How To Paint Metal Furniture Without Spray Paint

Giving your furniture a new coat of paint can be a great way to change it up and revitalize it, which in many ways is even better than outright replacing it. In the case of metal furniture, however, some people may be tentative and confused about how to go about painting it. The first instinct for most is to simply spray paint it, which can be acceptable in some instances, but for those who do not have spray paint or do not want to use it, how else can this be done?

To paint metal furniture without spray paint, start by removing all seats, cushions, and glass panes. Next, sand and strip off the old surface, then wipe it clean with a cloth. Apply two coats of oil-based primer, let dry, and sand them down. Finally, smoothly apply two or three coats of paint.

In this article, we will provide our readers with comprehensive, step-by-step instructions on how to paint metal furniture without the use of spray paint. This guide will include the reasoning behind each step and how to avoid encountering problems that may arise. Following this article’s advice will eliminate all confusion and put you on the path to guaranteed successful furniture restoration.

Prepare the Materials

As you will learn by the time you have finished reading this article, most of the refurbishing work lies in the preparatory stages. The furniture’s actual painting is an easy and straightforward step that comes late in the process as a whole. The key to a good result is thorough preparation of the furniture for painting.

Those with limited painting experience and knowledge may mistakenly assume that you can immediately apply paint to a surface with no prior steps involved. This will create a situation where the paint fails to bond to the surface and instead runs off and looks bad.

All of your success depends on you getting started on the right foot.

Before you start repainting your metal furniture, make sure you have first acquired the necessary materials to perform the job.

The things you will need to give your metal furniture a new paint job are:

The above list includes links to where cheap and high-quality products can be purchased for metal furniture paint restoration. These are merely suggestions and are by no means the only options to choose.

Note: if you are using any power tools, such as an electric hand sander, always wear proper eye protection and work safely. For a cheap pair of industrial safety glasses, see the MEIGIX Industrial Glasses with Anti-Fog Lenses.

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Now that you have the tools for the job, we are ready to start painting.

Clean and Prepare the Piece for Painting

First, start by removing any cushions, glass panes, handles, etc., from the piece(s) of furniture you will be painting, and set them aside. 

Next, with a damp cloth or rag, wipe down and clean off the entirety of the furniture’s surface, removing any dust or dirt.

Cleaning and preparing the furniture is one of the most important steps because it is easy for things like seats and cushions to become ruined during the painting process if not removed.

Abrade the Surface With Sandpaper and a Wire Brush

Using your sandpaper, begin gently scraping the surface down to expose the bare, raw surface underneath.

How To Paint Metal Furniture Without Spray Paint

Use your wire brush to get into awkward and difficult-to-reach corners and pockets of the furniture.

Once you have completely removed the old paint and surface of your furniture item, take your cloth once more and wipe it down thoroughly to remove all leftover debris from the sanding process.

Make sure all rust is completely removed and sanded out during this step of the process. The presence of rust will dramatically hinder the success of this entire repainting job.

Removing the old surface coating and the rust is an essential step for getting your new paint to adhere and stick to the metal properly. 

Metal is tricky to paint if the surface is not prepared properly or if the wrong materials are used. If you follow these steps closely, however, you will have no problem.

Apply an Oil-Based Primer to the Surface

Now that we have done all of the preparatory work and are left with a stripped-down and surfaceless piece of metal furniture, we can begin applying our primer coat.

We stress that you use an oil-based primer and avoid a water-based one because we are working with metal; the latter can cause the metal to rust. That is why we always go with an oil-based primer when painting metal furniture to avoid this potential problem.

How To Paint Metal Furniture Without Spray Paint

While you could, theoretically, apply an oil-based paint directly onto the metal at this point, we highly recommend applying a primer beforehand. 

A primer will increase the paint’s ability to adhere to the surface and block out rust and prevent oxidation. 

Do not cut corners, as the final result will undoubtedly suffer as a consequence of doing so.

Spread your primer thoroughly and consistently, double-checking to make sure you have not missed any spots. 

Use a smaller brush where necessary to reach into tough spots.

Let the primer dry and set for approximately 8 hours, and then lightly sand the primer, but not so much that you remove it. Be careful here.

Apply a second coat, let it dry again, and then gently sand one final time.

Paint Your Furniture

Finally, we arrive at the most rewarding step of the restoration process, the painting phase. With the primer coat set, you are ready to start painting.

Using a clean new brush, different from the one you used to prime, begin spreading your paint along the surface, making sure to avoid drip and run marks. 

If you plan to paint different sections of your furniture with different colors, it may help use the painter’s tape to protect them from splash and overlap imperfections. Scotch’s Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape is perfect for doing exactly that.

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Just like with your primer, you will have to wait roughly 6-8 hours for your paint to dry before you apply another coat.

In total, you will want to apply 2 or 3 coats of paint to give it a solid, professional appearance.

Seal the Paint (Optional)

The 5th and final stage of the process is sealing the paint. 

Applying a sealer coat is optional but recommended for outdoor furniture. 

Sealing your finished product will prevent any water, sun, or moisture from penetrating the surface and facilitating degradation.

If you are only planning to use this furniture indoors, there will be fewer elemental forces acting against its integrity; hence, you may not need to seal it, and the decision of whether or not to do so is entirely optional.

If you do decide to use primer, one coat should suffice. 

The primer will give your furniture a glossy, clear coated finish, which can look very appealing and elegant in some cases.


I hope this article has provided our reader with an easy-to-follow yet comprehensive guide on painting metal furniture without spray paint.

The first thing you will want to do is remove all cushions, seats, decorations, glass panes, etc., from the furniture you will be painting. Next, sand the surface down until it is raw, and then wipe all the debris off it. Apply two coats of oil-based primer, let dry, and sand. Finally, apply 2 to 3 coats of paint and let it dry for 6 to 8 hours.


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