Three Glens, Dumfries:  Terrace by Mark Waghorn Design

​How to paint your outdoor furniture

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Any DIY project needs to be approached with a certain amount of thinking involved, seeing as there are always a bunch of things to consider. But once temperamental weather gets added to the mix, that thinking-list suddenly becomes quite longer. 

So, how do you prepare your external furniture for painting? What type of paint do you use? How does it differ for different types of material?

Relax: the process of painting outdoor furniture might seem daunting, but a decent dose of preparation is sure to set you on the right path – and ensure stunning results.

Let’s take it from the top…

1. The supplies you will need

Rear Garden:  Terrace by CATO creative
CATO creative

Rear Garden

CATO creative

Depending on the state of the furniture (e.g. new wood, old plastic, painted metal, painted wood) and the type of paint chosen, a variety of items should be considered.

If using brush-on paint, consider using a primer before applying a new fresh coat of colour. When priming your furniture, make sure to use a good quality paintbrush and rags or drop cloths for clean-up. 

If you are repainting a metal or wood surface that has loose peeling paint, it needs to be removed for best adhesion. Sandpaper, steel wool, wire brush, scraper, or a paint-stripper can be used for this. 

You may require a tack cloth to clean up dust residue when sanding. If sanding a latex paint, a simple damp rag will work just fine.

2. Prepping

Please note that these steps will differ when prepping materials, as some products don't require primer, saving you a prep step. Using an aerosol is also a huge advantage, as you also save a step in the prep. It generally dries faster and doesn't require clean-up since no paint brushes are involved. 

Even better, aerosols tend to give a factory-style, air brush finish when applied properly, as opposed to brush-on paint. 

Bare wood generally requires a primer to seal the wood prior to painting as the surface is porous. The primer is used to provide a nice, smooth finish.

3. The type of paint to use

Be sure to stick with the directions on the label for specific product use. This will ensure proper adhesion to your surface. 

Plastic patio furniture should only have a paint specifically designed to adhere to plastic and hard-to-bond surfaces. Many general purpose paints can adhere to most surfaces except plastic.

For wicker or rattan, spray paints tend to ensure a nicer finish and easily get into the grooves. Muskoka or Adirondack chairs are also easier to paint when using an aerosol as opposed to a paint brush. 

Spray stains make fast work of Muskoka chairs and planters, as there are no brushes to clean up afterwards.

4. Rust prevention

Upper Falls Condo 603:  Terrace by Uptic Studios
Uptic Studios

Upper Falls Condo 603

Uptic Studios

Paint designed especially for metal surfaces tends to add rust protection into the paint – just make sure that the paint says rust proofing or rust inhibiting

As our climate changes, U.V. rays are also a consideration—they're hard on both our skin and our exterior patio furniture! Some paints actually have U.V. protection in their paint, which will help protect your finish to resist harsh weather conditions. 

It is recommended that you store patio furniture during autumn and winter when not in use. If space is a problem, a variety of covers and tarps are available to help protect your investment.

5. Painting methods

The best method of painting usually depends on personal preference. However, some surfaces, like wicker and rattan, have a nicer finish when sprayed as opposed to brushed. 

Have a look at our supreme range of terraces here on homify to inspire some outdoor style in you.

6. What kind of finish to use

Most paint companies offer a variety of finishes to choose from—satin, gloss, textured, metallic, hammered, and more. As long as you use an appropriate paint for your exterior surface and follow the instructions, you should achieve the finish you want.

7. How many coats to use

Restoration of Edwardian Home with Extensive Additions Blended Seamlessly:  Terrace by Des Ewing Residential Architects
Des Ewing Residential Architects

Restoration of Edwardian Home with Extensive Additions Blended Seamlessly

Des Ewing Residential Architects

Even though many paints suggest two coatings, it’s best to check the instructions on the can. 

When painting, always remember this rule of thumb: Thinner coats are better than thicker coats, as they dry faster and produce a harder finish.

Need a helping hand? Our list of professional painters could help…

8. What to look for in a brush

Is it the right paint brush for your paint? Oil-based paints generally have different bristles than latex paints. However, the brush label is sure to point you in the right direction. 

Is the paint brush the right size for your project? If you are painting furniture, smaller brushes may be better. Just ensure it fits into your paint container.

For large, flat surfaces like tabletops, it’s best to go with a roller, which can help to reduce brush marks as well.

9. How does climate come into the picture?

 Terrace by FingerHaus GmbH
FingerHaus GmbH

VIO 302—Terrasse

FingerHaus GmbH

Weather definitely plays a big role. For the most part, if you're getting sunburn and sweating, it's probably too hot to paint. This will also cause the paint to dry too fast. 

If it's too windy and you're using an aerosol paint, your paint may dissipate before it reaches the surface. Either wait for the wind to die down or use cardboard to build a spray tunnel. 

Humidity can affect the paint's dry time, which leaves more time for surface imperfections to take place on your finish. In general, 21ºC and about 50% humidity are considered perfect painting conditions.

10. Last tips

Three Glens, Dumfries:  Terrace by Mark Waghorn Design
Mark Waghorn Design

Three Glens, Dumfries

Mark Waghorn Design

Always be sure to protect other surfaces by using masking tape and drop cloths. Most importantly, regardless of your project, remember to always read product labels thoroughly and follow directions.

Good luck, and have fun! 

Can’t decide on a colour? Leave it to the stars… have a look at Which paint colour is perfect for your Zodiac sign?

What other tips do you have for us to make patio (furniture) painting a picnic?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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