Upcycling an old outdoor patio table and chairs

A few weeks ago my wife came home and said “check out this patio set someone was throwing out!”. At first glance, it was clear to see why, it was a deep forest green and had several spots that were starting to rust. Yet upon closer inspection the set was actually very sturdy and in good shape. Here is a photo I took of just 2 of the chairs and the table after setting it out on the deck:

Patio Chairs and Table - Before refinishing

In the picture you can see how plain and simple they are. You can also see some of the rust spots around the center of the table, which regardless of my approach was going to need to be addressed. Soon after getting them an idea formed pretty easily that I knew would suit these iron chairs and table very well, especially considering I am just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Taking inspiration from the iconic U.W. Memorial Union terrace chairs, I just knew a variety of bold colors would look exceptional, here is what the Union chairs look like if you’re unfamiliar with them:

Memorial Union chairs
Image Source:

Armed with an idea and an inspiration photo, I headed to my local hardware & paint store and came away with 3 cans of spray paint per chair and 5 cans for the table. I choose a palette of red for the table and green, yellow, blue, and orange for the chairs. I also specifically stuck with high gloss paints that identified as good for use outdoors. I then used painters plastic drop cloth and some duct tape to setup a paint studio in the garage (which allowed great airflow with the garage door open). Here is a picture midway through the painting of the green chair in the paint studio,  which is also good because you can see the before (right side) and after (left side) greens that I was dealing with.

Patio Chairs during the painting process

As far as prep, outside of building the studio, on the table and chairs I used a course sponge to clean the chairs before any paint was applied. I also sanded some of the rusting spots with a piece of sand paper. Once cleaned off I was ready to complete each chair. I actually started with the chairs flipped over and started from the back/bottom first. Once that side was dry I flipped them right side up and finished the front/top of the table and chairs. I was super happy with the end results and really wouldn’t change a thing about how I did this refinishing project.

Here is the finished set out on my deck, just prior to a party we had this past weekend:

Finished Patio Deck Chairs and Table

If you’re looking to accomplish this same effect, here is a general build list of what you will need:

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links where I receive credit if you purchase based on my recommendation. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *