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I have exterior steel railings that have factory seal and paint. They started rusting, due to nicks in the paint, from show shovels, kids, etc. In summer 2009, I completely stripped one of the railings, using a grinder. I did a very thorough job of removing rust, and then carefully applied Rustoleum primer and sealer paint.

The following spring, rust already spread across parts of the same railing! I live in Utah, where we have relatively low humidity (~65-70%), so I don't think the time between stripping and sealing would have been an issue.

Please provide tips on how to properly seal the remaining railings?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Not an uncommon problem. Most of those metal railings are made of wroght iron, which is a very soft steel. When you sand them off and don't level the "pits", the rust will come back time after time. It is absolutely necessary to clean out all the "pits" as much as possible, then treat the area with a rust converter before priming to paint. Rust converters are available at all home stores and help change oxides to a harden non corrosive substance. Read the directions and apply accordingly. Difficult problem, sorry, steel railings are problem children.

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