How to Strip and Paint Metal Furniture

Learn how to strip rust off a piece of outdoor metal furniture and repaint it for a brand-new look.

By: Samantha Pattillo
Be sure to let the chair cure for 24 hours in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area before use. This chair is now rust-free, repainted and ready for a few more years of outdoor use.

Be sure to let the chair cure for 24 hours in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area before use. This chair is now rust-free, repainted and ready for a few more years of outdoor use.

When we found this old chair, it looked like it had been left out in the rain for decades. But with a little elbow grease and some primer and paint, this chair is now a showstopper.

Before

After

You can rescue rusty metal furniture from the scrap heap. Just get rid of that rust and brighten it up with a fresh coat of outdoor paint.

You can rescue rusty metal furniture from the scrap heap. Just get rid of that rust and brighten it up with a fresh coat of outdoor paint.

Tools and Materials

  • safety gear
  • dropcloths
  • sandpaper or sanding block
  • acetone
  • tack cloth

1. Scrape With a Wire Brush

Use a wire brush to remove any loose pieces of rust. Gently scrub off the big pieces, but don’t worry about getting all of it because you can remove the rest with a sander.

First, use a wire brush to remove any loose pieces of rust. Gently scrub off the big pieces, but donâ  t worry about getting all of it because youâ  ll sand next.

First, use a wire brush to remove any loose pieces of rust. Gently scrub off the big pieces, but don’t worry about getting all of it because you’ll sand next.

2. Sand Off Remaining Rust

Use a palm sander to remove the rest of the rust. If you don’t have a palm sander, you can sand by hand but it takes much longer. Sand the entire chair with 80- to 100-grit sandpaper. Pro Tip: When it comes to sandpaper grit, the lower the number, the coarser the sandpaper, thus the more material it will remove.

Sand by hand to get to those hard to reach areas, like the curves of the legs and arms. Once you see most of the rust is gone switch to 150 grit sandpaper or higher. Continue sanding until the entire chair feels smooth to the touch. You may still see rust on the surface. Thatâ  s ok as long as it feels smooth.

Sand by hand to get to those hard to reach areas, like the curves of the legs and arms. Once you see most of the rust is gone switch to 150 grit sandpaper or higher. Continue sanding until the entire chair feels smooth to the touch. You may still see rust on the surface. That’s ok as long as it feels smooth.

3. Hand-Sand Crevices and Curves

Sand by hand to get to those hard-to-reach areas, like the curves of the legs and arms. When most of the rust is gone, switch to 150-grit sandpaper or higher. Continue sanding until the entire chair feels smooth to the touch. You may still see rust on the surface. That’s okay as long as it feels smooth.

4. Clean With Solvent

Once the surface is smooth and even, wipe it down with a solvent like acetone to ensure the chair is clean and ready for priming and painting.

Once the surface is smooth and even, wipe it down with a solvent like acetone to ensure the chair is clean and ready for priming and painting.

Once the surface is smooth and even, wipe it down with a solvent like acetone to ensure the chair is clean and ready for priming and painting.

5. Apply Primer

Apply a coat of high-quality rust-preventive spray primer. Choose a white primer under lighter colors and a darker primer under darker colors for uniform coverage. Spray slowly for a consistent spray pattern to avoid drips and overspray. Use a back-and-forth motion following the natural lines of the chair. Be sure to get the back and underside since the chair will live outside. Apply two to three light coats, allowing the primer to dry between each application. Check the label on your primer because drying times can vary. When it is dry, lightly sand the chair with very fine sandpaper if the surface feels a little coarse. Use a tack cloth to wipe off any dust before moving on.

Prime with a high quality rust preventive spray primer. Choose a white primer under lighter colors and a darker primer under darker colors for uniform coverage. Spray slowly for a consistent spray pattern to avoid drips and overspray. Use a back and forth motion following the natural lines of the chair. Be sure to get the back and underside since especially since chair will live outside. Apply 2-3 light coats, allowing the primer to dry between each application. Check the label on your primer because drying times vary widely. Once dry, lightly sand with very fine sandpaper if surface feels a little coarse. Wipe off with a tack cloth to remove the dust before moving on.

Prime with a high quality rust preventive spray primer. Choose a white primer under lighter colors and a darker primer under darker colors for uniform coverage. Spray slowly for a consistent spray pattern to avoid drips and overspray. Use a back and forth motion following the natural lines of the chair. Be sure to get the back and underside since especially since chair will live outside. Apply 2-3 light coats, allowing the primer to dry between each application. Check the label on your primer because drying times vary widely. Once dry, lightly sand with very fine sandpaper if surface feels a little coarse. Wipe off with a tack cloth to remove the dust before moving on.

6. Spray on Paint

Use a high-quality oil-based spray paint specifically designed for outdoor use to prevent rust. Spray using a back-and-forth motion, holding the can far enough away for a consistent spray pattern to avoid drips and overspray. Follow the natural lines of the chair to coat it evenly. Remember to get the back and underside of the chair. Apply two to three light coats, allowing each coat to dry to the touch between applications.

7. How to Fix Drips

If you get a drip, lightly drag a clean chip brush over the area to stop the run and smooth it out before moving on. Chip brushes are inexpensive, disposable natural bristle brushes that work well for touch-ups.

Even with rust inhibiting spray paint, a clear coat is a smart idea. Look for a clear oil-based urethane thatâ  s for outdoor use, preferably with UV protection to help prevent fading. Hold the can 10-12â   away and spray using a back and forth motion. Follow the natural lines of the chair to coat it evenly. For a smooth finish, lightly sand between coats with 200 grit or higher sandpaper.

Even with rust inhibiting spray paint, a clear coat is a smart idea. Look for a clear oil-based urethane that’s for outdoor use, preferably with UV protection to help prevent fading. Hold the can 10-12” away and spray using a back and forth motion. Follow the natural lines of the chair to coat it evenly. For a smooth finish, lightly sand between coats with 200 grit or higher sandpaper.

8. Protect With Sealer

Even with rust-inhibiting spray paint, a clear coat is a smart idea. Look for a clear oil-based urethane that’s for outdoor use, preferably with UV protection to help prevent fading. Hold the can 10 to 12 inches away and spray using a back-and-forth motion. Follow the natural lines of the chair to coat it evenly. For a smooth finish, lightly sand between coats with 200-grit or higher sandpaper.

9. Let Dry

Be sure to let the chair cure for 24 hours in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area before use. This chair is now rust-free, repainted and ready for a few more years of outdoor use.

Be sure to let the chair cure for 24 hours in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area before use. This chair is now rust-free, repainted and ready for a few more years of outdoor use.

Be sure to let the chair cure for 24 hours in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area before use. This chair is now rust-free, repainted and ready for a few more years of outdoor use.

105 Best Patio Furniture Buys for Every Style and Budget

From Adirondack chairs to benches to gliders, refresh your space with our top picks for patio furniture seating so you can kick back with a cold drink and enjoy patio season in your outdoor oasis.

Next Up

How to Paint Wood Furniture

Learn how to strip, sand and paint wood furniture.

How to Refinish Wood Furniture

Follow these simple steps on how to refinish wood furniture that include stripping, sanding and staining.

How to Paint a Rattan Peacock Chair

Add a pop of color to a woven rattan chair with a fun ombre paint treatment and a vibrant ribbon trim.

How to Restore a Wooden Bowl

Antique wooden dough bowls, salad bowls and cutting boards can last a lifetime if properly cared for. Learn how to refinish vintage wooden bowls to make them food-safe, and how to keep them properly maintained.

How to Whitewash Wood: Whitewashing and Pickling Techniques

Easily brighten and add rustic charm to furniture and a variety of wood surfaces with these budget-friendly whitewashing and pickling techniques.

Should You Be Concerned About Lead in Antiques

Lead house paint and plumbing components may already be on your radar, but this toxic substance could also be hanging out in your cabinets and credenza.

How to Refinish a Table

Easily refinish a dated or worn wood table to give it a fresh look.

How to Refinish Acacia Wood Outdoor Furniture

A more budget-friendly option to pricey teak, acacia wood outdoor furniture is easy to find — and easy to love — thanks to the wood's rich honey-hued finish when new. But over time, acacia wood weathers to a dull, splotchy look with a rough texture. Give your old, weathered outdoor furniture a smooth, like-new finish with our acacia wood refinishing tips.

How to Simply Paint a Room

Learn how to paint both walls and molding like a pro with these simple steps.

How to Refinish Hardwood Floors

It takes some elbow grease to refinish hardwood floors, but it's worth it. Hardwood floors add value to your home and provide a classic look that goes with any style.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Down Home Fab

1pm | 12c

House Hunters

5:30pm | 4:30c

House Hunters

6:30pm | 5:30c

House Hunters

7:30pm | 6:30c

House Hunters

8:30pm | 7:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

House Hunters

9pm | 8c

House Hunters

9:30pm | 8:30c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

House Hunters

11:30pm | 10:30c

House Hunters

12am | 11c

House Hunters

12:30am | 11:30c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

House Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

House Hunters

2:30am | 1:30c

House Hunters

3:30am | 2:30c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.