How to Spray Paint Metal Furniture

When you’re looking to upcycle a well-loved piece of furniture to provide a necessary update, spray painting is a fantastic way to go.

It’s relatively inexpensive, requires no equipment, and takes less time to dry on average.

Provided you follow the directions on the can, ensure you properly prepare the furniture for painting and take care to protect yourself and the surroundings, you’ll be absolutely fine.

If you’ve never spray painted or worked with metal, here’s a guide.

Things you will need:

  • Tarp, dust sheet, newspaper or drop cloth to protect work area
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Brand new rag
  • Painters tape
  • Wire brush/sandpaper (potentially)
  • Metal paint primer
  • Spray paint of choice
  • Sealer
  • Mask, glove and goggles (optional but highly recommended)
painting metal furniture

Painting Metal Furniture – Step By Step

  1. Either working outside or in a well ventilated area, lay down your protective sheet or newspaper. Secure with tape if necessary, to avoid slipping and sliding, then place your furniture centrally and roll up your sleeves!
  2. Time to clean! Your paint will take best on a surface that is free of any debris, rusting, oils, grease or other potential obstacles. Using an all-purpose cleaner and a clean rag, thoroughly wipe down the item, taking care to get in every nook and cranny – that’s what you want the paint to do, after all!
  3. Now everything is clean and ready to go, inspect the furniture – if you notice any signs of rusting, flaking or cracked areas, rub the affected area firmly but gently with a wire brush or fine-grit sandpaper until the surface is smooth.
  4. Re-wipe everything with a clean damp cloth, and then thoroughly dry down, as it’s time for priming! Don’t proceed until the furniture is bone dry though, or the primer won’t work as well.
  5. Apply two even coats of metal paint primer – this ensures that any discoloration, rusting, irregularities or stains will be successfully hidden when you apply the spray paint. If your furniture has large patches of visible corrosion from rusting, it’s worth investing in a quality brand of Rust Reformer, as this provides an additional layer of cover to help the paint take.
  6. Gently rub the surface of the metal all over with sandpaper – not so much that you’re actively scraping off filings, but just enough to scuff the very top of its surface, allowing the paint to bond better and penetrate deeper than it would if it remained shiny. Have the image of brushed nickel in mind and aim for that!
  7. Using your painter’s tape, cover up any areas of the item that you don’t want to get paint on. Sure, you could just spray and hope for the best, but this ensures a neat and tidy finish, and you get to enjoy the really satisfying part of pulling the tape off after!
  8. First things first – put on your mask, gloves and goggles – it’s better to be safe than sorry! Vigorously shake your can of spray paint and ensure everything is thoroughly mixed up and ready to go. Aiming roughly ten-eleven inches (30 centimeters) away from the furniture, spray in a continuous motion, moving back and forth and overlapping a little on every single spot. You’ll get a full, even coating this way, so don’t be too liberal with the paint.
  9. Time to take a break! Make yourself a drink and rest for an hour whilst you wait for the first coat to dry. After 60 minutes have passed, check if it’s dry to the touch. If so, proceed to give it a complete second coat all over – this not only keeps things even, but provides a stronger color overall, especially if you’re using a lustrous silver or gold paint.
  10. At this point, you’re going to want to give it 24 full hours to sit and dry fully before you return it back to its rightful spot in your home newly made over.
  11. Bonus step – if you want to give your furniture the best chance of keeping its shiny new coat of paint as neat and chip free as possible, consider applying a coat of clear paint sealer after the 24 hour drying period. This protects the paint and also makes it a little more water resistant, to avoid future corrosion opportunities!

Spray Painting Tips – Paint Like A Pro

  • Don’t neglect the cleaning stage: You might be tempted to skip the thorough spray down and drying we recommended before you paint, especially with older furniture, but it’s highly important if you want an even, blemish free finish. Don’t believe us? Proceed with caution!
  • Avoid over spraying: Too much paint is going to be a big problem – you’ll notice small droplets form and begin to roll down the surface, creating track marks and drying to leave irregularities, which you absolutely do not want.
  • Pay attention to recoat times: It’s always worth checking the instructions on the can of paint you’re using, even if you’re spray painted countless times before. By following their specific instructions for drying any reapplying further coats, you’ll be more likely to succeed
  • Test your technique – practise makes perfect: Get yourself some cardboard or another flat surface you can practise your spraying techniques on. This means you’ll know what you’re doing and are far less likely to overspray zealously if you’ve never painted furniture before, and you’ll figure out exactly how much pressure you need to put onto the nozzle.
  • Use good quality paint: This one kind of goes without saying, but you should pick up a decent furniture spray paint from a reputable brand; even better if it clearly states that it’s suitable for or works well on metal furniture. Cheap paint that’s designed to do another job is only going to ruin your item, not give it a hot new look!
  • Always shake the can!: Spray paint requires all of the ingredients to be thoroughly mixed in order to successfully spray and evaporate the solvents inside! Never forget to shake your can before you spray, for at least fifteen seconds.

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