You are currently viewing How to Fix Old Rusty Metal Furniture & Make It Stunning
Refinish your old rusty metal furniture and save hundreds of dollars.

Do you have outdoor furniture that’s seen better days? If you’ve got metal patio furniture, maybe it’s a little rusty or a lot rusty. Scroll down and see what my chair looked like before the makeover.

I purchased this chair from the vintage market a couple of years ago. Would you believe I was actually drawn to the aqua blue color and the bits of rust?

As you know we love old, worn and vintage items that have a sense of history. Well if you’ve had anything start to rust before, you know how quickly it can spread.

As a result of my chair sitting out in the elements, this worn vintage chair soon looked too shabby and was no longer chic. In fact, you couldn’t even sit on it anymore, because the rust would transfer to your clothes.

Obviously, a makeover was in order. So with a little elbow grease, we were able to rid this vintage chair of its rust and breathe new life into old rusty furniture.

Can you see the beauty of this piece of furniture hiding under all of this rust?

What You'll Need to Restore Rusty Furniture



This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our disclosure here for details.


Restoring Metal Chair in Action

Step 1: Prepare Rusty Furniture for Paint

restore rusty furniture

As you can see, my rusty furniture needed prep work before we could paint.

Now my sweet husband is not really a fan of painting or refinishing furniture. However, with my busy schedule he offered to use the grinder to remove the rust. Clearly I wasn’t going to turn down his offer.

Depending on the condition of your outdoor furniture you may not need to sand.

If the paint is not flaking and the metal surface is not pitted you can skip this step and just apply Rust-oleum’s Rust Reformer. It will convert the rust into a protected paintable surface.

Steve used a “flap disk” (60 grit) on the grinder to remove the chipping paint and rust.

In addition to the grinder, we also used wire brush attachments on the drill to remove paint and rust.

As you can see the wire brush will fit into small areas the grinder will not.

restore rusty furniture

After we had removed the chipping paint and rust, we used a damp cloth to wipe down the chair.

If you decide that you do not need to sand or grind your rusty furniture, be sure to clean your piece well before applying the Rust Reformer. 

This will ensure that the primer and paint will adhere well to your surface.

Step 2: Rusty Furniture Makeover - Primer

While there are many spray paints with primer, from my experience when working with rusty furniture you’ll want to use a product that will stop the rust from spreading.

That is exactly what this product from Rust-oleum does, it converts the rusty areas on your furniture to a protected paintable surface.

restore rusty furniture

Apply the Rust Reformer on all sides of the rusty metal furniture.

Spray in long strokes, pressing and releasing the nozzle at the beginning and end of each pass.

This will ensure that you will not get paint runs on your surface.

Restore Rusty Furniture

Step 3: Apply Exterior Spray Paint

Restore Rusty Furniture

To ensure that your metal furniture will stay looking good for years to come, choose an exterior spray paint.

In the same way the Rust Reformer was applied, apply 2 coats of spray paint, using long strokes, pulling the trigger slightly off the piece and releasing the trigger at the end of the stroke.

restore rusty furniture

Additionally, make sure you hold the paint can 6-12 inches from your furniture and do 2 light coats. 

In my opinion, nothing is worse than trying to rush a project by applying the paint to heavy and then getting runs in the finish.

Also, I must say that I love the trigger pull of the Universal spray paint. I found that I had much less hand fatigue.

In fact, I wish all spray paint cans had this feature.

For the leg and arm piece of this chair, I chose a contrasting color.

Embellish Metal Chair with Paint

restore rusty furniture

I think adding little details to a painted piece really make it unique and fun.

Since my chair had embossed arrow markings on the chair, I thought it would be fun to make them more prominent.

So using my favorite Frog Tape I masked off the chair, revealing the design.

restore rusty furniture

Then I applied the contrasting black spray paint.

restore rusty furniture

Once the design was completely painted, I remove the masking tape.

Anytime you use masking tape, it’s important to remove the tape while the paint is still wet.

This will prevent the paint from pulling off when the tape is removed.

Restored Metal Furniture

Oh my goodness! Don’t you love the way my chair turned out. I believe that I love it more than when I first saw this rusty chair.

Without a doubt, it still has that vintage vibe that I love, and it looks so good out on my patio.

Creating a space in your yard where you can relax and enjoy nature is so good for the soul.

For more ideas for your backyard, take a look at these ideas:

Vintage metal chair refurbished with paint.

Do you have old rusty furniture just waiting to be restored? Please Tell us about it, we’d love to hear.

Did you find this tutorial helpful? 

You know we love to hear from you, drop us a comment below.

For more inspiration for your yard, check out these ideas:

And if you have specific things you’d like to see on our blog you can leave us a comment below or drop us an email. We love hearing from you!

Please PIN and share with your friends! Sharing is caring! If you’re new here, WELCOME! We love to meet new friends.

Say hi in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you. You can also learn more about us here.

Thanks for spending some time with us today!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design


Be sure to follow us on Pinterest for even more home decor and DIY ideas.

To see what we are working on before it’s on our blog, follow us on Instagram.

You can also find our video tutorials on our YouTube channel.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Sandra Fontenot

    Hello Michelle & Steph. I love how you refinished your iron lawn chairs. They are simply gorgeous. I have two chairs that are similar m but m8ne have been in the elements for about a decade and they have holes. Can you give advice on how to cover the holes before I start with the repairs?

    Thank you so much for your creativity.

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Thank you Sandra. I would suggest using Bondo All-Purpose Putty. It can be used on metal, wood, concrete and masonry surfaces. It’s a two part epoxy that’s extremely durable, easily sands and can be painted. We’ve used it many times to repair wood surfaces and I’m sure it would work well on holes in metal furniture as well. It has a strong odor, so make sure to work in a well ventilated area. Please share you results. We’d love to see. Thanks for visiting our website.

  2. Linda Harris

    Hello, I am new to your website and am very impressed with the metal chair you redid. It brought back memories of when I was a child and I went to visit my grandfather–he sat in metal chairs in his backyard (because my grandmother wouldn’t let him smoke in the house).
    Also, from time to time, I have seen old rusty chairs I wanted to redo….because they are so comfortable and durable–but I didn’t know how to do it. Now after coming to your website “I do know how to do it”. Thank you for the information. I am looking very forward to learning more from you two busy bees–I love your creativity.

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Thank you Linda, you’re kindness is so appreciated. We are so happy you were inspired by this post. It is certainly a doable project. My grandparents had chairs like this in there backyard too. I love to bring these old pieces into my home. It does bring back a flood of memories. Have a wonderful day!

  3. LELA

    Couldn’t have looked any prettier if just brought home from a new purchase, you did an outstanding job!

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Thank you so much Lela, I appreciate your kind words. I absolutely love the way it turned out.

  4. Donna Marie

    I don’t know about “easy” steps Lol. This looks wonderful!!!

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Well, depending on the amount of rust . . . but when you husband offers to get off the chipping paint, the painting was the easy part.😉 Thank so much!

  5. Shirley

    I happen to have two of these oldies but goodies sitting in my garage that are getting rustier as we speak…lol! You did an amazing job on this one! I’ve been waiting for my deck to be built before I did them but with the price of lumber now, I’m not sure how long that might be so I better consider getting them done. I love the detail you added, it brings it up to our century! I just love those old chairs though, they are so well made and will last forever!

    1. Michelle Dickson

      Thank you Shirley for your kind words. So true that these chairs were built to last. I believe my chair is about 60 + years old and I plan and getting quite a few more out of it. Good luck on refinishing yours. Share your results, we’d love to see!

Leave a Reply