How to paint your old patio furniture

At a time when we all need our money to go that little bit further, what better way to do it than to recycle and reuse our old patio furniture?

At a time when we all need our money to go that little bit further, what better way to do it than to recycle and reuse our old patio furniture? Make do and Mend may seem old-fashioned, especially as the term was first coined during World War II, but since the recent financial troubles, doing it yourself is back in fashion. Just a year or so back, the leading high-street department store, John Lewis, launched its Make Do & Mend booklet based on the advice that thrifty individuals followed in the 1940s. Packed with practical tips, it was a mid-recession success. So why don't you become what the media have recently termed a 'recessionista' and start by giving that tired-looking garden furniture a little make-do and mend makeover? And if you insist on new garden furniture, then please make sure it's Lazy Susan all the way... You know it's the right choice! Anyway, back to the revamping old before I start giving it the old hard sell...

Plastic/PVC Patio Furniture

The first thing to do is clean your plastic garden furniture and the method is a little different from how you'd clean your inside furniture... Any good commercial cleaner, soap and water or Tri Sodium Phosphate (TSP) will work well for cleaning outside plastic/PVC garden furniture. TSP is stronger than most other cleaners and will remove quite a few of the marks and stains that build up from being left outside. TSP is also good for preparing the surface of the furniture for repainting, but be sure you let your furniture dry well before doing any more work on it. If you sand wet paint the sanding residue will cling as a paste and flake off after the fresh paint has dried. Also, a toothbrush and toothpaste will remove many stains or marks, even waxy marks from white plastic/PVC garden furniture.

Once clean and completely dry, take a medium fine sandpaper and feather the edges of any chips or scratches. An application of liquid de-glosser will also save you a lot of time and work over sanding with sandpaper on flat surfaces, although TSP will usually leave a painted surface in paintable condition liquid de-glosser or liquid sandpaper will always beat any other method for surface preparation. The liquid de-glosser will clean any wax or grease missed by just cleaning alone. The liquid de-glosser or liquid sandpaper will save you a significant amount of elbow grease in terms of actually sanding your furniture smooth and ready for paint. If there are any bare spots they should be primed and feathered, then the furniture should be primed. Either a spray or brush on primer will do the job. And finally, using a good quality exterior paint, either spray cans or brush-on paint will work fine (although spray paint will leave a much smoother finish and no brush marks, just be careful with drips) to give you some new looking patio or deck furniture at a fraction of the cost of new furniture.

Wooden Garden Furniture

Patio furniture generally tends to get the brunt of the UK's bad weather. Paint will chip away after time and ruin the look of your wooden garden furniture leaving it tired and tatty. And because garden furniture is subjected to the elements, you must use the right type of paint to give it maximum protection from Mother Nature. Avoid using the same paint you use for the interior of your home, because the outside moisture will cause this paint to chip. Paint on a dry day with low humidity levels to help aid the drying process. Choose a paint colour for the furniture that fits with your home and outdoor space, blends in with the natural surroundings or makes a bold design statement. Bolder colours will jump out but will fade faster than more muted natural shades. Take a swatch of your outdoor patio furniture fabric with you to the DIY store if you want to match/coordinate the colours. Choose a good quality outdoor enamel paint and thin it with a little water for the first coat. Pour the paint into a paint tray and add enough water so it is a nice runny consistency.

Place the furniture on plastic and not on the grass to paint, because the paint will harm the grass if it splatters. Start by applying a semitransparent stain to the wood before painting to prolong the life of the wood and help further protect it from the sun and rain, then leave it to fully dry. Then paint the top coat of the furniture with a natural bristle brush. Allow the top coat to dry thoroughly, which in the UK on a nice warm day will generally take up to several hours. Lightly sand the top coat with a fine sandpaper to help the second coat adhere to the top coat. Brush off the sand and paint flakes with a small brush and then apply the second coat of paint. Paint in one direction to avoid brush streaks and be vigilant for drips/paint running. Place the freshly painted garden furniture in a dry area to dry completely. Examine the furniture and decide if you want the colour to be more vibrant or if you need to touch up any missed areas. Repaint or place in your desired location.  Keep pets away from drying paint by keeping them indoors or painting in a secured area.

Metal Garden Furniture

As with wood and plastic, metal patio furniture can also suffer the effects of harsh weather conditions, resulting in rust or faded paintwork. It is easy to paint metal patio furniture, as long as you remove any rust or chipping paint first. Never just paint over and hope the problem goes away. Exterior metal paint will protect the furniture from the elements and prevent the metal from rusting in the future. Storing patio furniture indoors during winter will also help to prevent extreme wear and tear. All you need to get started is a wire brush, some fine-grit sandpaper, a bucket filled with warm water, washing-up liquid, soft cloth, a lint-free towel, a few pieces of cardboard, a painting tray, a good quality exterior primer, small paintbrush and a good quality exterior metal paint.

Start by removing any cushions from the furniture and pop them to one side. Scrub away any rust spots with the wire brush, and if the furniture already has a coat of paint, check for any chipped areas and them down with fine-grit sandpaper until the spots are smooth and there are no rough edges. Fill a bucket with warm water and add a little washing-up liquid. Then using a clean lint-free cloth, wipe down the furniture to remove any sanding dust. Rinse the cloth in cold water and wipe the furniture again to remove any soapy residue. Then again wipe the furniture with a clean dry lint-free cloth/towel.

To paint, start by moving all the pieces of garden furniture into a shaded part of the garden and place them on top of pieces of cardboard to protect your patio, decking etc. Fill your paint tray with your choice of exterior primer and paint the entire surface of the furniture with one coat, using a small paintbrush. Let it dry according to the directions on the tin. Rinse out the paint tray and let it drip dry while the primer also dries. When completely dry, paint the entire surface of the furniture with your exterior metal paint. Let this dry according to the paint manufacturer's directions and add another coat if the colour is not dark enough. You should also consider using an outdoor spray paint if your furniture has intricate surfaces as this method provides a far superior finish.

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