How to Paint Metal Chairs

Have old metal chairs that are looking a little tired but still functional? Instead of just tossing them, bring them back to life with a little elbow grease and some outdoor metal paint.


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    Prepare chairs. Place on drop cloth and inspect for any damage. You will only want to re-use chairs that have no broken pieces or at risk for breaking.
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    Sand and remove rust and debris. Use your stiff wire brush to get through thick rust. Use some muscle to remove rust as some chairs have wear and tear from several years.
    • Wear a mask and safety glasses while sanding to protect skin eyes and lungs (in the event of lead paint concerns).
    • Sand the remainder of the chair with your sanding block or fine grit sandpaper. Smooth over any rough patches without scratching metal.
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    Clean and prime furniture. Wipe down with clean rag, removing any flecks of rust or debris. Allow chair to dry if you use any soap and water to clean chairs.
    • Apply primer, spraying approximately 10 to 12 inches (25.4 to 30.5 cm) away from the chair. Try to apply evenly throughout the chair. Allow to dry for 24 hours.
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  4. Image titled Paint Metal Chairs Step 4
    Paint chair. As with the primer, apply paint from a distance of about 10 to 12 inches (25.4 to 30.5 cm) away. Use smooth sweeping motions so you achieve even coverage.
    • Allow first coat of paint to dry for 1 to 2 hours (depending upon humidity levels in the room) and then apply a second coat.
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    Add protective coat of paint/lacquer to protect chairs. While this step could be considered optional, adding this final coat will keep your chairs in good shape for a longer amount of time.

Things You’ll Need

  • Safety glasses
  • Mask
  • Stiff wire brush
  • Sanding block (or fine grit sandpaper)
  • Clean rag
  • Drop cloth
  • Spray paint primer
  • Spray paint (outdoor)
  • Clear lacquer


  • Consider wearing protective gloves when sanding the chairs, especially if you are going to be coming into contact with rust.
  • Sweep and discard any debris that comes off of the chair (as some substances may have a toxic element).

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Decorative Home Paintwork