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How to Re-Paint a Rusted Utility Trailer

by Carlye Jones

A rusted utility trailer is by no means past its useful life. In fact, repainting a rusted utility trailer every few years will extend its life. The key to a successful paint job is to remove as much of the rust as possible before painting. You may also want to seal off the rusty area with a commercial rust sealer before applying the paint so that rust doesn't return in that spot.

Brush away as much of the rust as you can using a wire brush. The more large flakes of rust you can remove with the brush, the faster and easier it will be to remove the remaining rust with the steel wool. Generally, it's easier to brush than to scrub with the steel wool.

Scrub away any remaining rust using a steel wool pad. Remove as much of the rust as you can, however, if there small non-flaking rust spots remaining you can cover them with a rust sealer product. Keep in mind, however, that the more rust you remove, the better shape your trailer will be in and the longer it will probably be before you have to paint again.

Wash the trailer by spraying it and wiping it down with auto soap mixed with water. Be sure to remove any dust created when you scrubbed away the rust as well as any dirt, grease or other debris.

Dry the trailer with a soft clean rag and let it sit for a few hours to air dry completely before beginning painting.

Tape off any areas that you don't want to paint with painters tape and old newspapers.

Lay out a drop cloth or plastic sheeting underneath and around the trailer if you don't want paint on the ground or driveway.

Spray commercial rust sealer on any remaining rusty areas. This step is optional if you were able to remove most of the rust and don't expect it to come through the paint.

Wait for the rust sealer to dry completely. This should take at least two hours.

Spray a thin coat of paint on to the trailer, making sure to cover all corners and edges that you want painted. You may not get complete coverage on the first coat, but this is normal and a second coat will give complete coverage.

Wait for the paint to dry completely. Allow at least two to four hours. The paint should feel completely dry and not sticky or tacky to the touch.

Apply a second thin coat of paint in the same way you applied the first. Be sure to paint all corners and edges.

Wait for the paint to dry completely. This will take another two to four hours.

Remove the painter's tape. Your trailer is ready to use.

Tip

  • If you have a hand-held grinder or buffer with a wire brush attachment, use it to help remove the rust.

Warning

  • Do not paint on a windy day. Not only will the paint blow into places you don't intend, dust, dirt and blowing debris could stick to the freshly painted areas.

Items you will need

About the Author

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