Even severe cases of rust on a piece of metal furniture can be treated.

How to Get Rust Off Tabletops

by Maria Magher

Even if you invest in a quality patio furniture set, exposure to the elements can eventually lead to rust on your tabletop. A lot of people think that rust is irreversible so they scrap the whole set and buy a new one. However, you can easily remove surface rust and restore your tabletop to like-new, saving you money while also giving you a beautiful table once again.

1 Scrub the rust vigorously with a stiff, wire brush to clear off large patches of layered or loose rust.

2 Sand the area with a coarse-grit sandpaper to continue removing rust once you are no longer able to make gains with the wire brush.

3 Wipe the area clean, using a soft rag.

4 Apply a chemical rust remover to any spots that remain. Spray on the rust remover. Alternatively, pour it on and spread it with a paintbrush or roller. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

5 Apply a rust converter to any lingering rust stains, if necessary. Brush on the rust converter for spot treatment; use a paint roller or squeegee for larger areas. Two coats may be needed for full treatment. Allow the area to dry completely between applications.

6 Spray the area with primer if you chose not to use a rust converter. Allow the area to dry completely.

7 Apply a paint that's designed for metal. Choose a paint to match the tabletop and touch up the repaired area. Alternatively, repaint the entire table a new color.

Items you will need

  • Wire brush
  • Sandpaper, course-grit
  • Sander
  • Chemical rust remover
  • Paintbrush
  • Rust converter
  • Primer
  • Metal paint
  • Topcoat
  • Soft rag
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles
  • Respirator


  • The type of sander you use will depend upon the shape and size of the area where the rust is located. However, typically, a smaller sander -- such as a mouse sander -- is preferred.
  • Depending on the severity of your rust stains, you may not need to go through each of these steps. One method -- scouring, sanding, applying a rust remover or applying a rust converter -- may be enough to remove the rust.
  • Primer is not necessary when using a rust converter.


  • The chemicals in rust removers are very harsh and are toxic. Always wear safety goggles, a respirator and rubber gloves when you use them.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images