How to give your outdoor furniture a new lease of life

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Dust off the patio table and bring out the sun loungers – it’s time for an outdoor furniture makeover just in time for summer!

With designers and homeowners searching for more sustainable decorating options, reusing and upcycling your furniture is not only good for the environment, but it is also a budget-friendly option for giving your space a facelift.

Eco-paint specialist Thorndown has some top tips for those looking to transform and restore outdoor furniture, and get you well on your way to creating a stylish outdoor space to enjoy all through summer.

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Choosing a colour palette

Wondering how to paint outdoor furniture? Let’s start by selecting your colour palette. Go for shades that will fit with your existing garden design and your plants. For example, if your garden is filled with bright flowers, choosing darker furniture colours will let the flowers pop event more.

To channel feel-good summer vibes, brighter colours like yellow, orange, bright blue and hot pink are a go-to. For something that will last through the seasons, opt for colours like navy, natural wood and beige. This will provide a great base so you can change up the soft furnishings as the seasons change.

Top tip: Use sample pots to make sure you’re getting exactly the colour you want and always go with a wood paint that has been specially formulated for exterior use. This will ensure your chosen colours last longer. Go for exterior grade colour pigments, as this means the colour you choose is the colour you’ll see for years and years.

Surface preparation is key

Before you consider painting your old, tired furniture, be sure to sand off any rough patches or loose old coatings that will show or affect the finish.

Wooden furniture may need preserving with a wood preserver. If your furniture is made with treated softwood, remove any surface residue from the pressure-treatment process.

If your furniture is old, make sure the surface is thoroughly cleaned. Wash off any dirt with soapy water or use a pressure-washer to blast off persistent dirt or algae. Washing with a light bleach/water solution will also help to kill off algae.

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Achieving the perfect finish

They say patience is a virtue and this applies to painting too, so don’t rush to start your paint job. Make sure your wood is dry otherwise coatings won’t fix properly to the timber, affecting the paint’s performance and longevity. Before you start, check the weather to make sure rain isn’t forecast for at least 24 hours. This will allow plenty of time for the paint to dry and fix/bond properly.

A knotting agent or stain-blocking primer can help to prevent possible tannin staining of the paint coating. However, if you’re a fan of all things natural, don’t worry about it and let nature take its course.

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Take care of metal fixings and surfaces

If there is any rust on fixings, treat the metal surfaces or use paint with flash rust inhibitor to stop rust from forming on non-galvanised metal or metal screws/nails other than stainless steel.

Grab your tools and let’s begin!

Now that you know how to restore outdoor furniture, it’s time to get going! Apply your first coat of wood paint using a high-quality paint brush, roller or sprayer and leave to dry for one to two hours. If you’re leaving the paint to dry in the sunshine, it will dry much quicker.

Our top tip for how to paint outdoor furniture is after you have applied a second coat, leave this to dry for at least 12 hours. While it might feel dry, the curing/fixing process takes a lot longer and the more time you give it, the better.

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Good to know

  • Some lighter colours or semi-opaques can look better with a third coat as it will increase the opacity and richness of the colour. If you’re looking for paint that only requires two coats, Thorndown’s colours will give you great colour coverage and full exterior protection
  • Horizontal surfaces on garden furniture take a real beating from the sun, rain and backsides (not to mention spilled prosecco!), so give extra attention here and an extra coat of paint for good measure. Additional coats will give it extra strength and it will be even longer before a maintenance coat is required
  • Grab something nice and cold to reward yourself with after and admire your work!

Thorndown is an award-winning specialist paint manufacturer that creates technically excellent, eco-friendly water-based wood paints and innovative peelable glass paint, perfect for shading and art and crafts. The husband-and-wife team behind Thorndown, Ben and Caroline Thornborough, blend their passions for art, design, science and the natural world in their ecologically advanced paints.