How to Repaint Metal Outdoor Furniture

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Repainted Metal Outdoor Furniture

I found this vintage metal loveseat at a yard sale last summer for $20, but it sure didn’t look like this when I got it.

Vintage Metal Outdoor Loveseat Before Repainting

Up until last weekend, this is what it looked like.

Peeling Paint and Rust on Metal Outdoor Furniture

Lots of peeling paint and rust, topped off with a thick layer of pollen.

Have some metal outdoor furniture that you need to repaint? Here how to get a paint job that looks good and lasts.

The Right Way to Repaint Metal Outdoor Furniture

Peeling Paint Removed With a Wire Brush

If you want a perfectly smooth finish, hire someone to sandblast your patio furniture, or use paint stripper to remove all the paint.

Otherwise, just use a wire brush to remove any loose paint.

Sanded Metal Outdoor Furniture

Then, follow up with 80-100 grit sandpaper. I recommend using a palm sander (and a dust mask) to speed up the process. I spent three hours wire brushing and sanding this loveseat. It’s worth putting the time into surface prep, if you want your paint to hold up for a long time.

Pro Tip: If the paint on your outdoor furniture isn’t peeling, skip all the brushing and sanding, and apply a liquid sander deglosser. It’ll rough up the surface, so your new coat of paint adheres well.

Primed Metal Outdoor Furniture

Once you’ve prepared the surface, dust your patio furniture off; then, put on a protective mask, and apply a coat of primer. If you’re starting with bare metal, use Rustoleum Clean Metal Primer (or the equivalent). If you’re starting with rusted metal, use Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer (or the equivalent).

Pro Tip: Spend a few bucks on a spray paint handle. Your trigger finger will thank you.

Raised Paint Removed With a Razor Blade

Allow the primer to dry. Then, look over the surface of your piece to see if there are any places where the primer has raised the surface of the old paint. If there are, use a razor blade to remove the lifted paint.

Then, follow up with two to three coats of spray paint.

Masked Off Arms On Outdoor Chair

If you want to do a two-tone paint job. Just spray the first color; then, use strips of paper or plastic to mask off the painted parts, before you spray the second color.

Repainted Outdoor Loveseat

Allow the paint to dry and harden for a few days before you put your outdoor furniture to use.

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  1. Excellent tips! I have a vintage metal loveseat that’s very similar (and the same shade of funky off-green with rust accents). However, it is a rocker and has screws so that it can be taken apart, which is what I will do to really take the “pro” approach. And with all the time I have spent in Home Depot and similar stores over the years, I can’t believe I never thought to look for a spray paint handle. Doh! Major head slap there haha. Again, many thanks for all you do and many blessings to you and your family. 🙂

  2. I have a metal outdoor chair and would like to paint it then paint flowers on it. How should I do that?

    1. Hi Janet,

      I’d paint the chair following the steps outlined here. Then, either free hand the flowers or use a stencil to apply them. Just be sure to use a paint that’s approved for outdoor use, so the flowers hold up as well as the paint you used to paint the chair. You might even think about applying a clear coat when you’re done, just to further protect the flowers. This could be glossy, or matte, depending on your preference. Have fun with your project. I just redid another outdoor chair the other week. It’s amazing how much difference a little paint makes.

  3. I am trying to redo old rusty metal wire chairs that have old thick paint peeling. I’m having a hard time removing old paint/smoothing with the wire brush/scraper combo. What can I do?

    1. Hi Amber. Paint stripper is probably the easiest way forward. I’ve used lots of different paint strippers over the years, and I’m a fan of a product called Citristrip. It uses orange oil to strip the paint, so it isn’t super stinky like other stuff, and it works really well. Just apply it to the paint. Let it sit for a while, and the paint should lift right off, when you go back with your wire brush.

  4. Finishing up a set of chairs and notice that the paint looks a bit splotchy in spots (depending on the light). Thinking of either another coat in the color or a satin/glossy clear coat on top. Any suggestions?

  5. Hi! Bought new garden furniture, so will just use deglosser. What kind of spray paint works best on metal inexpensive garden bistro set? Thanks!

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