Simple Steps for Repainting Powder-Coated Aluminum Patio Furniture

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One of the best things about aluminum patio furniture is how durable it can be, especially if it’s powder coated.  It can withstand harsh elements and it’s easy to move.

However, with time, the surface can start to discolor and lose its shine. The powder coating may also see its share of nicks and scrapes through normal use.

While cast aluminum patio furniture can easily be restored, powder-coating can require a few more steps. In this post we’ll show you how to repaint powder-coated aluminum patio furniture.

You can do this in one of two ways:

The most common is adding a layer of paint on top of the powder coating, but this may lead to a bumpy finish. Sometimes it’s also challenging for paint to adhere to the slickness of a powder coat.

The other method involves stripping the powder coating off the furniture first. This method provides a more sure-fire way to get the results you want, but with quite a bit more labor involved.

Let’s take a look at how to prep and repaint your aluminum furniture. 

Powder-Coated Aluminum

Aluminum is an incredibly durable material. And, unlike many other metals, it doesn’t rust or deform easily.

However, aluminum can oxidize. When this happens, the shiny silver surface can turn a dull, chalky white.

To prevent that from happening, a powder coating is often applied to the furniture.  This is a material that consists of polyester micro-beads.

The beads are sprayed onto the aluminum surface and allowed to cure under high heat until it hardens. Because of this process, the coating doesn’t flake or peel off like traditional paint.

The final result is a lustrous, smooth finish. 

The powder coating process also allows the ability to colorize the aluminum furniture.  If you have aluminum furniture that is colored, it more than likely has a powder coating.

Even though the powder coating is unreactive, it can degrade. UV rays from the sunshine can cause the color and shine to fade.  

When that happens, it’s time for a repaint.

Repainting Powder-Coated Aluminum Patio Furniture

Repainting your furniture can be a time-consuming task depending on the condition of it.  As with many projects, the prep work is key to success. 

If the existing powder coating is still fully adhered to the furniture, you have the option to paint directly over it.  However, if the existing coating is flaking away, it’s recommended that you strip it off in order to ensure the new coating will stick. 

Step 1: Finding a Suitable Space

The first step is to find the right space. You want to have plenty of room to move around and get all angles of your furniture.

In addition, some of the materials you use can give off toxic fumes. So, it’s crucial that you have excellent ventilation.

Ideally, it’s best to repaint furniture outdoors. However, if wet weather is in the forecast, a garage or other well-ventilated area would work.

If working indoors, it’s advised that you lay out floor protection before starting any work.  Painter’s cloth or plastic can cover a large area to help ensure the floor stays clean.

Step 2: Collecting Your Materials

Before jumping into action, it’s best to gather all materials before you start: 

  • Sponge
  • Wire brush
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Sandpaper
  • Microfiber towel
  • Self-Etching
  • Enamel spray paint
  • Polishing wax
  • Gloves
  • Face mask

Some other optional items that may be useful, particularly if removing the existing coating:

  • Mineral spirits (or other solvent)
  • Heat gun
  • Paint Scraper
  • Paint Brush

Step 3: Scuff or Remove the Powder Coat off Your Patio Furniture 

You’ll need to carefully assess the existing powder coating on the furniture to determine your course of action.  Chipping or flaking of the current powder coat is a sign that it may be best to remove the current coat.

Even if the current powder coating looks to be stable, it can sometimes be tricky to get paint to bind onto the powder coat. At a minimum, you’ll want to heavily scuff the entire surface with sandpaper in order to better the chances that the paint will stick.

Ultimately, this step is arguably the most labor-intensive part of the whole process. 

If removing the powder coating, there are three different ways you can do this:

Heating the Powder Coating

The curing process of the powder coating involves heating up the polyester micro-beads. This melts them into place before cooling sets their position.

Luckily, that means you can re-melt the beads to remove them. To do that, you’ll need a heat gun.

Aim the gun at the furniture and allow it to heat up the powder coating. The layer should start to soften and turn sticky.

At this point, the material should be malleable enough to scrape off. 

The main issue with this method is how much time it takes. Getting the powder hot enough to remove may take a while.

You’ll likely need to work in sections to maintain heat long enough to scrape away the powder coating.

Stripping the Powder Coating with Chemicals

Using chemicals is the easiest way to remove powder coating from aluminum furniture. However, it’s also the riskiest.

To strip the coating off, you’ll need mineral spirits (or other alternative solvent) and a paintbrush. This can dissolve the powder and make it really easy to remove.

Soak the brush in the chemical for a few seconds. Then, apply a thin layer over the entire surface of the furniture.

This will slowly start breaking down the powder. You may have to do this a few times to remove all of the material.

Resist the urge to pour the paint thinner on top of the furniture. It may make the removal process a little faster, but there’s a greater chance the aluminum may corrode.

In addition, mineral spirits are volatile, and they evaporate pretty rapidly. So, using too much can release a lot of toxic fumes into the air.

Sanding off the Powder Coat

The final method to remove the powder coating is sanding it off. This may not be the most exciting process, but it’s the safest one.

For this, you’ll need 120 grit sandpaper. You can also use a rougher grit, but it may scratch the surface of your furniture.

Once you pick the best sandpaper grit for you, it’s time to start sanding. Go over the entire surface of the furniture, making sure to remove all the powder coating.

Leaving any residue behind can lead to a bumpy paint job.

This process will take a lot of time and elbow grease.  Don’t rush it though and spread it out over days if needed.

With this method, you’ll produce a lot of sanding dust. It’s recommended that you wear a respirator for protection during this process.

It’s also a good idea to put on a pair of work gloves to avoid blisters during the repeated motions.

Step 4: Cleaning Your Aluminum Patio Furniture

Before moving onto painting, you’ll want to start with a clean canvas.

Begin by going over the entire surface of the furniture with soapy water. Using a sponge, scrub every nook and cranny.

You can use the wire brush to help you remove any sticky debris.

Then, wipe down the furniture with clean water. Make sure to remove any residual dust or soap.

Step 5: Priming the Surface of Your Patio Furniture

Once your aluminum furniture has been prepped, give your furniture a final dusting. Use your microfiber towel to remove any debris or sanding dust that may be remaining.

After that, you should have a flat surface to paint on. While this will give a smooth finish, it’s not ideal for the paint to stick to.

For this reason, you’ll need to prime the furniture. 

If you have removed the old powder coating, you’ll be left with bare aluminum.  A self-etching primer is recommended at this stage.

If you’re painting atop the old powder coating, you will want to avoid the self-etching primer.  Instead, an epoxy primer may be more suitable.  

Whatever primer you use, it’s recommended that you test in a small area of the furniture to ensure it binds properly.  If you provide ample drying time and the primer smears, it’s best to look for another primer or to strip off the powder coating.  

Applying the primer is simple. You can either spray or brush the primer on in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  You don’t need to be particularly neat with this step.

However, ensure you’re applying a thin coat of the product. Too much primer will take forever to dry and may leave lumps and bumps behind.

You should only need one even layer of the product. Once the layer of primer is on, wait until it’s dry to the touch to move on to the next step.

Step 6: Painting the Surface of Your Patio Furniture

This is where all your hard efforts in preparing the furniture will pay off. It’s when you finally get to add a little color to your project. 

Technically, an exterior-grade latex or acrylic paint should do the trick here. You can apply uniform coats over the furniture and let them dry.

However, there are a couple of issues with this method. First off, because of its consistency, it’s incredibly difficult to apply thin coats of paint.

On top of that, it’s easy to leave brush strokes behind, which can ruin the paint job.

Instead, it’s best to use an exterior enamel-based spray paint. This allows you to spray thin coats onto the furniture that’ll dry much faster.

Apply as many layers as you need to build up the color of the paint.

As a side note, many people think that glossy paint will be the best.  However, glossy paint will highlight imperfections –so, choosing a lower sheen, such as satin or semi-gloss is recommended.

Step 7: Waxing Your Patio Furniture

Once the paint dries down, the furniture is ready for waxing. Using your microfiber towel, grab a small amount of polishing or automotive wax, and go over the surface.

This will add a layer of protection on top of the paint to reduce scratches and chipping.

Peeling Paint on Aluminum Patio Furniture

Unlike powder coating, paint is more prone to chipping and peeling. This may be a result of normal wear and tear or because of an uneven primer layer.

When this happens, you’ll want to remove any loose or flaky paint. Then, use your sandpaper to gently buff the area and smooth the edges of the paint.

After that, apply a tiny amount of primer and wait for it to dry, then add the paint. 

Final Takeaway

While repainting powder-coated aluminum patio furniture can be a simple task, the preparation is key. 

You’ll need to determine whether to remove the existing powder coating or try to paint on top of it.  Removing the existing coating is your best bet in assuring that the new paint will best adhere.  

Once you’ve prepared the furniture, you can apply a single thin layer of primer on the surface of the furniture. Next, add a few coats of paint, waiting for each layer to dry before applying the next.

Then, it’s time to kick-back and enjoy the fruit of your labor.

Happy Lounging!

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