How to Refinish Aluminum Patio Furniture

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Good-quality aluminum furniture can last you at least 15 years and possibly much longer. But over time, your patio set may start to look less attractive than it once was as the cushions wear out and the paint becomes scratched or faded. When that happens, you don't need to go shopping for a new furniture set. Instead, you can fix up the old one by replacing the cushions and sprucing up the paint.

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How to Refinish Aluminum Patio Furniture

Step 1: Clean the Furniture

Use a water-based degreasing cleaner and steel wool to clean the surface before fully rinsing away the cleaner with a garden hose. Allow the furniture to dry completely.

Step 2: Prepare to Paint

Because aluminum is nonporous and very hard, it can be difficult for paint to adhere to it unless you rough up the surface.

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  1. Use 180-grit sandpaper along the entire surface to ensure the primer will stay on.
  2. Use the degreasing cleaner to remove any residual dust, rinse well, and then allow the surface to fully dry.
  3. Next, tape off any glass or other surfaces you don't want painted.
  4. Place the furniture on a drop cloth outside or in a well-ventilated work area.

Step 3: Apply Self-Etching Primer

Application of an acid-based etching primer is critical to creating a surface to which paint can stick.

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  1. Apply a thin layer of primer, holding the can about 8 inches from the surface.
  2. Allow it to dry and then lightly sand with 400-grit sandpaper.
  3. Wipe away any dust with a tack cloth.
  4. Let the primer dry for at least three hours.
  5. If you can still see any of the original furniture coloring, apply a second layer of primer.
  6. Allow the primer to fully dry.
  7. Sand and wipe away the dust.

Step 4: Apply the Paint

Choose an exterior-grade spray paint designed to be used on metal in a color and finish you like, though you may wish to stay away from high gloss since it can highlight imperfections. Expect each piece of furniture to take one can of paint.

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  1. Again, hold the can about 8 inches away from the surface and slowly move along all sides of the furniture.
  2. Allow the paint to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions before lightly sanding with 400-grit sandpaper.
  3. Wipe it with a tack cloth and apply a second coat.

Step 5: Use a Sealer

Applying two coats of enamel sealer to the surface protects the paint from chips and scratches.

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  1. Allow the first coat of finish to dry before applying the second layer.
  2. Wait until the finish has completely cured for 24 hours before using the furniture.

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