The Right Way to Repaint Outdoor Furniture (so You Don’t Have to Replace It)

You need comfortable patio or deck furniture if you plan on entertaining in warm weather, but due to being exposed to the elements, these items can wear out within a season or two. If any of your outdoor furniture looks worn out, don’t rush to buy a new version. Save some money and freshen up your patio with a coat of paint.

Prepare your furniture surfaces

When painting, most of the effort goes into preparation. Proper sanding and cleaning before applying paint can make the difference between a flawless finish and a mess. For large pieces of furniture, consider washing that part with a pressure washer, but for smaller items, detergent and water dampened with a stiff-bristled brush will suffice.

If your piece already has a layer of paint on it, it’s important to remove as much of it as possible so that the new finish goes on smoothly, so start with a paint scraper or five-in-one tool to remove large chips and paint flakes. For wood furniture, start with 100 or 120 grit sandpaper and progress to 180 or 220 grit sandpaper. For metal furniture, use a wire brush and a drill attachment to remove loose paint and smooth the surface. By folding sandpaper over a screwdriver or file, you can get into small curved areas or cracks.

Finally, if you have vintage furniture dating from 1978 or earlier, you should test it for lead and follow safe handling practices, if any.

Some Tools You’ll Need to Repaint Outdoor Furniture

Once your surface is prepared, you need to determine which paint is best for your piece. Since different types of paint work better with different types of materials, choosing the right paint for the surface you are using will give you the best results in the long run. Your hardware store should have different paints made for wood and metal and should be easy to tell the difference, but if you’re not entirely sure, get someone to help.

You will also need the following tools:

  • napkin
  • clean rag
  • some gloves

How to repaint wooden furniture

For wooden furniture, choose primers and paints designed for outdoor use. While some types of paint claim to work as a paint and primer at the same time, if you’re changing colors or starting with bare wood, a primer will make your job a lot easier. If you are overcoating an oil-based stain or paint, you may need to use an oil-based primer , but in most cases the water-based option works well and is easier to clean.

Once you have chosen your color, you will need to apply a primer to the prepared surface and let it dry overnight, or at least a few hours. Once the primer is dry, brush over the paint and let it dry too.

How to repaint metal furniture

For metal furniture, spray paint is a good option. It can often cover your project in one coat and will hold up well outdoors. Be sure to spray paint only in a well-ventilated area and use rags to protect against overspray. Before spraying, place your furniture on trestle or blocks so you can reach all corners and surfaces. However, if you can’t do this, or if you still need to turn the piece over to get all the sides, start painting from the bottom and then from the top so that any layering is on the less visible side.

Hold the jar slightly off the surface and apply a light, even coat to avoid streaks. It’s always better to go back and apply a second coat than to clean up drip marks and start from scratch. To make sure the paint goes on evenly, try making a test patch on a piece of cardboard first. You can also apply the paint with a brush instead of spraying, in which case you should use a direct-to-metal exterior paint for best results.

How to repaint plastic furniture

Plastic furniture presents a problem: it can be difficult to get the paint to stick to a non-porous surface. However, one of the advantages of plastic furniture is that it is easy to clean because the surface is slippery and has a hard time holding onto dirt. Plastic furniture is also better for use in places where it rains heavily or gets very hot, as it won’t rust, hold water, and won’t get too hot when you sit on it. It’s easy to see why you need plastic patio furniture, even if it’s difficult to repaint.

There are spray paints and brush paints that stick to plastic, but if you sand the surface a bit with 180 grit sandpaper, the paint will really stick.

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