With outdoor living areas remaining a hot trend for the foreseeable future, many people are turning their patios and decks into living spaces that they use for most of the year — not just for a few summer barbecues. Even in northern climates you can outfit your patio with a fire pit or propane heaters and enjoy a cup of cocoa outside well past Thanksgiving, if you like.
With all that extra time out in the elements, though, your patio furniture and décor is much more likely to rust. To keep your space clean and inviting, it’s a good idea to spend some time sprucing up those metal surfaces. Luckily, removing rust is a DIY job that just about anybody can handle. Here’s how to do it:
The Non-Toxic Rust Removers
It’s always best to start with the gentlest methods and work up from there if needed. Choosing a natural solution will be safer for people and pets in the area, and it’s cheaper, too. In general, most rust removal methods require an acid to break down the rust and an abrasive to scrub it away. Try one or more of the following methods with things you have around the house, first:
• Vinegar: Soak smaller items overnight, or use a rag to wipe vinegar over large swaths of furniture and allow to set for 24 hours. Light rust will dissolve and simply rinse away when you hose it off. Just be sure to do so in the grass to avoid staining your walkways.
• Citrus and salt: To add a little oomph, make a paste of salt and lemon or lime juice to cover rusty patches. Allow to set for several hours, and then use the citrus rind as a scrubbing tool to brush away the rust. Rinse thoroughly.
• Baking soda: You can also try a paste of baking soda and water. Apply to rusty areas and allow to set for a few hours, then scrub away the rust with a toothbrush or wad of aluminum foil. Rinse well.
Chemical Rust Removers
If your rust problems are too severe for the natural methods above, or if they’re just too large to scrub away at with kitchen ingredients, you can purchase a chemical rust remover to do the job. These solutions typically contain phosphoric or hydrochloric acid and emit pretty noxious fumes, so you’ll definitely want to use them outdoors for good ventilation. You’ll also need protective gloves to protect your skin.
Always follow the directions of the label, but most of these solutions are simply applied to the rust and allowed to set and break down the rust. You may need to scrape away the rust with a wire brush afterwards, and sometimes pockmarks are left behind. It’s a good idea to do a test application in an inconspicuous spot to see how the chemical will react with any finish on your metal first.
Mechanical Rust Removers
In some situations, it’s better or more efficient to avoid the chemicals and use abrasive methods instead. Think of this as a large-scale version of using your toothbrush to scrub away small spots of rust. For big jobs, special machinery can grind or sandblast rust away in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it with elbow grease alone.
In severe situations, a job shop can complete this task of removing rust from outdoor furniture with excellent results; you might not recognize your shiny new pieces when you bring them home from their trip to the metal works spa! If you love your furniture and don’t feel you can replace it with a replica or in a cost-effective way, professional rust removal may be perfect for you.
No matter what method of rust removal ultimately gets the job done for you, having clean, rust-free, outdoor furniture and décor will make your patio living area more inviting. With a place to sit and relax, you’ll enjoy many hours of good times and great conversations with family and friends.