Painting a Vintage Metal Lawn Chair

3 Materials
2 Days

Refresh a vintage lawn chair with paint to give it an instant face lift and protect it from the elements.

I picked up this vintage metal lawn chair for $15 four years ago. It’s served as a plant stand, a photo prop for flowers, and as a seat to sit to watch the hummingbirds zip around the Potting Shed.

I loved the patina and faded color on the arms of the chair.

The arms originally appeared to have been painted white and there’s also a hint of a green paint layer underneath.

The chair is still in good shape with mainly surface rust. I decided it was time to give it a couple of coats of paint to help protect it and give it a face lift. I gave the chair a good rinse, wiping it down to remove any debris and allowed it dry thoroughly before painting. If you have any flaking paint, you would want to sand or scrape these areas well before painting.

Note: Take proper precautions and determine if your vintage chair has lead paint before any sanding and scraping.

I had some leftover She Shades, a chalk-based paint formulated for exterior surfaces, that I used to refresh a garden planter and a birdbath. One of the benefits of using chalk paint, is that it adheres to metal without priming. The other benefit of chalk paint is how quickly it dries, in an hour or less, especially outdoors in the summer heat. I gave chair two coats, allowing the paint to dry between coats.

I started with a base coat of “Pastoral Rouge,” a vibrant red color that’s cheery and bright.

I decided I wanted to highlight the texture of the metal chair, in keeping with its vintage style. I dry brushed a layer of “Farmhouse Linens” and then “Evening Eucalyptus” on top of the “Pastoral Rouge”.

If you’re not familiar with ‘dry brushing’, it’s a paint technique using an almost dry brush to apply paint.

Dip the ends of your brush in the paint, then blot your brush on a some paper towels or newspaper (I used a piece of cardboard), wiping most of the paint off, before lightly dragging your brush over the surface. Experiment your dry brushing technique on a scrap piece of wood or on an inconspicuous spot before beginning.

Dry brushing takes very little paint. Even after three painting projects, you can see from the jar how little green paint I’ve actually used.

dry brushing to highlight texture of metal
Vintage metal chair refreshed with paint

Even though the chalk paint dries quickly, I waited a day to just to make sure the paint was completely dry before adding a sealer. I chose a flat clear sealer and sprayed on a couple of coats to help protect and prolong the paint finish from the elements. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the can of sealer for drying time and applying additional coats. The sealer I used dries in 10 minutes, drying to handle in one hour. 

Here is the chair with her new finish and sitting pretty with a sunflower pillow. More photos and details at the blog post below.

Resources for this project:

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Mary @ Home is Where the Boat Is
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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  2 questions
  • Vickie Vickie on Sep 13, 2019

    beautiful! I have a metal glider similar but hubby took it to sandblaster/ paint shop and it is the bright shiny red so can't redo -- BUT I noticed the watering can sunflowers -- did you paint those? it is beautiful!

  • CapnChaos CapnChaos on Sep 13, 2019

    So all that surface rust wasn't sanded off prior to painting? Is there any fear of that causing paint chipping?


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2 of 8 comments
  • Deb Deb on Oct 07, 2019

    Looks great!! Good job 👍

  • Suellen Hintz Suellen Hintz on Jun 18, 2021

    I’m waiting to get my parent's 70 year old metal chairs back from the auto body and paint shop. Had them first sandblasted. We’re going for a more durable finish because of the sentimental value to my family. My brother had them painted about 20 years ago and they’ve lived on a covered porch, though we’re located in a coastal town.