fbpx bloglovinBloglovin iconCombined ShapeCreated with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. rssRSS iconsoundcloudSoundCloud iconFill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. SearchCreated with Lunacy Search iconCreated with Sketch.

Does Aluminum Rust?

Does Aluminum Rust?

Does aluminum rust? It’s a valid question and one that a lot of folks think they have the answer to, but you may be surprised by what I have to tell you about aluminum and its ability to stand up to corrosion.

Aluminum is seen as a rockstar of corrosion resistance and is one of the few metals, along with stainless steel, that can hold up to exterior and coastal exposures over long periods of time. You already know that aluminum can last outside for decades, but what you want to know is does aluminum rust, right?

The short answer is, yes, aluminum does rust. It just rusts in a different way than steel and iron rust. When exposed to oxygen, it forms aluminum oxide, just like steel forms iron oxide, but the difference lies in the chemical makeup of these two oxides.

Iron oxide (rust) is a soft red colored metal that begins to expand and flake off as it is chemically transformed which exposes more of the underlying steel or iron to the air and the process continues until the metal is completely transformed to iron oxide.

Aluminum oxide is different. It is actually quite hard and serves as a protective coating around the underlying aluminum. It doesn’t flake off like iron oxide and therefore, once the outer layer of aluminum “rusts” the process stops and the aluminum is protected. Couple that with the fact that it is a grayish color very similar to aluminum, and you may never even notice your aluminum’s rust.

How to Treat Bare Aluminum

That aluminum rust can protect bare aluminum indefinitely, but what if you want to paint the aluminum? In that case, you’ll need to sand off the aluminum oxide coating and get to clean aluminum, since most coatings don’t adhere well to aluminum oxide.

Don’t plan for a paint job on any aluminum surface to last long if you haven’t sanded and cleaned it thoroughly prior to painting. Make sure to find a metal primer specifically designed for aluminum surfaces as well, since most basic primers and paints are not designed for this application.

Subscribe Now For Your FREE eBook!

5 thoughts on “Does Aluminum Rust?

  1. I have an aluminum patio set that needs refinishing. There is a lot of detail on the chairs and table. I couldn’t possibly get all the nooks and crannies sanded. Any tips? The set is basically in good shape, but it has faded.

  2. Hi! Will iron that has been painted rust? Say a green color for example. if kept indoors in a more or less climate controlled environment which occasionally receives outside coastal air. Say within a half mile from the coastline.

    1. No. Paints serves as a protective coating to pretty much everything, including water and moisture. The only danger is having water sitting on the object for an extended time or very high humidity that can cause paint to peel or not stick. In that case be sure to use a solvent based paint. If it’s metal you’re painting, don’t use water based paint. Also make sure there’s no existing rust on the metal. If you prime it and paint it that will help extend the life of the paint. You can then scuff up the paint a little and do recoats as needed to keep it looking good.

  3. I have some Berger Aluminum coil trim… it gets dirty and sometimes I wipe it with diluted vinegar or patio furniture cleaner. What do you recommend?

  4. I think you are somewhat missing the point of aluminum that has the appearance of “rusting”. Yes, pure aluminum will form an oxide layer when exposed to oxygen. This is not rust in the true sense of the word but close enough.
    What I would think that most people are referring to are the brown or black stains on aluminum. These stains are from the screws and other iron based materials that are allowed to come in contact with the aluminum. You also get water condensing on aluminum that leads to water staining, Any other particles floating about in the air can also condense on this aluminum. These particles are just about anything from fats & oils in the kitchen that spread throughout the house to almost anything floating about like smoke. Over time, this is what causes the staining on the outside of aluminum.
    One has to remove all of these stains along with the aluminum oxide layer to truly clean aluminum prior to coating with paint, or other.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.