How To Paint Metal Patio Furniture

Paint is the easiest and cheapest way to update your old furniture. Which is why I decided to spray paint my boring beige patio table and chairs as part of my deck makeover.  Learning how to paint outdoor metal furniture has definitely had a big impact on my outdoor decor.

how to paint metal patio furniture

It’s week 4 of the One Room Challenge and we’re heading down the home stretch. Or at least, we should be…I still have a TON of work to do.

In case you missed it, I decided to make over my deck this year. You can catch up on my progress here:

The one problem with doing outdoor projects is that you can’t control the weather. And we’ve had a lot of rain.

Which has totally messed with my schedule.

So, while I didn’t get the tiling completely done on my outdoor bar, I did get my outdoor dining table and chairs painted (okay, there may have been a little procrastination on the tiling…it’s not my favorite thing to do).

Before and after of painted metal patio chairs

But my metal patio table and chairs look so much better, it’s hard to believe it’s the same set. The white paint really makes them stand out.

In fact, it almost looks the same as this really expensive furniture* set I ran across. But mine cost way less than that!

I bought my set from Sears many years ago, so for this makeover all it cost me was some paint.

So you might be wondering…

What Kind of Paint Works Best For Painting Metal Furniture?

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Metal outdoor furniture spray painted white with fuchsia pink cushions

Good question!

I have never had much luck using standard paint for painting outdoor furniture. It always seem to chip and needs to be re-painted often.

Which is why I chose to go with spray paint for this project.

It also gets the job done a lot faster, dries quicker and it doesn’t seem to wear off as easily. Even if it does start to fade, it’s really easy to do touch ups by getting out another can of spray paint.

My go-to spray paint for this kind of project is Rustoleum*. It has a primer built in which makes the job go even faster. As long as your furniture isn’t too rusty, you don’t need anything else.

I also chose to go with a flat (or matte) paint (as opposed to satin or glossy). That’s because it’s easier to get the finish to look right. And if you do need to do some touch-ups in the future, they blend right in.

How To Prepare Metal Patio Furniture For Painting

So now that we have the paint decided on, here’s how to go about painting outdoor metal furniture:

1. Scrape off any loose paint and rust with a wire brush*. This is just to remove any loose bits that could peel off later and wreck your paint job.

2. Wash the furniture with TSP* to get rid of any grime (or algae in my case). Dry thoroughly.

3. If your furniture is really rusty, spray it with Rustoleum Rust Reformer paint*. It will convert the rust into a paint-able surface without requiring sanding!

Now you’re ready to paint!

Tips For Successful Spray Painting

Here are some of my spray painting tips to get the best finish for your outdoor furniture.

1 | Use A Paint Grip

Spray can paint grip

Use one of these spray paint grips* to keep your hands from getting tired.

It is so much easier than holding down that little button on the top of the can.

2 | Don’t Spray Too Close

Spray can being held about 6 inches from a metal patio chair

Hold the spray can about 6 inches away from the surface to prevent the paint from pooling and running.

3 | Have A Paint Plan

A metal outdoor chair being spray painted

The best way to prevent missing spots is to have a plan of attack.

Start at the front of the chair and paint everything you can see from top to bottom.

The side of a metal patio chair being spray painted

Then move to the side of the chair and do the same.

The rail of a metal patio chair that was missed in painting

Don’t forget to look for easy-to-forget spots like the insides of the chair back rails.

The back of a metal patio chair being spray painted

Repeat for the back and the other side.

4 | Start With The Furthest Parts First

A metal patio table being spray painted white

Do the same kind of rotation around the table but start painting at the middle of the table and work your way out to the edges. This will prevent you from accidentally rubbing up against wet paint.

5 | Do Two Thin Coats

Painting 2 thin coats (rather than one thick one) results in a better finish.

With spray paint, you need to do the second coat quickly, usually within 30 minutes of the first one, so I do the loop around each piece of furniture twice. If you miss your 30 minute window, then you’ll need to wait for a couple of days before applying the next coat…and that kind of defeats the quick job benefits of spray paint if you ask me 🙂

6 | Work In The Shade

A beige metal outdoor chair under the shade of an umbrella

If you are painting outdoors, work in the shade to keep the paint from drying too quickly which can cause it to crack.

My new pink umbrella came in handy for this.

7 | Put Down Cardboard

The base of a metal outdoor chair spray painted on a piece of cardboard

Put your furniture on pieces of cardboard.

This will let you paint all the way down to the bottom without worrying about getting the paint everywhere. (Fortunately, I’ve been getting some deliveries for my deck makeover so I had some big pieces of cardboard to work with).

It also works better than plastic sheets because the cardboard doesn’t get caught in the wind and stick to your wet paint.

8 | Wait 48 Hours Before Using

White painted metal patio furniture on a deck

Once you have finished spray painting, let the paint dry for 48 hours (or more) before putting out your cushions and using your furniture.

Well, that’s it for my outdoor furniture painting tips. And now I really have to get back to that tiling!

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Before you go, don’t forget to check out the progress that all of the other One Room Challenge participants have been making. Hopefully, some of them have stuck to their schedule better than I have 🙂


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how to spray paint metal patio furniture

Have comments or questions on how to paint outdoor metal furniture? Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on April 24, 2019 but was updated with new content on February 12, 2024.

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  1. Veta Hungerford says:

    Will this method work for painting the metal frame of a glass top pation table?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Veta…yes, it should work well for that, too.

  2. How many cans of paint did you use for 4 chairs?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Shellea…I think it was about 6 cans. But it has been a few years since I did this, so I could be off by a can or two.

  3. What’s the best way to repaint chairs that have a synthetic fabric back and seat, and trim that is metal? Just tape everything off?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Nona…yes, I would tape off everything that you don’t want to get paint on. And if you’re spray painting, I would probably cover the whole area with tape (not just the edges) because the overspray will go everywhere.

  4. Laurie Rauen says:

    I painted my wrought iron patio chairs and nesting tables with Automobile Rustoleum spray paint in black. It was not a matte paint, but this furniture has never looked so good. I am really impressed with the job it did. It seemed to be just a tad thicker than the regular Rustoleum which made it go on very smoothly.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Laurie! I’ll have to try that.

  5. Hi Wanda
    I have 2 metal benches which I was thinking of painting a lime green. What do you think. Or which other colour will look nice. They will be sort of in thr garden.

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Mina…I think lime green would be beautiful. The only other suggestion I would have is if there are some flowers close by to where the chairs are going, you could paint them a similar color to the bloom color.

  6. Looks great, I’m wondering if spray paint grips are all one standard size? I looked at the one you linked, but it won’t get to me in time. I guess I’d just like to know if all grips fit on all spray paint cans?
    Thanks for the helpful tips!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Veronica…unfortunately, not all grips work on all spray paint cans (some cans have a different shape). The safest way is to buy the paint grip made by the manufacturer for your spray paint (so if you’re using Rustoleum paint, get the Rustoleum paint grip). Otherwise, it’s a bit of trial and error. A lot of hardware stores (and the big box stores) carry them now, so you might want to go to one of them and see if they have one that will work for you.

  7. Hi! I was hoping to get your opinion on the metallic versions of Rustoleum. I purchased a new metal outdoor couch that was described as gold but really is a dull metal gray. I’d like it to be a shiny gold (ala the indoor brass furniture we see everywhere) but I’m not confident it will really be a bright shiny gold. I was told at Home Depot that I should do several coats of gold Rustoleum and then add a clear shine but I’m considered I won’t achieve a true metallic look and it will come out flat. Have you tried their metallics? Once I decide I’ll use your links to purchase! Keep up the inspiration!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Gianna…I have used the Rustoleum gold for craft projects but not painting furniture. It is fairly metallic but not as shiny as true metal would be. I painted the eggs in this Christmas ornament with it if you want to get an idea of what it looks like.

  8. Hello! It is one year after your outdoor furniture painting project…how is it holding up? Just curious…wanting to do my own soon!

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Brigette…it still looks great. There were a couple of spots where the paint came off because I used the pressure washer to clean them in the spring. But I just painted over those areas again with the spray paint and you can’t tell where they were. I’m very happy with it!

  9. This looks great! Do you think I could spray paint black furniture with white?

    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Thanks Bea…yes, that should work. You might need an extra coat or two to cover the black completely but it will look great when you’re finished 🙂

  10. Hey, do you remember how many cans you ended up using for this entire project? Or for each chair?


    1. Wanda Simone says:

      Hi Elise…I think it was 6 cans of spray paint for the 4 chairs (about 1 1/2 per chair). Plus another 2 cans for the table.

  11. I love how the paint transformed your patio furniture! Looking forward to seeing this space come together!

    1. Thanks, Nicole! The paint really did make a huge difference! I’m looking forward to it being finished, too 🙂

    1. Thanks, Connie! I was surprised what a big difference a little paint could make 🙂

    1. Thanks, Angela! I’m pretty happy with the way the table & chairs turned out…I should have painted them years ago 🙂

  12. Wanda,
    Looking good!
    Where was this post in week 1 of this ORC – There’s a paint gun thing for spray cans!? That would have made my life much easier while painting the arbour. We made the mistake of getting glossy and think matte black would have looked classier (but it’s done now). 2 great lessons for next time 🙂
    Looking forward to the reveal!

    1. Thanks, Denise! Yes!! The paint gun grip for spray cans is definitely a game changer if you’re spray painting big things…no more finger cramps 🙂 And I think the glossy finish on your arbor will be fine…it will probably dull down a bit once it’s been out in the weather.