I did it! I got a paint sprayer and used it to give new life to some outdoor chairs that had seen better days. And while it wasn’t exactly difficult to do, it was certainly not as easy breezy as all the blog posts I’d read on the subject made it out to be.
But even though it took a while and was a bit of a pain, it was a first step toward creating a dreamy outdoor living space—which is a big part of why we moved to this house in the first place! As the days have been getting warmer, we’ve loved having a place to sit outside with Lia and have a cocktail in the evening.
We really want to use the outside of our house as an extension of the interior, to create an outdoor living room, so it’s fun to be out there to dream and scheme.
Ready to see how I painted these chairs? Let’s do it.
How to Paint Outdoor Furniture
First of all, disclaimer—this is probably a weekend project if you actually focus on it over a weekend and don’t always have a zillion tasks on your to-do list. If you’re like me, give yourself a few weeks, giving it an hour here and there.
Secondly, if you haven’t used a paint sprayer before, there is a slight learning curve that you may not be accounting for….
Let’s start by examining the before photos:
The color of these chairs started off pretty, but, as you can see, over a few years, they experienced some normal wear, and it was definitely time for a refresh. We could have kept the same color, but decided to mix it up.
If you’re curious, they still make these chairs and we really like them. The seat is wide enough for me to share my seat with Lia (obviously a big factor when chair shopping). They no longer come in this teal color, but they do have a navy now that’s pretty!
Step 1: Sand
The first step was to sand our chairs, and I was shocked by how easy it was! I think it was probably easy because of the bad shape the chairs were in—the paint was begging to come off.
I just used what we had, but I think it was a 120 grit or so and I just did it by hand, making sure to remove any places where the paint was peeling, and to rough up the entire surface of the chairs.
The fine particulate really dried out my hands, so I suggest using gloves for this step to save your skin.
Step 2: Prime
Next, I thought I’d just prime quick…and it took HOURS. This is why I stand by spraying things with lots of nooks and crannies (see the painting step for more details on paint spraying)—going in with a brush takes forever.
Priming is an annoying step, but it’s the glue that will hold your paint on the surface, so don’t skip it!
Oh, and plan on just throwing this brush away—the slats totally destroyed it, and I was working on this for so long that there was a ton of dried, crusty primer in the bristles. Yuck.
Step 3: Paint
For this project, I used Sherwin Williams All Surface Enamel paint in a satin finish, and the color is Naval. I didn’t test colors thanks to the stay at home order, but I thought navy would be nice and this shade was the color of the year, so there were lots of pictures of it online. It’s really nice and I ended up loving the color.
I picked all surface enamel because I called and asked what I should use to paint outdoor furniture, and this was their recommendation. I looked it up online recently and the reviews are awful, though, and I will agree with them that the paint doesn’t seem to have dried super hard. I will keep an eye on it and update you, though.
I elected to spray these because I have a few projects coming up that I’m going to want to use a paint sprayer for, and I wanted to practice on something I didn’t care quite as much about. The paint sprayer has a bit of a learning curve, so I stand by this!
We bought this paint sprayer at almost everyone’s recommendation. Seriously—Dustin and I both researched it and landed on the same model. It’s really nice because you can use the paint right out of the gallon—the sprayer has a suction end that you just stick in the gallon of paint, meaning you don’t waste as much going from one container to another.
(Don’t worry, I wasted plenty trying to figure out how it worked.)
I wanted to get a paint sprayer because I think it gives a more professional finish, and especially for something with a lot of nooks and crannies, like a chair, rolling or brushing takes a lot longer. The time difference between priming and spraying these chairs was crazy!
I probably wouldn’t invest in a paint sprayer just for this project, but if you have a few things you’d use it for, it’s a good investment.
Step 4: Enjoy!
I didn’t do any kind of sealer or top coat, but I might investigate that further since I already chipped a tiny spot on one of the chairs. We just skipped straight to enjoying being able to sit outside as the weather changed!
Tell me in the comments—would you take on a project like this?