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How to Stop Rust on Metal: 11 Tips to Protect Your Property

man cleaning rust off a metal roof

Have you noticed a brownish discoloration forming on your metal tool shed? Rust is most likely the culprit. While it’s common to see it on old metal objects, rust can be a problem for new things too. 

This is because rust is a type of corrosion that happens when iron is exposed to oxygen and water.  Iron and alloys like steel that contain iron can weaken and break down from rust if not well maintained.

Fortunately, you can take several preventative measures for your vehicles, tools, and outdoor metal property, saving time and money on repairing rust damage.

From maintenance to storage hacks, we’ve rounded up 11 effective tips on how to stop rust on metal and prevent corrosion in its tracks. 

1. Identify Early Signs of Rust

rust forming on a metal surface

If you notice rust forming on any of your items or property, it’s important to act immediately. You can recognize rust as a discolored, flaky appearance on metal surfaces. It may appear as reddish-brown, white, or black spots. Peeling paint is another indicator where rust may be forming underneath. 

These early signs will signal that your metal item needs rust-proof treatment to avoid water and air exposure.

2. Use Proper Storage 

Since moisture and air cause the reaction, the goal is to keep your metal products and property in a dry, sheltered area. This can be a weather-proof storage shed for your lawn equipment and dry containers to store tools. It’s also ideal to park cars in the garage during winter

3. Perform Regular Maintenance

Rust can spread fast and damage property, so performing routine maintenance is important. Regularly clean and examine your garage door for signs of moisture buildup. Rain can rust the door and the door tracks, creating a safety hazard.

Following the product care guidelines will help metal items like patio furniture last longer. Since scratches on metal furniture can lead to rust, you’ll want to periodically clean them with soft cloths or sponges and apply rust-proof touch-up paint.

how to catch rust before it starts

4. Apply a Powder Coating

There are powder, rust-preventative coating products you can purchase and apply to metal to prevent rust. These powder coatings typically contain a layer of substances like epoxy and acrylic that block moisture from reaching the metal. 

5. Invest in Humidity Control

mounted fan for humidity control

High humidity levels in an enclosed space can encourage rust, so it’s important to have a temperature-controlled environment for metal items in storage. For example, if you keep everything in your garage, adding air conditioning units and dehumidifiers will help keep the garage cool and dry.

6. Use Corrosion-Resistant Metal Products

There are many corrosion-resistant metals that don’t contain iron or have a protective coating to prevent rust. Below are a few types of corrosion-resistant metals.

Galvanized Steel

This type of steel is coated with a layer of zinc, blocking water and oxygen from contacting the surface to protect against corrosion. Galvanized steel can eventually rust, but it will take a long time. This is because the coating strengthens its defense. 

Many homeowners use galvanized steel buildings as storage units, parking garages, and more. 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel contains elements that resist rust and form a protective coating that protects the steel from oxygen. Many hand tools, appliances, and outdoor furniture pieces are available in stainless steel. 


As a lightweight metal, many products are made of aluminum to avoid rust. This includes bike frames, fencing, and storage sheds

7. Keep It Clean

man cleaning rust off of a metal building

Salt, debris, and grime can accumulate on vehicles, metal garages, and outdoor metal furniture. After long periods, they can start to scratch and deteriorate the metal. This is why keeping your metal clean and dry is key. 

Depending on the weather where you live, you may need to clean your car and outdoor furniture more often or cover them with a breathable fabric to keep dirt at bay.

8. Apply a Bluing Technique

Bluing is the process of coating steel with a finishing solution that helps resist rust and corrosion. The solution, a mixture of chemicals, is named for having a bluish tint. 

There are two bluing techniques, the “hot” and “cold” bluing processes, with cold being a safer and more convenient method for homeowners. 

9. Consider Rust Inhibitors

person spraying rust inhibitor on metal surface

Rust inhibitors help slow down the oxidation of metal once exposed to oxygen and water. If you see rust forming, using a rust inhibitor can stop and prevent the rust from spreading further. You can find rust inhibitors in local hardware stores, many available in spray cans.   

10. Finish with Metal Oil

Oil also works as a protective coating for metal—a natural barrier against moisture. This blockage prevents water from reaching the iron in metal and causing rust. Additionally, oil can serve as a lubricant for your metal tools.

11. Add a Coat of Paint

Since peeling paint is a common indicator of rust, consider using rust-resistant paint to your metal garage. This type of paint is a higher-quality coating and lasts much longer than normal paint. Applying it will serve as an extra layer of protection from rain damage.

tip for painting metal surfaces

FAQs on Rust Prevention

Does WD-40 prevent rust?

Yes, when used correctly, WD-40 corrosion inhibitor products work to prevent rust on metal. You may need to reapply the product within a few months to a year.

Can you stop rust once it starts?

Yes, it is possible to slow rust and stop it from spreading with a rust inhibitor and rust-neutralizing paint. This depends, however, on the metal object and how much rust has formed.

How do I keep my metal shed from rusting?

The key to preventing rust on your metal shed is keeping it dry. You’ll apply a primer and rust-inhibiting paint, which block moisture and create a protective coating on the metal surface. It’s also best to use gravel foundation for your shed, which allows drainage and protects the base from water damage.

What is the best rust prevention method?

While several rust prevention methods can equally get the job done, the most popular methods are oiling and painting metal products. 

Galvanized Steel Buildings You Can Trust

Remember, a rust problem should not be ignored. If you find it hard to keep up with cleaning and maintenance, a garage or storage building can provide protection. Our prefab metal buildings—made of galvanized steel—are rust-resistant and made to last.

Design and order your next galvanized steel building using our 3D customizing tool below.


  1. David. “Ask a Metallurgist: What Is Rust?” Reliance Foundry Co. Ltd, May 16, 2023.
  2. Hall, Janet. “Hardscaping 101: How to Care for Metal Patio Furniture.” Gardenista, March 19, 2021.
  3. “4 Types of Metal That Are Corrosion Resistant or Don’t Rust,” July 19, 2022.
  4. WD-40. “Corrosion Inhibitors for Metal | WD-40 Corrosion Inhibitor,” n.d.
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Alan Bernau Jr

Alan Bernau Jr. is the founder and owner of Alan’s Factory Outlet. He has helped more than 75,000 homeowners design and install custom carports and garages over the last 20 years.

Alan Bernau Jr. is the founder and owner of Alan’s Factory Outlet. He has helped more than 75,000 homeowners design and install custom carports and garages over the last 20 years.

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