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How To Paint Metal Furniture

Dreaming of summer? It won’t be long now. In fact, the nights are getting lighter already. There’s nothing better than unwinding outside, a cold one in hand. We could chill here all day. Now the weather’s picking up, take a look at your yard. Is your garden furniture on its last legs? With metal, flaking paint is inevitable, and so are rust marks. But it’s nothing a fresh COAT can’t sort out.

Painting old metal furniture is super easy to do. Just grab a few swatches, peel, stick and choose. The process is also largely the same, even for things that are meant for inside. You can use our Exterior paint on metal planters, tables and chairs. It’s so much better than chucking things out. All it takes is some graft. Keep reading and we’ll spill the tea.

Make A Plan

Most DIYers think metal’s tricky. We’re here to tell you it’s much easier than you actually think. If you know how to clean and use a paintbrush then you’re halfway there. Anyone can put a new spin on a previously painted piece. Fancy having a go? This post says it all. Or, you can check out the below vid and see Rob do it himself. In the film, he chose to restore an old Habitat patio table for a place to keep plants. We can’t get enough of this transformation in the deeply dramatic David Rose.

Need some colour inspo? You'll find it right here ✌🏼

This project provides the perfect excuse to have a garden glow up. And it’s not just for tables and chairs. With a bit of planning, you can transform arches and benches, ugly pipes and much more. Hit up Pinterest for a little inspo before you get started.

Stay Safe

When it comes to this task, keep it outdoors. Painting bulky furniture is not small-space friendly. This will also eliminate mess, so there’s no need to vac. Just be ready to leg it inside with your gear if it rains. Other tips for painting metal furniture include protecting yourself. So don a pair of rubber gloves when it comes to scraping. Because nobody wants to ruin a good outfit with paint, you can also grab your COAT tee here. The loose fit will ensure you’re able to flex around whatever you’re painting.

Decide On Your Design 

The best thing about paint is that anything goes. You can always go over the top if you ever change your mind. So with no right or wrong style, your inner artist can flow. Let’s look at our new life-affirming greens to kick this off. The ultimate natural colour, green is renowned for inspiring vibes of peace and bliss. We just love the idea of painting a patio set in a hazy green shade. Summer just ain’t summer without a Yard Party.

Dreaming of the next getaway? This one is for you. Nothing says sunshine like the tones of sun-drenched pink plaster. Or would you prefer a subtle deep grey? We just know The Coal Drop will elevate your plants and make florals sing. If you can’t resist a chic tonal scheme, greiges work best. How about a stylish planter in our new Cargo? You can also use as little or as many colours as you’d like. There are simply no rules. Oh, apart from using an Exterior Eggshell to transform your piece.

Need more metal furniture painting ideas? Just head to Pinterest. Whatever helps you on your painting journey 📍

Gather Your Tools & Prepare Your Space 

Once you've decided on where you will work (preferably outside), get your stash together. Let’s go:

    • Protection for the floor - lay down some old sheets to protect your patio
    • Protection for yourself - don’t forget those work gloves and a mask if you prefer
    • Hot soapy water and cloths - those garden chairs won’t clean themselves
    • Screwdriver or spanner - in case you decide to take something apart
    • Scraper or steel brush - (and bring your guns) old paint can be tricky to scrub
    • Sandpaper - 120 grit is fine, probably the best for sanding metal furniture
  • COAT’s Multi-Surface Primer - this will increase the lifespan of your metal surface
  • Just on the type of paint you will need. Opt for one for outdoors. This will protect the metal from the sun's rays and heavy weather damage. Our Exterior shades are not only stylish and cute, but they’re versatile too. This means they can be used for metal furniture and even walls and gates. But before you can paint, your furniture needs to be clean. Especially if it’s covered in gunk. Most of the time, soap and water will do with a bit of hard graft. Give your surface a good once over to remove any algae and dirt.

    Remove Rust & Old Paint

    As soon as your project is clean, it’s time to bring it to life. Old finishes like peeling paint should be tackled. This goes for rust marks as well. Those crappy brown marks. Apparently, this can happen when you leave metal in the rain. Oops. If you’re able to store your metal furniture through winter, this will keep it tip-top. But, if you’re lacking in garden storage, protective covers will do. After all, there’s no point in painting your chairs if you’re just gonna leave them to rust. You want them looking super stunning this summer and next.

    To remove any rust or loose paint, a sharp scraper will do. Alternatively, a wire brush will make a sound surface for an on-point COAT. Simply brush or scrape over the surface to lift away the old layers. Steel wool is also great for getting into those hard-to-reach spots. If you’re finding some stubborn rust marks won’t budge. Don’t worry. Our Multi-Surface Primer will cover these no probs. Next, finish with a final sand down, working in circular motions until you’re happy the surface is perfectly smooth. Make sure to thoroughly rinse before leaving to dry. It’s time to crack on with what we came here for.

    Apply Primer

    Metal might be a challenge to work with, but it’s not completely hopeless. You just need the right kit, and you’ll crush it first time. So, once you’ve smashed the prep step, your next job is to prime. Especially if you couldn’t get rid of all the rust in the previous stage. Although COAT paints are self-priming, doing this step is especially important for surfaces exposed to constant moisture. Not only will our primer cover up rust, but it will also prevent it returning and control weathering too.

    Apply the primer in thin, even strokes, and don’t worry too much if it looks ropy at first. Your second COAT will neaten this up. Just be sure to sand in between every coat and leave the surface to dry before priming again. If needed, you can apply a third undercoat to those nooks and crannies that are prone to getting damp. The primer you use should also be designed for metal, so read the label first. You don’t want that new paint to peel. Our Multi-Use Primer does what it says on the tin. It primes a bunch of different surfaces to make it easy for you. Not only that, but it’s also low VOC, so suitable for indoors and out.

    Apply Paint

    Wanna know how to use paint on metal furniture? Find out right here. We’re gonna show you how to get a nice smooth finish. Once you’re happy the primer is dry, crack open that paint. And mix your chosen shade into your tray. Again, make sure you’re using an exterior paint. This is really really key. Normal paint will simply crack and eventually peel. Our Exterior Eggshell is great for outside and has a slightly matt finish to give metal furniture a crisp and clean look.

    A paintbrush will take care of small edges, whereas a mini roller works better for bigger areas like tabletops. Be careful not to layer it on thick; this is just the first COAT. A second will definitely even it out. If you need to touch up any bits you've missed, wait till it's dry. Too soon, and you run the risk of uneven or peeling colour. Excluding the drying time, this is literally an hour's worth of work. Not bad at all, considering you’ve saved another item from hitting landfill.


    As we touched on before, the right maintenance will future-proof your efforts now. It doesn’t matter how well a metal table’s painted; if it’s pissing it down, the more possible algae and rust will come back. Another good tip is to keep an emergency tin of your chosen COAT shade. This way, knocks and scrapes can be touched up whenever you feel. Play it safe, and your paint will likely go the whole hog. That is unless you want to change up the colour for another dreamy shade.

    Shop the furniture paint of your dreams. Discover our range of trendy metal hues.



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