Refinishing/Refurbishing Old Wrought Iron Lawn Furniture

Yes, it’s October here in the north-east states of the US, and winter is indeed coming.  I didn’t get around to doing my planned refinishing of the patio furniture until just about now – please don’t wait as long into the autumnal season as I did, but if you have enough days where the spray painting part of this are above 55 F – yes, you can still get this job done.  You may even have a few autumnal days where you can enjoy your work, relaxing outdoors.  (My goal next year regards this patio space is to look into a charcoal smoker.  It is not Mission Critical, however.)

Here’s a finished photo…  Drizzly out right now – later today I’ll have the chair cushions out for photography.  Note that the wood post for the pergola needs to “age” before I stain that.  Spring.

homesteading, wrought iron, refurbishing, refinishing

Completed table and chairs, under the back yard pergola.  And yes, those rocks in the background ARE supposed to be there.  Flat and tall enough to sit on.

My wrought iron lawn furniture dates from at least the seventies, and belonged to my parents.  Originally painted a flat black, it has developed rust after years of being out in the elements. (Neither they nor me hauled them in at winter’s start – although I did run over to my parents’ home in the 90s when they were out of town on an extended vacation when Hurricane Floyd hit – put the chairs in their garage and flipped the tables over just to be safe).   They had two sets in different areas of their yard.  My brother got one of the sets; I got the other when they downsized into apartment living.

homesteading, refurbiging, patio furniture, lawn furniture, wrought iron

Cushioning time.

This is me refurbishing (finally!!!) my set!  Below:  They await whatever might happen…

homesteading, patio furniture, wrought iron, refurbish

Awaiting destiny.

I’ve learned there are a lot of different colors one can now purchase to paint said furniture – I decided I’d not get too outlandish, but I also decided I really didn’t need to go with the original standard black.

At the local Big Box, I almost chose “Claret Wine” satin Rustoleum spray.  Then I remembered that last year I’d purchased at closeout some wonderfully colorful cushions for those chairs.  Didn’t know if “Claret Wine” would clash or not… so I ended up with “Expresso Brown”.  This would go with anything I’d likely have as cushions!  (Just checked – not as colorful as I’d thought, but definitely I made the right paint color decision…)  Do decide if you want a more flat or satin appearance, or a high gloss appearance.  I preferred the former.  You may also like metallic, or textured.  If you are a glam rocker, there’s even sparkle spray paints.  It’s all up to you!

rustoleum claret winerustoleum espresso brown.jpgrustoleum brass metallic

Claret Wine, Espresso, Metallic Brass. These photos from the Internet.

Okay, that’s the easy part.  We need to get down and dirty on prepping the furniture.

homesteading, refurbishing, patio furniture

The table in question. Prior to any work other than moving it up to my new home, and tossing it in front of the garage…


  • Wire brush.  Since the metal is mostly lattice-spaced, I bought a thinner wire brush.
  • Medium grit sandpaper.  With or without a block – the block will make it easier to hold.  You can get an electric-powered sander if desired, but I decided manual was fine for this task.  (I’ll research what I want in an electric sander once I start purchasing for my wood workshop, but that’s for later.)
  • White vinegar (the type many of us use to clean out our coffee makers in hard-water regions), a good sponge and washbucket.  Make as a 1:5 ratio with water.  OR use a pressure washer – minus the vinegar.  I went the simpler way.
  • Painter’s tarp or cloth.
  • Gloves.  I found those disposable kitchen service gloves work. Or those reusable (for a time) kitchen / home cleanup hardier yellow plastic gloves.  I was fine with the disposables – the stuff did not “eat through”, but they won’t give as large a “wrist protection” length.
  • LOTS of exterior spray paint.  I saw that someone estimated she used around a gallon total of spray paint to do the job on a table and its four chairs.  My thought was to buy a spray paint that was both primer/paint.  There are other details to consider, see below.  I started with five 12-ounce spray cans.  Oh, make sure your paint is appropriate for outdoor use, and for use on metals.  Should say on the label.
homesteading, refurbishing, wrought iron

One of the chairs. Notice the aging and rust that needs some help. The speck of bird doot comes off easily.


I decided to bring all the pieces of furniture around to where I was going to do the work – close to but not ONTO the destination patio.  For me, one consideration was that I was going to have to “walk” the table down to the area – I planned to do this by myself without help.  Although chicken feed bags have steadily grown “lighter” over the past months (I’ve built up upper body strength due both to those bags and to loading my car up with boxes from the old home independent of those U-Haul loads), I’m not quite up to picking up awkwardly-shaped bits of metal to lug them yet.  So, it would be “walked”.  Didn’t see the point in getting a freshly refurbished table dirty on its feet more than I had to.  Besides, all the furniture was lurking in different places – two chairs on the porch, one in the garage, one just outside the garage, the table on the other side outside the garage (when I’d U-Hauled stuff here and we off-loaded, the path to the back of the house was too muddy to take a 16 foot truck not built for off-roading).

Homesteading, patio furniture, lawn furniture, refurbishing, refinishing,

The sanding papers. I found that just using the 220 with maybe a swipe of 120 was fine. There may be some areas where 120 follow-up is great. Like that circle for the umbrella in the middle of that table.

Using the wire brush, clean off all surfaces of the metal.

Using the sandpaper – most efficiently on the block – sand down anything that’s uneven.  I went by hand, because, well… because.  Still works!

Scrub down the furniture using the 1:5 white vinegar-water solution and the sponge.

Rinse off the vinegar with a goodly spray from a garden hose.

Allow to dry thoroughly.

I will note I didn’t follow all the above to perfection.  But this is all reasonable for the BEST job.  The brush is much less useful on the thin bits of wrought iron, but was very useful on the edge of that table.


Pick a non-windy day.  You don’t want to waste paint, nor do you want to paint un-intended objects, even if it is just your lawn.  Put down the painter’s cloth/plastic, or a tarp.  Some people put the pieces of furniture into large cardboard boxes, where the sides will help contain paint – which may work for the chairs.  You also don’t want it to rain during the job or during the drying period.  Best temperatures will be listed on your spray can – typically it is advised to spray when the weather is giving you a glorious 55 degrees F to a less-than-glorious and sweaty 85 degrees F.  (13 – 30 degrees Celsius.)  Yes, my personal temperature biases are showing, but this gives you a good range for the spray paint.

homesteading, patio furniture, wrought iron, refinishing

One side sprayed.

NOTE HERE: The spray paint, even if the air isn’t moving more than a few molecules at a time – provides such a STENCH that really annoyed me.  DO NOT do this in your garage or basement unless you have a real respirator – I’m meaning NOT one of those dust respirators that are useful for certain other projects.  This stuff is a vapor. Dust respirators (fabric face masks) DO NOT protect from vapors.  Says so on the boxes.

Wear gloves and your “best” painting clothing.  I have a nice pair of “painter’s pants”, which were retired from everyday wear about four years ago, and now have residues from all sorts of painting and staining projects.

If for some reason you end up spraying while inside your garage or basement – ventilate!!!  The propellants and such in these spray paints are not health-friendly!  I understand there are some low-VOC sprays out there – even with those, ventilate early and often, anyway!  Step away for your health – you don’t have to spray EVERYTHING in ten minutes flat!

I’ve learned during the house build experience that colors seen on a computer monitor or a phone/Kindle screen do not remotely resemble colors once you have them to hand.  Unless you are going basic black or basic white:  Go to the store and look at the cap of the spray can.    Then decide to buy in-store, or online.

Start with a primer close to your target color (or use a primer + paint).  Some of the “effects” paints are best primed then painted.  Also, I hear that you may have better staying power if you prime then paint as opposed to the two together, but I don’t know by how much, or how cost-effective that ultimately would be.  So… I got both elements together in the same spray cannisters.  Maybe in ten years I want to switch to Barbie Doll pink?  (Not terribly likely, but I might be in a mood for a change…)

For my particular project, I bought five cans of 12 ounce primer/paint spray paint.  As noted above.  This turned out to be about right, although a 6th might have helped with things one might miss.  Your project may vary as to how much you need to purchase, depending on the size and number of the items you are spraying.  I’d imagine that if you do a radical color change, you may wish to purchase a little more.  I merely guessed five would work for me — and was willing to return to the Big Box Hardware Store to acquire more, if necessary.  

Paint the underside of the table prior to the top side.  In all cases, use a gentle, back and forth spraying motion, slightly overlapping your previous pass.  Better to underspray than overspray – will dry better with less dripping, and you can always go back and get it again.  (I know I over-sprayed some areas…)  You may need to come in at different angles to get all parts of the latticing or other detail work.   Oh, spray from 8-12 inches away from the target surface.  I assume the reason the table should be sprayed underside first is that you can deal with any dripping better from the upside when you turn that table upright… and any little bits of underdrip from the top are probably fairly easily ignored.

homesteading, patio furniture, lawn furniture, wrought iron, refinishing, refurbishing

Topsy-turvy! Or, was it “bottoms up”?

I do remove under-drips – you can have a paper towel to hand, or you could do as I did, and just use your GLOVED hand to wipe it away.  Apparently, it won’t eat through your latex or nitrile glove.

Allow to dry between coats – time will depend on your temperature and humidity.  A couple hours is usually maximum needed. Considering my logistics and my mid-high 50 temps when I did this part, I waited overnight.

I didn’t bother with bottom touch-ups — except for areas of actual rust.  Tops are definitely important.

Homesteading, patio furniture,lawn furniture, wrought iron, refinishing, refurbishing

Arm rest of a chair, detail.

(Oh, an amusing note.  When I bought the spray paint, I had to show ID to prove I was above 18 years old.  I’m 65, and while I really do look younger than that, I definitely look older than being anywhere near being in my twenties…  I can buy alcohol easier than I can buy spray paint!

Why?  I assumed the problem was with graffiti artists, who, Banksy notwithstanding, are usually teens.  No – apparently there are idiots out there who want to get “high” on the fumes.  Considering how repulsive the stench is, I really, seriously, don’t “get” that!  Fortunately, I’m no longer a teen, and I could buy this stuff for its intended purpose..)


Once thoroughly dry, set the furniture into location, sit back and enjoy, with your beverage of choice.  Add in a few friends, and something like basted and roasted ribs and/or roasted veggies on the grill…

Next up, I’ll be finding a good umbrella with a solid stand to place in the table.  I’ll no doubt spray paint it (the stand, please!) the same color as the table.  I think I’m gonna go wild with the fabric choice!  (This is not likely to happen until next spring.  I mean… It’s October here now in New England!)


I’m not getting any kickback from Rust-oleum or any other product used in this post.  It’s just the go-to around product here, but if you prefer some other brand, please use it!

homesteading, wrought iron, patio, lawn, furniture, refinishing, refurbishing

Cleaned up and sprayed. Colors are off, as per what often happens on-line, but the hole for the future umbrella is smooth and awaiting next spring.

Here’s some random chickens for your amusement:  


Buff Orpington – Fimbrethil (a very good broody hen).


Silver Wyandotte x (probably) Orpington cross. Chickpea, a pullet.

chicken-kellogg out-small

Welsummer cockerel/rooster. Kellogg. Not sure if he will stay with the hens. He lacks manners.


Australorpe hen. Yasukai.

Loving the homesteading AND the cooking world.

Link parties:

Farm Fresh Tuesdays.  Homesteading and living on the land.  As you can.

Homestead Blog Hop.  More homesteading and loving that living on the land.

Fiesta Friday, where this week your co-hosts this week are Petra @ Food Eat Love and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook




About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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6 Responses to Refinishing/Refurbishing Old Wrought Iron Lawn Furniture

  1. I have an old set that looks similar to yours. I was close to disposing it so many times, but it’s still strong and usable so I think I’ll repaint instead. Thanks for the useful tutorial!

  2. petra08 says:

    What a transformation! I am so impressed you did all the work, they look like new! 🙂

  3. Melissa says:

    I had a set similar that I gave to my daughter. They last forever and can be repainted to match any decor. Lovely! My daughter’s set is now a pretty coastal blue color!
    Your color choice is really pretty!
    Thanks for sharing at Farm Fresh Tuesdays Blog Hop!
    Melissa | Little Frugal Homestead

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