How to Fix Up a Rusted Metal Table

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Distinguished for their strength, decorative appeal and long lifespan, metal tables complement indoor and outdoor spaces. Outdoor patio tables, however, are vulnerable to rust. Rust generally attacks iron and steel tables exposed to weather and produces scaly residue on their surfaces. Rusted metal swells and absorbs more oxygen and carbon dioxide, allowing rust to spread deeper into the table. Unless thoroughly eliminated, rust deteriorates metal tables until they collapse. Promptly fix up a rusted metal table to improve its appearance.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth
  • Towel
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Wire brush
  • Naval jelly
  • Fine steel wool
  • Mineral spirits
  • Disposable paintbrush
  • Towel
  • Rust-inhibiting spray primer
  • Metal topcoat spray paint

Wipe the table’s surfaces with a clean, water-moistened cloth to eliminate dirt and debris particles. Dry the table’s surfaces with a towel.

Wrap 150-grit sandpaper around a sanding block. Rub the block and sandpaper diagonally over rust on the table’s flat surfaces. Sand as many rust fragments off the table's flat surfaces as possible.

Scrub rust off the table’s legs with a wire brush. Detach as much rust residue as possible.

Examine the table for lingering rust. If you discover any, cover the affected surfaces liberally with naval jelly. Apply the naval jelly with a disposable paintbrush. Let the jelly sit for 30 minutes to fully break down the rust.

Flush the table with water to thoroughly remove the naval jelly.

Scrub grease and contaminants off the surface with fine steel wool drenched in mineral spirits. Grease and grime impede paint’s adhesion to metal.

Flush the table with water to fully remove the mineral spirits. Thoroughly dry the entire table with a towel.

Spray the exposed metal evenly with rust-inhibiting primer to seal out weather elements. Apply the primer with steady, even strokes. Leave the primer coat to dry for 24 hours.

Coat the metal table surfaces with metal topcoat paint to protect the primer. Steadily spray two separate coats of metal topcoat paint onto the entire table’s surface. Leave each topcoat to air-dry separately for 24 hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Exchange an orbital sander for ordinary sandpaper and sanding block.
  • Wear goggles and chemical-resistant rubber gloves when working with naval jelly.
  • Neglecting to prime exposed metal immediately encourages new rust development.

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