Painting metal furniture can bring old or vintage items back to life, or put a new spin on a previously painted piece.

Good news! There are Benjamin Moore products specifically formulated for metal, so you can ensure the highest-quality outcome for any piece of metal furniture you are eager to paint.

A white-painted living room with a black-framed door, modern black, white and red decor, and a fireplace. A white-painted living room with a black-framed door, modern black, white and red decor, and a fireplace.

Ready to Learn How to Paint Metal Furniture?

Metal furniture can add comfort and style to your outdoor space or lend an industrial edge to any inside room. Whether you want to learn how to paint outdoor metal furniture or have an interior piece that needs an update, a new coat of paint offers a colourful refresh.

Benjamin Moore’s premium quality, direct-to-metal coatings have the power to transform metal furniture and keep it looking its best. We’ve got you covered with a look at everything from how to prep metal furniture for paint to how to paint metal patio furniture, and more.

Step #1: Assess the Metal

Before you start prepping your metal furniture or even pick your painting products, assess the metal for type and condition.

There are two types of metal typically used for furniture:

  1. Ferrous metal contains iron. Think heavier furniture made of wrought iron or steel.
  2. Non-ferrous metal, like aluminum or copper, is more lightweight, and does not contain iron.

Look for the presence of rust or corrosion, which will determine the prep you’ll need prior to painting your metal furniture.


Key Watchout

Not sure what kind of metal your furniture is made from? If your furniture is very light, it is likely aluminum and non-ferrous.

If your metal furniture is heavy, or if a magnet attracts to your piece, it likely contains iron and is ferrous.

Step #2: Clean and Prep

When it comes to painting metal furniture, especially how to paint rusted furniture, cleaning is an essential step. It’s especially important to remove any loose rust or oil and grease. Any type of metal should be clean, free of rust, dry, and dull before painting.

  • Start by placing a drop cloth around your space.
  • To clean ferrous metal furniture, use a degreaser to remove grease. Clean with either a power washer or damp rags and warm water. Follow this with a wire brush and rinse thoroughly with fresh water.
  • You can clean non-ferrous metal the same way as ferrous metal, but do not use a wire brush. Using a wire brush can scratch or damage non-ferrous metal.
  • If there is existing paint on the metal furniture, you have a few options. You can sand it, use a chemical stripper to remove the paint or just paint over the existing paint if it’s stable.
  • If there is peeling paint or rust you want to remove and you opt to sand your metal furniture to smooth the surface, use medium 180- to 220-grit sandpaper and a sanding sponge for non-ferrous metal (aluminum), or coarse 80-grit sandpaper to sand paint off ferrous metal like wrought iron or steel.
  • If your metal furniture is lightly rusted, cleaning and sanding it should adequately prepare it for painting.
  • If your metal furniture is extremely rusted, you must prime it after cleaning and sanding to seal the surface.

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Helpful Tip

You can rent a power washer if you don’t own one. Consult your local Benjamin Moore retailer for equipment rental advice.

Step #3: Pick Your Products

Once you’ve picked out your tools and prepped your space, make a plan and get organized on how to tackle the job.

There are two different types of paint products you can use to paint metal furniture: acrylic and alkyd (oil-based) coatings. Each type of product has different benefits, and you should choose your products based on your project goals.

  • Acrylic coatings are water-based, generally lower in odour, faster-drying, and longer-lasting with better colour and gloss retention.
  • Alkyd coatings typically form a more abrasion- and scratch-resistant film, while also inhibiting and preventing rust. Additionally, the alkyd resin will lead to higher gloss levels.

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Helpful Tip

Acrylic Paint vs. Alkyd Paint

• Want a faster dry time? Go with an acrylic paint.
• If durability is your top priority, go with an alkyd paint.

Step #4: If Rusted, Prime the Metal Furniture

If the metal is clean and free of loose rust, priming isn’t necessary. You can go straight to painting.

However, if there is excessive corrosion after the prep is done and you need to seal and protect the surface, you’ll want to use a primer.

  • For priming and painting, we recommend using a paint sprayer or a roller and paintbrush. Use a 10 or 15-cm (4- or 6-inch) fine-finish roller if there is detail that is difficult to paint with the roller.
  • Apply an even coat of Ultra Spec® HP Acrylic Metal Primer or Super Spec® HP Alkyd Metal Primer to the metal furniture.
  • Allow the primer to dry.

Step #5: Paint the Metal Furniture

  • Spraying is the most efficient way to paint metal furniture—especially items like patio furniture with mesh detail. Use a paint sprayer, available to rent or buy at your local Benjamin Moore retailer.
  • With a paint sprayer or roller, apply an even coat of Ultra Spec® HP D.T.M. Acrylic paint or Super Spec® HP D.T.M. Alkyd paint to your metal furniture.
  • Use a fine-finish 10 or 15-cm (4- or 6-inch) roller or paintbrush to paint fine details or hard-to-reach areas.

Step #6: Let Dry and Apply a Second Coat

  • Check the label or TDS for your product’s recoat time.
  • Once you have waited for the appropriate amount of time, apply an even second coat of paint the same way you did the first with a paint sprayer or roller and paintbrush.
  • Allow your furniture to cure completely before returning it to everyday use.

Try Another DIY Project!

Ready to tackle your next DIY project? Get it done with ease and find ideas and inspiration in our how-to interior, exterior and DIY sections.

As always, visit your local Benjamin Moore retailer for help with all your painting needs.