salvaged iron

Dealing With Rust at Home


We deal with rust quite often here at Black Dog Salvage, and many of you have asked how to treat it when working on your own DIY projects. So how can rust be used to your advantage to get a gorgeous finish without sandblasting or powder coating? It’s really quite simple, check out our Quick Tip Tuesday video below to see how as Tay takes you through the process.

How to Begin

You’ll want to begin by removing any flaky paint and rust that’s on your item. Before starting, however, it’s important to put on the proper protective equipment to ensure your safety while dealing with things like old paint that can contain lead and rust. Inhaling vaporized lead and rust can be harmful, so be sure that you’re properly protected. While there are many different ways to remove rust, we recommend using a scaler (also known as a needle gun), which can work wonders with a decent air compressor for roughly $40-50. However, using a chisel, wire brush, hammer, or combination of the three should do the trick, especially for items that are relatively small in size.

Finishing Rusted Pieces

Now we typically do one of two things when we’re finishing rusted items. We either clear coat the item to seal in that cool and unique rust color, or we prime it with a rust neutralizer and then paint over the primed finish once a few coats have been applied.

If you’re looking to keep that beautifully rusted patina, though, be sure to use an oil based clear coat. This will darken the rust slightly but keep the overall look in tact.

If you’re wanting to paint your piece, it’ll be important to use a rust neutralizer before painting. When applied to rusted surfaces, rust neutralizers resist/retard the iron oxide (rust) and chemically change it to iron phosphate, which is a tough, hard surface that’s ready for priming. Thankfully, a rust neutralizer can easily be applied using a spray bottle. The outcome of the shade or color after this application will vary depending on the age and extent of the rust. Then you’d simply paint your piece using the color of your choice!

Remember, the type of paint you use depends completely on the application of the project. If your piece is going to be inside, you can use whatever paint you want (like our signature Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint, for instance). But if it’s going to be outside, you’ll want to use something that has a little more UV resistance, and possibly even paint made specifically for metal.

It’s really that easy, so don’t let those rusty items deter you! Get out there and show us what you can do! And please share your photos with us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. We’d love to see your work!