The Best Rust Converters of 2022

Learn how the best converters can remove and prevent rust while simultaneously adding a coat of paint-ready primer to all your metal possessions.

By James Fitzgerald | Updated Jan 20, 2021 12:27 PM

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The Best Rust Converter Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

Everything degrades over time; metal objects are usually the victims of rust. Fortunately, there are several ways to combat rust, such as manually removing it with sandpaper, wire brushes, acid- and chemical-based rust removers, or a rust converter. Unlike rust removers, which use an acidic or chemical process to strip the rust off a metal surface, rust converters transform the rust into a paintable and sometimes sandable material while also preventing future rust formation. This allows a rust converter to serve three roles: rust remover, rust preventer, and metal paint primer.

Keep reading for tips on choosing the best option, and explore our curated picks for the best rust converter.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter 
  2. RUNNER-UP: FDC Rust Converter
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer Spray 
  4. BEST SPRAY: Rust Kutter Rust Converter
  5. BEST AEROSOL: Permatex Rust Treatment
  6. BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Gempler’s Eco-Friendly RCQ Rust Converter and Primer
The Best Rust Converter Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Rust Converter

Rust converters are available in water- or chemical-based formulas in large bottles, spray bottles, or aerosol spray cans. Water-based formulas are nontoxic, noncorrosive, and environmentally friendly, but they’re often (though not always) less aggressive and powerful than chemical solutions.

Unlike spray water-based formulas, chemical formulas also are available in easy-to-use aerosol spray cans. However, users can fill a spray bottle with a water-based formula to enjoy advantages similar to those of an aerosol can. Both water- and chemical-based rust converters can be applied with a paint brush or roller. Read on to discover some of the best rust converters in each of these categories.

Types of Rust Converters

Though all rust converters contain similar ingredients, they come in several different application formats. The three most popular are spray, aerosol, and brush on. Each format has its own advantages and benefits. Some types will work better than others for a particular situation.

Spray

Most rust converters on the market come in a liquid format and can be used with a spray gun for quick and easy application. Some converters sold in smaller quantities may already come in a spray bottle, which is a perfect solution for smaller projects. Although this lends ease and convenience, it’s more economical to purchase a large quantity of a spray rust converter for bigger jobs. For a more consistent application, spray products may need to be evened out with a brush or roller after being applied.

Aerosol

Some liquid rust converters are sold in aerosol cans. This application format is typically used for chemical-based rust converters. These produce a fine, even misting of the product to ensure consistent coverage. This is ideal for covering a large surface area rather than an area that requires precise application. Aerosol cans hold only a small amount of liquid so they are not the most economical choice, as multiple cans will be needed for a larger job.

Brush On

Brush-on rust converters can be either liquids or gels and are applied using a paint brush or a similar implement. Because they take longer to apply than a spray or aerosol, they are ideal for smaller surface areas but are not the best choice for larger projects. If a brush-on rust converter is sold in a liquid format, however, it can be used with a spray gun to get the job done faster. Gel rust converters, on the other hand, aren’t compatible with sprayers because of their thicker texture and need to be applied by hand.

Toxicity and Ease of Use

When choosing between the different types of rust converters, consider their ease of use. Brush-on rust converters are simple to apply and don’t require any special tools aside from a paint brush. Using a spray gun to apply a rust converter is faster than brushing it on but requires owning or renting a spray gun. Spray guns also offer less precision and are more likely to make a mess.

When using chemical-based products like a rust converter, safety should always be a primary consideration. The majority of rust converters are formulated with tannic acid, which is toxic if ingested. It is therefore essential to keep rust converters in a safe place where they’re out of reach of both pets and children.

Our Top Picks

In the quest to conquer rust, even the most determined DIYer can become quickly overwhelmed by the plethora of options on the market. To determine which rust converter is best for the user’s unique needs, consider some of the following highly rated options.

Best Overall

The Best Rust Converter Options: Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter Metal Primer
Photo: amazon.com

Whether restoring a car, lawn furniture, tools, or a boat, Corroseal’s rust converter is a powerful solution to troublesome rust. After a little surface prep with a wire brush, apply this converter with a brush, roller, or spray bottle. Even though it’s a thin solution, it usually requires only a single coat to restore rusted material while simultaneously priming it with a durable latex primer. The water-based formula is nontoxic, noncorrosive, nonflammable, and environmentally friendly. Cleanup requires just soap and water.

Corroseal states that a single gallon can cover 200 to 250 square feet, and a 5-gallon jug also is available for greater coverage. Corroseal offers 1-quart and 32-ounce quantities. This product is slightly more expensive than some other options.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Water-based
  • Format: Liquid
  • Quantity: 1 quart to 5 gallons

Pros

  • Large quantities available
  • Can be applied in several ways
  • Nontoxic and eco-friendly
  • Most applications require only a single coat

Cons

  • High price

Get the Corroseal rust converter on Amazon.

Runner-up

The Best Rust Converter Options: FDC Rust Converter Ultra Rust Repair (1 Gallon)
Photo: amazon.com

FDC’s Rust Converter is one of the best ways to turn troublesome rust into an inert substance that’s ready to paint and be protected from further corrosion. A 1 gallon can covers up to 500 square feet and is dry to the touch in only 20 minutes. It can be applied with a brush, roller, or spray bottle.

This product works best on thin layers of rust and may require more surface prep than some other products as well as two coats to be fully effective.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Oil-based
  • Format: Liquid
  • Quantity: 1 gallon

Pros

  • Available in a large quantity
  • Dries quickly
  • Can be applied in several different ways

Cons

  • May require more surface prep

Get the FDC rust converter on Amazon.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Rust Converter Options: Rust-Oleum, Black 10.25 oz Rust Reformer Spray
Photo: amazon.com

For converting rust at a relatively affordable price, Rust-Oleum’s Rust Reformer Spray is hard to beat. Rust-Oleum incorporates “any-angle” spray technology that allows the user to disperse the converter from any position, even upside down.

The oil-based formula uses rust-prevention additives to hinder additional rust formation and to keep rust from spreading to surrounding metal surfaces. Surfaces are dry to the touch in 20 to 40 minutes, but the small quantity in each 10.5-ounce can of the converter and primer likely means multiple cans would be required to finish a large project.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Oil-based
  • Format: Liquid spray
  • Quantity: 10.25 ounces

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Dries quickly
  • Can be sprayed from any angle for even application

Cons

  • Not ideal for large projects

Get the Rust-Oleum rust converter on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best Spray

The Best Rust Converter Options: Rust Kutter Rust Converter, Professional Rust Repair
Photo: amazon.com

Rust Kutter uses a unique chemical-conversion process that transforms rust into a paintable phosphate coating. It comes ready to use with an attached sprayer head, but the head detaches to allow coverage via a brush or roller. Rust Kutter also offers a 1-gallon jug. Expect an impressive 600 square feet of coverage per gallon of formula. Once applied, the surface is ready to use or be painted in 24 hours.

It can often take multiple coats to get the job done, and after each coat, users must wash off the material residue that’s left on the surface from the chemical reaction. The converter also is fairly corrosive and can damage fabric and other vulnerable materials.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Spray
  • Format: Liquid spray
  • Quantity: 32 ounces

Pros

  • Comes with an attached sprayer head
  • Available in 2 sizes
  • Uses a unique chemical-conversion process

Cons

  • Can damage delicate materials

Get the Rust Kutter rust converter on Amazon.

Best Aerosol

The Best Rust Converter Options: Permatex Rust Treatment, 10.25 oz. Aerosol Can
Photo: amazon.com

For a heavy-duty, industrial converter, Permatex Rust Treatment’s proprietary formula can transform the toughest rust into a primed and paintable surface. It even prevents rust from spreading and protects the coated material from further surface rust formation.

This rust treatment comes in an easy-to-use spray can, and it dries within minutes. Permatex also offers a liquid solution for those who prefer a paint brush or roller. One downside is that this product costs almost double that of comparable quantities of other converters.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Spray
  • Format: Liquid aerosol
  • Quantity: 10.25 ounces

Pros

  • Ideal for heavy-duty projects
  • Prevents further rust formation
  • Dries quickly

Cons

  • High price

Get the Permatex rust converter on Amazon.

Best Eco-Friendly

The Best Rust Converter Options: GEMPLER’S Eco-Friendly RCQ Rust Converter and Primer
Photo: amazon.com

Gempler’s rust converter features a water-based formula that contains no toxic or caustic chemicals but converts rust into a primed surface just as good as or perhaps even better than some chemical formulas. Apply the thin water-based formula with a paint brush, roller, or spray bottle. It takes only one coat for effective coverage, and a single 1-quart bottle covers up to 125 square feet.

Gempler’s says to allow up to 48 hours of drying time. Although this product is eco-friendly, it’s also quite expensive, which may make it impractical for large-scale home improvement projects.

Product Specs 

  • Type: Water-based
  • Format: Liquid
  • Quantity: 1 quart

Pros

  • Nontoxic and eco-friendly
  • Can be applied in several ways
  • Most applications require only a single coat

Cons

  • Long drying time
  • High price

Get the Gempler’s rust converter on Amazon.

Our Verdict

After reviewing this guide, prospective buyers now know more about shopping for a rust converter. We recommend the Corroseal rust converter for its top-notch performance and eco-friendly formula. Those on a budget may appreciate the Rust-Oleum rust converter, which offers terrific performance at a lower price point.

How We Chose the Best Rust Converters

Years of experience in covering home improvement products, as well as extensive product research, went into creating this guide. We explored more than 20 rust-converter options and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations.

  • Application style: There are several ways to apply a rust converter, each of which is appropriate for a different type of project. Considering that, we aimed to include products with several different application styles to appeal to the highest quantity of shoppers.
  • Reviews: While many rust converters make impressive claims, it’s important to have user data to back them up. We therefore included only well-reviewed products in our recommendations.
  • Value: Since rust converters come in several different formats and quantities, it can be hard to gauge a product’s value. We included only rust converters that offered great value based on the price and quantity.

FAQs

Although you now know more about choosing the best rust converter, you might still be looking for more information on how to use them. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding rust converters.

Q. Is it better to remove rust or use a rust converter?

Removing rust completely is the best option, but it can be laborious. That’s why rust converters are popular; they get the job done and are quick and easy to use.

Q. What are rust converters made of?

The primary ingredient in most rust converters is tannic acid, a chemical that converts the red color of iron oxides to a dark color while simultaneously making the surface more stable.

Q. Should you sand after using a rust converter?

Some rust converters are designed to be sanded down after they dry, while others create a smooth surface that doesn’t need to be sanded. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific product for the best results.