How to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture

Sometimes a tiny change makes a BIG difference! Making over one piece of furniture can give your whole room a new look and feel. Take a peek at several of our past makeover projects and get inspired to update your own chairs, tables, and other antiques.


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    Refurbished furniture can add a lot of character to your home. Decorating old or unfinished furniture lets you make a creative statement. Take a look at the following decorating tips. Try some out on your furniture:
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    Consider new uses for old furniture and unique items. Turn an old combination radio/phonograph in a beautifully veneered cabinet into an elegant foyer console. Try using drums as tables; bunch together a trio of tribal drums and use them as individual coffee tables.
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    Discreet furniture never reveals its source (garage sale or heirloom?) but adds to a room’s o
  4. 4
    Discreet furniture never reveals its source (garage sale or heirloom?) but adds to a room’s overall beauty and comfort.
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    Create an instant slipcover by throwing a king-size sheet, quilt, or bedspread over an unsightly sofa. Tie it in place with rope or grosgrain ribbon.
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    Decorate an old chest for a teenage boy’s room with discarded license plates. Garage sales and junk stores are good sources. Just decide where to add them. Nail them into place.
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    Decoupage an old dresser or dressing table with motifs cut from wallpaper. Safeguard with a finishing glaze or coat of polyurethane.
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    Dress up a plain-Jane, upholstered side chair. Get out the trusty hot-glue gun to attach interesting gimp (an ornamental braid or cord), fringe, or other trim along the bottom of the seat.
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    Faux paint old wooden furniture. Paint stores have rows of booklets describing various techniques step-by-step. They also carry kits. Everything you need is right there in store.
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    Individualize dining room chairs for your children. Paint mismatched chairs bold colors (all the same or coordinating colors). Stencil your children’s names on the chair backs, or add a motif. Craft shops have small glue-on toys, animals, numbers, and initials.
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    Paint a wooden chair with an interesting shape in different colors and patterns, like a Victorian house. For color combination ideas, pick the colors already in your scheme. Some paint companies put out booklets of historic color combinations; check these out for instant inspiration.
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    Paint vertical stripes on an old or RTA chest or nightstand. All you need is tape (you can buy special masking tape at the paint store), a brilliant color or two, and a very steady hand wielding a paintbrush. Measure off the stripes using a ruler and a pencil to make light marks.
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    Take a tip from Colonial homemakers and cover tables in flat-weave rugs. Dhurries, needlepoint, or chain-stitch rugs transform tables into desks and display areas for framed family photos.
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    Use a deep, glass-fronted china cabinet to hold a small TV or serve as a minibar in the living room. Punch a hole in the back to slip through the wires for any appliances. Display glasses and ice buckets.
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    Use pillows to convert lumber into a sofa of sorts outside or inside. Use flatter pillows for seats and backs and fluffier ones for decoration and added comfort.
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  • Carefully sand any areas of old paint that have bubbles in them. The bubbles indicate that rust is forming beneath the existing paint and if the rust isn't removed, it will eventually damage any new coats of new paint.
  • If the metal furniture is very rusty or has a lot of peeling paint, use a small electric sanding tool to remove the rust and paint. Be careful not to apply too much pressure because this can weaken the metal that may eventually create holes in the metal furniture.
  • Refinish your metal outdoor furniture on a day when there is not a lot of wind in order to avoid spreading fumes, primer, or metal spray paint.
  • Call these guys....


  • Naval jelly is made with phosphoric acid. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and safety goggles to avoid potentially serious injury. Use naval jelly outside or in a well-ventilated room with a mask so you won't breathe in the fumes.
  • If your metal furniture is very old and is painted, the paint may contain lead. Use a mask to avoid inhaling any paint dust or chips.
  • Keep pets and small children away from your work area while you are refinishing your metal furniture.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper, plastic bags, or tarp
  • Heavy duty work gloves
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective goggles
  • Mask
  • Wire brush or fine gauge steel wool
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Naval jelly
  • Garden hose
  • Metal paint primer (spray)
  • Metal spray paint
  • Patio furniture cushions (if desired)

Article Info

Categories: Furniture and Cabinets