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Diy: How to Paint a Vintage, Wrought Iron Chair

Mickie is a retired librarian who loves to tinker around the house. Everywhere she looks, she sees possibility!

Repainted wrought iron chair on my deck

Repainted wrought iron chair on my deck

My Wrought Iron Patio Furniture Needed Restoration

My four wrought iron chairs used to be ivory white when I received them as a gift for Mother's Day sometime in the last century. If they were sold on EBay today, they might definitely be classified as "vintage."

About 20 years ago, I gave my oldest daughter the chairs when she and her husband moved into their first home. Of course, she did not like the ivory color—white really shows environmental dirt and mildew—so she spray-painted them black. Not knowing any better, she did not sand the original paint before applying the new paint. You can guess what happened after—the black paint flaked off! After years of repainting, she gave up and returned them to me. Luckily, there was only a little bit of rust that had accumulated over the years and it be easily be sanded off and painted.

Read on to learn how I refurbished my “vintage“ outdoor chair.

How to Refurbish Wrought Iron Chairs

  1. Remove any loose paint and surface rust.
  2. Sand all surfaces thoroughly.
  3. Paint the chair with a paint roller. (very important)
  4. Give it a touch-up using spray paint (if necessary).

What You'll Need to Refurbish These Chairs

Time required: Several days

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $20–$25


  • 1-quart Rust-oleum oil-based, flat black paint can
  • 2 Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover spray paint cans


  • Sanding block or sandpaper
  • Orbital sander (optional)
  • Wire brush
  • Paint scraper
  • Drop cloth (if painting indoors)
  • Paint roller (3 inches wide)
  • Refills for roller
  • Paint roller pan and a liner

Step-by-Step Instructions for Restoring Wrought Iron Chairs

Notice the grey paint that's peeling to reveal the original white.

Notice the grey paint that's peeling to reveal the original white.

1. Remove Any Loose Paint and Surface Rust

Preparation is key for any paint job. If you are patient and take your time sanding the surface to a smooth and clean feel, you'll get a much more durable and beautiful finish.

  • Use a paint scraper or wire brush to remove loose or peeling paint.
  • Scrape or sand off any rust that you can see.

I found that I could quickly get the loose old paint off the chairs by using a pressure washer.

  • If you do not have a pressure washer, adjust your spray nozzle to the thin, jet spray.
  • Turn your water tap on full blast.
  • Allow the chairs to dry thoroughly.
Sand off as much paint and rust as possible. You want to get a smooth and even finish with no flakes or loose parts.

Sand off as much paint and rust as possible. You want to get a smooth and even finish with no flakes or loose parts.

2. Sand All Surfaces Thoroughly

  • Use an orbital sander, regular sandpaper, or sanding a sanding block (mine's sitting on the seat of the chair) to rough up the surface of any original paint that can not be removed.
  • You don't have to get every bit of paint off of the chairs.
  • You do have to remove all the flaking paint.
  • The goal is to get a smooth and even surface.
Use a small paint roller.

Use a small paint roller.

3. Paint the Chair With a Paint Roller

  • Lay down a drop cloth to prevent paint from getting on the ground. This will save you some cleanup time.
  • Paint the chair using a 3-inch paint roller with a thick nap. I found that this gave me maximum control, especially in the bends and crevices.
  • Apply two coats of paint.

I used oil-based, rust preventative paint, specifically the Rust-Oleum flat black. I recommend using canned paint over spray paint because for these wrought iron chairs, most of the spray will just go through it rather than on it.

I used a one-inch brush to get the parts that the roller could not cover, but be careful with this technique. You want to avoid over-saturating your brush because it can lead to paint runs.

Oil-based paint takes a while to dry (8 hours between coats for me). I easily painted all four chairs in one day—although it did take me all day.

4. Touch Up Using Spray Paint (If Necessary)

After allowing the paint to cure overnight, touch up any missed spots using spray paint. It is not possible to get all the nooks and crannies with a paint roller, and it takes too long using a small brush. I used Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Flat Black spray paint by Rust-oleum, which worked very well and dried quickly. I highly recommend it for touching up and smaller paint jobs!

Use spray paint to touch up (if necessary).

Use spray paint to touch up (if necessary).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: My paint is not flaky. The black rubs off when you touch the metal. We had them professionally power coated about 4 years ago, but they rub off black on everything now. What should I do to stop my wrought iron furniture paint from rubbing off? The furniture is in great shape. Tulsa, OK

Answer: Maybe spray or paint with a clear coat paint. I would also get in touch with the company that painted the chairs.

© 2014 Mickie Gee

Feel free to share your thoughts on painting patio furniture!

Mickie Gee (author) on August 06, 2020:

Thank you for the suggestion!

Chrissy on July 12, 2020:

I used your method to refurbish a patio set my mom gave to me. I thought you might want to add a warning about removing old paint since it could contain lead. Thanks for providing step by step and doable advice!

Mickie Gee (author) on April 25, 2020:


Bana on April 20, 2020:


I love those Chairs in black! Are they for sale?

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on August 05, 2015:

Very helpful. I had wondered the best way to do this.

Jill Wallace on April 07, 2015:

Great job! I need to paint a table I have, glad to know the "right way" to do it!

kittyhappykitty on June 15, 2014:

I love collecting metal things just for painting and decoration. You have given me some terrific inspiration to get started on a few pieces that I did not know what to do with! Thank you so very much! You've made me very happy!

Eugene Samuel Monaco from Lakewood New York on June 03, 2014:

Loved your project, I have some old wooden lawn furniture from my parents house. Years ago my mother was going to throw them away. I wouldn't hear of it so I took them home, and still have them today. They are due for a new paint job, so I just may have to make a lens out of the project. Thanks and nice job!!!

Mickie Gee (author) on May 05, 2014:

@julieannbrady: I must admit, I use cushions. The weave pattern is hard on this ol' body!

julieannbrady on May 03, 2014:

Great project! I like how those chairs let the air in so that you can sit directly on them or add cushions. You did a great job renovating them! Nicole Curtis would be proud.

Mickie Gee (author) on April 27, 2014:

@TreasuresBrenda: Bonnie was so generous to share this page on Twitter. Hopefully, the weather around the country will be getting better so people will be able to use their patio furniture.

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on April 27, 2014:

We have a rusty old patio set to save. Timely to come across your page via Bonnie's tweet on Twitter.

Mickie Gee (author) on April 15, 2014:

@ColettaTeske: Thank you for commenting on the appearance of my chairs. I think they look nice, too.

ColettaTeske on April 15, 2014:

Thank you for the painting tips. I just bought a new home, a fixer upper, and I've got a lot of rusted metal to paint. This will help me immensely. Great job! Your chairs look beautiful!

Mickie Gee (author) on April 09, 2014:

@Diana Wenzel: I agree! That is why I brought them home and repaired these wonderful outdoor chairs.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on April 08, 2014:

@Mickie Gee: Most comfortable deck chairs I ever owned.

Mickie Gee (author) on April 04, 2014:

@Diana Wenzel: These wrought iron chairs are so very comfortable AND they "rock". That is why they are a favorite and why I decided to refurbish them.

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on April 03, 2014:

I remember those chairs. I had some just like them. And yes, I did repaint them at least once. Your chairs look great! Nicely done.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on April 03, 2014:

Looks great, thanks for sharing how you do it, sound quite easy.