Looking to refresh your outdoor furniture? Find out how to paint outdoor metal furniture so it will last!
We recently let some friends of ours who work with local university students use our backyard for a leadership training day. I’m thrilled to say that not only did the event go swimmingly (see what I did there?! 😂), but the date of the event gave me a deadline to get our backyard spruced up.
And I, for one, apparently work best under pressure.
As a result, I restored a teak dining set, pressure washed the deck, laid sod, redesigned flower beds, and repainted all of our outdoor furniture and lighting. Fortunately, my Instagram community cheered me on through the whole process! And then they asked for the tutorials. 😉
Just look at these makeovers!
So without further ado, here’s how I gave the metal furniture a fresh new paint job.
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The Best Paint for Outdoor Metal Furniture
There are times when a quick can of spray paint that primes and paints is perfect (trust me, I love spray paint!). In fact, get a full step-by-step tutorial for spray painting outdoor furniture here.
But there are also times when a thicker, more substantial coat of paint is worth it. Either because the piece has a lot of rusty places to restore or because the construction of the piece (lots of holes or many many slats) means that the spray paint would be much wasted.
In those cases, I love to use this High Performance Protective Enamel. It’s an oil-based paint that comes in both gloss and flat black. I used the gloss for the outdoor chairs and lamppost, but our fence is done in the flat black for comparison. Although both are powerful, glossy finishes are almost always more forgiving than matte paints (think your trim vs your walls).
But the best paint is only as good as its primer and application… so read on for the other materials you’ll need to paint your metal outdoor furniture.
How to Paint Outdoor Metal Furniture
- sanding block
- cleaning supplies
- rusty metal primer + brush
- drop cloths + painter’s tape
- high-performance enamel paint
- trim roller + tray
- small brush for detailed work
How to restore outdoor metal furniture with a fresh coat of paint that will last!
Using a coarse sanding block (I recommend 60 or 80 grit), give the entire piece a light sanding. Focus on removing any chipping or loose paint or thick dirt.
You can use a pressure washer, damp rag, paper towel, or any other cleaning agent. Just be sure that all dirt, mildew, and sanding dust is removed. Let the furniture dry completely.
Be sure to protect your work area with drop cloths of some sort and tape off any areas where drop cloths are impractical. Remember, these are oil-based paint and primer, so you cannot clean them up with water; all clean up must be done with mineral spirits.
Tip: Use very inexpensive brushes, tray liners, and disposable cups so you can throw away materials after using oil-based paints. For rollers, just throw away the roller pad but keep the roller handle. You might even want plastic gloves to avoid skin clean up.
- Prime (if needed)
Wherever you see rust (or even significant areas of exposed metal), apply the rusty metal primer with a brush or roller to protect the piece and stop the rust. Let the coat of primer dry for 24 hours (or according to directions on the primer can).
After primer is dry, apply your oil-based outdoor paint with a small trim roller and brush. First, turn the piece upside down and paint the bottom. Remember, when painting outdoor furniture, you are working to protect the piece as well as make it look better. You want the entire piece painted to protect from water and uv rays. Next, turn the piece of furniture upright and paint the top. I find a trim roller to be best to quickly apply a nice thick coat without causing drips. Use a small brush for any detailed work. Let the paint dry and repeat, if needed.
Tip: If your paint is too thin and drippy, consider pouring paint into your roller tray and letting it sit out for an hour or so before you begin painting. This will allow it to thicken up a little so it won’t drip as much when you paint.
Tip 2: If you are painting something with holes (like the chairs I painted), be sure not to wait after painting the underside. Flip it over immediately to paint the top so that any drips from painting the bottom are caught before they dry.
And that’s it!
These pictures truly don’t do it justice… A little paint and elbow grease, and I feel like I have brand new outdoor furniture and lighting.
Don’t forget to pin it for later.