Protect your lawnmower deck against rust with a fresh coat of paint! In today’s article we will go through a few steps on how to clean, prep and paint the cutting deck on an old John Deere riding mower.
In this example, we will be working on a John Deere L100 with a 42″ metal deck. This tractor has been in service for over 10 years and (with a little bit of general maintenance) is still running like a champ.
Don’t own a John Deere? Don’t worry.
This process of protecting your lawnmower deck against rust can be applied to all the popular brands like Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna, Toro, etc.
Getting Started… Removing the Deck and Cleaning
Removal of the mower deck may vary across different brands so I’m not going to get into the specifics of how to do this. Be smart and check with your owners manual regarding the proper technique and safety precautions.
Tip: If you no longer have the manual, most information can now be found online by searching the make/model of your tractor
With the deck now removed it is time to clean off all loose debris, flaking paint, wet grass, etc. Many people advise NOT to spray the belt or spindles with a garden hose or pressure washer as this can causing squealing. A better alternative is to use compressed air or a leaf blower to simply “blow off” the loose stuff.
Here are a couple of before photos of what I was dealing with.
To clean the underside of the lawn mower deck, try using an old putty knife. The flexible straight edge is ideal for getting underneath the stuck-on grass. Continue around the entire deck until all of the large grass chunks are removed.
Now is also a good time to check the blade spindles. Tall grass, fishing line and twine can get wrapped-up around these posts causing the machine to work harder then it has to.
The final step of the cleanup was to use a wire brush attachment on the end of a drill.
I picked up this cheap attachment from Harbor Freight and it did an excellent job removing the last bit of grass and surface rust. Now we can move onto applying the Corroseal Rust Inhibitor.
Apply Corroseal Rust Inhibitor & Primer before paint
The goal of this project is not only to make the deck look nice and new. But also to extend the useful life of the mower by protecting the metal deck from rust.
If left untreated, rust can eventually eat holes through the metal causing major damage.
To neutralize all existing rust and further prep the surface I will be applying Corroseal. This stuff is really easy to apply and so far I have been impressed with the results.
If you want to learn more about this product, check out the link above where we applied it to a truck frame. Once applied it will turn any existing rust BLACK and acts as a metal primer.
Here is a photo taken 24 hours after applying the Corroseal.
Now since the Corroseal is a metal primer you could probably go right to paint. However, I had some Rust-Oleum Primer around so I decided to apply a few coats for even more layers of protection.
After a couple of coats of the Rust-Oleum Primer it was onto paint. Finally!
If you didn’t already know, Rust-Oleum makes a line of “Specialty Farm Equipment” colors. These colors include John Deere Yellow & Green, Kubota Orange, Ford Blue, Caterpillar Yellow, Troy Built Red + more. Here is a link to the full list of colors
Expect to pay a premium for this line of paint vs the traditional colors.
Considering this is a 10-year old lawnmower deck after all, I decided on picking up only one can of John Deere Yellow for the top of the deck and a regular yellow enamel for the bottom.
Not perfect but looks pretty good!
Next, time to flip over the deck and prep the topside for paint.
Painting a Lawnmower Deck, John Deere Yellow
The process of painting the topside of the mower deck will involve the following steps:
• Remove loose material & flaking paint
• Mask off areas including the belt, pullies and decals
• Apply a rust inhibitor like Corroseal
• Scuff up the existing paint with sandpaper
• Prime and Paint
Plastic bags work great to protect areas where you do not want paint. Using a large garbage bag, cover the belt and all the wheels involved with running the blades.
Tip: Although you do not have to remove the belt, take a quick photo of how the belt is installed. This photo can be a helpful reference should the belt pop-off durring this process.
The next part is optional but I decided to cover the original decals with electrical tape for a more original finish.
Here is the last photo before primer and paint.
With the area all masked off we are now ready to apply the primer and paint.
Similar to what we did on the bottom. I applied two light coats of primer and then 3 coats of the John Deere Yellow paint to finish it off.
Use light coats with broad overlapping patterns. Try not to focus on any one area too much as this can cause runs in the paint or problems with drying.
If you miss a spot, don’t worry. Hit it on the next coat.
Conclusion, Finished Project with Photos
After a few hours of prep work and a few minutes of paint here is the End Result!
Not only did this drastically improve the look of this machine, I expect it to keep the metal protected for years to come.
If you are planning on breathing new life into a beat up lawn mower, check out the links below to many of the products used for this project.
As always, if you have any questions or helpful suggestions we would love to hear for you. Leave a comment below.
***BONUS, Keep your Tractor Looking Good with an Outdoor Lawnmower Cover***
While it is never ideal to store your lawnmower (or any equipment for that matter) outdoors, sometimes it is unavoidable.
One way to keep your investment protected is with a cheap lawnmower cover.
Here is a cover I purchased off Amazon to protect my machine against pollen, fly/bird droppings and dust.
For the price this cover is actually pretty good and fits great on this 42″ deck. The bottom is elastic and there is enough room left over to easily take this on and off. Click to See this Cover on Amazon
Not only for outdoor storage
While this cover is marketed as “Ultra Waterproof” to protect against water. This would also work well to keep dust of the machine while in storage during winter months. Win/Win.