How to Paint a Rusted Metal Awning

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Metal awnings are a fantastic budget-friendly option for homeowners that want year around shading.  They can be sturdy and strong to hold up the weight of the winter snow.  They are also rigid and do very well in higher wind areas.  When treated properly, they can have a lifespan of several decades, although, they may need to be repainted every 5-10 years to maximize their lifespan.

This article is focused on resurfacing and repainting an intact surface.  If a hole has rusted through the metal, we have a separate guide details how to fix this.  Once you’ve patched the hole, then you can simply follow the instructions in this guide.

Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Wire Brush
  • Coarse Sandpaper(80-100 grit)
  • Fine Sandpaper (150+ grit)
  • Safety Goggles
  • Facemask
  • Ospho Metal Treatment or Acetone  (We Recommend  Ospho Metal Treatment)
  • Spray Metal Primer
  • Spray Oil Bases
  • Clear Coat


Step 1:  If possible, detach awning from home.

This will usually require 2-3 people, and it may be not feasible for every home.  When the awning is taken down, it can be laid on the ground or another flat surface.  This will make the other steps much quicker and require far less effort.  If you must resurface the awning while it is attached, I’d recommend renting some basic scaffolding rather than trying to do everything on a ladder.


Step 2:  Use a Wire Brush to Remove Rust

You will want to start by rubbing the wire brush over any large pieces of rust.  We recommend gently brushing the entire surface exposed to weather.  You don’t need to get down to the bare metal, but creating distress marks in the existing layer of paint will make the Step 3 go faster.


Step 3:  Sand the Awning

This can either be done by hand with sandpaper, and some elbow grease or with a palm sander. The key is to go over the entire area until it feels smooth.  You will sand the entire surface removing all rust and any existing layers of paint.  Note, if you are using acetone, you will need to be more precise as the Ospho is more forgiving due to its rust inhibitors.


Step 4 – Clean the Surface

Using either Ospho or acetone wipe down the entire surface.  The ratio is about 1 quart of solvent per 50 sq/ft.  Once you’ve covered the entire weather facing surface, you will want to leave it overnight to dry in a well-ventilated area.


Step 5 – Apply the Primer

Next, you will want to spray the entire area with a rust preventative primer.  We recommend a spray as it’s faster and easier to use.  If you are on a budget, brushing the primer and paint is possible.  It’s simply more time-consuming.


Step 6 – Paint the Awning

When you are deciding paint, we recommend going to your local hardware store and speaking to someone in their paint department.  We are choosing not to make a general recommendation on this because your specific weather may be different than ours.  The local hardware store clerk will be able to give you the options.  Our one overarching rule is that you’ll want to use an oil-based paint.  We suggest using two light coats of paint.  You’ll want to apply the second only after the first is dry to the touch.


Step 7 – Apply the Sealant/Clear Coat

This step is optional, but will greatly pay dividends if you plan on keeping the house for more than a decade.  Rustproof paint is susceptible to weather damage, and a clear coat can greatly increase the time before any further work needs to be done.

Marcion Albert