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How to Paint Outdoor Light Fixtures With a Hammered Paint Finish

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No need to buy new outdoor light fixtures when they start to age and get rusty. Try painting them instead using a hammered finish paint. It is easy to do and will transform your light in less than an hour.

Over the course of the year, we spend most of our decorating energy on the interiors of our house.  When the weather starts to warm up, we take that energy to the outside of our home to begin attacking the exterior project “To-Do” list. That is what I did over the weekend.  Our list is a long one. After living in our house for 19 years – there are always things to be done.

How to paint-a-rusted-metal-outdoor light-fixtureHow to Paint An Old Outdoor Light Fixture

One is getting the rusty metal outdoor lights painted.  This is how the lights looked by my side entry before I transformed them using paint, but not just any paint – one with a hammered finish.

Amazing-paint-that-will-transform-old-or-rusted-exterior-light-fixtures

This is how they look now!

What Is The Best Paint for Outdoor Metal Light Fixtures

a can of Rustoleum Hammered Finish paint in Dark Bronze

I used this Rustoleum paint with a metallic hammered finish.

It is:

  • Weather and corrosion resistant coating protects exterior/interior surfaces like wood, metal, concrete, masonry and more
  • Oil-based formula provides a durable protective coating with excellent rust prevention
  • Dries to the touch in 2-4 hours and covers up to 100 sq. ft
  • Excellent resistance to abrasion, fading and chipping
  • Hammered metal finish hides flaws and imperfections found in scratched, rusted or pitted metals

How To Paint an Outdoor Light Fixture Without Taking it Down

I painted, cleaned, and prepped 3 exterior light fixtures in about 2 hours time. It would have taken me longer to replace them. Since I love these fixtures, I was happy to bring them back to life.

Amazing-Before-and-After-Outdoor-light-fixtures-transformed-with-Molten-Metallic-Paint

I have used Hammered Bronze spray paint from Rustoleum before with great results, but the oil-based brush on version of the paint is so much easier to use since it is thicker and the finish looks glossier.

  • The best part about using this paint is that you can leave the fixtures right in place! This fact alone will save you lots of time and you won’t need an electrician.

supplies needed: 

Paint Brush TIP:

  • When using inexpensive brushes – rub the brush against the side of your hand a few times to remove any loose bristles. Do it a few times until they stop falling out.

How to Remove Rust From Outdoor Light Fixtures

Rusty outdoor light fixture on side of a house.

The rusty light fixture before.

How-to-remove-rust-from-metal using Brillo or SOS pads.

  1. To remove the rust from the light fixture, I first cleaned the metal using a wet S.O.S pad.
  • I scrubbed hard and then rinsed off the soap and residue with clean water and let the metal dry.
  • If the rust doesn’t come off – apply one coat of rust preventing primer and let dry, then paint.  The directions on the paint can says that priming is not necessary if you prepare the surface correctly.

Outdoor light on side of house getting cleaned before painting.

This is how the fixtures looked after scrubbing them. They cleaned up nicely.

Outdoor light fixture with painter's tape around it getting a coat of fresh paint.

2. Place painter’s tape around the base of the fixture.

3. Stir paint well. Apply the paint when the fixture is in the shade using a paint brush.

  • It is cool to watch the hammered effect happen.  It goes on like regular paint, but after 30 seconds it starts to take on a hammered finish right before your eyes – presto-change-o!
  • One coat may be all you need, but two coats are recommended.  Let first coat dry completely before adding a second coat.

Newly painted outdoor light fixture using Dark Bronze Hammered paint.

While I was painting the fixtures, I also removed the glass to clean out the dead bugs and make the glass shine again.

How-to-update-an-exterior-light-fixture-using-paint

All my outdoor light fixtures look as good as the day I bought them 10 years ago.

Outdoor carriage light in yard after getting a paint makeover.

All done in one afternoon with one quart can of amazing paint!

Freshly painted exterior light on house

I am very happy with the results, best of all it was a fast and easy project. Now, I have 4 more to light fixtures to transform.

Before and After photos showing how to paint a rusted light fixture

Image showing before and after transformation of rusty outdoor lights. The best paint to use when painting exterior light fixtures

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52 Comments

  1. Thank you Diane, This is one of the outdoor projects on my list this spring. Yours look wonderful!!! Amazing what a little paint and effort can do to make ones house shine.
    Love your blog.
    Ann

  2. You have inspired me to go out there and do my outdoor light fixtures! I love your projects and what you have done with your home.

  3. I want to tell you how glad I am that I found this post. It saved me hundreds of dollars on new fixtures that I might have purchased. I did have to order the Rustoleum paint in the can from Amazon as neither the Lowes nor Home Depot in my town had it on the shelf. The fixtures look really good now. Thanks!

  4. Diane, this may be an old article but it’s the answer I was looking for in 9/2020. All of my Craftsman light fixtures have faded from black to tan and my mailbox looks a little tired and dull. Will see if can find that formula and repaint the fixture, give them a nice glossy finish as well as the mailbox and post. If I find the paint, will let you know. I’ll check with Rustoleum Customer Service – they are the best for helping with their products.
    Great ideas are always in style.

    1. Hi Maggie – This makes me happy to hear that an old post of mine may help you. I hope you can find the paint. It was the best and went on beautifully.

      1. Diane,
        I talked to Roberta at Rustoleum. They have a great Customer service department. The product is still made in the same color, same formula, Item #239075, brush on in a quart . Home Depot and Ace/True Value carry it, but she said to make sure they have the color you need, which is represented in the above item number. They have a very limited selection of other colors, too. Now, all I have to do is call around and find it. Trying to get things done to sell the house in the Spring, or sooner and it keeps me busy during Shelter in Place.

  5. Hi, it’s 4 years later. Any pics of how the paint is holding up? I’m just wondering if repainting lasts a long time. I’m thinking of doing mine.

    1. Hi Lisa –

      I moved 2 years ago from the house where I painted the lights. But the paint held up excellent. I would use it again for sure! The hardest thing is going to be to see if any store still sells that formula. If not, another brand name oil-based metallic paint will probably be just fine. The key to success is to make sure you sand the surface to rough it up. Clean it well and apply the paint using light coats and when the temp outside is around 60 – 80 degrees. :-)

  6. Wow!!! Love the way the lights came out and thank you for sharing the info God bless

  7. These are the exact same light fixtures at our back door and I have been wondering how to paint them without having to remove them. Did you paint right over the screws, etc.? This is going to be my spring project!

    1. I’m surprised anyone would prefer to work something like this on a ladder vs on a workbench. The potential for bugs in your paint, getting overspray on the house to tweaking your back or even stumbling off the ladder doesn’t seem worth it. It’s not hard to turn off the breaker and remove the fixtures and set up an assembly line in your garage. You’ll get a better job and do more fixtures faster.

  8. Thanks for your great article. We followed your recommendations. The newly painted lights look great and the project was fun and cost saving.

    1. Hi Dan – I always love to hear from readers, especially success stories. Thanks for taking the time to tell about your painted light fixtures. Happy holidays!

  9. Hi, just found your site, and have subscribed :). Question: is it necessary to use a rust preventing primer after using the wet steel wool on the metal? (Because I am so going to do this to my light fixtures). Love this! Thank you.

    1. Hi Maria –

      If you use the paint that I did, you do not have to prime, but it can never hurt to prime with a rush preventing primer. A can costs under $10 and is well worth it if you live in a humid area. It can help keep the rust at bay longer than paint alone. If you do decide to use it. Use one or two light coats instead of one heavier one.

  10. Thank you so much for this post! There are some awesome ideas here that I’ll definitely look into. Thanks for sharing, and keep up the good work here!

  11. Your lights turned out amazing! You made me look twice at my outdoor lights and then I bought some black spray paint! They look brand new now! I am going to use the hammered spray paint and bring my sister’s outdoor lights back to life this weekend. I have never used it before but from the way your lights turned out, I know they will look so nice. Her light fixtures are dull, but they might also be rusty. Which rust preventing primer would you recommend?

  12. Hi Diane! I’ve just keep reading different blogs (of YOURS) and have answered some of my own ?’s! Can’t locate, however, the brass tarnishing technique Karalane mentioned above, in May. Would not pull up when I entered quick search. Do you have an index or directory??? Thanks again for all your wonderful, fantastic ideas.

  13. Love your lights. I have a question. I recently bought a new light to put on my existing black lamp post out in front of my house. The light fixture is lovely, but it is sort of two-toned black and coppery all mixed together. It goes really well with my house trim, which is brown. But I thought I would have to paint the lamp post a different colour (it is black) but when I went looking, I really couldn’t find a colour that matched. I notice your lamp is on a black post as well. Do you think I’m best to stay with the black post, maybe just repaint it black to give it new life? I looked at every Tremclad colour, and even went to a Benjamin Moore store, but none of the metal paints were a good match to the lamp.

    1. Hi Jan – I would just stick with black. Classic and goes with the light. No need for it to be all the same finish. If I had my way, I would love to have a white wood post with inset panels and an arm that extends from it to hold an address plate. I have a few photos of them, but have never made one. Maybe someday.

    2. Hi Jan and Diane,
      Jan, I saw your question and realized a post on youtube
      might be a good solution that anyone could try. This uses two colors and a dry brush “pouncing”technique (the painter opts to use a shaving brush!) similar to stenciling.

  14. Will this paint work on outside brass light fixtures? After 4 years ours are starting to rust. Please help, we do not want to spend the money to replace the outside light fixtures.

    Thanks

    Lynn

    1. Hi Lynn – Yes – any metal or surface that is either bare or painted. Prep is key: Rub some fine steel wool over it or fine grit sandpaper, clean it off and dry – then paint. Don’t paint outside when it is hot and humid, wait till a cool day with low humidity.

  15. Looks great! I’m thinking of using this on my interior door handles and brass chandelier. Does it have a strong odor and how long is the dry time? Thanks!

    1. Hi Mary – It has a paint smell, but it is not strong. I am pretty sensitive to smells and this did not bother me at all. If it is not too humid and a nice 78 degree day – 4-5 hours drying time. The can says you can re coat in 24 hours for proper adhesion.

  16. Thanks for your response, Diane. I was torn between trying your brass tarnishing technique to deliberately darken the handle, or trying the bronze paint. I’ll give the paint a try since I could do it without removing the hardware. But first I guess the lacquer should all come off. Do you have a product you recommend for that task?

  17. Thanks for this post! All of our 13-yr old exterior fixtures are faded and sad, as are some of my metal plant stands, an umbrella base, and a patio table. So I’ll be bronzing the dickens out of all of them!
    On a related note, one of our two patio door handles has large splotches where the protective lacquer peeled off the brass and has become tarnished, while other areas are still shiny. Do you think this paint would hold up to use on a door handle?

    1. Hi Karalane –

      I have the same problem on the door to my deck :) The paint should hold up fine. I would let it cure as long as possible before using the handle too much – it will only help with adhesion. 2 light coats would be better than one thick one. Let the first coat dry before applying the second.

  18. I really like the restoration job! The paint looks flawless and even throughout, you’d think it’s brand new. I also love how the paint looks when it’s in direct sunlight, shown in on the post light. Keep up the great work! =)

  19. The light fixtures are so beautiful I love them ! Thanks so much for the paint recommendation it’s always hard to fined something that will do the work nicely .

  20. Wow! That paint is amazing!! I typically use metallic spray paint for that effect, but sometimes it’s so much easier to be able to paint it on. LOVE Benjamin Moore-definitely my go-to paint company!

  21. Diane, thanks so much for the paint recommendation. I will be painting my outdoor light fixtures soon, and yours turned out so pretty. You lights have great charter and shape, I am glad you kept them!

  22. I wonder how this would work on my ceiling fan in my living room > It is shiny brass, and it is impossible to get my husband to agree to take down this heavy fan to paint it. Do you know if it comes in metallic but not a hammered finish? This could be really wonderful for indoor light fixtures!

    1. Hi Mary – It would work beautifully. If you don’t want the hammered finish – you could paint it successfully with any oil-based gloss paint. Rough it up with a medium grit piece of sandpaper for a minute or two. Clean it well and let dry – then paint. Two light coats – let the first dry before applying the second.

  23. Wow Diane your lights look great. I will definitely be using this paint on my weathered exterior light fixtures. Thanks for the “how to.” Vikki in VA.

  24. Holy moly & wow! They look so great. I have the original outside my front door and had to replace the one outside my kitchen door (under cover of carport too) cause it literally crumbled. But the new one of about 3 years ago already looks awful. I am definitely going to use this paint on mine.

    Thank you so much and Debbie also, for the information.

  25. Love the transformation!
    I’m curious about the pieces of wood BEHIND the light fixture base…did you buy those or make them yourself?

    I recently hung a new light fixture at my back door after having my house painted and couldn’t for the life of me figure how to close the gap that was left by trying to place the flat base against the siding. This may seem silly, but we cut an old mouse pad to try and close the gap. It worked, but sure wish we had what you have!

    Thanks!
    Joy

    1. HI Joy –

      We bought them at Home Depot. I think they are sold in the lumber dept. They come primed in white. They are made to fit over siding on a house. Just ask one of the lumber guys, they will show you where to find them in the store.