DIY: How to Paint a Vintage, Wrought Iron Chair

Updated on May 6, 2020
Mickie Gee profile image

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 | Source


My Deck Chairs Needed Restoration

My four wrought iron chairs used to be ivory white when I got them for Mother's Day sometime in the last century. If they were sold on Etsy, they would definitely be classified as "vintage."

About ten 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 could be sanded off easily.

Here is the correct way to refurbish wrought iron chairs the right way.

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.
  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. | Source

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. | Source

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.


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-in 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 can of flat black paint. 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!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • 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

    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

Guestbook—feel free to share your thoughts on painting patio furniture:

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    • Mickie Gee profile imageAUTHOR

      Mickie Gee 

      4 weeks ago


    • profile image


      5 weeks ago


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

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

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

    • profile image

      Jill Wallace 

      5 years ago

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

    • kittyhappykitty profile image


      5 years ago

      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!

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      5 years ago from Lakewood New York

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mickie Gee 

      6 years ago

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

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mickie Gee 

      6 years ago

      @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.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      6 years ago from Canada

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

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      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 profile imageAUTHOR

      Mickie Gee 

      6 years ago

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

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

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

    • Mickie Gee profile imageAUTHOR

      Mickie Gee 

      6 years ago

      @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.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      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 profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

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


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