DIY · Home & Garden

How to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture

Transform your patio by learning how to refinish metal patio furniture in just a few simple steps. This affordable makeover is worth every penny, making your patio space look refreshed in no time.

Metal patio furniture is being refinished with new cushion additions that are a blue-green.

You may remember that I recently made over my window blinds in my kitchen (you can read that post HERE) using spray paint. Well, now I just learned how to refinish metal patio furniture, two chairs to be exact. I’ve been trying to tackle more smaller projects as we start decorating the office and our master bedroom. 

It must have been fate that we came upon two free patio chairs sitting on a curb one evening. We were on a walk in a nearby park when I spotted them. Plain but sturdy, they had “good bones,” so I couldn’t pass them up. AJ loaded them into the car and off we went. 

They’d been sitting outside on our patio for about a month when I decided it was time to fix them up. Finally, I had decided on a color and found the perfect cushions. 

I had been debating on a lighter color, but ultimately decided on keeping the patio chairs dark brown. They blend in very well with our walnut-stained rocking chairs. 

I found the cushions HERE and love them because there were so many colors to choose from and a reasonable price for the quality. I required two things when searching for the right cushions: good thickness–for comfort–and affordability. (Well, and I needed them to not be brightly colored and tacky, too. So I guess there’s also that…)

An old, rusty metal patio chair is read to be painted after a woman learns how to refinish metal patio furniture.
Before, a patio chair is rusted with paint chipping off and contains a thin, flimsy cushion that has faded from the sun.
A metal patio chair has been refinished and looks shiny and fabulous on a pea gravel patio.
After, the patio chair has newly added color that is shiny, fully covering the entirety of it. The cushion is a mint-green color (though it looks blue in the shade here) and thick for cushioning even the largest of bums.

I ultimately settled with a pastel minty green that I love. 

I gravitate toward lots of blues and greens. Plus, I knew it would add a nice touch of color to the patio.

Honestly, the hardest part was deciding on these colors. This project was done in an afternoon, most of that time being drying time, and is easy enough for beginner DIYers. I’m so excited about the results that I couldn’t wait to share how I did it.

Here’s exactly how to refinish metal patio furniture…

Supplies You Will Need

Spray paint, a spray paint gun, sandpaper, and a cloth are gathered for a project about learning how to refinish metal patio furniture.

Old metal patio chairs or other furniture pieces 

Rustoleum spray paint (I used two cans for two chairs, but this will depend on the color your chairs are and what color you’re painting them. I painted mine the same dark brown color, so I was able to use less paint.)

Spray paint gun, optional but recommended

Old sheets or cloth/plastic drop cloths

120-grit sandpaper 

Cleaning towels/rags

New cushions (I used these patio chair covers HERE)

TIPS – How to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture 

Be sure to pick a clear, sunny day without much wind. This will make your project go much more smoothly. It’ll ensure you don’t get spray paint all over yourself from the blowing wind. (Also, choose a day that isn’t too hot or humid–this could greatly affect results and drying time.)

Pick a spray paint that is good for use on outdoor furniture. This Rustoleum spray paint is great for both indoor and outdoor use. You can find it right HERE.

You may need a second coat, especially if you’re going from one extreme to another (black to white, for example). Allow for additional drying time if this is the case. Always follow drying instructions listed on the can of spray paint.

Remember not to go too heavy on the paint around the bottom of the chairs. It could drip off, sticking to the sheet you place under the chairs. If this happens, once dry carefully peel the sheet away from the chair.

If you’re concerned about having enough paint for the entire set of furniture you’re painting, you can skip the underside of the seat that no one will see unless they were to flip the entire chair over. 

Two metal patio chairs have been makeover and shine on a pea gravel patio with walnut rocking chairs.

How to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture 

Step One 

Start by moving your patio furniture to a shaded location outdoors. Then using a cloth towel soaked in soapy water, wipe the furniture down. You need them to be free from debris.

An old patio chair has been wiped clean.

Step Two

Grab some 120-grit sandpaper and start lightly sanding it all over. The point isn’t necessarily to strip any remaining paint, but to roughen up the surface so the new paint sticks better and for longer. Now, gather a sheet or a drop cloth to place under the furniture. Flip the furniture to work on the underside first. 

Starting the paint job on the underside ensures that if any smudging occurs after painting, it’s near the bottom where it won’t be as noticeable. Sometimes paint may seem dry to the touch, but when the furniture is handled it hasn’t fully cured yet. Just something to consider.

A woman is sanding a metal patio chair in her yard.

Step Three

Connect the gun to the spray paint can and shake for about one minute. Then begin to spray the furniture from about 10 inches away. Spray evenly and quickly. Long, even strokes are key. Be thorough, but don’t use more than you need. That will only increase drying time and could lead to sticking and poor results. If you need to apply a second coat, that can always be done later. After covering the entire underside, allow it to dry for a couple of hours. 

Patio furniture has its first coat of paint added to the underside of it. The chairs are upside down for this.

Step Four

Once the furniture is dry, flip it over to repeat the painting step on the top side of the furniture. Be thorough, stepping back to survey the furniture every so often. This will help you spot areas you may have missed from different angles. Touch up any of these areas as you go. Once finished, allow to dry for another two hours.

Metal patio chairs have been painted a dark brown color.
Every spot of two brown patio chairs has been covered in new paint.

Step Five

After the furniture is fully dry, move it back to its spot on the patio. Finally, add your new cushions (or decor if painting a table) to your pieces. Congratulations! You have now learned how to refinish metal patio furniture, and it is ready to be lounged on and enjoyed for many seasons to come. 

Metal patio chairs have been refinished.
A patio chair is ready for use on its patio.

More DIY Project Inspiration

How to Strip Paint from a Wood Door  

How to Paint Window Blinds

Refinish a Bathtub in 3 Easy Steps

How to Make an Old Door Look New

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