10 Tips for Painting Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture can be hard to maintain, but the good news is that painting outdoor furniture is easy!

You want your paint job to look good, but it also needs to be able to withstand harsh weather, rain, and crazy fluctuations in temperature.

That makes it very important that you use the right materials and prepare properly.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to freshen up your outdoor furniture a bit if it’s starting to look a bit worn.

A simple can of paint can give your pieces a facelift, and since the items you’re painting are already outside, you don’t have to worry about those pesky paint fumes filling your house while you’re working on the project.

However, when it comes to painting outdoor furniture, there are a few tips and tricks that can help ensure the process goes off without a hitch.

If you’re looking to freshen up your outdoor space by adding some fresh color to your outdoor furniture, here are 10 things to consider that should help you get the best possible results.

Evaluate Your Furniture

Before you start painting, you want to assess your furniture and make an honest assessment of whether it’s in good condition.

Small things like scratches or dents can be repaired, especially on materials like wood or metal. The paint is likely to cover cosmetic issues, such as some stains.

However, if the wooden piece of furniture you want to paint shows signs of rotting, or you’re trying to renovate a set of badly damaged plastic chairs, it may not be worth painting.

Before you start painting, quickly fix any small problems by tightening loose screws, sanding down sharp edges, etc.

Clean the Furniture First

Before you start putting paint on that set of chairs, you need to do the essential first step of cleaning the furniture.

Paint needs a clean surface to adhere to, so start the process by wiping down your furniture and using a little soap and water to remove any dirt, dust, cobwebs, or other debris.

While something like a pressure washer is helpful for this step, it’s certainly not necessary.

Ideally, this step should be done at least a day before you start painting, so the furniture can dry properly after cleaning.

Use Spray Paint Outdoor Furniture

Just be sure to check the label to validate that the paint you’re getting is made for the material you’re painting.

The one thing with canned spray paint is that it can be very expensive if you are painting a large set of outdoor furniture.

Therefore, I encourage you to consider using a small handheld sprayer for larger sets.

You could use the oil-based primer with a brush, but I like to use paint sprayer for furniture to make it quicker. Washing off the water-based primer from the paint sprayer is much easier.

Pay Attention to the Weather

When painting exteriors, you don’t have to worry about ventilation like you do when painting interior spaces.

However, you have to worry about the elements. A rainy day will require you to cover the entire area in paint to protect your furniture, which is not ideal.

A windy day can also lead to problems, such as possible flying debris sticking to the surface of your freshly painted furniture, or the pigment in spray paint blowing away before it adequately coats your furniture. And high humidity levels can cause paint to dry improperly.

Ideally, wait for a day when conditions are right to paint.

Use the Right Tools

When painting furniture, rollers and smaller brushes are better. If your brush is full of dried paint, you can revive it with a brush cleaner soak. A paint roller may be the best option for a table.

Choose a Finish

Whether you’re painting wood or metal, it doesn’t matter which finish you choose, be it gloss, satin, or eggshell, as long as your paint is made for exterior use.

If you’re painting plastic, you’ll need a paint designed specifically for plastic to ensure it adheres properly to the surface.

Choose a Color

When it comes to choosing a paint color, your options are endless. An easy way to choose color is to choose something that complements the exterior of your home.

If you’re unsure about paint color combinations, use the color wheel method: choose colors that are directly across from each other.

Consider Getting a Good Primer

For best results, you’ll want to seriously consider using a primer before painting. There are some cases, like if you’re using spray paint or some type of paint that has a primer built into the formula, where you don’t need to worry about the primer.

However, if you are painting bare wood, have selected a particularly vibrant color, or simply want to ensure you have a smooth surface, a primer may be a must.

Create a Plan of Attack

It can be easy to overlook some parts of a piece of furniture, which is why it’s so helpful to have a plan of attack for how you’re going to paint the piece of furniture, especially if you need to maneuver it in any way.

Before painting, evaluate the part and try to anticipate any problems. For example, if you know you need to paint the bottom of a table, it may be easier to flip it over and paint that part first.

While you can always come back for touch-ups, taking a few minutes to plan how you’ll paint a part can save you a lot of work.

Work in a Shady Spot if Possible

While you may assume that a hot, sunny day is ideal for outdoor painting, there are a few caveats to this. You want to be careful about the temperature getting too high, as that can cause problems with the paint drying too quickly.

However, the other key consideration is whether it is in direct sunlight. The surface temperature of whatever you’re painting may be different from the actual temperature recorded on your outdoor thermometer.

Painting when it is too hot or when there is direct sunlight on you can lead to problems with the paint cracking or not sticking properly.

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