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Rusting Metal Pipe

How to Prevent Rust in Pipe Furniture

Steel pipes are a popular building material for furniture and home decor. They’re durable, long-lasting, and have a unique look that suits any aesthetic. But if you don’t prepare them properly, your pipes will be susceptible to rust. Preventing rust is the best way to ensure that your pipe furniture lasts a lifetime. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Do Pipes Rust?

Rust is caused by corrosion, a process that degrades the surface of the pipe. Any metal that contains iron can and will rust if not properly protected. Pipes are made of real steel and, as such, contain iron.

Over time, pipes are exposed to moisture and air. Prolonged contact with water combined with exposure to oxygen creates a chemical reaction called oxidation. This process corrodes metal and dissolves it into the reddish-brown and chalky substance we know as rust. This can eat away at the pipe, making it brittle.

How To Prevent Rust

We’ve established how rust occurs and how destructive it can be, but there are ways to prevent rust from setting in. Here are some preventive measures you can use to keep your pipe furniture rust-free.

clean and seal kit

Cleaning and Sealing

Real pipes are coated in a light industrial oil to prevent rusting during transit. To keep your pipes rust-free, it’s important to clean and seal them before using them to build your DIY creations.

First, wash the pipes in warm water with dish soap until the oil is removed. Once you’ve made sure that the pipes are clean, wipe the excess water off and let dry completely before sealing.

Next, seal the pipes with polyurethane spray or a finishing wax. For polyurethane sprays, simply thoroughly spray the pipe’s surface and let it dry. Polyurethane sprays usually come in either a matte or satin finish.

Finishing wax adds a hand-rubbed luster to your pipes. Coat the pipes with wax and let them dry for 20 minutes. You can then polish the pipes with a washcloth. The faster you polish, the shinier the finish.

clean and seal kit display

PIPE DECOR® offers a convenient clean and seal kit to make this process a breeze. It comes with everything you need to completely clean and seal your pipe project, guaranteed.

Painting Your Pipes

Just like sealing, applying a coat of paint over the surface of the pipes will protect them from moisture and oxygen.

You’ll still start by cleaning your pipes and drying them. Once the pipes are dry, you’ll need to rough sand the pipes to take off the shiny surface which decreases the adhesion of paint. This is usually done with 200-grit or lower sandpaper. If the pipe you’re sanding already shows signs of rust, you can also remove it through rough sanding. Wipe off excess debris with a clean towel. Now your pipes are ready to be painted.

Apply a coat of primer to your steel pipes; it’s best to go with self-etching primer designed to be used with metal for best results. Make sure the primer has completely dried before applying paint.

Once the primer has dried, it’s time to paint with the color of your choice. Make sure to apply your coats of paint completely across all surfaces of the pipe.

Keep Your Furniture Dry

Avoid getting your pipe furniture wet, and if it ever does get wet, make sure to wipe it dry quickly. Don’t keep your furniture outside or in moisture-rich environments, like the bathroom.

Avoid Scratches and Dents

Scratches and dents can kickstart rust by removing the sealant and exposing the pipe to air any moisture. Be gentle when moving your furniture around to avoid damage.

How to Remove Rust from Your Pipe Furniture

Prevention is always better than a cure. However, if you’re in a situation where your pipe furniture has already started rusting, it can still be saved. Here are some measures you can take to remove rust from your pipe furniture.

White Vinegar

You might be surprised to know that there are a lot of items in the kitchen that you can use to remove rust. To start, try using white vinegar. White vinegar contains acetic acid, which can dissolve rust. Soak rusty pipes in a vinegar bath, then wipe the rust away with an old washcloth. Once the rust has dissolved, make sure to rinse and clean your pipes thoroughly to remove any leftover vinegar.


Aside from making lemonade, lemon is also great for removing rust. Simply sprinkle some coarse salt over the rusty area and squeeze some lemon juice on it. You need to be careful though, as letting it sit for too long can cause additional damage. Once the rust has dissolved, wipe off the excess lemon juice and rinse the pipes.

If you’re dealing with stubborn rust, you can combine lemon juice with vinegar for a stronger solution. Not only does lemon help remove rust, but it also leaves whatever you’re cleaning smelling like citrus as well.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a popular all-around cleaning agent, but did you know that you can also use it to remove rust? Simply mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste. Apply to the rusted surface and let sit for a while before scrubbing it off with a wire brush or steel wool. Repeat the process if necessary to remove all the rust.

Commercial Rust Removers

When all else fails, you can always use commercial rust removers. There are products specifically made to remove rust and other forms of corrosion from metal. Rust removers dissolve rust and prevent any further damage to your pipe furniture. Ask your local retailer for the right product for your specific needs.

Final Thoughts

With these tips on how to prevent rust, you can preserve your pipe furniture and make it last for a long time. However, if your furniture is already showing signs of rust, it’s not too late. There are plenty of rust removal methods that can breathe new life back into your pipe furniture!
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Elaina D'Agostino - August 25, 2023

Thanks for your advice about using lemon to clean the rust of a pipe. We’re replacing the PVC pipe with metal pipes, so this will help. Just in case it gets rusty, we know how to remove it.

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