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Painting Metal School Desks and Plastic School Chairs...


I have a request to transform old elementary school desks into something special for the "student of the week" in each class. I am an artist, but I do not have the means to sandblast the old paint off of the metal. I can make the metal more receptive to paint by scrubbing it with 00 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon affil link]. I have tried the metal paints found in craft shops, probably used for toll painting, but I am not happy with the durability of these paints. These desks will be actively used. Does any one have any ideas about what kind of paint I can use? Is there a durable clearcoating I can use also?

Secondly, these desks have chairs with plastic seats. What type of paint can I use on these seats that will bind with the plastic for a durable finish?

Thank you!

Myra M. Simons
Hanagraphics - Loveland, Ohio U.S.A.


Hi Myra,

Re the metal desks, I really don't have too much of a clue. But any 'honest' paint supply house would/should give you some good ideas.

Anyhow, preparation is important for a good bond, as you well know. One paint does come to mind. Not cheap, either. That's a pure, yes PURE Polyurethane. It's a 2 component paint and wow, is it ever hard and does it ever give a super fine glossy surface. Monsanto came out with this in l965-ish. You'd have a heck of a job removing it as, anyhow in those days, there were no strippers for that paint. .. I tried some on the garage floor. BIG mistake as was like a skating rink when wet. Worked and bonded beautifully to wood frame windows (super finish!)

Re the plastic seats ... well, that depends what they are made of, doesn't it? Hopefully they are not Pe but ABS .. and the latter material should take a good enamel (?) and definitely would bond to a strong solvent paint such as a lacquer. Again preparation is important.

Have a look at some of the other inquiries on re painting plastics for replies, OK?


freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton [deceased]
(It is our sad duty to advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


We restore metal desks and hot rods and semi trucks. To restore your desk properly you should use automotive paints. For the best results use IMRON paint. It was made for aircrafts and is the toughest. For your plastic chairs try Krylon's new line of paints for plastics, Krylon Fusion [on eBay or Amazon affil link] .

Good Luck!

Jackie McGrath
- Eagle Point, Oregon, USA



in response to Question about Old school Desk's Painting

I do a lot of painting metal, wood, plastic

The fastest way and the neatest way is 00 steel wool [on eBay or Amazon affil link] rough spots use primer then paint it the color you want

I'm doing an old desk now 1925 primer {grey} then paint and I clear coat everything I use ALL spray paint

I sand the wood though I like the finish

I buy paint at Walmart 94 cents or coats hardware

Try it comes out really nice

For plastic there also is a spray Krylon Fusion

I hope this helps Enjoy the results!

Do you know where I might find the ink well that goes to the old desks?

Please reply


Diane Wilson
- Willits, California, USA

I agree with using the Fusion for Plastics. However, I was wondering about toxicity for some of the paints mentioned. I am refurbishing some old metal school chairs with the wooden seats for my kids and want to make sure these paints/sealers are safe. Any ideas?

Scott Silverman
Cabinetry - Fontana, California, USA

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