How to Paint a Rusty Gate

2 Days

Here's my tips and tricks on how to paint a rusty gate without taking days to do it. I'll be sharing a selection of power tools to speed up the process!

Disclaimer: Includes some gifted on-the-spot reviews and Amazon affiliate links.

Painting a rusty metal gate doesn't have to be a chore. Nor does it have to take you days to do.

However, it did take me almost 2 years to get around to doing it. Why? A number of things, really. Holidays and narrowboats got in the way. And what you really need is a couple of days of good weather.

But here, I'll cover things like:

  • Removing rust
  • How to repaint metal, whether it's a gate or fence
  • Painting over rust
  • How to paint metal without spray paint (or see spray painting enamel)
  • How to paint over dark paint (in this case, black)
  • And, using metallic paint, if you want to paint gate knobs

Let's get started!

Tools & Materials I Used

Please note that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through links.

Prepping Metal Gates Before Painting

Now, you can make one of two choices here. Do you want to be quick with power tools? Or do it at a leisurely pace on a budget?

I'll be straight with you. I'm often the latter. And there's no harm in working up a sweat; it's good for a cardio workout and releases stress.

But when time's not on your side, such as the weather is forecast to rain in 2 days, I went the other way.

Do I Need Remove Rust Before Painting?

This really depends on the paint you're going to use. But, it's good practice to remove any flaky and loose paint to give your work the best endurance possible.

Some paints, like Hammerite direct to rust are designed to go over some rust and without the need for a rust converter or even primer.

But, I still removed as much as possible as you'll see.

Ways to Remove Rust Off Metalwork

You'll see during this project how I used a range of methods. This was purely due to intricate work and needing to downsize.

  1. Use an abrasive pad in an angle grinder *wear gloves, goggles and a mask!
  2. Try a mini angle grinder with sanding disc, such as above *my favourite
  3. Use an detail sander with low grit, such as 40 or 60
  4. Use a heat gun or liquid paint remove and scraper as seen in my door restoration
  5. Remove rust with a wire brush *the slowest method of them all
  6. Hand sand with low grit *again, one of the slowest methods

Number 5 and 6 would've taken me all week, hence I only used this in case I missed anything on spindles, etc.

Wear a Mask

Some pre-1960s paint contains lead, so you'll need to avoid inhaling it as it's toxic by wearing a mask.

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Gate?

If you've already got a selection of power tools and materials as I did, then my job cost me my time and half a tin of paint = approx £8.

If, say, you spent all week removing rust from a gate manually, then have a think about what your time is worth.

To buy metal gates for a driveway already painted, you're looking in the region of £175-380 already painted. But, the time-consuming part is hanging metal gates.

I've found similar manor arched ball top driveway gates here for reference.

Do I Need to Strip Back to Bare Metal?

There seems to be mixed opinions on this. But in my opinion, no you don't. If you do, you'll need a primer if not using the same Hammerite metal paint.

I personally think it's best to make good of what you have first. Sand any chipped paint, etc until smooth.

Although, it's easy to get carried away and not know when to stop. But any intricate details will prove difficult.

Clean Before Painting

Once you've removed as much of the rust as you can, it's time to clean it to remove flakes, dust, grease and dirt.

Some use turps (white spirits). I chose the less harmful approach: warm soapy water.

Then leave to dry. *This will be pretty quick if painting on a warm day. Or, you could dry with a lint-free cloth.

What Temperature Should It Be to Paint Metalwork?

It's important to choose a good, dry day to paint a garden gate.

  • Too cold and it will prevent from sticking to the gate and drying way too slowly
  • Too hot and it will dry too quick, making it hard to paint smoothly

Hammerite recommends choosing a dry day between 8 and 25°C.

Painting Metal Tips

  • Put plenty of rags down
  • And weights if it's a windy day
  • Store the paint in an old washing up bowl, so any spills are contained if knocked over
  • Masking tape any areas off
  • Wear gloves if you can for easier clean up *I almost never
  • If you want a super smooth finish, use Hammerite spray paint or a foam/velour roller
  • Do tests to avoid disappointment - ie, brushes will leave a slight texture
  • Choose a natural brush as opposed to synthetic as it's an oil paint. See why here
  • Clean your brush immediately after use with WD-40* - you'll thank me!
  • Or store in a food bag between coats, (tied up)
  • Reveal masking tape while touch dry - not fully cured, to avoid pulling off paint

*Previous client.

Painting With Metallic Paint

After two coats of black Hammerite and leaving to dry over a weekend, I decided to give my newly painted gates an extra bit of bling.

I masking taped just underneath the ball tops and gave two coats with metallic gold paint. But this time, leaving a day to dry in between.*

This was only because my 151 Coatings gold paint took longer to dry than Hammerite's.

Final Gate Reveal

So, there you go! A total cost of £8 and 2 days (on and off) or my time!

It's now, in my opinion, the prettiest gate on the street!

How would you do things differently?

Prep Time

4 hours

Active Time

4 hours

Total Time

8 hours




  • Abracs poly discs

  • Hammerite paint

  • Mask [Gifted]

  • Gold paint


  • Worx angle grinder [Gifted]

  • Mask [Gifted]

  • Bluetooth ear defenders

  • Amazon Music

  • Dickies goggles

  • Safety boots

  • Phone belt pouch

  • Safety gloves

  • Worx MakerX mini angle grinder

  • Worx MakerX power pack from this set [Gifted]

  • Toughbuilt drill holster

  • Toughbuilt belt [Gifted]

  • Worx sander [Gifted]

  • Wire brush

  • Toughbuilt knee pads [Gifted]

  • Scrubbing brush

  • 25mm natural paint brush


  1. Wearing PPE, remove rust using an abrasive pad in an angle grinder.
  2. For intricate areas, use a mini angle grinder with sanding disc, or a combination of sanding paper and/or wire brush.
  3. Wash clean with soap water and leave to dry.
  4. Place rags down to protect the floor.
  5. If not using direct to rust metal paint, treat with a rust inverter and leave to dry.
  6. Otherwise, apply Hammerite direct to metal paint with a brush or use the spray can version.
  7. Leave to dry before applying another coat.
  8. Masking tape areas off where you don't want to get paint on.
  9. Optional: paint any knobs or fancy detail with metallic gold or silver paint and leave to dry before adding a final coat.
  10. Remove masking tape once touch dry.

Pin This Painting a Rusty Gate Guide

how to paint a gate

The Carpenter's Daughter
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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2 of 4 comments
  • Valerie Valerie on Sep 26, 2021

    You did a really good job and have inspired me to tackle my own gate! Thank you!

  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on Sep 29, 2022

    Lovely! And I had no idea that WD-40 could be used to clean oil based paint off brushes. Thanks for the tip!