How to Paint Rusty Metal Patio Furniture So It Looks Good as New

How to Paint Rusty Metal Patio Furniture So It Looks Good as New

By Jessica Bennett | BHG.Com

Troy Warren for CNT

Learn how to remove rust from metal patio furniture and paint over it with fresh color.

When exposed to rain, sun, and outdoor elements over long periods, metal patio furniture will eventually rust. With enough time, this natural phenomenon is mostly unavoidable, but a little rust doesn’t mean you have to throw out your outdoor table and chairs or pass over an old patio set you found on the cheap. Painting rusted metal furniture is a simple DIY project that can quickly make tables and chairs look good as new. However, paint won’t stick to dirty, rusty surfaces, so you’ll have to remove the rustbefore adding your favorite paint color.

Before you begin this outdoor project, make sure the rust hasn’t damaged the structural integrity of the item. Small spots of rust are likely manageable, but large corroded areas might not be salvageable. If the frame remains sturdy, use the following steps to paint rusty metal furniture, including pieces made from aluminum, iron, and steel.

How to Paint Rusty Metal Furniture 

Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, that’s not exposed to direct sun or strong wind, which can affect the adhesion of the paint. To protect surfaces from overspray, lay down a drop cloth and make sure you’re not spraying too close to the side of your house or other areas where you don’t want paint.

What You Need 

  • Metal patio table and chairs
  • Small paint scraper
  • Sanding block
  • Drop cloth
  • Rust primer
  • Rust-resistant spray paint
  • Clear sealer


Step 1: Remove loose rust. 

Examine each furniture piece to determine any rusted areas that need attention. Gently use a paint scraper ($7, The Home Depot) to remove loose, corroded material. Scrape off large chunks, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all.


Step 2: Sand rusty areas. 

Use a sanding block ($4, The Home Depot) to remove rust down to the bare metal. Use sandpaper with a lower, coarser grit to clear away rust more effectively. Then wipe the furniture with a rag to rid the pieces of any debris.


Step 3: Spray on primer. 

Place the table and chairs on a drop cloth. Treat the sanded, rusty areas with a metal primer that deters rust, such as Rust-Oleum Rusty Metal Primer Spray ($4, The Home Depot). Make sure to spray the spot from all angles, reaching every nook and cranny. Let dry for two hours.


Step 4: Apply spray paint. 

Apply two coats of metal-approved spray paint in your color of choice. Hold the can about 8-10 inches away from the surface and use a sweeping back-and-forth motion to apply a thin, even coat across the entire piece, including the back and underside. Allow the paint to dry for two hours, or the time recommended by the manufacturer, between coats.

Step 5: Finish with sealer. 

Protect your freshly painted patio furniture from further rusting or chipping with a clear coat. Choose a sealer designed for outdoor projects with UV protection to help prevent fading. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, let dry and cure completely before use.

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By Troy Warren

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