Can You Repair a Rusted Lawn Mower Deck?

There is nothing quite as annoying as having an old, rusted lawn mower deck. At the same time, it seems to be an experience most people have in their time owning a lawn mower, and it takes a lot of care and effort to prevent it. Storing your lawn mower in a dry, clean shed can be a great way to prevent rust, but it isn’t an option for every lawn mower owner. Rinsing it off after use also isn’t a bad idea, but if it is going to continue to sit outside in the elements, buying a cover is the only solution. If you’re sick of staring at a rusted lawn mower deck and want a quick repair that you can get done in a weekend and get back to mowing your lawn, these easy steps from NAPA will cost you only a little bit of money and time.

Remove dirt, grass, and whatever gunk has been stuck on the mower deck for years

lawn mower in the tall grass
A lawn mower on the grass lawn | NICOLAS MAETERLINCK. BELGA MAG, AFP, Getty Images

The first step seems simple, but after hours in the heat mowing the lawn, it’s also the easiest to ignore. Removing the dirt, grass, oil, and whatever gunk has made its home on the lawn mower deck is essential for deck maintenance, but also the first step to seeing just how bad the damage actually is. Using some water, a degreaser, and a wire brush, you can remove just about anything off of the surface. Be sure to use the wire brush to remove big chunks of rust and surface rust, and clear the area of residual paint to ensure that the new layer of paint will adhere well to the surface.

Analyze the damage on the lawn mower deck

Toro Co. lawnmowers containing Briggs & Stratton Corp. motors are displayed for sale at The Mower Shop in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. Briggs & Stratton can initially borrow as much as $178 million under its proposed bankruptcy loan, but a judge denied a request to seal the letter outlining JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s fees for arranging the financing. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rust can be annoying and cosmetic, but it can also cause structural damage too. Once you’ve cleaned off the dirt and debris, take a moment to check out how extensive the rust damage is. Surface damage can be easily revived, giving you a lawn mower deck that looks almost as good as new, but giant holes and spots that have been rusted through will need replacing.

This is the part where you need to be realistic about how the rest of this process is going to go, or you might find yourself frustrated with the results. While you can patch holes that have rusted through the lawn mower deck, this will requiring welding in new metal, and if you don’t have the tools and skills to do that at home, there is little point in attempting to make a major repair. For the purposes of the next few steps, it is important to note that this process will only resolve non-structural rusting that is cosmetic. It is still worth doing if you decide you don’t want to replace the deck lid because it will neutralize the rust and prevent it from spreading and causing further damage.

Spray rust converter and paint

If you’ve never used a rust converter before, I promise it will change your life. Not in any big ways, of course, but the product itself is really cool. Rust converted neutralizes the rust — which, it does in a complicated chemistry-based way. The rust converter doesn’t take long to work, and it will actually change the color of the metal in any place there is rust present. Once the surface is dry, you can prep it for paint and cover it in a few layers of your new paint of choice.

Once again, it is important to assess the damage and problems created by the rust to ensure you aren’t wasting your time. Replacing your lawn mower deck can also sometimes be an option, but if removing and repairing rust can be done, you can expect to save big by following these tips. With just a few products you can find at your local hardware or auto parts store, you can get your lawn mower deck looking almost as good as new, without braking the bank on replacing major parts — or even more expensive, your entire lawn mower.

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