How to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture

Try this DIY before you send your outdoor furniture to the dump. It’s easier than you think to refinish metal patio furniture and make it look new again.

How to refinish metal patio furniture: before and after photos of a metal patio chair

We expect a lot from them.

We want them to look good, hold us up, and withstand pouring rain and intense sun.

Yes. We have high expectations for our outdoor furniture. Is it any wonder that they need some TLC once in a while?

Our patio furniture held up pretty well since last year, even though we had to store it outside in the winter. However, there were a few rust spots on the base.

Rust on chair base

I have no idea where those came from. (Either we have a metal eating squirrel running around our yard or my boys have been practicing their percussion skills).

Also, because of the intense sun, the paint had discolored slightly on the arms of the chairs.

Discoloring on arm of chair

They still look so much better than they did a year ago. I had completely restored them last year. I wish I had pictures of the project because these chairs look 100 times better than they did. Yet, I still didn’t want to leave these rust spots on there in fear that they will get worse over the summer.

It was time for a small patio furniture refinish project.

If you are like me and have some patio furniture that needs a little face lift, you can read on, my friend.

Supplies to refinish metal patio furniture

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Materials You Need:

Steps to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture

Step 1: Prepare the surface

The first step is to get all of the loose paint and rust off of the furniture. I used an electric sander with 120 count sand paper for this. You can also use a fine steel wool to sand by hand and a wire brush to sand any crevices. (Always work in a well ventilated area and use protection. Be especially careful when working with painted items in case any of the paint you are removing is lead based. Lead paint needs to be removed with a different method.)

If there is a rust spot, you want to make sure to work the rust off until you are down to the metal. Also, sand out any bumps in the paint to create a smooth surface.

Sanding chair base with sander

Clean all of the dirt off of the area you are painting with a damp rag or hose. The dirt can interfere with your paint adhering to your furniture and may cause your new paint job to peel right off. If you use a lot of water to wash your piece, towel the furniture dry. The longer the metal you worked on is exposed to the elements, the more vulnerable it is. It is important to get paint back on your furniture quickly, so do your furniture a favor by helping the drying process along.

Wiping off the patio furniture

You can see how gross and dirty the rag got, so make sure that you are using something that you don’t mind throwing out when you are done.

Step 2: Use Primer

After your furniture is completely dry, use primer to coat any areas of your furniture that you stripped down to the bare metal. If there is still paint on the metal, you may not need to prime that area.

Priming the patio chair

There are various different primers available, including ones that help inhibit rust. A spray primer makes painting outdoor furniture a lot easier.

Follow the dry times on your specific primer.

Step 3: Paint your furniture

Now, depending on how bad your furniture is, you will probably have to repaint your whole piece. Even if your furniture isn’t horrible, matching spray paint to any store bought furniture might prove tricky as well. Also, this could be a great time to change up the color of your furniture, if you are feeling a little bored.

If you really just want to touch up your item, then spray an inconspicuous area of your furniture to see how well the paint matches up.

In my case, I had just painted my furniture last year, so I knew what paint I had used and chose to only touch up my chairs.

Spraying paint to refinish metal patio furniture

Grab your spray paint and start painting. Don’t apply thick coats. With paint in general, it is always better to apply multiple light coats and allow them to dry in between. This will keep the paint from running.

Allow your furniture a safe place to dry. I stored mine in our garage for a day since there was rain in the forecast and  I didn’t want all of my work to be destroyed.

Time to Refinish Your Metal Patio Furniture

I am not going to lie and say that this doesn’t take a little elbow grease and time, but the furniture looks so much better after it is repainted. You almost can’t tell that those weird rust marks were on the chair.

Comparison before and after painting

And since I can’t afford new patio furniture every few years, this is the second best thing: making it look like new!

Patio furniture with cushion
Flowers by refinished patio furniture

What about you? Could your patio furniture use a little face lift? I hope this inspires you to DIY a little patio furniture refresh yourself.

Want another outdoor spray paint project idea? Make these 5 gallon bucket planters to add a pop of color to your outdoor decor.

Want to try out another furniture facelift project? Check out how to refinish a folding table for another DIY furniture flip.

Want to remember this for later? Save it to your favorite DIY board on Pinterest.

How to refinish patio furniture: patio chair with pillows and cushion sitting next to flowers

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Thank you for reading! I am so glad that you stopped by! If you enjoyed reading this, I would love for you to share it on Pinterest and Facebook!

Creatively Yours, Erin

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6 thoughts on “How to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture”

  1. I have an ancient but very high quality set that I’d like to refinish. My husband insists we need to sand blast but I think I’m going to try your method first 🙂 There’s also built in fabric on the chairs that I’m trying to figure out how to replace but that’s part 2.

    • That sounds like a great project. I definitely like to try to give things a facelift with spray paint first because it is so much easier. Then move to more complicated finishes if it doesn’t. I hope that it works for you to refinish your folding table set. Good luck on the project!

  2. We have some metal patio furniture the neighbors were going to throw away that was in really good condition. They’ve looked pretty good the last couple of years but I think it is time that we give them a makeover. I have noticed a couple of spots that are starting to rust. Your tips will come in handy! Pinned!

    • I am so glad you found the tips helpful. I love freshening up the patio furniture. It makes them look so much better. Thank you!


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