How to Paint Rusty Metal

Perk up tired metal furniture by dousing the frames in splashy colors of spray paint. When rust is an issue, we've got your back.

Furniture Facelift

painted patio table

Chairs and tables from mismatched sets instantly complement each other when painted in coordinating colors. But when rust coats a portion of the furniture, is it safe to paint? Fortunately, if you remove the rust from the offending spot, you'll be able to color to your heart's content after following these steps.

What You Need

rusted metal
  • Metal patio table and chairs 
  • Small paint scraper 
  • Sanding block 
  • Drop cloth 
  • Rust primer 
  • Rusto-Oleum spray paint 
  • Tape
  • Kraft paper

Step 1

scraping off rust

If using thrifted furniture, examine each piece. Scrape any rusty areas with a paint scraper to remove loose, corroded material.

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Step 2

sanding off rust

Use a sanding block to remove rust down to the bare metal. Then wipe the furniture with a rag to rid the pieces of any debris.

Step 3

spraying rusty metal primer

Place the table and chairs on a drop cloth. Treat the sanded, rusty areas with a metal primer that deters rust (an associate at The Home Depot can help you find the best spray paint option for your project). Make sure to spray the spot from all angles, reaching every nook and cranny. Let dry for two hours.

Step 4

spray painting old metal furniture

Apply two coats of metal-approved spray paint (we used Rust-Oleum Universal Matte Spray Paint in Castle Rock and Painter's Touch Ultra Cover 2X Gloss Spray in Seaside) to the chair frames and the tabletop. Allow the paint to dry for two hours between coats.

Step 5

refinished patio set

After the tabletop paint cures, tape it off with kraft paper, then spray the legs and tabletop frame in your second color of paint. Apply two coats of paint, allowing paint to dry for two hours between coats. Let dry overnight before use.

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