The other night, as I drove to my old apartment to finish cleaning, I happened to notice (with my keen trash picking eyes) two vintage metal chairs discarded next to the road. They both had some rust, one a considerable amount actually, but I still stuffed them into my backseat and took them home. I love a good "project."
I've never repainted anything metal before, so I wasn't sure what kind of special tools or processes I might need. Turns out that it probably won't take me more than a Saturday afternoon to make the twins back-porch-ready. Here are some handy and simple instructions about how to refinish metal patio furniture that I found on eHow.
How to Refinish Metal Patio Furniture
Step 1: Remove rubber tips and cushions (if there are any).
Step 2: Wash furniture with a mild detergent (you'll probably need some rags or a scrub brush) and rinse.
Step 3: Use a wire brush to scrape off rust and loose paint flakes.
Step 4: Look carefully: if paint has bubbled (a sign of rust underneath) use a screwdriver or chisel to break the bubble and chip away the bubbled paint, and then scrape with a wire brush.
Step 6: Remove rust with commercial rust remover.
Step 7: Paint or spray with rust-resistant paint. If the furniture is very corroded, you may want to prime first with rust-resistant primer.
Step 8: Let dry. Plan on 12 to 24 hours for each coat, depending on weather and temperature.
Step 9: Replace any rubber tips and cushions.
Tips & Warnings
* If you're a perfectionist, you may want to sand the furniture after removing rust and before painting - but sanding metal is like scratching your fingernails on the blackboard, and these are going to sit outside anyway! (If you do sand, don't forget to wipe off dust with a tack cloth before painting.)
* Be careful with the wire brush: it's the tool for the job, but it will take off skin if you slip up.
* All rust-resistant paints are alkyd- (oil) based, so make sure you've got mineral spirits on hand for cleanup.
While looking for the instructions, I found a great website, VintageGlider.com, which sells both professionally restored and original condition metal gliders, chairs and tables. The prices are reasonable, and include freight shipping. For some odd reason, even the aged rusty pieces are somehow appealing to me. As someone with a collector's personality, I also love knowing the different pattern names: basketweave, wedding ring, lattice, piecrust, wagonwheel, pinhole, wheat bundle, dotted circle, sunburst...