How to Paint a Rusty Fridge

Updated February 21, 2017

If your refrigerator is looking a little beat-up, or if you just acquired an old fridge, adding a few coats of paint can improve its appearance. A few rust spots will complicate the process. If you simply paint over the rust, you'll likely have a poor paint texture in that area and the rust will slowly continue to expand and make the fridge look old again. To successfully paint a rusty fridge, you first have to remove all the rust and then prepare the surface to guard against future rust.

Move the fridge to a well-ventilated area where you can get the floor wet.

Scrub off the rust with the wire brush, 80-grit sandpaper and 120-grit sandpaper in that order. Continue to scrub until nothing more is coming up, then move on to the next tool . When you are using the 120-grit sandpaper, sand until the rusted area and the rest of the fridge are smooth and level.

Mix 1 tablespoon of detergent with a quart of water and mix until suds appear. Clean the entire surface of the fridge with this solution.You can use a degreaser as well if your fridge has stains on it. Scrub it clean with a rag and then rinse it off before drying it.

Place painter's tape over anything that you don't want painted.

Open up a can of rust-inhibiting primer, mix it up with a wood stick, and dip your brush in. Cover the entire surface of the fridge with the primer. Wait for the primer to dry according to the directions on the can.

Shake the can of appliance spray paint and cover the outside of the refrigerator with a layer of paint. Let the coat dry and then spray on at least two more coats, until the fridge has the look you desire.


If you only have access to canned appliance paint, use a roller to apply it instead of a brush, as the brush will definitely leave brush marks on the fridge.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire brush
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Dish detergent
  • Rags
  • Painter's tape
  • Rust-inhibiting primer
  • Paintbrush
  • Appliance spray paint
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About the Author

Shawn McClain has spent over 15 years as a journalist covering technology, business, culture and the arts. He has published numerous articles in both national and local publications, and online at various websites. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in journalism at Clarion University.