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Refinishing wrought iron patio furniture


Q. We are manufacturers of wrought iron furniture. One of our clients wants a 3 year guarantee on our products against corrosion. What sort of treatment / finish should we go in for. Can someone guide me how to achieve a battered gunmetal grey finish on wrought iron furniture.

Pallav S
- Ahmedabad, gujarat, India

February 18, 2013

A. Hi Pallav. 3 years should be no challenge for a proper finish. My steel patio set has been on our deck on a salt water lagoon 13 years, 365 days a year, for 13 years. You just need proper phosphatization, e-coating, and powder coating. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey


Q. I have a wrought iron table and 6 chairs that we just purchased. The set is from the 1920's. There are some small rust spots and chipped paint. I would like to refinish the set and need to know what is the best procedure to do so. Should we have it sandblasted? Do I prime it with an oil based primer? What kind of paint should I use?

Meta E. M.deleted
- Appleton, Wisconsin


Q. Hi,

I have the same problem. Did you ever get an answer on how to refinish your wrought iron patio set? I know they sand blast first. But I've been told you can either powder coat it or zinc plate it and then paint it. I'm trying to find out which is the best method.


Marsha Bdeleted
- San Pedro, California


A. The rust existing has to be treated with a green rust remover - the treated rust turns black - brush this powder away. Follow the directions on the bottle from the paint store. Then you need to undercoat with a primer for wrought iron. Then comes the final exterior coat of paint. If you have your item powder coated without removing the rust - the rust will return. This is tricky with powder coaters because you have no real clue how long they will wait until your item is really coated and their tiny pellets will not remove the rust in the cracks. So to send item to powder coaters, just treat for the rust only and send item. Once you have a powder coated item, you can no longer paint it! Some research is needed for you to determine which process is best for your needs.

Sandra Bdeleted
- Houston, Texas

Thanks Sandra. Yes, a rust converter is an alternate to sand blasting, and probably easier for the average homeowner. But it's not correct that a powder coated item can't later be painted. Powder coating is a method of applying paint rather than a type of paint.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

Ed. note: please see letters 7543, 26857, 32772, and 33964 for additional discussions on this topic.


Q. I have inherited a beautiful set of vintage wrought iron patio furniture that was kept inside but the only space I have to keep it is outside on my porch/patio which will have some exposure to weather. I am wondering what the options are for refinishing these pieces so that they will be safe outdoors. Is powder coating the only outdoor option? Which options can I do myself and which require a professional to do?

Thank you!

Amey Ldeleted
hobbyist - Scarborough, Maine

A. Hi, Amey. Sending them out for sandblasting is the easy way, but you can hand sand instead, then treat rusty areas with rust converter, then prime. Powder coating tends to be thicker than most other paint, but the prep for the coating is much more important than whether the final coat is paint or powder.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey


Q. My wrought iron fence was under water 08/29/2005 (KATRINA). I would like to know how to get the paint and rust off of my fence.

Calvin Mdeleted
- New Orleans, Louisiana


A. I would ship it to an expert in iron, metals, galvanizing, powder coating, and restoring antique iron furnisher. Good luck with your restoration.

Peter Plascencia
- San Pedro, California

Painted Garden Art

July 4, 2008

Q. I would like to refinish a 16 piece set of 40 year old Sanford wrought iron patio furniture. It is currently rusty in large areas. I plan on putting it on my patio that is currently somewhat exposed to moisture. Will sand-blasting damage it? Is sandblasting a costly process? What are the steps if I choose to refinish it myself?

Andrea Sdeleted
- Miami, Florida

July 7, 2008

A. Hi, Andrea. Sandblasting will not damage the metal. If there are fancy glass inserts or something, those could certainly be badly scored if they weren't masked. It is not an expensive proposition if you can locate someone who does it regularly.

To refinish it yourself without sandblasting you would sand away any rust spots, then treat them with Rust Converteramazoninfo, then prime and then paint. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

December 12, 2008

Q. What kind of paint is best for refinishing wrought iron patio furniture?

Dino Kalfuntzos
- Fort Worth, Texas

December 16, 2008

A. Hi, Dino. Once the furniture has been prepared as described, any paint made for the purpose will do fine. For example, you'll see both spray paints and brush-on paints by Rustoleum for use on metal outdoors. You'll usually see snapshots of outdoor metal items on the label. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

May 14, 2009

Q. I have just been given an old set of outdoor wrought iron furniture.
It has not been well maintained and is a bit rusty and paint chipped.
What is the best way to remove the old paint and rust? and the best way to paint for long-term maintenance?

Connie Grassle
hobbyist - Massapequa, New York

June 10, 2010

Q. What kind of paint should I use to refinish outdoor wrought iron furniture that will not come off when someone sits on the chairs with mosquito repellent or suntan lotion on their arms and legs? This has been a pesky problem in the past. When a person stands up they have paint residue on their arms or legs where they rested them on the chairs.

Should the final coat be a cost of polyurethane or something, or will that come off on my guests also?

Linda Kreutz
hobbyist - Austin, Texas

September 6, 2010

Q. I have wrought iron patio furniture that I had professionally sand blasted and powder coated about 5 years ago. There are now a few chips on some of the furniture and I would like to treat it myself. Can I paint over powder coating or do I need to sand the furniture all the way down to metal and start all over?

Elizabeth Bongiovi
- Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

A. Hi Elizabeth.

You can paint over powder coating. Powder coating is a method of coating, not a type of coating. Latex would most likely be compatible with the powder coating you have. Try on the bottom or inconspicuous place, but I'd expect it to be okay.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

June 21, 2011

Q. Friend had a so-called painter paint her wrought iron patio set. He used oil base paint. When completed he left it outside uncovered or protected. It rained before the paint dried and, of course, destroyed the paint finish. How do you correct this? Re-sand, prime and put another coat of paint on?


Dave Waltemeyer
friend - Baltimore, Maryland USA

October 19, 2011

Q. I have wrought iron tables in off white/beige color and there is no rust and they are in good condition. I like to paint them in brownish/bronze color. What is best procedures and paint to a natural wrought iron look.

Madhu Rangan
Hobbyist - Yorba Linda, California, USA

November 12, 2011

A. You definitely have to remove rust from anything you paint. Rust has a tendency to continue growing even under paint. If your furniture has a lot of rust, you may want to have it sandblasted. Otherwise, you can hand sand or use a drill and attach a rust removal wheel, You can find the wheels in the paint section of hardware stores. Use the wheels that are 1 whole piece and do not need to be screwed into a drill bit. Afterwards, when you are done sanding, wipe down the item with paint thinner or mineral spirits, to remove any small debris. Let dry. Now prime the piece of furniture. I would prime the whole thing not just the cleaned rust spots. This insures that your final coat of paint will look evenly distributed. If you are not taking your item somewhere to be powder coated, I highly recommend Rust-Oleum outdoor spray paint products. They make a primer that is actually copper colored that inhibits continued rust growth. I used it recently on rot iron furniture. Let the furniture dry (48 Hours), then paint with your favorite Rust-Oleum paint color. I used the hammered black. The furniture looks great. Time will tell how it holds up in the 4 seasons of Ohio weather. I have had good experiences with Rust-Oleum paint. I painted a chair for my parents and it was left outside for at least 10 years and, even though the paint has faded a little, it still looks pretty good and not very rusted. Also, if you can, replace old rusted nuts and bolts with stainless steel ones. You should get many years out of your furniture. Also, wear a paint face mask when spray painting - just because you don't want to breathe in the overspray.

Mary Beth Pdeleted
- Youngstown, Ohio, USA

May 15, 2012

Q. I just spray painted my black wrought iron furniture and used a gloss finish. But I just ordered another set and it has a powder finish, can I put a powder finish on top of a gloss spray paint? And is a powder finish a paint? Or should I just go over it with a flat spray paint?

Susan Brighenti
- Belchertown, Massachusetts, USA

May 15, 2012

A. Hi Susan. When you spray paint something, the paint pigment & binders are dissolved in a solvent; the solvent evaporates, leaving the dry pigment and binders on your furniture. In powder coating, a dry powder is sprayed onto the furniture, then baked in an oven until the powder melts into plastic and fuses together as a coating. It's not impossible to powder coat stuff yourself, but typically this is a factory operation; so I'll assume there is a typo in your inquiry and you are asking if you can spray paint the powder coated furniture.

Just as some paints are compatible with each other and some are not, it's possible that the powder coating will be incompatible with your spray paint...but I doubt it. Often powder coated patio furniture will come with a small container of touch-up paint, and this may give you a clue as to what is compatible.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

November 26, 2012

Q. I have a wrought iron like set but it is made of a white metal. The paint is chipping off. How can I remove the paint and what should I paint it with?

Dennis Swindell
- West Palm Beach, Florida

November 27, 2012

A. Hi Dennis. I know that the last thing you want is more complication, but when we don't know what kind of metal it is, or what kind of paint it is, or why and how badly the paint is chipping, it's difficult to offer anything beyond generalities.

If it's iron or steel (that is, if it's magnetic), sandblasting is one way to remove the paint. But if it's not magnetic, it may not be a good idea to attempt sandblasting. A very strong solvent that will remove almost any paint, but will not hurt metal, is Aircraft stripperamazoninfo. This contains methylene chloride, though, which is very toxic and must be used only outdoors, while wearing protective glovesamazoninfo and gogglesamazoninfo as a minimum, and working up-wind.

What you should paint it with depends on the type of metal and why the paint chipped, but a safe and universal approach is probably to prime it with a Self-Etching Primeramazoninfo (which will be helpful on any metal), and then paint it with some kind of outdoor paint for metal (such as a Krylon product or Rustoleum Hammered Metal Finishamazoninfo).

Sometimes you'll see a picture of a wheelbarrel or patio furniture or a similar item on the paint can when the paint is intended for outdoor use on metal. Good luck.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

April 20, 2013

Q. Hi,

My husband and I recently bought a vintage wrought iron patio set that had areas of rust and chipping 'paint'. The finish is white and when touched comes off as a powder on our hands (and everywhere). What do you recommend to refinish this? We were told a rust removing primer and then a compatible paint would work. Also, what are your thoughts on the current material and it being harmful? May sound silly but it occurs to me that this set was finished quite some time ago and before we start sending flakes into the air in a brushing, scraping, sanding project... I would be interested to know if you think the coating might be toxic. Thank you.

Adreann Price
- Aliso Viejo, California, USA

April 23, 2013

A. Hi. I think you need to have the flaking, chalking paint sandblasted off before rust conversion primer. You say it's vintage, and I don't know how old that means. If 1970s It's probably lead-free. If before then, lead is a possibility. But the sandblaster will have to deal with it.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

September 1, 2013

Q. Hello,

I have spent a large amount of time spray painting an old wrought iron patio set with a dark brown hammered metal finish from Rustoleum. I painted over white and the problem is that any small scrape exposes the old white color. Is it because it is only one coat of the Rustoleum? Is my problem that I need two coats of this or do I need some sort of sealer? The Rustoleum says "no primer needed" but now I seem to have a mess on my hands. I don't want to be touching up after each use which is what this is turning out to be.

Any hints? Thank you in advance for your time,

Darcy Rea
- Elmhurst, Illinois

September 3, 2013

A. Hi Darcy. Sorry, but your paint lacks adhesion to the previous paint, and adding another layer won't help. Paint is not shrinkwrap; each layer must adhere. The original paint may have been chalking, it may have been waxed at some point, or just not thoroughly clean. I think you'll have to live with the touchups or send it out for sandblasting. Sorry.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Brick, New Jersey

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