I’m no longer a Pinterest Virgin – How to refinish old metal patio furniture

I just joined Pinterest about three weeks back. I also hit a pretty large accomplishment this past Monday in that I passed the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification Exam. I spent about 10 weeks studying with the last month involving 2-3 hours/day of study time. Immediately upon passing, I treated myself to my first iPad (the iPad mini) mainly so I could use it for things like Pinterest, social media, FaceTime. I was in a mad rush to use the other side of my brain after passing this test with refinishing my patio furniture at the top of my list. I searched Pinterest for some ideas on colors and to see honestly if painting metal furniture was even feasible? Initially, I was considering a royal blue or bright blue and getting red cushions to go with it.

I went to Lowe’s to pick out the spray paint and they did not have the blue I was looking for in the specific type of paint you need for this, so I got a pleasant surprise in the results with the color I had to ‘settle’ with.

To get started, here is what you need for this project:

spray paint (satin or flat NOT gloss), make sure it is paint that can work on metal or even outdoor specific. I used Valspar Outdoor color – purchased at Lowe’s. For an idea of how much you need, the Lowe’s guy told me one can covers 20 square feet. Well, in my OCD painting, honestly, I used one can per a chair and 1.5-2 cans for the larger pieces.  I bought 6 cans to cover 2 chairs, a glider and a large dining table. Be really careful they don’t hide that the paint is a gloss in the name (look on back of bottle and see if it says GLS – I noticed that was an indicator if I was not sure).

sanding sponge

old towel/rag

old drop cloth/flat sheet

flat space in open air to paint (watch the fumes)

nice dry day with low humidity and light or NO wind.  You can also break it up into sessions over a couple of days.  Probably will take you 4-5 hours total to do an entire set unless it is completely filthy to start with.


1. Wipe furniture down. Get all spider webs, dirt etc off the furniture unless you want it coated in paint. I just did this with a damp rag (did not hose off furniture as then you need to ensure it is completely dry).  I kept this same rag for wiping the furniture off as I worked too in case a bug landed on it or something.

2. Take sanding sponge and do a wipe down over the furniture almost like you are giving it a light sponge bath. Accentuate rough spots or spots with rust and just smooth them out.

Sanding Sponge

Sanding Sponge

3. Place piece on flat surface on top of drop cloth.

4. Get bottle of paint and start to spray in a sweeping motion. I sprayed closer to the object than the instructions told me since my furniture has lots of open grid work and it was the only way not to send most of the paint into the air or grass vs. on my furniture. I did one decent coat over the wide spots and a lite coat over the open/grid type spots. I made sure to get under the arms, seat etc and in the cracks.

5. Let this first piece start to dry and then you can start on the second piece with its first coat. Keep in mind, the paint I bought had primer built into it. If you decide to use paint without primer, I would do this first coat as a primer coat.

The start of the chairs

The start of the chairs

6. I then worked back and forth between these two pieces over about 30 minutes (got pretty close to them in some spots to ensure I covered up the old black/green color).

7. Paint is dry to the touch within an hour. I let dry for approximately 30 minutes and then looked to see what spots looked missed. Especially on the with the grids (sometimes hard to tell if you got it all).  Overall, I did at least 3 coats on each piece of furniture to ensure no dark color was coming through.

8. Let the pieces dry at least an hour before you pick them up and move them or try to put anything on them.

9. For the larger pieces, table and glider, there were more steps involved. The table, once the top side was dry, I flipped on its side to get at the underneath better. The glider by far was the hardest as it had to be turned a few times on its end and bottom so I could get everything. Do not move the furniture to a new spot until you have given it about an hour or so to dry after that coat of paint. So the larger pieces involve more patience.

10. Once all the pieces are completely dry, ensure you wipe down with a slightly damp cloth to get any dried paint that settles as dust on the furniture.

Table in progress - turned on side when this dried to get underneath

Table in progress – turned on side when this dried to get underneath

As far as expense, the paint averages $5/can and the sanding sponge was $5.  I was given the furniture as a hand me down from my neighbors.  The actual refinishing including tax was under $40!

In case you are interested in where I got the cushions. I have an Amazon Prime account and ordered them here (made in the USA)!

Chair Cushions

Glider Cushion

and…..here is the Finished Product!

The finished Product!

The finished Product!

Another view of the finished product!
Another view of the finished product!


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