How To Paint Your Metal Garden Furniture The Right Way

Do you have any rusted, pitted or worn metal garden furniture you don’t want to chuck in the bin but bring back to life? Repainting is the best way to transform its look and give it a new lease of life! You can always refinish your existing set or paint new garden furniture to match the garden scheme. 

garden furniture and pergola on the back

Metal has a smooth surface, and it is challenging to paint. Repainting it with a brush may look like a hard DIY task to do, but you should not worry. Following our easy tutorial can solve this sort of problem! Keep on reading to find out more!

How to prepare your metal furniture

Before you start, you should know that refinishing iron patio furniture isn’t the kind of project you can scatter out over a few days. Wanna know why? Maybe you are familiar with the term ‘’flash rust’’. This refers to rusting that occurs on metal within minutes to a few hours after cleaning is completed. You can avoid this by not stopping once you start removing the rust. Continue until the entire piece has been cleaned and treated with a rust-resistant primer. After removing the rust, you can move on through the rest of the job at a more leisurely pace.

Tools you’ll need

  • Work gloves
  • Dust sheet
  • Spanner
  • Sandpaper
  • Sterilising solution or bleach
  • Wet and dry abrasive paper
  • Sponge
  • Glasspaper
  • Paintbrushes
  • Spray paint
  • Drop cloths
  • Protective goggles
  • Paint-stripping wire brush
  • Muriatic acid
  • Rust converter
  • Release oil
  • Paint bucket or bowl
  • Rust-inhibiting metal primer
  • Rust-inhibiting metal paint

paint brushes on wood

Choose the right spot for your patio-refinishing project

You should place your metal furniture in the right outdoor space before you start its makeover. Find a shady corner of your yard or an empty garage. Lay a non-slip drop cloth to protect the ground or concrete floor. Use a few cinder blocks to elevate the patio furniture to reach the legs’ bottoms without tipping the pieces over.

Mind the weather

You should avoid priming or painting the furniture outside in direct sunlight or on a windy day. These elements can cause the outer layer of the paint to dry too rapidly and thus reduce the lifespan of the colour. 

Check out the bolts’ condition

You should replace any missing or rusted bolts holding the table and chairs together. If it is hard to remove them, spray with release oil. Let it dry and find a spanner to exactly match the size of the nut to undo them. Replace the old bolts with new, corrosion-resistant ones.

rusted bolt

Kill algae and spores

Use fungicidal wash, sterilising solution or household bleach to kill off algae and spores on metal garden furniture. It is necessary to wear heavy-duty rubber gloves and keep these chemicals away from children and animals! Use a brush or sponge to apply them and leave for 24 hours before washing off with clean water.

Remove the flaking coating

After placing your metal furniture in the right place, you can now start with removing its flaking paint

  • Use a paint stripping wire brush or scraper to scrub the flat surfaces and remove light rust and loose paint.
  • With the narrow wire bristles on the tip of the tool reach rust in nooks and crannies.
  • Remove larger sections of peeling paint using the flat scraper at the end of the tool’s handle.

rust on red paint

Scrub away the most stubborn rust

If the rust and paint come off with ease, continue to brush all surfaces until they are completely clean. When you’re done, you can skip ahead to applying a rust-convertor solution. But it is pretty likely that you run into some stubborn layers of old paint and rust. In that case, you’ll need the assistance of muriatic acid or another rust-dissolving solution. Apply the formulas together with the 3-in-1 brush to scrub away the most stubborn rust. Keep in mind that many rust-removing acids and chemicals must be hosed off after application. Be prepared to move your outdoor furniture to a spot where you can wash it off without worry about the runoff damaging grass or other plants.

Sand the unstable surface

Wearing a protective dust mask, use a sanding block and wet and dry abrasive paper to get a firm base. With a bit of elbow grease, you will have the smooth surface you need to repaint your furniture.

Rinse with clean water

Remove any traces of grease and dust particles with warm water and detergent. Scrub the surface with the mix and then wash out with lots of clean water. 

A man watering with a hose

Dry the item

Use old towels or cloths to dry the item thoroughly. Leaving any moisture on the bare iron can lead to new rust. At this point, your clean furniture is very vulnerable, so you should complete the drying step and move quickly to the next.

Apply a rust-convertor solution

Use either a spray can or paintbrush to apply a rust-convertor solution to coat, seal, and protect the clean furniture. This solid substance contains polymers and tannic acid. It protects the furniture against rust developing under your new paint job.

Prime the patio furniture

Use a rust-inhibiting metal primer for exterior use and apply it in multiple, very thin coats. Since iron furniture often features complex patterns and weaves, it’s usually better to spray the primer rather than brush it on. You should apply at least three thin coats of primer. If they are too heavy, you’ll end up with paint runs. It is essential to not forget about the bottoms of the legs!

Once you apply each coat, wait at least the minimum amount of time recommended by the paint manufacturer before applying another coat. Use this time for other around-the-house activities or just relaxing. 

How to paint your metal garden furniture

Your furniture now has the smooth surface you need to start painting. Follow these steps and paint your metal garden furniture the right way!

1. Select colour

Better use oil-based colour instead of any others. This will be best suited over the metal surface. The colour shade is up to you. Besides your taste, consider the house and garden elements around your furniture. Pick a colour that complements your exterior design.

2 people choosing colours

2. Pour the liquid oil-based colour into the bucket

Pour the colour into a bowl or bucket. Fill only half of it so you can easily mix the minerals later. 

3. Add the minerals

Pour the minerals you want to use with the colour in the container. Use whichever paint thinner is more preferable or available to you. It could be kerosene, mineral spirits or turpentine. Keep in mind that mineral spirits and turpentine let the paint dry faster than the kerosene. Make sure you stay alert while mixing the colour and minerals and know the proportion of the mixture.

4. Make the mixture

Shovel the colour and minerals on the container using a wooden stick to make a perfect mixture. You should pour some more minerals if the combination seems too thick. If it looks too thin, then add some more colour. Make sure that the mix has the perfect proportion of paint and mineral before painting. 

mixing paint with wooden stick

5. Start painting

  1. Wear protective clothing and use oil-based metal paint or a can of spray paint, like Rustoleum. Use the paint if you are a DIY painter with no spraying experience. If you have experience, use the spray painting technique for a better looking final finish. It will help you use a circular metal radiator cleaning brush for any corners and tight, odd-shaped spots and spaces.
  2. If you use a brush, dip only its tip into the mixture of colour and minerals, and start painting. If you are spray painting, apply the paint in multiple thin layers and allow each coat to dry thoroughly between spraying.
  3. Use a painting pattern while painting the entire surface, heading in one direction like left to right.
  4. For smooth paintwork, use light and consistent strokes
  5. Let the colour coat dry so your next layer won’t end in an uneven gesture.
  6. After one coat is completely dry, give it a very light sanding with fine glass paper to provide a key for the next coat. You should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best time to apply the second coat.
  7. After completing each stroke, clean your brush.
  8. Use the same pattern until you have coated the whole area of the metal surface with the colour. As a result, you will have a smooth finish over the metal surface.

painting brush with red colour

6. Give your patio furniture time to cure

Before putting your freshly painted furniture to full use outdoors, make sure to give it plenty of time to cure. Some paints can take weeks to heal fully and reach 100% hardness and durability.

Some extra tips to keep your furniture shiny

Metal furniture is sturdy but, like other outdoor furniture, needs proper maintenance and care. You should not let dirt or debris build-up on the metal frames. Over time this may cause it to become more challenging to remove.

1. Don’t leave wrought iron furniture standing in water

There is an additional risk of rust and corrosion when leaving your wrought furniture standing in water. Store or cover your furniture when not in use for an extended period and during bouts of inclement weather.

2. Use furniture covers

Use a waterproof slipcover to trap water, humidity, and heat that can damage your furniture’s finish. This will also make seasonal cleaning a breeze. Ensure your covers are long enough to protect the bases or feet of chairs and tables and wide enough for any tabletop.

garden furniture covers

3. Inspect for any scratches or occasional rust seepage

Your wrought and cast iron (metal) furniture may have chips in the finish, scratches or occasional rust seepage from crevices or hidden, unfinished surfaces inherent in some ornate designs. You should fix the problem the sooner you notice exposed bare metal. You can contact your furniture manufacturer or retailer for information about how to repair it, but in most cases, using touch-up paint will correct the problem.

4. Clean it up frequently

  1. Mix up dishwashing detergent with warm water in a bucket.
  2. Use a scrub brush, cloth or sponge to scrub the surface. 
  3. For deep-rooted dirt, use a window cleaner or a non-abrasive multi-purpose cleaner.
  4. Wash out furniture and allow it to dry.
  5. Remove any rusted spots down to the bare metal using a wire brush or sandpaper.
  6. Use a clean cloth dampened with mineral spirits or naphtha to wipe off any metal residue.
  7. Use a primer made for metal, such as those made by Rust-Oleum, for bare spots.
  8. Allow the surface to dry.
  9. Apply touch-up paint or metal spray to scratches to prevent rust.
  10. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly before using furniture.
  11. If your furniture has a glossy, non-textured finish, you may also use a fine automotive wax to help maintain it.

5. Cleaning Tips

  • Always start with a soft brush or cloth for light cleaning. Only then evaluate if more care and cleaning is needed.
  • Non-detergent liquid soap, like dish soap, is the best option for cleaning products that will not harm your furniture. Use water and white vinegar for tougher stains and mildew.
  • Clean off bird droppings as soon as possible. If they stay longer, they can lead to permanent staining and corrosion.
  • If you have kept the manual of your furniture, read the specific instructions given for cleaning it.

woman cleaning a garden table
Are you looking for the perfect opportunity to breathe some new life into your old weathered metal furniture? Painting metal furniture is an easy, fun and effective project that anyone can have a go at. Grab the brush and happy painting! And if you are done with the metal furniture, you are ready to go for the wooden one too. How? Here you can learn all about re-painting your wooden garden furniture.

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