The Best Rust Converters of 2023

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 Apr 7, 2023 2:59 PM

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The Best Rust Converter Options


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 Ultra
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer Spray 
  4. BEST FOR METAL: Rust Kutter Rust Converter
  5. BEST PRIMER: CorrVerter Rust Primer
  6. BEST ECO-FRIENDLY: Gempler’s Eco-Friendly RCQ Rust Converter
  7. ALSO CONSIER: Permatex Rust Treatment
The Best Rust Converter Options


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.

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 a shopper’s unique needs, they will want to consider some of the following highly rated options.

Best Overall

The Best Rust Converter Option: Corroseal Water-Based Rust Converter

Whether users are 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 is also 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


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


  • High price

Get the Corroseal rust converter at Amazon.


The Best Rust Converter Option: FDC Rust Converter Ultra

FDC Rust Converter Ultra rises above the competition with its excellent coverage and compatibility in a variety of applications. Whereas other rust converters may get around 200 to 250 square feet of coverage with a gallon, the FDC rust converter gets a whopping 500 square feet of coverage with a single gallon. Plus, it’s more affordable than other rust converters, though FDC does suggest applying two coats.

FDC Rust Converter Ultra also works on a variety of metal surfaces, including railings, tools, automobiles, machinery, and boats. The product can be applied with a brush, roller, or pump sprayer and requires no thinning. It dries in just 20 minutes and is fully cured in 2 days. FDC Rust Converter Ultra comes in 1-gallon bottles.

Product Specs

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


  • Excellent coverage
  • Works on a variety metal surfaces
  • Quick drying and curing times


  • Requires 2 coats

Get the FDC rust converter at Amazon.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Rust Converter Option: Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer Spray

For converting rust into an inert substance 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 10.25-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


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


  • Not ideal for large projects

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

Best For Metal

The Best Rust Converter Option: Rust Kutter Rust Converter

Rust Kutter uses a unique chemical-conversion process to convert 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 is fairly corrosive and can damage fabric and other vulnerable materials.

Product Specs 

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


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


  • Can damage delicate materials

Get the Rust Kutter rust converter at Amazon.

Best Primer

The Best Rust Converter Option: CorrVerter Rust Primer

Repainting a rust-covered surface typically requires users to remove the rust or treat the rust with a converter first and then prime it before painting over it. For those who don’t mind its high price, CorrVerter simplifies this process by combining a converter and primer into one product. CorrVerter uses a formula that penetrates the rust down to bare metal, converts it via a chemical reaction, and prevents further corrosion. At the same time, it creates a surface over which oil- or water-based coatings and body filler can be applied.

The CorrVerter mix also produces low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), making it less hazardous to apply, and it’s environmentally friendly and nontoxic. This versatile product, which comes in 1-gallon and 5-gallon containers, is suitable for use on a variety of applications, including aircraft, vehicles, marine equipment, storage tanks, and machinery.

Product Specs

  • Type: Water-based
  • Format: Liquid
  • Quantity: 1 gallon or 5 gallons


  • Primes and converts in 1 application
  • Penetrates rust down to bare metal
  • Low VOCs and environmentally friendly


  • Very expensive

Get the CorrVerter rust converter at The Rust Store.

Best Eco-Friendly

The Best Rust Converter Option: Gempler’s Eco-Friendly RCQ Rust Converter

Gempler’s rust converter is a water-based formula that’s not only easy to clean up but is also environmentally safe. This liquid-based converter goes on with a paint brush or sponge (the company also sells a special sprayable version of this product). Once applied, it converts the rust, works to prevent rust, and also primes the surface.

Gempler’s rust converter cures in just 48 hours, after which the surface can be repainted. Gempler’s recommends using an oil-based paint for maximum protection from weather. As with other combination converters and primers, Gempler’s is one of the more expensive options on the market. This rust converter comes in smaller 1-quart and 1-gallon bottles as well as aerosol cans. One gallon covers up to 500 square feet.

Product Specs

  • Type: Water-based
  • Format: Liquid and spray
  • Quantity: 1 quart, 1 gallon, 13-ounce aerosol spray can


  • Environmentally friendly
  • Multiple application options
  • Converts and primes


  • Expensive

Get the Gempler’s rust converter at Amazon.

Best Aerosol

The Best Rust Converter Option: Permatex Rust Treatment

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


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


  • High price

Get the Permatex rust converter at Amazon.

Jump to Our Top Picks

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.


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.


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.

How to Remove Rust

The best way to remove rust is to create an acidic solution, which can be done using basic household items. Begin by applying some coarse salt to the rusted area; then coat it in lemon juice. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes and then wipe off the juice and rinse the area. Don’t let the mix sit on the metal for too long as it may cause damage. For a stronger solution, mix the lemon juice with vinegar before applying it to the rust.


Although you now know more about choosing the best rust converter, you might still be looking for more information on how to use it. 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.

Why Trust Bob Vila

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.