How to Paint Rusted Metal With POR-15


POR-15 is a brand of paint, formulated to seal and inhibit rust. Like other paints, POR-15 will not bond to metal unless the surface is etched prior to application. The same company that manufactures POR-15 makes an acidic etching solution that can be used to pre-treat the rusted metal. Unfortunately, in the hands of an amateur do-it-yourselfer, this solution could prove extremely dangerous. Condition your rusted metal for better adhesion before you apply POR-15 with a special etching primer that is much easier and safer to work with.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • Water-based degreasing cleanser
  • Steel wool
  • Rags
  • Water hose
  • Galvanized metal etching primer
  • 2- to 4-inch china paintbrush
  • Mineral spirits
  • POR-15
  • Opaque paint
  • Eliminate loose, existing oxidation. Scrape as much of the rust from the metal as you can with a sturdy wire brush and 80-grit sandpaper. Otherwise, adhesion problems will result.

  • Clean the rusted metal to encourage adhesion. Scrub the metal with degreasing cleanser and steel wool. Rinse with wet rags or a hose. Allow the metal to dry for about two hours.

  • Brush a coat of etching primer onto the rusted metal. Brush vertically, applying just a light coating to reduce the chances of sagging. Allow the base coat to dry for three hours.

  • Wash the china brush with mineral spirits.

  • Apply the POR-15 just as you did the primer. Allow the POR-15 to dry for three hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • POR-15 is sensitive to UV rays. Exterior metal treated with POR-15 requires an opaque topcoat or fading will result. Apply the topcoat just as you applied the base and finish. Interior surfaces require no topcoat.
  • Do not apply POR-15 to untreated metal or flaking will result.
  • Do not use synthetic brushes with etching primer or POR-15.

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