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How to Paint Outdoor Furniture

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Tips and techniques on how to successfully paint outdoor furniture and sling back chairs using spray paint.

I have painted a lot of indoor and outdoor furniture over the years and have picked up quite a few outdoor furniture painting tips and techniques along the way.

From the best paints to use for outdoor furniture and accessories to how to prepare and restore metal patio furniture and now even how to paint outdoor furniture with sling seats. These are a big challenge if you don’t want to get paint on the slings.

Outdoor Furniture Painting Instructions

Before:Outdoor Dining Table and Chairs

How to paint rusty metal furniture

This is my 15 year old outdoor dining table and chairs. The set is in great shape, but the green color has faded and no longer coordinates with my other outdoor furnishings. It needed a color makeover.

painting metal outdoor furniture techniques

Armed with a few rolls of ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape and Rust-Oleum Universal All Surface Spray Paint in Hammered Brown I set out to make it happen.

AFTER: Outdoor Dining Table and Chairs


After some DIY’ing and a few rain delays, I am now the proud owner of what looks like a brand new set of outdoor furniture.


Without the use of ScotchBlue Painter’s tape, I would have had to remove the seat slings from the frames – way too hard.  I simply protected the slings before I painted with the tape and newspaper.


How to Paint Outdoor Furniture with Sling Seats

supplies needed:

  • ScotchBlue™ Painter’s Tape  – I needed 2 rolls of the 2-inch wide tape to mask 6 chairs and used half a roll Advanced Multi-Surface tape with Edge Lock for the glass table top.
  • Newspaper
  • Drop cloths
  • Sanding block with medium grit sandpaper
  • Spray paint – I used 4 cans of Rustoleum Hammered Brown for 6 chairs and the table.  Make sure that whatever spray paint that you use is a Primer + Paint formula. 
  • Small-tip paint brush for touch-ups
  • Bucket of soapy water and scrub brush to clean all surfaces before painting
  1. Before bringing the chairs to my garage to paint, I ran a sanding block on all the metal surfaces to rough them up a bit. This will help with paint adhesion.  I then scrubbed them down with mold and mildew cleaner. I rinsed well and let them dry.

I lined my garage with drop cloths and started the job of masking the slings on each chair and the glass on the table so that no overspray paint would get on them.


2. I placed the ScotchBlue Painter’s tape right up to the edge of the metal frame of the chairs.  To make sure the tape is sealed and locked into place – run your fingertip over the edge of the tape.   Repeat taping on both sides of the top and underside of the chair.


3. I then covered the sling with newspaper and taped it on. I ran my fingertip over the edge on all the tape to make sure it was sealed.


This was the most time consuming part of the project.  Each chair took about 20 minutes to cover.   I set a table up in my garage to set the chairs on, making them easier to cover – no bending down required.


After a few hours – I had them all covered and ready for paint.

How to prepare outdoor chairs for spray painting.

4. I always spray paint in my garage – plenty of ventilation and light.  Even with that, it is important to make sure you wear a mask so you don’t breathe in the fumes and overspray.


5. I sprayed 2 light coats of Rustoleum “spray primer+ paint in one formula” on each chair, letting the first coat dry overnight before applying the second.  I let them dry in the garage for 24 hours and then brought them back outside.


6. I kept the tape and newspaper on in case I would see that I missed a section.  I did – of course, so I just sprayed the small areas that I missed.

Outdoor-furniture being painted

7. After I made sure there was no green showing, I removed the tape and the newspaper.


There were a few small spots where the sling met the top of the chair frame that  were still green. I used a small piece of  ScotchBlue Painter’s tape to mask the sling. I then sprayed the paint into the lid of the spray paint can and dabbed a small tipped paint brush into the lid to pick up some paint. I carefully brushed the paint on.

Painted-Outdoor-Furniture AFTER shot

The hammered brown finish updates the outdoor dining set – much better than the green. I also like it since it is a neutral color – it will go with any table setting color scheme I use.

Painted outdoor dining table and sling style chairs

It was worth the time and effort to give this classic outdoor dining table and chairs a brand new look.

Close up of Spray-painted outdoor-furniture

The Rustoleum Hammered Spray Paint truly provides a factory-like finish on metal.

Spray painted outdoor-table and chairs on deck

Outdoor Furniture Painting Update:

lake house gazebo with painted metal furniture on it

Many readers often write to me and ask how a DIY project I wrote about has held up.

I wrote this post back in 2013 and the set sat out in the elements year round for 2 years. Since this time, I have moved to a new house on a lake where the outdoor table and chairs came along and are still in use. The set is now under a roof. It has been 8 years since I painted the set and it still looks great.

Thanks to great paint and proper application.  No chipping or peeling.


Can You Spray Paint Sling Fabric on Outdoor Chairs?

You can spray paint the sling or fabric mesh part of outdoor chairs, but if your slings are made of vinyl that moves when you sit on them, the paint will eventually crack off.

There are spray paints for vinyl car seats sold at auto supply stores or here: https://amzn.to/3A0vQFJ These paints only come in a few colors and some are not formulated for outdoor use to hold up to weather conditions.

Rustoleum makes a spray paint for outdoor fabric. https://amzn.to/3bdACW0

This paint works great on fabric, but not vinyl. If your slings are made more fabric-like with cotton fibers – this paint would work. If your slings are more of a larger weave vinyl fabric like mine are, it would not work for the long run.

I know there are videos showing people spraying the slings on chairs and they look great, but for how long? One summer maybe before chipping and peeling would start. No one ever has a video showing how the paint on the sling sections has held up.

If you want to try, I would suggest sanding the slings with 60 grit sandpaper first, cleaning them well and letting dry. You can try a primer for plastic and then use an outdoor spray paint over this. https://amzn.to/3xWnQUD

Exterior spray paint: https://amzn.to/3OnRzva. Choose the sheen and color you like.

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  1. It looks like you got a brand new set, Diane! Love the brown. We had a green set similar to yours at our old house. If we hadn’t moved I would have had to do something with it, because not only was it fading, but the green from the table would come off on hands or legs if you touched it. It was too big to bring with us when we moved so we left it behind.