DIY: How to Paint a Vintage, Wrought Iron Chair

Updated on April 7, 2018
Mickie Gee profile image

Mickie is a retired librarian who loves to tinker around the house. Every where 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 spraypainted 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.

Time required: Several days

Difficulty: Easy

Cost: $20-$25

Materials:

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

Tools:

  • 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.

  1. Use a paint scraper or wire brush to remove loose or peeling paint.
  2. 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.

  1. If you do not have a pressure washer, adjust your spray nozzle to the thin, jet spray.
  2. Turn your water tap on full blast.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. You don't have to get every bit of paint off of the chairs.
  3. You do have to remove all the flaking paint.
  4. The goal is to get a smooth and even surface.

Source

3. Paint the chair with a paint roller.

  1. Lay down a drop cloth to prevent paint from getting on the ground. This will save you some cleanup time.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 oversaturating 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!

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Mickie Goad

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      • Larry Rankin profile image

        Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

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

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        Jill Wallace 3 years ago

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

      • kittyhappykitty profile image

        kittyhappykitty 3 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 3 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 image
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        Mickie Goad 3 years ago

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

      • profile image

        julieannbrady 3 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 image
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        Mickie Goad 3 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 3 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.

      • Mickie Gee profile image
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        Mickie Goad 4 years ago

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

      • profile image

        ColettaTeske 4 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 image
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        Mickie Goad 4 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 4 years ago from Colorado

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

      • Mickie Gee profile image
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        Mickie Goad 4 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 4 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 4 years ago from New Zealand

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

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