DIY Spray Painting Metal Folding Chairs

Summer is upon us, and we’ve gone from spending all our time inside, purging items and organizing and remodeling our spaces, to entertaining all our friends and family outdoors. Often, we run out of seating, so I went out to check the cost of some metal folding chairs. After doing a little browsing, there was just no way I was spending all that money on new ones. I had some old, rusty ones in my basement that were given to me years ago, but I didn’t want to sit in them, never mind ask our company to do so.

old metal chairs for entertaining

I’d be nervous I’d have some upset guests if they were to sit on these. I’m pretty sure that rust would come off on their clothing!

Rusty Metal Folding Chairs

Last time I was at my local hardware store while my paint was mixing for one of my many recent home transformations, I took a moment to check out all their spray paint options. I was surprised at how many different colors there were! In the end, I chose the brand Rustoleum 2x.

Ace Hardware Rustoleum 2X spray paints

I chose the Rustoleum 2x because it is ideal for all different objects and surfaces, like wood, tables and chairs, plastic, picture frames, furniture, craft projects and, of course, metal. I had quite the selection of colors to choose from since it’s available in over 50+ colors, all of which dry super fast. I could even choose from a variety of different sheens like satin, gloss and metallic.

Rustoleum 2x: 2X spray paints

In the end, I played it safe and went with a dark gray color with a glossy finish. I liked that it was also paint and primer in one, meaning it would save me even more time in the overall process too.

Dark Grey Rustoleum 2x spray paint gloss

Before you think about grabbing the spray paint, you’ll need to do a little prep work to your chairs. First, wash and dry your chairs to make sure any dirt or grime is removed and then thoroughly dry them. Do not let them air-dry. I recommend wearing a mask if you have one.

Sand metal chairs first

You’ll want to grab some scuff pads when you’re purchasing your spray paint. You’ll need to scuff up the entire surface of your chairs. Don’t try to remove the original paint. Just even out and smooth the surfaces. As you can see my chairs were in pretty bad shape.

metal chair sanded

Next, grab a drop cloth to spray on top of and make sure you’re in an area that has proper ventilation and is away from objects that your overspray could drift on. We found it easiest to flip the chairs over and start with the bottom.

when spray painting metal chairs

When you begin to spray paint, you’ll want to shake the can well, this will ensure that all of the colors have evenly disbursed. Next, you’ll want to start just off to the side of the project piece — one of the biggest mistakes you can make when spray-painting is pointing the can straight at your project. You’ll end up with one ugly drip mark. You’ll want to go side to side, slightly spraying just over each edge. It’s okay that you still need to paint the top, but you need to spray your sections in full. Make sure that when you start, you do the entire backside of the chair all at once. Then wait for it to thoroughly dry, stand the chair up, and do the front side all at once.

spray painted metal chair diy

The paint dried fast, so it didn’t take long to complete each chair. Depending on how many you’re painting, the first ones may be dry by the time you get to the last ones.

spray painted metal chairs Rustoleum 2x

We thought we would need a second coat so we tried it on one chair and, as you can see, you can’t even tell the one-coat chairs from the two-coat chair thanks to Rustoleum 2x.

DIY Spray Painted Metal Folding Chairs

Look at the difference! No longer am I embarrassed to bring out our additional chairs. I’m looking forward to our next get-together when we’ll be able to offer a seat to everyone without worrying my chairs might ruin their clothing.

Stay tuned next month for when I share my DIY End Table Remodel with Amy Howard’s one-step chalk based paint!


  1. Jennifer DaMomme Beck says

    Love it! I did all my plastic outdoor furniture and a bunch of outdoor yard toys that faded over the years.

  2. I’ve done projects like this before. Your chairs look great!

  3. Rustolium Paint & Primer in one; I did not know that such a thing existed. I have sort of a THING for folding chairs. I love them. I might go for some loud colors.

  4. Sarah Osborne says

    Nice transformation! We are big spray painters in this house.

  5. Cheryl says

    I’ve done this in the past. Spray paint makes old chairs look new.

  6. vickie couturier says

    those look like brand new chairs now,,awesome job

  7. Janet W. says

    Wow what a difference that made! They look brand new now!

  8. Anita Jude says

    I need to do this to my chairs …wow they look NEW

  9. Sheila Ritter says

    I never thought about repainting my folding metal chairs. I have a stack like you did that are just collecting more rust and dust in the garage, never knew why I was even hanging onto them as we never pulled them out. Well now I know why I was holding onto them. Your chairs look brand new! I hope mine turn out just as nice as yours. Thanks for sharing this great idea.

    • Jennifer says

      Yes! I have more chairs I need to paint! I’m so glad I gave it a try!

  10. Michelle B says

    Wow! Impressive. I never thought you could bring life to old chairs like this! I think it could be fun to paint them in bright colors like baby blue or pink. Will have to try this.

  11. G K says

    They look like brand new chairs! This would be great for old filing cabinets as well.

  12. Rosie says

    Wow!!! I have used the Rustoleum spray, but not the 2X. I must get this. It does an amazing job! They came out like new!

  13. ellen beck says

    I have done this many times, and it makes all the difference in the world. As long as the rusting if there is any is superficial, it works terrific. Your chairs look great.

  14. Mary Gardner says

    I have some metal chairs that could definitely use some new paint. Yours turned out great! Thanks for the tutorial.

  15. Tracie says

    Looks great! How many chairs does 1 can do??

  16. Carmen says

    How many chairs will one 2X can paint? I too have several chairs to paint! Thx.

  17. Betty says

    How many chairs did you do with ONE
    Can do?

    • It’s definitely something I should have paid better attention to. I’m pretty sure it took two cans for three chairs.

  18. Debra Guthrie says

    Did you add a sealer?

    • No, we did not. This is their 4th summer and they still look amazing. They are stored inside.

  19. Tina Marantette says

    I have about twenty kids size chairs that I was going to spray paint for my church’s Sunday school room. I am worried about the moving parts getting clogged with paint and not being able to fold. Do yours still fold up nicely?
    I also wonder if the kids will pick at the paint.
    Thank you for posting your project!

Add Your Comment