Can you use chalk paint for outdoor furniture?

There’s definitely a big trend in our homes and gardens for chalk paint. On stone, brickwork, fencing and especially furniture. So, can you use chalk paint for outdoor furniture?

Good question, and one I wanted to explore a little further. Our garden furniture is designed to stand up to the elements, and it has a protective painted coating that protects the cast aluminium from the rain and snow. If kept clean and protected, it should last a decade or more.

Outdoor Furniture Chalk Paint
Lazy Susan offer a white finish that is perfect for achieving a romantic style but can you achieve this with chalk paint?

However, it is a painted finish, so you must watch for scratches and paint chips…

Touch them up if you spot any! Feet are susceptible, especially if placed on a rough stone patio, so make sure (chairs in particular) are regularly flipped and checked. If you leave a a paint chip unchecked it could be come a problem.

Cast aluminium doesn’t rust or rot as easily as other metals but if moisture gets under the painted surface it can compromise it. These are all what, ifs and buts. Look after it, use our Touch Up Kits if need be, and that furniture can sit outside in all weather just like a car.

In terms of maintenance, aside from touching up any chips and scratches, just a wipe down with warm soapy water will suffice. Maybe a light coat of car wax or baby oil to restore the lustre to our painted finish and further help moisture bead off the surface. Pretty simply really.

Why would you want to use chalk paint on your outdoor furniture?

What if you have a set that as say 7+ years old, you’ve not really bothered maintaining it and it is looking worse for wear? Can you use chalk paint to bring it back to life? Make do and mend so to speak.

We often get asked if our garden furniture can be painted. And not just because it has been neglected and weathered, just because they fancy a change too. They may have purchased an antique bronze set but want to go for something a little different. Maybe an off white, Paris grey or duck egg blue?

A customer before and after a little wipe down with baby oil
A customer before and after a little wipe down with baby oil

Some of us, myself included in this, are guilty of neglect. We start with the best intentions. Life gets in the way etc. You think I’ll clean it next weekend, and then never get around to it. Once it’s left for a year, then it soon becomes 3 and so on.

Like anything left exposed to the elements for a number of years, it will start to show its age. Often nothing more than a good clean is needed as shown on the customer photo above. This chair had been left for a number of years. A good wash with warm soapy water and baby oil was all that’s been done here.

But if you do fancy painting, then chalk paint might be the way to go.

Upcycling is a trend that has really taken hold over the last decade or so too. taking an old piece of furniture and giving it a new lease of life. Outdoor furniture is an area where this has proven to be extremely popular.

There’s some stunning vintage pieces from the 60’s and 70’s that can be brought back to life by a fresh coat of paint. You might want to go antique metal? You might find a bargain on eBay or at the local second hand store or market that style wise is perfect but it is looking a little worse for wear.

By upcycling you can save yourself money and the planet at the same time!

So can you revive your garden furniture?

Painting is the nuclear option I suppose. No going back once you start. Of course we’d like you to buy new. I’d most definitely try to revive before you paint too. You’d be surprised what a good clean can achieve as the photo above illustrates. However, if the paint is compromised, and there is no other option, or if you simply fancy a change of colour, then keep reading…

What is Chalk Paint?

Besides its beautiful matte finish, chalk paint differs from traditional paint in several ways. One of the main benefits being that it doesn’t require any prep work such as sanding and undercoats of primer. It is essentially a self primer

You can paint right over most clean, dry surfaces even if they’re already painted. It is extremely versatile. When dry, the paint can be distressed too, which is an asset (or not) depending on your desired look. Chalk paint is incredibly durable when cured and when you add a wax or water-based polyurethane protective finish it will more than stand up to the elements.

However, when it comes to metal outdoor furniture and chalk paint, you need to purchase the right type for it to adhere…

How to pain Chalk Paint on Outdoor Furniture

Now I’m no DIY expert. I will always have a go but I’m not knowledgeable enough to advise others. My best piece of advice is always try before you commit. Flip a chair over and test on the underside where it won’t be seen before you paint the whole piece. However, I would start with these great videos I found on YouTube before you do anything:

But trust me it is so easy, I have painted an old bench myself. I’ll post some pictures when I get the chance to snap them. There was barely any prep work needed. The hardest part of the job was getting all the built up muck and grime out of the more ornate parts of the metalwork.

I did start by giving it a little light sand just to smooth out a few lumps, bumps, chips and flakes. This was also advised to help the paint adhere better but I’m not sure you definitely need to do it. After the sanding I again wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and then left it for a few hours in the garage to fully dry.

However, when it came to the painting the chalk paint went on with ease. It applied very easily and compared to say a spray can was actually a nice product to work with. It has a great consistency so it goes on smooth and doesn’t drip, run or show too many brush marks. Any brush marks I did have were smoothed out with the second coat.

I think what did help me was I invested in a good brush. It makes a massive difference. I opted for a this specialist kit from Amazon, and despite it being more expensive than say a DIY own brand (although cheaper than many of the chalk paint brands own brushes), it is by far and away the best I could find for the job. With it being a kit it gave me a number of different sizes and options and the quality of the brushes themselves was spot on.

Also, getting the right chalk paint is important. I’ve only used one, so can’t comment on other brands, but I had great success painting my antique metal garden bench with Rust-Oleum’s Chalked as it was available in my local DIY store and they had the exact colour we were looking for. As I mentioned above, I tested it on the under side of the bench first. I tried a few colours and it was easy to sand off the ones I didn’t want.

In terms of the paint, I used Rust-Oleum’s special garden furniture paint that I picked up from a local decorating centre. The videos below are from Rust-Oleum and they offer some great tips, tricks and how you can achieve the popular vintage distressed finish. But please shop around. Find the right colour, get a test pot and try before you commit!

If you’ve got any further questions with regard to chalk painting, drop them in the comments and we’ll try to answer them. In the future I’m sure will explore this subject further, maybe have a look at some other methods of paining/restoring old garden furniture, so please watch this space!

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