I see many ibles made with black pipe here but rarely do they mention any coatings to prevent rusting. I also often build with rusty items where I need to cover the rust so it won't rub of on clothes etc. but don't want to lose the beauty of the patina. An architect once told me he used linseed oil to preserve rusted iron outdoors. I tried it but the damned stuff never fully dries! I could use polyurethane but the oxidation will continue underneath and it will eventually flake off. I've tried "rust stabilizers" but they turn the rust black so it loses it's color. I finally got turned on to a product from an old timer in a paint store I would probably never have found on my own.

Step 1: Penetrol

He recommended a product called Penetrol normally used as a paint additive to improve flow and adhesion that also seals and stops rust. It can be used alone as a base coat on bare metal and will fix the rust while preserving the appearance. The finish will be darker than dry rust but similar to rust sprayed with water or oil and can be top coated with a polyurethane for a more durable finish.


Be sure to open and view the rest of this ible before sending me questions. ;-)

<p>You have been 'oh-so-kind' in taking time to reply to all.... I hope that my question might not be crazy.... and yes, I get it that you are not a paint/etc expert...</p><p>I just ordered online my Penetrol due to your most fabulous info!!! (yeah!!)</p><p>My question is however.... upon attempting to research online my 'best reviewed option' of a good polyurethane, that many say &quot;water-based&quot;. And I get it --- that only means that 'clean-up' is water-based (or at least that's what the term used to mean)......<br>SOOOOO, without even taking my little 'google rabbit-hole-search' any further..... DO YOU recommend an oil-based or water-based polyurethane????? </p><p>While 'clean-up' doesn't make a difference to me... I just want the BESTEST of BEST applied right now. Touch-up later is not my concern. But finalizing my initial efforts will allow me to sleep well at night :))</p><p>Any rec's of your most favorite Poly????<br>I thank you for your time kind sir :))</p>
<p>Please forgive me for taking up further space, but just to clarify:</p><p>Do you rec an oil-based CLEAR poly or will a water-based CLEAR poly do just as well. My thought is that if the Penetrol is oil-based ---- that an oil-based poly will adhere much better than than it's water-based sibling......I would presume that the oil will also last much longer.</p><p>Either way, what is your favorite clear poly on the market these days that will adhere BEST to Penetrol?</p>
Flecto-Varathane has always been a solid brand. SherClear by Sherwin Williams down right miraculous but also about $100 a gallon.
<p>We have a 112 y/o Victorian and the bathroom has a metal medicine cabinet. We've stripped the four layers of paint off it, sanded it and left it as is. We are noticing rust appearing when the cabinet is opened with wet hands. Will this product prevent that from happening and should we then cover with the poly? Thank you</p>
<p>Condensation from the shower will eventually do that to the entire surface. If you completely remove the rust down to bare metal again, you can just go straight to the clear poly. If you want to preserve the rust so it shows, use the penetrol first and top coat with polyurethane.</p>
Great, thanks, will poly tomorrow! Don't like the rust!<br>
<p>here's an image of the steel</p>
<p>I see a raw steel beam in the left side of the picture and some railings on the stairs and 2nd floor walkway. If they are new and not rusted, you can skip the Penetrol and just use a satin poly. The Penetrol is only for neutralizing any rust.</p>
<p>Thanks for the quick reply.</p><p>They are about two years old and have been waxed with min wax paste a few times. The upward facing surfaces - railing bracks, top of the railings - develops a dusty oxidation after a few months and I'd like to not have to continually wax...the other sides don't seem to be affected much and keep there beauty. The steel below the wax is hit miss with scaling and touches of rusty patina and is a great look. Not sure if the satin poly would be stable over the light patina...thoughts?</p>
<p>If by &quot;patina,&quot; you mean oxidation or rust, then no, most paints or coatings won't last because unless they have something in them to neutralize the oxidation. The wax already there may also be a problem because I don't think anything will adhere to the waxed surface. I don't know anything about wax removal but you might seek out advice from a good paint store if you have one in your area. A Sherwin Williams might be a good place to start. Go in and ask in person for the best results.</p>
<p>To be clear, it is not necessary to use the polyurethane especially if the finish will not be exposed to water and is on the interior of my home?</p>
<p>I use a polyurethane top coat because the Penetrol is a linseed oil product and is not very hard or durable on it's own.</p>
<p>Hi, </p><p>We have an old viscount caravan that we are wanting to take back to bare metal &amp; leave it for the looks.</p><p>What are you recommendations on keeping the rust away? </p><p>Thanks. </p>
<p>IDK. This thread is about preserving and stabilizing rust. If you have rust free bare metal, any appropriate paint or cleat coat will do. I suggest talking to a good automotive paint store.</p>
<p>Brian, I work with salvaged metal. Most of my pieces will have raw steel from where I cut it. There is also lots of rust where paint is completely gone as well as areas of old paint which I like to keep on the piece. For example...old angle iron. I make stuff with it and am curious if the penetrol can be applied to the whole piece, paint and all? obviously dabbing it only on the rusty/fresh cut areas would be too tedious to do. i just experimented with lacquer and not thrilled. I normally use oil based poly (and rust converter stuff on bare metal). I would really appreciate your thoughts on this as I'm finding the people that work at home depot or other hardware stores do not really know much when it comes to art/old rusty metal and preservation. thanks!</p>
<p>I only learned about penetrol because I ran into an old timer in a small town paint store. They only sold paint and related products, no hardware, lawn furniture or appliances to distract them. You'll never find an expert in anything at Home Depot.</p><p>As for coating the whole piece, as long as the remaining paint is solid and clean, it should be fine. Remove any loose of flaking paint, maybe give the painted area a light sanding for adhesion if it's glossy.</p><p>I know there are new lacquers out there that are popular with woodworkers but I know nothing about them. Find a good old fashioned paint store for the more technical questions. i know Sherwin Williams has a miraculous product I believe is called Sher-Clear. It's pricey, but practically bullet proof and remains flexible, not rigid &amp; fragile like lacquers.</p>
<p>thank you Brian, VERY helpful and I appreciate it! so glad i found this thread :)</p>
<strong>WARNING: I AM NOT A PAINT EXPERT!</strong><p>I'm just a guy who, by chatting with an old time paint guy, stumbled onto a way to stabilize and preserve rust without hiding it. please don't ask me how to repaint your car or patio furniture. I don't know and I don't care. This post is only about preserving the beauty of rust while stabilizing it to make a rusty object useable and not so messy.</p>
<p>hi Brian,</p><p>I purchased a large (40&quot;) raw steel bowl with a beautiful patina. I am wanting to turn it into a fountain but the rust discolors the water. Do you think the penetrol would work to seal the finish?</p>
<p>Since Penetrol is linseed oil based, it won't crack &amp; peel. You might need to recoat it periodically but I'd think it would work. I don't have any experience with it outside.</p>
Pic's of my Kardex from my last post
<p>It is a little dingy looking. ;-) Sometimes a clear coat will brighten things up a little. Try wiping it with a wet cloth to see what a little gloss will do for it. You could also experiment on the back or bottom. If it's rust free, you don't need the Penetrol.</p>
<p>would you paint it?</p>
<p>Sure you could paint it you don't like the way it looks raw.</p>
<p>Yes, dingy :'( There is a little rust on the sides but the faces of the drawers are rusty... it looked much nicer covered in grease!! When you say clear coat do you mean petrol? And when you said to try wiping it with a wet cloth, do you mean with water? Sorry, this is new to me. Thus far I have only used kerosene to get rid of rust and oil to prevent but I've been told penetrol is the way. </p>
<p>I have a question concerning this process. Can it stop oxidation on an outdoor awning frame if it has a coat of Barton Lacquer from the person that I purchased the awning? Can I apply the Penetrol to all surfaces and and then use spray polyurethane? Will this hold up for outside installation and prevent the frame from deterioration out in the elements?</p>
<p>I am making black pipe shelves and a towel bar for my bathroom and don't want it to rust in the himidity or leave residue on my towels. Is this process going to work for that? </p>
Yes, but if they're clean and rust free, you can skip the Penetrol. Just clean off the oil and dirt well with paint thinner or mineral spirits and spray on a few coats of polyurethane. Use a flatter finish and you won't even know it's there.
<p>Great!!! Easy peasy. Thank you so much!!!!</p>
<p>I have a mid-century Kardex Remington Rand index file cabinet, I cleaned off the machine shop grease (sadly a bit too much since I saw color running as well) and am looking for suggestions on restoring it, especially the faces of the drawers. I am looking to keep the vintage look but it looks a bit shabby (amazing what 45 years of shop grease can hide). The pic shows one in about the same shape as mine. Thoughts, suggestions?</p>
<p>Hello Brian</p><p>Great topic discussion.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve got an old industrial clock from the 1930s which <br>originally spent its life outside, but has in recent years been living inside, <br>in the dry. (see pics)</p><p>The rust is very old and quite stable, however, the multitude <br>of paint finishes over the years are beginning to flake off in places, which is <br>what I want to try and stop and preserve by applying a clear flat sealer &ndash; No gloss, <br>that stabilizes and locks everything in place. I don&rsquo;t want to add any <br>additional shine or gloss that isn&rsquo;t there already in the original paints. I <br>also want to retain the color of the rust &lsquo;as it is&rsquo; and avoid darkening or <br>blackening it as some rust inhibiters can do.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve narrowed the sealer down to Krylon COVERMAXX&trade; Acrylic <br>Crystal Clear Flat, as it seems to be one of the only true &lsquo;Flat&rsquo; clear sealers <br>available over here in the UK.</p><p>My question is whether &lsquo;Acrylic&rsquo; sealers are compatible to <br>be sprayed on top of Penetrol (or Owatrol Oil, as it is marketed and sold as <br>over here in the UK)? I have read on other forums that xylene based coats <br>(either epoxy or polyurethane/acrylic) are not supposed to be used on top of <br>Penetrol/Owatrol Oil?</p><p>Thanks for any help on this one.</p>
<p>I'm not a paint expert. I don't even know what xylene based coatings are. I only know that I have used spray can polyurethane over the Penetrol many times and have been living with the results successfully for up to 8 years. It's my understanding that acrylic (water based) over oil based coatings is not a good idea.</p><p>Also notice that while the penetrol doesn't change the color (blacken) of rust, it will darken it as if it was wet. If you wipe it with a wet rag, you will see what it will look like after you coat it. If you look at my pictures, you'll see what I mean.</p>
<p>I also wouldn't get too hung up on who has the flattest flat. I can see in your photo that there is a little low level gloss in the old paint The difference from flat or matte or egg shell won't be noticed once it's finished and hanging on the wall.</p>
<p>Brian, many thanks for your feedback.</p><p>Thanks for the confirmation of the resulting darkness of the <br>rust following the &lsquo;Penetrol/Owatrol Oil&rsquo; application. The only other consideration <br>is whether the &lsquo;Penetrol/Owatrol Oil&rsquo; has a tendency to get under the good <br>paint and lift it off as I know some rust neutralising products can do this. If <br>the &lsquo;Penetrol/Owatrol Oil&rsquo; stays in one place and does not creep around and <br>spread under the good paint, then it should be perfect for the job.</p><p>Your observation about the low level gloss in the old paint <br>got me thinking as to whether using a Flat <br>clear sealer was the correct thing to do as it may artificially Flatten the <br>slight gloss that the paint already has? Ideally I need a clear sealer that <br>adds nothing to the original paint gloss level underneath it &ndash; no artificial <br>glossing up or flattening down of what the sealer is covering. Finding a completely <br>neutral clear sealer will be a challenge as they all tend to add something of <br>their own to the final look and finish.</p><p>Also thanks for pointing out the Acrylic paint on top of &lsquo;Penetrol/Owatrol <br>Oil&rsquo; having a compatibility issue. It&rsquo;s strange because the Krylon clear <br>acrylic states that you need mineral spirits for clean-up and not just simple <br>soap and water, which you would expect if it really is a water based acrylic paint?</p><p>I&rsquo;m going to have a further look around for a completely neutral <br>clear sealer that is also compatible with being applied over the &lsquo;Penetrol/Owatrol <br>Oil&rsquo;.</p><p>Many thanks again and will let you know how I get on.</p>
<p>Gloss/flatness is a condition of how light reflects or diffuses off of the surface. It will not be possible for the gloss level of an underlying layer to come through at the surface. Don't waste your time stressing over this. Just chose a flat or satin finish and test it in the back if you want to be sure how it looks.</p><p>It doesn't look like the old paint is very flakey so I doubt the Penetrol would loosen it. Since the Penetrol has hardeners, I'd think it would seal the old surface up nicely.</p>
<p>Hi, am hoping you can help me with a specific recommendation because I am getting confused reading about this online. I have several tables with steel hairpin legs. The legs have started to rust. I read that I can remove the rust with steel wool. I have read pros and cons about various products and am unclear regarding what to do next to protect them from rusting again. I would want a clear coating so that the raw steel shows through. These tables are indoors, on carpet. Thank you!</p>
If you like the look of the rust, and want to preserve that, You can follow what I did here. <br><br>If you want to remove the rust, you would use naval jelly or some kind of rust remover. If you use steel wool with it, it might change the surface like sand paper but I'm not sure. You can test a small area inside, close to the table top so it won't show if you don't like the results. If you use a rust remover and remove all the rust, you can then just use a clear coat without any Penetrol.<br><br>The steel wool by itself won't remove the rust completely so you would then still need something like Penetrol to neutralize the rust before using a clear coat.
<p>Thank you! I had not read about naval jelly. I see that is the way to go, since I would prefer to completely remove the rust and I don't want to affect the surface, which is matte gray steel. Can you specify exactly what I should use as a clear coat? Brand name would be helpful if you can give one. </p>
<p>So a for an outdoors metal business sign, say a coating of black gloss protective enamel finished with a good coating of this Penetrol would hold up for quite some time? </p><p>Thanks, </p><p>Ryan.</p>
There is no point in using Penetrol on top of paint. <br><br>This whole instructable is about clear coating to preserve the look of rusted steel or iron, not hiding it. Painting metal is not what we're discussing. Any paint shop can give you better advice on this than I can.
<p>hi. i'm wondering if i can apply acrylic spray paint on top of a coat of penetrol? it will be a stenciled image on steel. thanks!</p>
<p>I'm not sure but I think the rule of thumb is that you can apply water based over oil based paints but not the other way around. Anyone in the paint department should be able to tell you.</p>
<p>Actually it's the opposite.You can apply a oil based paint over a water based paint, but not visa versa. Oil based paints never completely dry, they continue to dry over their lifetime.So if you apply a water based paint over a oil paint the water based paint will seal the surface not allowing the oil paint to continue it's drying process.This can cause major problems over time.</p>
<p>Thanks, I've only heard the rule but never the reason. Now that I know the reason I'll be able to keep it straight. Contrary to what people seem to think, I'm not a paint expert. I'm just a DIY guy who happened to talk to the right old timer in a small town paint store who knew his stuff.</p>
<p>And by the way thank you for this wonderful thread, I do a lot of artwork with welded metal and have been looking for a protect to preserve,inhibit, and seal the rusted metal look!</p>
<p>Hey! I'm I've been trying to find a cool and original look for my car. I want to to a bare metal look. Would this Penetrol work for this use? Thanks!</p>
I have no idea, but it sounds like it should (as long as you put on a clear powder coat finish
I've wanted to do the same thing to my bike. If you do this, let us know how it works. I'll do the same
<p>This is an awesome method for working with steel! I stripped the rust off of a few pieces of railroad and left the rust on a few others, then sealed them all with the Penetrol. My only concern is that the pieces never really seem to dry. They're still a bit sticky. Do you think that will go away with the polyurithane? Have you run into the stickiness problem before?</p>

About This Instructable


157 favorites


More by BrianJewett: GloBot Trashy Christmas, Recycled & Strung Straws Garland Preserve the Beauty of Raw or Rusted Steel & Iron Surfaces
Add instructable to: