Painting Old Garden Furniture

If you have ever considered throwing away your old furniture, here are some tips on how you can transform your outdoor space and bring that old furniture into something looking brand new!

Are you planning on painting your old metal garden furniture before the weather picks up again? Plan to do the job on a dry day which isn't too hot. All the sanding and scraping in preparation for the painting is challenging so you'll want to do it on a mild day which isn't too scorching.

You'll also want to avoid humid days when there are lots of flies/bugs about, as they'll stick to your paintwork. If you have access to a closed space such as a shed, you could easily do this at any time during the year.

Metal garden furniture will invariably stay looking good (for longer) if you can store it in a shed over the colder months. However, if you’re short of storage space and solid benches are just too heavy to move around, make sure the legs are not left to stand on wet grass, use something like a tarp and cover with plastic sheeting to offer some protection against the rain and snow.


1. If spray painting, hold the can 15cm to 20cm away from the furniture.
2. If painting with a brush, always paint in the same direction - from left to right.
3. Never dip the whole of the brush into the paint, only the tip.
4. If applying a second coat, whether spray or brush painting, allow at least an hour or more between coatings (or follow manufacturer's instructions if different).

Getting started

1. Assess the bolt's condition
Check the bolts holding the table and chairs together. Any missing or rusted ones must be replaced. Choose a spanner to exactly match the size of the nut. If it fails to undo them, spray with release oil, such as WD40, then wait and try again.

2. Dealing with awkward bolts
A tap with a hammer will help break the corrosion binding the nut and bolt together but beware of doing this on cast iron, which is brittle and cracks easily. As a last resort, saw through stubborn nuts and bolts with a hacksaw. Replace with new, corrosion-resistant ones.

3. Kill algae on your garden furniture
Wearing heavy-duty rubber gloves, and keeping well away from children and animals, use a fungicidal wash or sterilizing solution on the furniture to kill off algae and spores. Apply by brush or sponge and leave for at least 24 hours before washing off with clean water. Household bleach can do the trick equally well.

4. Remove paint flakes from the furniture
Place a dust sheet or piece of plastic sheeting underneath the furniture to make cleaning up easier. Wearing protective gloves, use a steel brush or scraper to remove loose and flaking paint to make a sound substrate for a new coat of paint. A clean, sharp scraper is very effective.

5. Sand metal furniture
Use a sanding block and wet and dry abrasive paper to work on the unstable surface until a firm base is reached. Always wear a protective dust mask.

6. Scrub clean the metal furniture
Thorough preparation is the key to a long-lasting paint finish. Yes, this can be hard work but the effort will pay off. Scrub the garden furniture with hot water and detergent to remove any traces of grease and dust particles. Rinse with lots of clean water. Mop up surplus water with a sponge and leave to dry out completely before moving on to the next step.

7. Prepare the surface of the furniture

A specific selection of paints can be applied straight onto bare metal furniture. The exception is if the metal is aluminum or an aluminum alloy (when a same-brand special primer must be used too). If using a general-purpose paint, it’s essential to read the instructions on the can and apply the relevant primer first. This can make a difference!

8. How to paint the metal garden furniture

While wearing protective clothing, brush on a coat of paint. Once completely dry, give it a very light sanding with fine glasspaper to provide a key for the next coat. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best time to apply the second coat – some brands advise applying it within eight hours of the first.

The finished look...