Can We Just Finish Some Patio Furniture Please?

Thanks all for your nice words last week celebrating our blogiversary! We are kicking off this week with the long awaited completion of the patio furniture refurb project. We left off with a little teaser of where we were headed after finishing our first chair here.

before after chair teaser

The delay in completing the whole darn set came from a combination of weather (spray painting requires dry, non-windy weather!) and, more so, my cold that kept me from trudging down to the garage to continue the scraping and sanding ritual I will describe here. Sounds wimpy, but I am a wimpy wilty thing when I get sick; I experienced a “man cold” if you will (if you’re in a regular web browser watch the video link– it’s so funny!). This was all followed up by being out of town for a week for work, as well… but finally finally we have a patio set to enjoy out on the deck! (well, admittedly there is one chair left to finish- so close! but we are only two and so i figure we’re ahead of the game having three) So just to remind, the set was all green when we started… a wrought iron type table, 4 chairs and umbrella stand off Craiglist for $100.


At first I expected to scrub the set down with a wire brush and be on my merry spray painting way. But turns out the chairs (but thankfully not the table) had atleast 3 coats of chipping paint that really needed to be removed more thoroughly to guarantee a long-lasting final paint job. It was a ‘let’s just gut it out and do this right the first time’ sort of thing. So, trial and error with a variety of tools (even including a grill brush) got the job done and brought us to sort of a system.

tools combined

The scraper above on the right we had from when we refinished our floors in our Pittsburgh house and had to hand strip and scrape them to completely remove the shellac. This scraper proved quite excellent at roughing off the paint. It was just awkward to make it work on all the round, spindly bits, like the legs and such. But you can see a quick before and after here- it was pretty effective, just tedious. The scraper also had the benefit of not kicking up a lot of paint dust.

pre post leg scrape

In general the garage has looked like this through the process with piles of tiny paint chips and dust. Our plan was to use this as a good reason to next clean the garage and reorganize our tools that haven’t really been tended to much since the move. But it was nice to have a work area that could just kind of hang out that way until we were (practically) done. The last chair can get finished easily out on the driveway because it’s 90% stripped currently… hmm, maybe by November?

mid work garage mess

If we used just the scraper only to reach everything possible we ended up with this…

chair post scraping

The next step involved a combination of wire brush attachments on the drill, primarily this cup shaped brush and wheel shaped brushes. We also used a stripping drill attachment (the black spongey looking circle pictured with the rest of the tools above). In the background of this wire brush shot is also a heat gun which we experimented with ($15 purchase) but I wasn’t convinced it really helped us very much. Does make paint peel away, but not very efficient and you still have to scrape and flake it off.

spin cup brushing

We weren’t worried about the aggressiveness of the wires brushes or the scraper because we finished every surface with the mouse electric sander with course  (80-120 grit?) sand paper. This did an excellent job at smoothing out the seat and back surfaces as well as the rounded surfaces and was also quite good at removing any extra paint. If you used the mouse alone to remove a lot of paint, it just went through sanding pads really fast. So that’s why we settled on doing a thorough job with the manual scraping first- made our wire brushing and sander much more effective. Plus these later steps were very dusty and usually required a mask (=sweaty face).

mouse sanding

If you really want to get crazy, there’s even wire brush wheel attachments for the Dremel which were useful to get any flaky bits in the detailed parts of the chair. We didn’t go crazy with this, but like I said, we experimented with about everything we had or could find!

ocd dremel detail

After the electric wire brushing and electric mouse sander, the chairs looked pretty dang good- free of 98% of all green paint!

chair post brush and mouse

The last step was to hand sand all the surfaces quickly with a sponge/block sander for good measure. Then we washed each piece down to get all the excess dust off. The table was originally green (vs. white that the chairs were). It seemed to be from a different set/newer purchase, so it only required minimal scraping and quick sanding to get loose pieces off. You could use a hose to wash things down, but we just used a big sponge and a bucket of water since we don’t have a hose hooked up out front yet.

wash down table

Chad set up a nice spray paint station out behind our fence against the trees using extra plywood from Ollie’s insulated house project (another thing we have to actually finish this summer- trim, paint, shingles…).

spray paint zone

I debated a charcoal or oil-rubbed bronze (ORB) finish and the latter won. We want this stuff to last for ages, so we opted for the pricier ‘paint and primer in one’ Rust-oleum in ORB at $7.57 a can.


Chad is the official spray painter in the household. Though I’m sure I could do fine with these, I did botch a spray-paint project pretty bad once so I just let him have this one 🙂 The trick is multiple very light coats applied in short bursts at all angles. (We used masks and glasses for a lot of the paint removal process- sanding in particular- so that is why Chad is wearing eye protection here. I don’t think he was actually concerned about getting rogue paint specks in his eyes). Also, these pictures make it look like Chad did all of the work- this was definitely a team effort and I did a lot of the grunt work! I just happen to be the one who wields the camera… just sayin’

spray painting start

The nice thing about spray paint is that you actually are supposed to recoat quickly, instead of painting a wall where you have to wait for it to dry before recoating. So, we completed a light first coat and let it sit for about 20 minutes, seen below, then kept on with the light coats…

paint coat 1
In the end, we bought 6 cans of spray paint for the table, umbrella stand and 4 chairs which should get us through the last chair and some touch-ups. We also got these little cups to replace the inserts at the foot of each chair (the ones on the table were still in good shape). It’s these kinds of things at $2.39 per pack that really put the finishing touches on a tired old Craiglist find. We kind of chiseled the old ones out that were totally shot and these fresh ones just press in and keep the furniture from scraping around on your patio or deck.

leg cups

After 48 hours in the garage, the paint was cured and had a really great finish. And now we can enjoy dining outside!

finished patio set

As for costs, we ended up spending $55 in paint and plastic feet, plus about $25 in extra mouse sanding pads, wire brushes and the stripping attachment for the drill, as well as the $100 we spent on the furniture set off Craiglist, for a grant total of $180 for a metal patio set (complete with umbrella stand!) that will hopefully be with us a good long time. Having gotten to this point, I think I might seriously consider a sand blaster to remove this much paint on such awkward pieces, but once we were deep in the manual process, it seemed silly to invest in that kind of purchase and process (we don’t have a frequent need for a sand-blaster after all). But anyway, compared to the similar patio sets I’ve seen online for $700 and $800, I think we did pretty good. We’ll finish up that darn 4th chair some weekend after things settle down, but for now I’m thrilled with three chairs to choose from for dining al fresco or just hanging out to watch the veggies grow 🙂

8 thoughts on “Can We Just Finish Some Patio Furniture Please?

    • Not sure yet, I need to do some looking around. It would be nice to get a cheery print if I could find something like that since we went pretty neutral with the paint. I could eventually make some cushions too so would be good to coordinate those two things… don’t think I can DIY an umbrella :-/

  1. Hi, It is such fun to read about how you two work together. You did alot of work but the finished product was very nice. I suppose you needed three chairs so Ollie has a chair too, ha. Anyway they look so nice and you have done a wonderful job. You did get a bargain. I like bargains too. I am Dutch so you know what I mean. Keep sending us blogs. We love reading about you and your projects. Love you both. Grandma See you soon.

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