surfaces that are hard to sand, brush off as much rust as you can. Then apply a gel-like rust remover, carefully following label directions.

* On siding stained by nailheads, use sandpaper or steel wool to remove as much stain and rust as possible. Sink each nail with a nail set and fill the hole with putty, caulk or exterior spackling compound. Then prime the spots with a latex or shellac-based stain killer. Put two coats over flathead nails that can’t be countersunk. Coat a rust stain on an interior wall with an alcohol-based primer; repeat if it bleeds through.

* Scrub a rust stain on concrete with a mix of half muriatic acid and half water. Handle cautiously.

* Soak a corroded bolt in a small container of vinegar for several days or until the rust begins to dissolve.

* Pour club soda over rusty nuts and bolts to loosen them.

* Make a paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide and rub on rust stains in sinks and bathtubs.

* Vinegar, lemon juice or hot pepper sauce can be used to remove rust in place of penetrating oil.

To Prevent Rust

* Use only rust-proof aluminum, stainless steel or galvanized nails and screws in areas exposed to moisture.

* Put a rust-resistant primer on any exposed metal piece; prime and point its hidden sides before installation.

* Rub a few drops of light oil on hand tools, saw blades and drill bits before storing them. Never store tools in a damp basement or garage if you can avoid it.