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.

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

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.

Wipe the area clean, using a soft rag.

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.

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.

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

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