Skip to Content

The best paint for outdoor metal furniture

Want to paint your patio set? It’s important to use the right supplies! Here’s the best paint for outdoor metal furniture – and how to use it!

You know how they say they don’t make things like they used to? When you go to a garden center now, all you see is wood and plastic outdoor furniture. But, I still have a set of metal patio table and chairs that my grandmother used at her house in the 1950s. For real.

Metal patio furniture, if cared for nicely, will outlive you. But, if it’s kept truly outdoors, it is going to get rusty and damaged. I mean hello, metal plus water equals rust. (Are you dealing with rust? Here’s my guide on how to get rust stains off concrete!)

So, you will periodically need to repaint it. We have already shared a complete tutorial on how to paint metal furniture.

But, I got so many questions, today I want to talk specifically about the best paint to use on outdoor metal furniture and why.

the best paint for metal outdoor furniture

The best paint for outdoor metal furniture

The best way to paint outdoor metal furniture is by spraying. This could be using either spray paint or paint in a paint sprayer.

The reason for this is because metal furniture often has a lot of thin and intricate parts to it. Getting in there with a brush is going to be a major pain. A sprayer is really so so much easier.

I personally prefer to use spray paint, but we do have a paint sprayer that we use occasionally. The benefit of a paint sprayer over cans of spray paint is that if you have a large surface to carry cover, it will be more economical to buy one can of paint compared to many cans of spray paint.

spray paints for outdoors

What is the best spray paint for outdoor metal furniture?

When you are shopping for spray paint, there are a few things to take into consideration.

Outdoor appropriate

When it comes to outdoor furniture, do you wanna make sure that the paint that you were choosing says the word outdoor on it. These paints are going to be formulated to handle the UV rays and moisture a little bit better than indoor spray paint.

Material appropriate

You also want to pay attention to the materials that the can says that it is formulated for. Most of them should go on metal, but just double check to make sure.


Next, consider the color that you want. Some brands have better color selection than others. Especially when it comes to bright or stylish colors, some brands are really limited.

Color Shot is my favorite brand for bold, stylish colors.


Finally pay attention to the finish. This means if the paint will give you a flat finish or a glossy finish or anything in between.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, but I generally prefer a more matte finish even for metal projects.

I find that glossy finishes tend to show imperfections more in the painting process, and afterwards, when it comes to fingerprints or smudges. However, it’s totally a personal preference.

My favorite outdoor spray paints are:

spray painting an outdoor light fixture

What is the best paint for outdoor metal furniture?

If you want to use a paint sprayer or even a small mini foam roller to paint your metal furniture, then you’re going to have to buy canned paint.

I recommend a oil based enamel paint for outdoor metal. There are a few options by different brands, but this rust oleum version is super popular.

How to Upgrade Flat Panel Doors with Molding - Charleston Crafted
HomeRight Paint Sprayer Review

You can roll it on with a roller, paint it on with a brush, or – my suggestion – put it in a paint sprayer. A paint sprayer is going to make it much easier to get into all of the little nooks and crannies.

spray paints for outdoors

Do I need to use a primer when painting metal furniture?

When researching this article, I was shocked at how many people said you do not need to use a primer would painting metal furniture. I respectfully disagree.

A primer is really going to make your paint job last longer and work. All the better to block rust.

Listen, I usually use a primer and paint in one. I get it, it saves a step and saves a very small cost to skip it. But, metal furniture that is going to be exposed to the elements is going to take a brutal beating.

While you’re doing it, do it right. Apply primer first.

I suggest this canned primer for metal and this spray paint primer!

My favorite outdoor spray primers are:

The best way to paint metal patio furniture
The best way to paint metal patio furniture

How do you prepare outdoor metal for painting?

Before you paint, remember to follow these steps to prep the surface. Prep is super important for a clean, long-lasting finish!

  1. Set up a drop cloth in a well ventilated area. Wear a face mask, eye protection, and gloves.
  2. Sand everything down to remove any loose or peeling bits. Use a metal brush or metal sanding sponge.
  3. Wipe clean with a rag.
  4. Apply a primer from all directions for full coverage. Let dry according to can directions.
  5. Apply your paint. Plan to do at least 3 coats, from all directions, to get full coverage.
  6. Let dry for full cure time before handling to avoid dings or dents in the paint.
  7. Enjoy!

Looking for something?

We’ve been doing this since 2012 so we have a LOT of blog posts!
Search stuff like: Ceiling Projects | DIY Plant Stands | Thrift Flips

Charleston Crafted logo banner