How to Paint Garden Furniture

By   | Last Updated :   August 12, 2021 | Filed In :   Garden Furniture Ideas

Whether upcycling a charity shop bargain bench or revamping a shed, painting garden furniture is one of the quickest and easiest ways to give your garden a makeover.

There are a mind-boggling selection of different paints to choose from and you may be wondering where to begin.  Let us guide you through how to paint garden furniture from start to finish, you’ll be wielding a paintbrush like a pro in no time!

how to paint garden furniture

Credit: Shutterstock

It’s all in the preparation!

When it comes to painting garden furniture, the key to getting a professional-looking and long-lasting finish really is all in the preparation.  It’s not the most fun of jobs but it’s so important and should mean all your hard work lasts a lot longer.

More on this: Vintage Garden Decor Ideas: Upcycling Glamour Into Your Garden

Preparing wood

If you’re painting bare, untreated wood then a quick wipe down before you paint may be all that’s needed.  Take care to sand back any rough or damaged areas, using a good quality wood-filler to fill any holes.

hand sanding a table top to refinish

Use sandpaper or a belt/orbital sander depending on the surface; credit: Shutterstock

If your wood is knotty, I’d recommend applying a knotting solution over the knots. This will ensure they don’t bleed through your paint, especially if it’s a light colour.

If you’re repainting furniture, you’ll need to give it a good sand, removing any loose or flaking paint. You don’t need to sand right back to bare wood as long as the finish is smooth and the existing paint isn’t loose. Give it a quick wash to remove any dust and leave to dry.

Before you commit to painting old wooden furniture, check it’s in good condition, rotten or damaged wood may not last long, even with a coat of paint.

Preparing plastic

There are various paints that are suitable for plastic.  To prepare plastic furniture, give it a thorough clean with soapy water or sugar soap if there are any greasy residues.

Renewd plastic chair before and after

Give your old plastic chairs a unique look; credit: ThePaperMama

Preparing metal

If the metal is bare, it will most likely need to be primed before painting.

Removing rust and old paint from metal with Angle Grinder

Borrow an angle grinder to prime your metal furniture; credit: Shutterstock

Make sure any rust is removed and apply an anti-rust solution if the primer doesn’t contain one. If the metal is painted, sand it back as much as you can, taking care to remove any flaking paint.  Give it a rub over with a damp cloth to remove dust, leaving it to dry.

What paint do I choose?

Step into any large DIY store or search online and you’ll be astounded by the variety of exterior paints available; chalk, matte, eggshell, satinwood… where do you even start? With a little planning, you’ll be able to find the perfect paint for your project.

Firstly, think about the surface you’re painting, do you want a matte or sheen finish?

Chalk paints are extremely popular as they’re suitable for covering a range of surfaces, from wood to metal and plastic, even fabric! Super easy to apply, chalk paints can be easily distressed for a vintage look or painted as a block colour.

chalk paint on the vintage table next to the paintbrush

Chalk paints are a popular choice; credit: Shutterstock

Often you don’t need to prime the surface beforehand and most chalk paints contain a built-in sealer, making this one of the most popular paint choices for garden furniture.

For larger areas like sheds, you can choose from a variety of wood paints. These are waterproof and act as a protective barrier to the wood, prolonging the life of your furniture. Satinwood and eggshell paints are best for metal. These can be durable oil-based or water-based formulas, the latter being quick drying and lower in odour.

The best paints for garden furniture

How to paint your garden furniture 

Choose a dry day where humidity is low and the temperature is above 10 degrees.  Most outdoor furniture paints are fast drying and rainproof in a couple of hours but be sure to read the instructions and plan ahead. I’ve often brought garden furniture inside to paint, just make sure you choose a well-ventilated area and open windows and doors where you can.

After preparing and priming (if necessary) you’re finally ready to paint!  Choose the best quality paint brushes that you can afford, no one wants to pick rogue bristles out of freshly applied paint!

Apply the paint thinly, taking care not to overbrush, finish each brushstroke in the same direction to prevent streaking and be sure to catch any drips.  Painting tables and chairs is particularly tricky so take extra care to check both sides as you go.

paintbrush in hand and painting on the wooden table

Don’t forget the other side of your furniture; credit: Shutterstock

Top Tip: If you need a break but don’t want to wash your brush, remove as much residual paint from the brush as you can, wrap it tightly in a plastic bag, and keep it somewhere cool until you’re ready to paint again.

If you’re spray painting, choose a calm day and stand at least 15cm away from the surface you’re painting, using a smooth back and forward sweeping motion to cover the surface. Take care not to overcoat as this can result in unsightly drips.

Add the finishing touches

Painted furniture should last for a good few years before you need to re-coat.

It’s worth investing in a cover for your furniture or storing it in a shed or garage over winter for optimum protection. Painted metal tends to fare better than painted wood and will tolerate the seasons well.

How to Paint Garden Furniture 1

Beautifully styled, painted metal furniture
Image courtesy of Louise @the_little_pink_nest

It’s so satisfying to give old furniture a new lease of life and add character to new items with a lick of paint. Try adding cushions and throws to painted benches or string some bunting along the eaves of a shed or playhouse to finish your project and add personality.

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