Revive Rusty Lawn Furniture

| Last Updated: August 23, 2021

Give a new lease on life to rusty metal lawn furniture and equipment. It’s a recycle and renew job to keep them in tiptop shape with a spray paint makeover.

Give new life to old lawn furniture with a quick facelift of spray paint. Revitalize an old plant stand and fill it with colorful geraniums or recycle a weather-beaten table and chairs. You can complete this weekend project easily and inexpensively, even if you’re a first-time do-it-yourselfer.

The steps involve cleaning and deglossing the metal surface, priming any rusty spots and then spraying on the topcoat. You’ll need these tools and materials: a dropcloth, rags, sandpaper, wire brush, and scrap wood or board.

You’ll need to buy three painting products: a liquid deglosser to clean and dull the old finish to help the new topcoat bond to the old surface, a metal primer for to cover rusty areas to prevent chipping, and a topcoat of tough high gloss enamel spray paint. This winning combination protects and preserves metal surfaces for years to come.

Plan the job so you can work outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Set up the furniture on a scrap wood set on top of a dropcloth so it raises the piece slightly. This way the spray paint completely covers the bottom of the furniture.

Timewise, plan the project so you can follow the recommended drying time noted on the can. This type of paint dries quickly so plan to do more than one application in an afternoon. You’ll get the best results by applying several light applications of paint instead of one heavy coat that tends to cause drip marks.

  1. Use a wire brush to remove any loose and flaking paint, often caused by corrosion that lifts the finish. Scrape the brush back and forth over all areas where the paint finish is loose. Use sandpaper to lightly sand the rusty rough areas where the paint has peeled or blistered. Wash off any caked dirt or grease with soap and water and let dry.

  2. Next apply a liquid deglosser, (about $5 a quart) which cleans and dulls old surfaces. Moisten a soft rag and wipe over the surface no larger than 2-feet square at a time. Apply sparingly, keep cloth moistened changing the wiping rag frequently to pick up grease, wax and dust.

  3. If there are any spots of rust or bare metal, spray them with a rust-inhibiting metal primer (about $3.50 a can).

  4. To apply the top coat of protective enamel (about $3.50 a can) first shake the can for one minute after you hear the mixing ball begin to rattle and frequently shake during use. Hold the can upright about 12-16-inches from the surface and spray. Move the can in a steady back and forth motion parallel to the surface you are painting overlapping each stroke. For professional results keep the can the same distance from the surface and in motion while spraying. When finished, clear the spray valve by turning the can upside down and pushing the spray button for 5 seconds.

Looking to spruce up the outside of your house? Check out these guides:

Welcome! We hope you’ll find the job costs of home improvement projects useful when you’re deciding whether to do a job yourself vs. hire a contractor. We’re the authors of 20 home improvement books, most notably Home Improvement for Dummies©, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies©, Carpentry for Dummies©, Plumbing for Dummies©, and Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies©. Our most recent book Fix It and Flip It is in its second edition. We’ve appeared as home improvement experts on television programs such as CNN, Dateline, the Today Show, HGTV and many others.