I hope everyone is enjoying June so far! One of my favorite ways to relax on a warm summer evening is to sit out on a patio with a nice glass of something, and just listen to the crickets, birds, and kids playing down the street. (Okay, well maybe not the latter option.) Throughout my increasing effort to make this more of a pattern with my hubby, I have found one fact to be certain:
Good patio furniture is EXPENSIVE. UGH.
Cut scene to my mother-in-law brainstorming ways to redecorate her backyard. Ultimately, our attention was drawn to the old, dusty, peeling, metal furniture occupying the majority of the space on the deck. Needless to say, it had seen better days; but as mentioned previously, good patio furniture is expensive and this current patio set did still have some redeeming qualities. Structurally, the furniture was still sound. The set itself was a good size and the pieces fit nicely together on the patio. Taking all of the information into account, there was really only one solution:
A D.I.Y. PROJECT. YAY!
The first step in the restoration process was to gather all needed materials:
- Disposable gloves (and protective clothing [long sleeves, pants, etc.] that you don’t mind getting a little messy)
- Old sheet(s)/cardboard/newspaper to protect work area
- Old Towels or Rags
- Paint scraper(s)
- Wire Brush
- Sandpaper/Block Sanding Sponge
- Paint Stripper (we used Klean Strip Sprayable Stripper & Citristrip Stripping Gel- our reviews/recommendations below)
- Mineral Spirits (we used Klean Strip odorless)
- Rustoleum Hammered Spraypaint/Primer in One (we used about 6 bottles for a table, two chairs, two ottomans, and a loveseat)
- New Cushions/Fabric for Cushions (optional)
- Old Outdoor METAL Furniture in Need of Some T.L.C.
Then we began to work! Here’s the process:
- Remove the cushions and clean off the furniture from any dust/dirt/debris with a wet, old cloth. Dry well.
- Set up your work area with the sheets or newspaper in a well-ventilated area, like an open garage; we worked on ours in the backyard. Just keep in mind that this is not a very clean process, and you don’t want to spread these chemicals everywhere (I’m looking at you, guy who keeps his most prized possessions in the garage- COVER or MOVE that sports car before you begin!) Even in the yard we were careful to cover the ground before we worked.
- Time to strip! The idea here is to correctly use a paint stripper that will allow you to easily and cleanly scrape off the remaining paint with a paint scraper. It was a little more difficult in our situation, but thankfully for you, I will tell you all about our mistakes so you don’t have to make them! We used two strippers because the first one didn’t work and instead of troubleshooting our method, the salesperson at The Home Depot just recommended we use a different brand.
- Klean Strip Sprayable Stripper. You can find it here or (probably) at your local hardware store. The directions are simple: Wear gloves and goggles (this thin, watery liquid is quite toxic and BURNS- more on that shortly), pour into the bottle, spray liberally, wait fifteen minutes, scrape off, clean with mineral spirits, done. In real life, though, the process was not so easy. Where we went wrong (I believe) was spraying outside where there was a breeze. No matter how we sprayed the stripper, for some reason, it repeatedly blew back onto us- and it was one of the worst pains I’ve ever felt. At one point, the wind carried the spray over ten feet across the yard (onto me, attempting to run away); I can’t imagine what the neighbors were thinking. Since most of the stripper was not actually accumulating on the furniture, after the recommended fifteen minutes, the paint was not peeling off as easily as we had thought it would. We repeated the process, but again, the slight breeze made for a difficult experience. This is where we should’ve taken the furniture into the garage, sprayed it down a third time, and really tried to get the paint off that way. Alas, we went to the store and purchased a different stripper altogether.
- Citristrip Stripping Gel. Here’s the website, or try your local hardware store! This is a thicker, gel stripper, and has a pleasant citrus smell and color. Don’t let that fool you, though; it is still a highly toxic chemical and all precautions need to be taken to protect skin and eyes. The instructions say to brush the gel on liberally with a thick bristled brush, and wait at least 30 minutes, but is recommended that you wait up to twenty-four hours. This one seemed to be doing much better, but after the mishap with the first stripper, we decided to abide by the directions and wait the full twenty-four hours. Flash forward to approximately an hour and a half later, around 10:30 P.M., when everyone was shocked by a huge clap of thunder, as there had not been a cloud in sight all day. It
rainedpoured for maybe ten minutes and cleared again, but I think that is where our project began to fail for the second time. The next day was sunny, hot (97°), and humid. Again, scraping was difficult. The paint did not come off in nice, smooth pieces, but instead was stubborn and chippy, not to leave out the fact that it was covered in an orange chemical dust. I feel that we may have experienced a better outcome if the gel didn’t have to endure rain and baking in the sun. This blog post should be titled “How NOT To Restore Old Patio Furniture”.
- Once your paint stripper has reached it’s allotted time to strip (follow your directions on the bottle of the specific brand you choose) it is time to remove the paint with the paint scraper. You can also use the wire brush as well for large areas, places with some texture, or harder to reach crevices. We did not remove 100% of the paint, and if you look closely at certain areas on our finished product you can see a distinction in texture, but since we used a textured spray paint and put the cushions back on, it is a minor, barely noticeable flaw. We also used the sanding block here to try and soften some edges. Try to remove as much paint as possible (if you use the stripping agents correctly, this should, in theory, be quite an easy step).
- Using an old rag and following the instructions on your brand of mineral spirits, wipe down the now paint-free furniture. This step prepares the surface for painting, as the mineral spirits remove any oil or remaining residues. It also cleans any leftover paint stripper from the chairs (imagine trying to paint on top of a substance designed to remove paint; I am not a chemist, but logically it does not sound like that would work out very well). Remember, again, to protect your skin and eyes.
- Once the mineral spirits have dried, you are ready to paint! Using the Paint-and-Primer-in-One eliminates a whole step of priming your surface, and waiting for that to cure- yay for multitasking! Following the directions on the spray paint can, use smooth, sweeping strokes to coat your furniture. Prime application occurs when the can is held approximately ten to twelve inches from your surface. Don’t worry if the color of the metal shows through the first layer; after letting the furniture dry, you can apply a smooth second coat. Be sure to remember to fill in any crevices, corners, and hard to reach areas. The hammered effect of the spray-paint gives such a nice, formal finish to the furniture, and the company that manufactures the paint promises that the color won’t fade or rust- perfect for projects that may eventually be exposed to the outdoor elements! We used the black shown here, but you can choose whatever looks best in your yard!
- Let the paint dry, put your cushions back on the chairs (or buy those cute new ones you’ve been eyeing at Target lately!), grab a cocktail and enjoy your handiwork!
At the end of the day, it is so satisfying to be able to look at the finished project and know that all of your efforts were worth it; you feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment- and that is something you cannot buy. Be sure to let me know if you D-I-Y your own patio furniture- I want to see your results! Also, let me know how your paint stripping goes- and any suggestions you have for other readers!