Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer has been around for almost a century now. Being one of the pioneers in the rust repair manufacturing industry, is it still as good as what it claimed throughout its history? Let’s have a look-see, shall we?

It’s first important to know that it doesn’t matter how well you maintain the metal tools, there’ll always be rust showing up once in a while. And when it comes to repairing the metal surface, corrosion will be your sworn enemy. That’s when a rust reformer comes into play.

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What Does A Rust Reformer Do?

What Does A Rust Reformer DoThe primary ingredients of a rust reformer are tannic acid and water. This combination treats the metal surface chemically with its chelation process.

Break it down in usual terms; chelation is a chemical reaction in which tannic acid bonds with the rusted metals. Chelation happens at the molecular level, producing ions that suspend in any solution.

Finally, when the tannic acid combines with the rust to create a surface that is durable and paintable.

Using a rust reformer is now the best way to remove rust and maintain metal tools for a longer time. Below are the three most significant benefits.

  • Restore The Appearance
    When the rust appears, the surface starts to show imperfections. With the help of a rust reformer, you can eliminate the rust, and more importantly, hide the flaws. For most DIY repair projects, rust reforming is a must-take step before any other modifications.
  • Protect The Metal Surface
    Rust reformers don’t affect the metal. They keep the surface safe and intact, allowing you to paint or do any touch-up work easily. They also provide another primer layer to the metal parts, preventing them from corrosion without reducing metal’s durability.
  • Save Time And Effort For Future Maintenance
    A quality rust reformer can free you from having to buy a new tool. It extends the life span of the equipment and machinery, giving you a higher economic value. Less replacement cost and more time using, a rust reformer is thus worth an investment.

Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer Review

About Rust-Oleum

About Rust-OleumThe idea of a Rust-Oleum rust reformer was started by Robert Ferguson – a sea captain. By noticing that fish oil can reduce the spread of corrosion on his deck, he came up with the very first solution for rust repairing.

Rust-Oleum was then founded, claiming its long history since 1921. It is now one of the top 5 biggest brands in the industry.

Most Known Features Of Rust-Oleum

Most Known Features Of Rust-OleumEase Of Use

There are now three rust converter application methods – liquid, gel, and spray. The Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer uses spraying, which is the easiest method of the three.

It is suitable for any DIY projects with seemingly no prior repair and maintenance experience in need. By using the spraying method, it has its own edge when tackling projects with many small corners and complicated moldings.

Also, if there is any stubborn rust on small to medium-scale surfaces, a sprayer will do a better job than a brush.

Ease Of Removal

Rust-Oleum developed their formula to be easy to clean. Such common metal materials as aluminum, steel, iron should not be a worry. Brushing on liquid reformers normally requires corrosion removing products for cleanup.

Rust-Oleum Reformer is a sprayer; it only needs soap and water for cleanup. However, porcelain and concrete will be harder to clean. And cleaning off the garment is impossible. So if you are using a cloth to wrap the surrounding, it’s gonna be just for one-time use.


Some low-budget reformers use phosphoric acid to initiate the chelation, which is a volatile compound that will be harmful to your respiratory system. As mentioned earlier, Rust-Oleum’s formula includes tannic acid, which is safer and less volatile.

Even though wearing a gauze mask is not required while spraying this reformer, a good pair of rubber gloves and safety glasses are in need. Standing straight and keeping the sprayer at a safe distance will prevent spray absorption in your body.


Safety or flammability links directly with the toxicity of the product. Different types of Rust-Oleum Reformers may come with slightly different additives.

If there is aerosol in it, be careful, it is flammable. Most rust converters on the market these days also have this ingredient, so checking it before applying is vital.

However, aerosol should not be a big deal. As long as you set your project away from potential fire sources (For e.g., No lighting any cigarette or any flame while working), there’s really nothing to be afraid of.


Rust-Oleum comes with a lightweight and compact design. And evenly spraying is not a tough task with this rust reformer.

Its weight is 10.25 ounce, with dimensions of 2.5 x 2.5 x 8 inches. The finish color will be black, which can be applied to both indoor and outdoor projects. The coverage is up to 15 feet square more or less, depending on the number of coatings. So for larger surfaces, you may want to consider using two cans or switch to a bigger liquid Rust-Oleum Reformer.

Value Of Money

Rust-Oleum ranks itself in the middle-class segment. Given the price versus performance efficiency, it’s fair to say that Rust-Oleum is a good deal.

Affordable pricing with consistent brand quality over a long history, Rust-Oleum can be a confident choice for those looking for one of the classic names in the industry.

Again, for small to medium projects, Rust-Oleum is good to go. For larger and more commercial projects, it may not be cost-effective, you’d better consider using Rust-Oleum liquid.


Durability is always one of the most important features when buying a rust reformer. With 2-3 coatings, Rust-Oleum gives excellent results, which were proved by many enthusiasts such as Chaos Garage and Ultimate Handyman.

Rust-Oleum offers an impressive seal, which should at least stay at its prime for three months. We will have a test time for it later in this Rust-Oleum Review.

The best way to make the most out of Rust-Oleum is to topcoat the metal with paint after spraying it with the rust reformer. Rust-Oleum can work as a primer and create a finish with better durability with solvent-based or acrylic paint.

Drying Time

In comparison with other rust converters on the market, Rust-Oleum is competitive in the drying time. It normally takes about 2 hours for the surface to dry.

The ideal amount of resting time before painting is at least 24 hours. If you have more than one rust reformer coat, the waiting time should be around 48 hours.


Rust-Oleum is 100% paintable, water-based or oil-based paint are all good. There should be a word of praise for Rust-Oleum in its finish quality – smooth and even. Of course, it also depends on your spraying skills and the existing rust situations.

Overall, Rust-Oleum gives you freedom in painting. Regardless of the paint type, it will stick well, and the future rust is just minimal.

More: Best Spray Paint For Metal

The Pros And Cons

All things considered, here are the key takeaways of Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer:


  • Easy to clean
  • Compact and easy-to-manipulate design
  • Versatile (can be used for indoor, outdoor, and automotive works)
  • Good-quality coating and seal
  • Highly affordable


  • More suitable for small to medium projects and touch-up works

Time Test On Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer

Time Test On Rust-Oleum Rust ReformerEven on machinery with different surface types – corners, pipes, moldings, Rust-Oleum still holds up well. With 2-3 coats, you can be confident about having rust-free three months.

After one year, the rust starts to appear again but not so considerable. Even in cases of cars driving through saltwater areas on a regular basis, Rust-Oleum can still keep up with a decent performance.

After two years, the rust will be more recognizable. It’s safe to say that the touch-up should be in place at least annually. Later than that, you will need more time and effort for the repair. Higher frequency, fewer works – legit strategy!

Rust-Oleum Reformer Vs. Primer – Which One Is Better?

Both Reformer and Primer are usable for coating and eliminating rusts. So what are the differences, and is there a winner between them?

The most recognizable difference between the reformer and primer is the color of the finish. The reformer gives a black finish, and in the case of primer, it is white.

Regarding the consistency, the two offer quite the same smooth coat and seal. However, the primer requires less time to dry – only 15-30 minutes of resting time.

When it comes to performance, let’s just say primer and reformer, they do different things. Primer focuses more on giving a good texture/ finish while the reformer is better at extending the durability of the metal.

A combination of the two will be perfect as the primer will maximize the chelation on the reformer. Still, the reformer should go first, and after the resting time, recoat it with primer to further extend the life of your project.

How To Use Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer

Get Ready

Get ReadyBefore applying the rust reformer, make sure you have proper protective equipment on – rubber gloves and safety glasses are recommended.

Prepare The Surface

The first thing to do is to remove any dirt, debris, grits, flakes, scales, or rust. Use a wire brush to remove all the loose bits of them. With flat surfaces, you can use sanding paper

Apply Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer

Apply Rust-Oleum Rust ReformerOnce you achieve the even surface, wipe the object clean with a piece of dry cloth. It’d be better if you have a dust blower to remove the stubborn flakes.

Shake the Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer for half a minute and start spraying on the tool surface with an even coating.

For best results, apply even pressure on the sprayer in every stroke of paint. Also, spray steadily in a back and forth direction and overlap one stroke on one another.


  • Do your spraying work in a well-ventilated area and cover any surrounding surface that can catch the spray mist.
  • If you want to wash the surface, using dish soap with water is good enough. Finish washing, absorb all the water with a dry cloth, and let it dry completely before spraying the rust reformer.
  • When spraying, the sprayer should be 10-16 inches away from the surface.

Read More: Can You Paint Over Rust?

How To Use Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer

Is Rust Reformer Different from Rust Remover?

Yes, they are different. The remover only eliminates rust; the reformer does a further step. Rust reformer converts existing rust into an inert paintable surface. It also prevents further rusting of the project.

Does Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer Need Sanding Before Application?

According to the instruction, no. However, sanding is recommended for the best results. It also facilitates the chelation, making the coat stick for a longer time.

What Is The Best Way To Store A Rust Reformer?

This product does not require any special take care. Storing it in a dry place and away from children’s reach is all good.

Can I Apply A White Paint Over The Black Finish?

Yes, you can. But you will need at least two coats of white paint to fully cover the black finish.

After Spraying, Do I Need To Apply Base Coat?

It’s not necessary; make your own judgment call.

Does The Finish Color Come Out As Matte Black Or Grey?

The finish after spraying this rust reformer is Matte/ Flat Black.

Can I Apply Dupli-Color Acrylic Paint After Spraying This Reformer?

Yes, you can. The finish has a primer topcoat, so you can basically paint it with any lacquer.

All In All

Rust is the most common problem of metal tools, machinery, and equipment. It occurs when oxygen and moisture react with the metal to weaken and corrode the surface.

Rust can be very destructive, but not impossible to deal with. A quality rust reformer can hide the flaws and stop the rusts. Among all top-quality brands, Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer is a good choice for most situations of rust on small to medium-scale surfaces.