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How to Paint Metal Furniture: Your Complete Guide

Are you tired of your old, worn-out metal furniture? Do you want to give it a fresh look that will make it seem good as new? Then learn how to paint metal furniture with this handy guide.

With a little bit of preparation and some elbow grease, you can give your old metal furniture a new lease on life and transform it into something fresh and exciting.

Not sure where to start? We put together this guide on painting metal furniture to help you make all your DIY dreams come true.

Below, we listed all the steps on how to paint metal furniture, from cleaning the surface to finding the proper primer. With this handy guide in your back pocket, you’ll learn how to paint metal furniture like a pro.

So grab your paintbrush, and let’s get started!

Learning how to paint metal furniture, set of turquoise metal chairs

Best Paints for Metal Furniture

The first step in our guide on how to paint metal furniture is deciding on the best paint.

When choosing the right paint for metal surfaces, keep an eye out for chalk, acrylic, or alkyd (oil-based) paints. These options are specifically formulated to adhere to metal surfaces and provide a long-lasting finish that can withstand wear and tear.

If you’re looking for chalk paint, we recommend the Country Chic brand for an endless selection of colors, a low-odor formula, and a nice matte finish.

The Krylon COLORmaxx definitely scores the top brush paint spot, with bold colors, premium coverage, and a long-lasting finish.

If you’d rather go down the spray paint route, then check out the Rust-Oleum brand that boasts an easy application process with a quick-drying formula.

Whether you’re painting a metal chair, table, or even an outdoor grill, both of these paints will give your furniture a professional and polished look

Spray vs. Brush Paint

When it comes to painting, there are two main methods to choose from: spray paint and brush paint. Both techniques have their pros and cons, but which one is better?

It all depends on the project you’re working on. Spray paint is great for large surfaces since you can ensure even and consistent coverage without much effort. It also dries faster than brush paint, which makes it a huge time-saver between coats.

Using spray paint to paint a metal chair blue

However, spray paint can get messy, and you’ll need to cover all your surroundings with a tarp. You also need to ensure there’s proper ventilation when using spray paint and wear a mask which can get cumbersome.

Brush paint is ideal for smaller projects and areas that require more precision. It’s also easier to control the amount of paint you apply with a brush and works well for detail work. The main downside of this method is that you risk leaving brush marks, and it takes longer to dry.

Ultimately, the decision between spray paint and brush paint comes down to your own personal preference and the specific project you’re working on. If you’re trying to add color to a mailbox or small decorative item, brush paint might be the way to go. But if you’re aiming to revamp a large outdoor table or couch, spray paint would make your life a lot easier.

Step 1: Clean Your Surface

You’ve chosen the right color to add life to your metal furniture, now it’s time to show you how to paint metal furniture.

The first step in this process is to clean your surface thoroughly. This part is crucial for ensuring that the paint adheres properly and doesn’t flake or peel off over time.

Use a damp cloth to wash off any dust, dirt, or debris on the surface of your project. Be sure to get into any crevices or hard-to-reach areas.

Once your surface is clean and dry, you’re ready to move on to the next step in this guide on painting metal furniture.

Step 2 (Optional): Sand Off Rust

If you’re working with older metal furniture, you might find rusted spots. Be sure to clean these areas before moving on in the painting process.

Using a wire brush to scrape rust off old metal furniture

Start by using fine-grit sandpaper to lightly scour the damaged parts. If this doesn’t work, try using a wire brush to scrape off the rust. For stubborn stains, you can apply a mixture of water and vinegar to help remove them.

Once you’ve finished sanding, wipe down the furniture with a damp cloth to remove any debris. When everything is clean and tidy, you’re ready to move on to priming.

Step 3: Apply Primer

Using a primer before painting metal furniture is essential since it creates a smooth, even surface for the paint to adhere to. It also helps prevent rust and corrosion, which will keep your project looking in tip-top shape over time.

Without a primer, the paint may not stick properly to the metal, and it could easily chip or peel. If you want your metal furniture to look spiffy for years to come, be sure to use a primer before painting.

Try to find a primer made specifically for metal furniture, like the Rust-Oleum Protective Paint, which is formulated to combat rust over time.

If you paint your metal furniture using chalk paint, it’s recommended to find a specific primer that creates the best base for this type of paint. Check out the Country Chic brand of primer to start your project with a durable base coat.

When applying the protective base coat, use a high-quality brush or roller to ensure even coverage. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow ample time for the primer to dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Sand Primer

Okay, it’s almost paint time! You’re probably eager to start adding color to your piece of metal furniture, but there’s just one more step.

It might seem redundant, but giving your primer a light sand will help create the best results when painting metal furniture. Use gentle pressure to smooth out any bumps or imperfections in the base coat. Once you’ve finished sanding, wipe down the surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove any excess paint.

After you’ve completed this step, you’re finally ready for the fun part.

Step 5: Apply Paint

Finally, it’s time to add some color to your DIY project! Learning how to paint metal furniture will depend on the type of paint you bought.

Spray Paint

If you’re using spray paint, hold the can about 6-8 inches away from the surface of your project and spray in even, sweeping motions. Be sure to keep the can moving to avoid drips and uneven coverage. If you need to add another coat, wait until the first coat is dry to the touch before spraying again.

Brush Paint

When using brush paint, it’s essential to ensure you have the right brush first. Use a small, flat paintbrush or chalk paintbrush to achieve the smoothest finish on your metal furniture.

Painting a metal chair with black paint

Keep an even hand and use slight pressure when applying your strokes. Aim to apply a light coat the first time around, then after letting the first layer dry, you can use more paint on the second coat. Continue adding layers of paint until the metal surface is completely covered.

The key when painting metal furniture is to be patient. If you messed up on the first coat, you could always fix it by adding a second or third layer of paint.

Step 6: Apply Sealer

Finally, we have reached the last step in our guide on how to paint metal furniture. Applying a sealer will make sure that all of the hard work and effort put into your project will not go to waste.

Applying a good top coat, like the Rust-Oleum sealer, will protect your furniture from rust, scratches, and general wear and tear. If you plan on using your metal furniture outside, this step is imperative since you’ll need some type of weatherproofing in place.

If you’re using chalk paint, try completing your project with the Country Chic brand top coat for a modern satin finish that offers ample protection.

Before applying your sealer, make sure the paint has completely dried on the surface of your project. Use the same techniques mentioned above whether you use spray or brush sealer. Apply a thin, even coat, then let it completely dry before using your metal furniture.

After this step is complete, congratulations! You now have a shiny new piece of metal furniture that looks brand new.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you keep paint from peeling off metal?

When painting metal furniture, you want to do everything in your power to ensure the paint will stick and not peel off. One of the most important things you can do is to properly prepare the surface. This means cleaning it thoroughly and removing any rust or other contaminants. It’s also recommended to use a primer designed specifically for metal surfaces.

Finding the right sealer will also help prevent paint from peeling off since it provides a durable finish that ensures longevity.

Outdoor metal bistro set painted bluete

How to Paint Metal Furniture: Wrapped Up

We hope reading our guide helped debunk the process of painting metal furniture. With a couple of tools and the right attitude, you can transform rusty, old home decor into a masterpiece.

Now that you know how to paint metal furniture, check out our Painting Furniture page for more DIY inspiration.