Rusty Metal Primer vs Rust Reformer: What’s the Difference?

Rusty Metal Primer vs Rust Reformer

The number of chemicals present in household products is so great that it is hard for one chemical to react safely with another. You need to be especially careful when it comes to dealing with rust.

Rust-Oleum is the go-to brand for this type of job. Until recently, painting rusty metal was a laborious and time-consuming process. The process has been simplified greatly with prep products, such as Rust-Oleum’s Rust metal primer and reformer.

With Rust-Oleum’s Rust Reformer, rust can be transformed from a rusty material to a paintable one. There is a risk, however, that it may not stick to old paint very well since it is not a primer. That’s when you’ll need Rusty Metal Primer.

In this Rusty Metal Primer Vs Rust Reformer article, I’ll be looking at these two popular products and comparing them side by side to see which one works better against rust.

Now, before I get to the main part, keep in mind that these two products aren’t designed to compete with each other. It’s like comparing apples with oranges. However, since both of them work similarly, it’s easy to get confused.

What Is Rusty Metal Primer?

 Rusty Metal Primer

Rust occurs when oxygen and moisture react with the metal to corrode and weaken a metal surface. Furniture or other household items that are exposed to water rust can be very destructive.

Primers like this stop rust and prevent corrosion. A thick layer of this material is applied to heavily rusted metal. This material forms a strong bond with rust. Once it has been cured, you can apply topcoats easily.

How It Works

Rather than attempting to repair rusted or scaled surfaces, rust reformers remove rust and scale in order to restore them to their former glory. As with rust primers, it is an active rust converter that provides a better solution for heavily corroded surfaces than those that are easily fixed with primers.

As the chemicals in the Rust Reformer react with the rusted metal, the rust is completely transformed. These processes leave the object with a clear coating that serves as a protective layer for the paint.

To treat rusted metallic surfaces, the chemical reaction of chelation is used. By using it, you can easily apply primer and paint because of its durable and impermeable properties. If it is to work, it must have been severely corroded for a long time.

In both cases, metal surfaces can be prevented from rusting effectively because of the rust converters. Although they may perform similar actions, their features, modes of action, etc., differ dramatically.

With this information, you can see how rust reformers and rusty metal primers differ and are similar, and which is best suited for your situation.

Why Use Rusty Metal Primer?

You can use a rust primer and remover if you’re frustrated by the damage rust and corrosion cause. If you live in a region where rust often forms, these products would be especially useful for antique and classic cars.

Rust converters can be used to restore any rusted areas on your vehicle and protect it against future corrosion.

When You Should Use It

Primer is a better choice than reformer when it comes to rust prevention. The primer is the best choice especially if you are not able to choose both due to extreme levels of rust and need to choose just one. Primers help paint adhere to metal surfaces by acting as anchors.

When You Shouldn’t Use It

You shouldn’t try to fix rusted objects by removing loose rust parts if their rust levels are high. You shouldn’t use a metal primer in this situation. You should use the reformer instead.

What Is Rust Reformer?

 Rust Reformer

Rust-oleum offers a variety of spray paint and primers that cover, hide, and stop rust completely. The rust reformer is designed to stop the corrosion process completely.

It works by bonding with rusty metal with a layer of this black coating. Using this method, rusty surfaces can instantly become non-rusting. Simply spray directly on rust without sanding down to the bare metal.

How It Works

Using a metal primer can be a highly effective way to keep your metals free of rust. Since its Metal primers act as rust converters, it is highly effective in solving rust accumulation on metal items, and furniture.

In metal priming, rust halting products are used to make a surface compatible for your paint to stick to. Once the rust is halted, paint can adhere to this stable surface with ease.

Primer materials contain an acidic composition that reacts with the rust and completely dissolves it. This method works best on products that have been rusted but can still be recovered.

Why Use It?

It is extremely time-consuming and energy-consuming to remove rust and salvage corroded parts and pieces. You have only one choice left and that is to grind or sand away the rust unless you use a rust converter.

There can be a whole host of problems resulting from this. That is why you should use a rust converter like the Rust Reformer that works in seconds to remove rust quickly, instead of spending hours chipping away at years of corrosion.

When You Should Use It

Primers work best instead of reformers when it comes to painting rusty metal roofs or garage doors made out of metal. Sanding and removing as much loose rust as possible, priming, and sealing the enamel can be done in these situations.

When You Shouldn’t Use It

When it comes to sticking to the paint, a reformer cannot perform well. The coating protects against rust and transforms the surface into one that can be painted.

This is a good option for adhering to paint in some cases, but it may not be suitable in others. It is true that when both products are used together, the results are stronger, but if you had to choose only one, the primer would be best.

Rust Reformer Vs Rusty Metal Primer

If you need to renovate rusty metal objects, primers and reformers would be the best products to use. It can be hard to decide which product to buy since they are so different. And it’s safe to say, they aren’t worth comparing.

Most of the time, they are used together. The Rusty Metal Primer from Rust-Oleum is perfect for rusted metal that has been heavily corrosion but is not falling apart yet. You will understand this more in the following section. >>

It is best to use Rust Reformer when the object is in a state where it’s not worth repairing. By converting rust into surface for the paint to adhere, it makes painting easier. Before I get to the main difference between the two, it would be more appropriate if you understood how both of them work.

Converting Rust

Among rust converters, products such as these two are essential. In essence, instead of removing the rust, they convert iron oxide into tannate meaning the surface can hold paint.

Most of the time, rust is caused by the oxidation of metals. An oxidation reaction takes place on the metal surface. This is usually caused by water present. Typically, steel oxidizes the most, but some don’t.

In terms of notable elements, silver, gold, and platinum come to mind. There are other metals such as niobium and titanium are resistant to oxidation. Meanwhile, base metals corrode when exposed to oxygen.

Rust converters are needed to preserve a wide range of structures and objects. Restoration professionals use these products for restoring historically important items, stairways, fences, and garden metal structures.

Ensure the furniture you are restoring is structurally sound when using these products. These products aren’t designed to support an object’s structure.

Applicable Projects

In both cases, these products can adhere to solid surfaces. Spraying is recommended for best results, but brushing can also be used. This is because the primer and reformer are evenly applied when they are sprayed.

Primers are usually effective on rusted objects that are still structurally sound. Once the primers have dried, these objects can usually be repaired. However, reformers work on rusted objects in need of additional attention and are not in a good structural position.

Surfaces that are rust-effected or corroded can be treated with both the primer and reformer. Reformers, however, work best when corrosion levels are high to medium. Primer, however, works best when corrosion levels are medium to high.

The use of a reformer followed by a primer produces better results on objects that are highly rusted. These products work even better when combined together.


The primer offers a 20 sq. ft. coverage area whereas the reformer has a 12 sq. ft. coverage area. Depending on the amount of corrosion and rust accumulation on your metal surfaces, you can choose which is best for your project.

Coatings And Finishes

The Metal Primer might be useful if you need your metal surfaces to be a certain color. There are two colors available for it: red and brown, while the reformer is only available in black.

Your rust surface will therefore end up being red or brown when you use a primer. The reformer, however, will turn the rusted area into a black color. You can apply additional paint after that.

Curing Time

Surfaces are matte and flat after applying the primer and reformer. Unlike primers, which dry down in 10-15 minutes, reformers take 25-30 minutes to dry down.

Paint can be applied immediately after primer, but when it comes to reformers, you have to apply an additional 15 minutes of primer, let it dry, and then start painting.

Sanding And Washing

A primer must be sanded and washed before it can be applied. Rust particles that are not removed thoroughly will obstruct the paint from adhering to the primer. Using a reformer does not require sanding or washing, but a light cleaning is recommended before using the tool.

Maintaining Consistency

Rust Reformer has a water-based consistency, whereas the Metal Primer is oil-based. The consistency of each product also contributes to how it performs its specific functions.

The primer’s oily consistency bonds well with rust and helps it dissolve. Using a primer, you can provide a strong surface to which paint can adhere. It will also protect the surface from moisture entering the exterior from the outside.

The reformer, however, contains tannic acids. Using the chelation method, rust molecules are trapped, and ions are dispersed.

However, despite its ability to bond rust particles strongly, it cannot adhere to painted surfaces. Therefore, the surface must be primed following the reforming process so that paint can adhere to it.

Rust-Oleum Brand Overview

Established in 1921 and making corrosion protection a household name, Rust-Oleum is certainly one of the most recognized names in the industry.

It was founded by a boat captain whose main concern was keeping his ship running. Then, one time, he realized fish oil prevented the rust from spreading on rusty metal decks.

As a result, he started producing and marketing this solution for consumers. In the following years, whale oil was incorporated into the formula, although there have been many changes since. The company no longer uses whale oil in its products.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are rust removers non-toxic?

A rust remover or converter may not be non-toxic. Check the FDC ratings of products containing phosphoric acid. Non-toxic chemicals can be used to remove rust, which is safer for you as well as environmentally friendly.

2. What materials are suitable for use with a rust converter?

Various metals can be treated with rust converters. Iron and steel work best with them, so they are ideal for frames and other structural pieces. Because aluminum is becoming a more popular material for automobiles, they are less effective on it, so keep in mind the material of your car.

3. What is the drying time of rust reformer?

In about 20 minutes, the rust reformer will be completely dry. Also, by adding a second coating, the rust will be more effectively converted. This will give you a better result.


Ultimately, both Rust Metal Primer and Rust Reformer have their own purpose to fulfill. Your final restoration goal depends on the type of rusted object or surface you intend to restore.

As a result, rusty objects or surfaces make a big difference. Depending on your preference and the kind of restoration you need, you can choose a primer or a reformer.

Hopefully, the discussion we had on Rust-Oleum rust reformer vs. rusty metal primer should have been enough to aid you in making your decision.

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