How To Paint Metal Patio Furniture

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Metal Patio Furniture

Metal patio furniture is great because it can truly last a lifetime. True, it may need to be repainted every 5-10 years, but as long as you don’t allow it to get overly rusty then repainting your metal patio furniture can be easy.

I recently had a client drop off a set of metal patio chairs and a metal table. It was in pretty decent condition and just needed a thorough cleaning and sanding. The project took me about 2. 5 hours to prep (30 minutes to clean, sand and get each item ready for paint) and another 2.5 hours to paint. Now, I did spray these pieces which is much faster, I am guessing that foam brushing would have taken closer to 5 hours to complete.

Tools You Will Need

Patio Furniture Painting Supplies

How To Paint Metal Patio Furniture

Step 1: Step Up Your Work Space

Set up your metal furniture in an open and well ventilated area where people, pets and bugs won’t touch it while it dries. I like to use 6′ plastic folding tables to work on, they’re cheap and really handy to have around the house for many other things. I set up each piece to be painted on these plastic folding tables as well as all of my tools. This keeps everything off the ground and at a comfortable working height (I fit 4 chairs and the metal table all on 2 plastic tables).

Step 2: Thoroughly Clean The Metal Furniture

Everything you paint should get thoroughly cleaned before painting, especially anything that has spent it’s life outside. Patio furniture will likely have a layer of dirt embedded in every nook and cranny.

For cleaning, I like using a solution of TSP (phosphate free) and warm water. Start by using a rag and washing down the furniture as best as you can. Next, pull out a scrubbing brush, similar to what you would use on dishes in your kitchen, and clean all of the hard to get corners, gaps and cracks until all areas are nice and clean. When you are done, TSP does not need to be rinsed, so just allow the furniture to dry before moving onto the next step.

Step 3: Sand All Of Furniture

Now that all of your patio furniture is clean, you want to sand it and remove all of the sheen from the old finish. If you paint over a glossy surface, the new paint will have a hard time bonding to the old finish. Whereas if you sand it to a dull finish, this means you have thoroughly scratched up the old paint and given the new paint a surface that it can easily bond to.

A 3M Metal Finishing Pad is perfect for scuffing the surface. These pads are easier to get into small areas and easier to wrap around round metal. If you don’t have a metal finishing pad, then a fine grit sanding paper will work just fine as well.

If the old paint is really rough and/or chipping, then I like to use a medium grit sand paper and sand these areas until they are nice and smooth. I will then switch to a fine grit pad to smooth out any sanding scratches left behind.

Step 4: Paint The First Coat

The first thing you want to do before painting is to vacuum off the metal furniture and your surrounding work space. You want your work space as dust free as possible.

When you are ready to paint, I recommend using Rustoleum oil based Metal Paint or a can of Rustoleum Spray Paint. The oil based paint will be easier to DIY painters with no spraying experience to apply while the spray cans will produce a better looking final finish.

For applying the oil based paint, use a 1″ foam brush to avoid brush strokes as much as possible.

If you are using Rustoleum spray paint, then apply the paint in multiple thin layers and allow each coat to dry thoroughly in between spraying. Trying to apply each coat thicker will likely result in runs forming on your metal patio furniture.

Step 5: Paint The Second Coat

After your first coat has dried, lightly sand your furniture with an extra fine grit sanding pad. Once sanding is complete, vacuum and start applying the second coat.

Finishing Up

Once you are done painting your patio furniture, make sure to give it plenty of time to cure before putting it to full use outdoors. Many paints can literally take weeks to fully cure and reach 100% hardness and durability.

Now get out and enjoy the upcoming summer nights on your freshly painted patio set.


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