How to Fix Old Rusty Metal Furniture & Make It Stunning

3 Materials
3 Hours

Do you have outdoor furniture that’s seen better days? If you’ve got metal patio furniture, maybe it’s a little rusty or a lot rusty. Scroll down and see what my chair looked like before the makeover.

I purchased this chair from the vintage market a couple of years ago. Would you believe I was actually drawn to the aqua blue color and the bits of rust?

As you know we love old, worn and vintage items that have a sense of history. Well if you’ve had anything start to rust before, you know how quickly it can spread.

As a result of my chair sitting out in the elements, this worn vintage chair soon looked too shabby and was no longer chic. In fact, you couldn’t even sit on it anymore, because the rust would transfer to your clothes.

Obviously, a makeover was in order. So with a little elbow grease, we were able to rid this vintage chair of its rust and breathe new life into old rusty furniture.

Can you see the beauty of this piece of furniture hiding under all of this rust?



  • Rust-oleum Rust Reformer
  • All Surface Exterior Spray Paint
  • Frog tape

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As you can see, my rusty furniture needed prep work before we could paint.

Now my sweet husband is not really a fan of painting or refinishing furniture. However, with my busy schedule he offered to use the grinder to remove the rust. Clearly I wasn’t going to turn down his offer.

Depending on the condition of your outdoor furniture you may not need to sand.

If the paint is not flaking and the metal surface is not pitted you can skip this step and just apply Rust-oleum’s Rust Reformer. It will convert the rust into a protected paintable surface.

Steve used a “flap disk” (60 grit) on the grinder to remove the chipping paint and rust.

In addition to the grinder, we also used wire brush attachments on the drill to remove paint and rust.

As you can see the wire brush will fit into small areas the grinder will not.

After we had removed the chipping paint and rust, we used a damp cloth to wipe down the chair.

If you decide that you do not need to sand or grind your rusty furniture, be sure to clean your piece well before applying the Rust Reformer.

This will ensure that the primer and paint will adhere well to your surface.

While there are many spray paints with primer, from my experience when working with rusty furniture you’ll want to use a product that will stop the rust from spreading.

That is exactly what this product from Rust-oleum does, it converts the rusty areas on your furniture to a protected paintable surface.

Apply the Rust Reformer on all sides of the rusty metal furniture.

Spray in long strokes, pressing and releasing the nozzle at the beginning and end of each pass.

This will ensure that you will not get paint runs on your surface.

To ensure that your metal furniture will stay looking good for years to come, choose an exterior spray paint.

In the same way the Rust Reformer was applied, apply 2 coats of spray paint, using long strokes, pulling the trigger slightly off the piece and releasing the trigger at the end of the stroke.

Additionally, make sure you hold the paint can 6-12 inches from your furniture and do 2 light coats.

In my opinion, nothing is worse than trying to rush a project by applying the paint to heavy and then getting runs in the finish.

Also, I must say that I love the trigger pull of the Universal spray paint. I found that I had much less hand fatigue.

In fact, I wish all spray paint cans had this feature.

For the leg and arm piece of this chair, I chose a contrasting color.

I think adding little details to a painted piece really make it unique and fun.

Since my chair had embossed arrow markings on the chair, I thought it would be fun to make them more prominent.

So using my favorite Frog Tape I masked off the chair, revealing the design.

Then I applied the contrasting black spray paint.

Once the design was completely painted, I remove the masking tape.

Anytime you use masking tape, it’s important to remove the tape while the paint is still wet.

This will prevent the paint from pulling off when the tape is removed.

Oh my goodness! Don’t you love the way my chair turned out. I believe that I love it more than when I first saw this rusty chair.

Without a doubt, it still has that vintage vibe that I love, and it looks so good out on my patio.

Creating a space in your yard where you can relax and enjoy nature is so good for the soul. For more ideas see out 30+ Backyard Patio Ideas.

Do you have old rusty furniture just waiting to be restored? Please Tell us about it, we’d love to hear.

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Thanks for spending some time with us today!

And as always here at Sunny Side Design


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Suggested materials:
  • Rust-oleum Rust Reformer   (Home Depot)
  • Spray paint   (Home Depot)
  • Frog Tape   (Home Depot)
Sunny Side Design
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  2 questions
  • Patty Casey Patty Casey on Aug 09, 2021

    was the chair arms separated from the back and seat of the chair?

  • Kelly Kelly on Sep 07, 2021

    How did you get the arrows cut out without harming the already painted chair

Join the conversation
4 of 5 comments
  • William William on Aug 09, 2021

    Amazing save. Looks great. Kind of a mid century modern with the arrows. Gives it character. Great job

    • Sunny Side Design Sunny Side Design on Aug 10, 2021

      Thank you so much William. It does have that mid century vibe from the 50's. I am loving the way it looks now.

  • CynthiaBarr CynthiaBarr on Aug 27, 2021

    love the chair. the chair is so cute, i would lose the pillow.

    • Sunny Side Design Sunny Side Design on Aug 27, 2021

      Isn’t it a fun vintage piece? Yes you’d likely lose the pillow to sit in it, but it gave a little color for the picture 😉