How I removed and treated surface rust on my van

Different vans can develop rust in specific areas, but the most common problem areas to check are wheel arches, bottom of doors, sills, foot wells, the cab floor and floor panels underneath the van. Removing the rust is a straightforward job, it’s just very time consuming and messy.

I took out the plywood floor and found quite a lot of rust on the metal floor panels. Most of this was just surface rust, but some of it went right through the floor–see post on repairing rust holes

Also see my recommended van preparation products–these are affiliate links, which means you’ll be helping me if you buy using these links. Thank you!

Here are the 4 steps I took to remove the surface rust on my van floor:

1. Search for rust

If there is some rust that is on show, the chances are that there will be a lot more hiding around that area that you may not be able to see. You can use a screwdriver to tap and chip away the rust and to check the severity–i.e., is this just surface rust or has the rust eaten right through the metal? Whilst I did this, I removed any big flaky bits of paint and rust with the screwdriver.

Surface rust on the floor of my van

2. Wire brush

To further remove loose paint and flaky bits of rust I used a wire brush drill attachment for the drill and also small hand held wire brushes to get into the corners. The aim is just to remove the loose bits and not to completely remove the rust–leave that to the rust treatment.

3. Apply rust treatment

I applied one coat of Aquasteel rust converter (this one) and left it to dry for a couple of days. It’s best to do this on a warm dry day if possible, but this is pretty difficult during winter in England so I waited two days, rather than one, like the instructions say. I used a selection of brushes to make sure I got to into every crack and corner. I also made sure I applied a lot the treatment around any metal seams (for example around the bottom of the wheel arch box) where water often gets trapped.

Applying rust treatment to the van floor
Applying rust treatment to the van floor

4. Paint

I applied two coats of metal paint (this one). It looks pretty messy and black was the only colour I had, but the plywood floor will go over this anyway.

Metal paint on my van floor
Metal paint on my van floor

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let me help you with that



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