vintage metal outdoor chair redux

vintage outdoor metal chair before refinishing

Remember this chair? You know, the one I bought with grand ideas of refurbishing it myself? Yeah, that chair.

After scraping the flaky paint and rust spots off as best I could with a wire brush, I wondered if this was a job I could accomplish myself. There was a lot of rust still on the chair, and the two layers of paint (you can see the original teal color underneath the poorly-applied white paint on top) required sanding before applying a coat of primer and a few coats of new paint.

So I went on the trusty internets and gathered information about restoring metal chairs like mine. What I learned was that there are two ways to go about refinishing the chair. I could: (1) Scrape and sand the rust and old paint off the chair, then apply one coat of primer and two coats of paint to the chair. The result won’t be perfection, and I will probably have to do it again in a few years. Or (2) Bring the chair to be professionally sandblasted and powder coated. For about $200, I would have a like-new chair that would last forever.

This was supposed to be a DIY project. Delivering the chair to a guy who will make it pretty for me is decidedly not DIY. It’s the opposite of DIY.

I plodded ahead with the project myself. After sanding, painting, feeling dissatisfied, and then trying to strip the paint again with nasty paint remover (which I totally feel guilty about and regret), I submitted. I gave up. I can’t do it, I realized.

While my man was traveling and work was slow, I brought the chair to the automotive shop be sandblasted and powder coated. I envisioned a sweet seafoam green color, appropriate for the chair’s 1950s era. But since most of the places that powder coat cater to an automotive crowd, a chic hue was not in the cards. Muscle car guys like the most flamboyant colors! It’s like macho meets flaming gay at the other end of the circle. There was nothing close to seafoam green. With names like “Shimmer Candy Blue,” “Sparkle Granny Smith” and “Blue Ice Explosion,” I was clearly not going to find what I had in mind. The closest colors to the original were white and true blue, either of which would have made a fine, but boring, choice. What’s life without risk? I asked myself. So I shifted my thinking and picked “Sparkle Blue” for the chair—an electric blue with a sparkly shimmer.

vintage metal outdoor chair in sparkle blue

I’ll admit that I’m not in love with the color. Friends arrived for dinner recently in a car that could have been the chair’s brother. But I do love the smooth, clean feel of the metal and knowing that it won’t be eaten away by rust. And the color is fun and bright. I named my new chair “Stardust” and am enjoying sitting on the porch in it as the weather warms.

In a couple of months I will be visiting the shop where I found this chair. I hope to find another and add to my collection. Next time I’ll skip the DIY part and go straight to someone who can powder coat it—in the seafoam green color lingering in my mind’s eye.


  1. […] that deliver items to her shop daily. I saw a couple of vintage metal chairs like the one I restored at the Curiosity Shop. If I still lived in Missoula, I would have snapped those puppies […]

  2. […] I found refinishing these counter stools easier to accomplish than the vintage outdoor chair. I dropped off the seats and back rests at the upholsterer to have them recovered with white […]

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