I have a small cafe and have a small refrigerated display case that works great, but the rubber-coated refrigerator shelves are rusting on the ends. Last year, I cleaned them all, used rust remover on rusty areas, dried them, and painted with epoxy spray paint. Within a few months, it started rusting again. Is there a solution to this problem?
It looks like you did everything right, except for one thing: you did not prime the metal shelves first. The primer has adhesive qualities and is the "glue" that makes the paint stick. It is especially important when the surface is not optimal, like when it’s rusted. The good news is, you can fix it!
First, you will need to smooth the shelves by using a material like sandpaper and removing all rust or other unwanted filth. This is also the time to sand any cracking or peeling paint. Then, take time to clean the surfaces. Just make sure you avoid solvent because it could soften the old paint and cause problems with the new paint adhering correctly. Make sure everything is clean and dry.
If the rust has become serious and you could not sand it all down, you’ll need a primer that will make it smooth and easy to paint on. If it’s at a medium or lower level after being cleaned, you can use a rust primer or preventative primer. You’ll want to read the directions on the primer you choose, but commonly, you’ll apply several thin coats of primer, let it dry, and add a top coat. You might consider adding another layer of preventative rust product after the top coat.
Then, you’ll be good to go. Let us know how this project goes!