How To Refurbish A Rusted Old Bistro Set

Welcome to the 349th Metamorphosis Monday!

This cool fall weather has me itching to get outside and do a little sprucing up. Lately I’ve been noticing the bistro table I love to use for outdoor dining was starting to show its age.

Outdoor table setting for two


I normally use a tablecloth when dining here but the rest of the time the table is uncovered for everyday use.

Summer Tablescape with Magnolia Centerpiece


This set is made of metal. When I plant wave petunias in the pots nearby during the summer months, the petunias reach out, thinking the chairs are just right for climbing. The summer I came out to set the table for Tablescape Thursday and found this, I loved how the petunias looked too much to disturb them. Is there anything better than a chair full of pink petunias? 🙂

Dining With Petunias, A Garden Tablescape


With fall here and no petunias to disturb this year, it was time to do a bit of refurbishing of this little dining spot. First thing it needed was a good scrubbing down to remove any dried-on hibiscus blossoms and dirt.

Bistro Chair Seat Before Cleaning and Painting


There was also the beginning tell-tale signs of rust.

Lightly Sanded Bistro Chair


Even the backs of the chairs were starting to show a hint of rust.

Dirt and Rust on chairs


After placing plastic dropcloths down from my local True Value, I filled a tub full of soapy dishwater and gave the table and chairs a good scrubbing.

Bistro table before being cleaned and refurbished


Remember when I built this cubby organizer to store my tools in my mini-workshop? During the time I was making the organizer I invested in an electric sander.

Pottery Barn Cubby Organizer Knock-off


I purchased an awesome sander by Dewalt and it made the job of sanding smooth the little cubbie sections a fast, easy job.Dewalt Sander


Even though it isn’t necessary to sand a surface before applying the paint that I planned to use, Rust-oleum 2x Ultra Cover Paint & Primer in Hunt Club Green, I decided to give the table and chairs a light sanding in the areas where I could see some rust. I’ve always loved the dark green color of this table and chairs so I was really happy when I found Rust-oleum made a color pretty much identical to the original paint color. I wouldn’t be surprised if the original color was this exact Hunt Club Green.

Rust-Oleum Paint & Primer in Hunt Club Green


Before getting down to work, I put on a protective mask to avoid breathing in any of the sanding dust. I also wore a mask while painting. I buy these in bulk so I always have one before doing any sanding or spray painting.

Sanding Mask

First I used the mini-wire brushes I bought when I repaired and painted my froggy fountain,

Wire Brushes To Remove Rust


Then I gave the chairs a light sanding with my electric sander.

Rust on Bistro Table


Next I pulled out my Scotch Blue Edge Lock Tape to tape off the glass area of the table.

Scotch Blue Edge Lock Tape

Scotch Blue Edge Lock Tape


The taping off went quickly despite the table being round.

Preparing the table for painting


The tape is very flexible and bends to fit where you need it.

Table clean and ready for painting


Once I had everything taped off, I got busy spraying. I covered the chairs and table with a two coats, although one really did a pretty good job of covering everything. The second coat was just to catch any spots I may have missed. When I removed the tape from the top, I had a little surprise. Oops! lol I should have used some of my plastic drop cloth or some newspaper and covered the whole top of the table.

Overspray with paint


Thankfully, Goof Off came to the rescue, easily removing the overspray from the glass. Paint thinner would work as well, but I already had a bottle of Goof Off on hand, so that’s what I used.

Goof Off


So here’s how my little bistro set looked after refurbishing. I have to say, if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was a brand new set!

Bistro Set Refurbished with Paint


The cushions aren’t new. They either came with the set or were sold to go with it way back when I purchased it many years ago. I store them inside when I’m not using them, so they have held up well over the years.

DIY Makeover for Outdoor Furniture


I was so surprised to see it only took one can of paint to makeover this whole bistro set, and that was applying two coats!

You can see how nicely the overspray cleaned up in this view. Again, it’s easy to avoid that issue, just cut newspaper or a piece of plastic dropcloth close to the size of the top of your table, then using the painter’s tape, tape it down to the surface to protect it.

Save and Refurbish Outdoor Furniture with a Makeover


The chairs turned out great, too!

Makeover for Outdoor Bistro Set


Love, love, love Rust-Oleum paint for refurbishing outdoor furniture!

Outdoor Furniture Makeover


If you’ve never painted with spray paint, here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the years.

  1. Shake the can well to mix the paint inside the can. While spraying, occasionally shake the can again just to keep the paint well mixed.
  2. Be sure and wear a good face mask and always use spray paint outdoors or in a very well-ventilated area. Follow all directions as stated on the can.
  3. Tape off and cover any surfaces that you don’t wish to paint because it’s easy to get some unintentional overspray as seen in my project.
  4. When applying the paint, it’s better to apply two-three light coats of paint instead of one heavy coat to whatever you’re painting. If paint is applied too heavily, it tends to run. So resist the urge to try to cover a surface completely in just one coat. Rust-Oleum dries very quickly so you won’t have to wait very long to apply another coat. Just follow the directions on the can regarding how long to wait before applying additional coats.
  5. When applying paint from a spray can or from a spray dispenser, keep the can or container moving in a nice even pattern. Pausing will cause paint to pool up in areas, so just keep your hand and the sprayer moving. When you need to pause or stop, discontinue spraying.


I think this little table and chairs is all ready for a nice fall dinner here under the stars! What fall projects are you working on these days? Speaking of fall projects, be sure to tune into True Value’s Twitter Party on October 13th from 8-9pm EST! We’ll be chatting about fall DIY (prizes will be given!) follow along with the hashtag #ValueofDIY. See you there!

DIY Makeover for Outdoor Furniture


I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

Looking forward to all the fabulous Before and Afters for this Met Monday!

Metamorphosis MondayMet Monday


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In order to link up, you’ll need to include a link in your MM post back to the party so the other participants will have an opportunity to receive visits from your wonderful blog readers.

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  1. Your bistro set looks brand new now!! Fabulous job!!! Thanks so much for hosting and hope you have a fabulous week!

    🙂 Linda

  2. Your bistro set DOES look new again! Once again I have added 3 links and don’t see them but will come back and check. Welcome home!!!

  3. PS what size tablecloth fits your table? I have a bistro set too and have never used a cloth. Thanks!!!

  4. Thank you for hosting! Great ideas here Lynn

  5. It looks brand new Susan! I loved the petunia chair though 🙂 Thanks for another great Met Monday!

  6. Susan, thanks for hosting! Your table and chairs look great!

  7. Gorgeous, Susan! I love the color. We have a set that needs a paint job, thanks for the tips!

  8. The set looks so pretty, Susan. You are such a busy girl. I did love the Petunias growing on the chair though. Maybe you should get an old chair just for Petunias, or maybe I’ll do that! Thank you for the linky.

  9. Thanks for your tips. I have a table that needs just this kind of work done to it and I had not the slightest notion of how to begin.

  10. Your bistro set looks great. I have a larger table set and need to do the same as you. Mine has a powder coat finish…so I wonder if spray paint will stick. Because that would make the job so much easier. I tried brushing on some outdoor paint on one chair…and it is peeling off. I put a tablecloth on the table to hide the bad rust. ha!

  11. I am so glad you had such a nice trip and will pray that the trip to Italy will be equally as good.

    The table is lovely. I redid mine a few years ago and it will need it again next year.

    What is Marie’s blog? I would like to do the LED votive candles into the santa’s, but wait until after you come home.

    • Thanks, Carol! Are you talking about my friend, Marie, who decorates for the all the holidays? Unfortunately, she doesn’t have a blog.
      When I get back from Italy, email me your question at [email protected] and I’ll email Marie and see what she says. I would do it now but by the time she replies back, I’ll be gone.

  12. A hint at all the outdoor maintenance–especially this time of year.

  13. It looks great, Susan! And thanks for the tips on spray painting! Have a great week!…hugs…Debbie

  14. Nice job, Susan. Good list of materials too. Thanks for sharing, and for hosting.

  15. Thank you so much for the party Susan! Your bistro table looks great!

  16. Thanks a bunch for hosting! Hope your Fall is off to a great start!

  17. Good golly, YOU ARE one busy gal!! Luv’d the petunia chair!! Everything looked marvelous!! Arrivederci!! franki

  18. Susan, you did an excellent job. We have a table similar to yours but it seats four. It needs attention and is beginning to have rust. Now that it’s cooler, it would be a good time to freshen it up. Thank you for hosting.

  19. The Bistro set looks great! I am like you, once the cool Fall weather hits all I can think about is decorating and perking up outside. Happy Fall Y’all!

  20. Nice work on that table and chairs. I have a similar one but it is powder coated; when I tried repainting it, the new paint began to peel off not long after; I have checked into having the set re-powder coated….I was shocked at how crazy expensive that process is. Am going to do it to preserve my set but am certainly unhappy about how much it costs!!!

  21. Thank you for another wonderful party Susan!

  22. It’s amazing what spray paint can do, isn’t it? It looks brand new!!


  23. Linda Page says

    That bistro set could pass for brand new now! Great job! If you get bored with blogging, you could hire out as a handygirl!!!

  24. That looks great Susan. It’s a cute set isn’t it! Nothing like a fresh coat of paint to give something new life. The petunias looked cute there but make it had to sit down! 🙂

  25. Your bistro set looks so fresh and lovely. You have reminded me that my own bistro set needs some freshening up too. My husband bought me that same DeWalt sander several years ago. I love it! Can’t remember how many projects I have used it for. Thanks for the party Susan. I am looking forward to your pics from Italy!!

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  26. What a sweet set, Susan. Very Parisienne …. ☺ … and you really did a beautiful job. Warm hugs -Brenda-

  27. Renee Cook says

    That looks so nice, Susan! Thanks for sharing your process. I have a bistro set and glider that need attention, so this project was already in the back of my mind. My set is matte black and I think I’ll keep them black although your green looks very nice. The shape of your set is just lovely, especially your table base. I know you’ll enjoy your fresh new table for seasons to come!

  28. LindaSonia says

    I’m confused – how did you spray the edges of the table if you taped them off??? I must be missing something.

    • I just taped off the glass area that’s near the edge…but it wasn’t quite enough coverage. I should have cut out some newspaper close to the size of the tabletop and taped it down for full coverage. Fortunatley, the Goof Off took off the overspray.

  29. Your bistro set looks great with its new coat of paint Susan!

  30. Cute bistro set Susan, and it looks great all spiffed up. Great tips on spray painting too. Thanks, as always for hosting and I hope you have a great week.

  31. Hello Susan,

    Your table and chairs look great! This is a great cost save as it is very pricey to have someone paint them. I have a Lyon Shaw set that I have painted twice over the past 20 years. I use Rustoleum and it works great. There are 10 pieces to my set, 8 chairs a big round table and 3 nesting tables. It takes about 7-8 cans of paint but very budget friendly. If you have a lot of painting to do it can get tough on your ‘spraying finger’ lol…I use the Rustoleum spray grip. It works really well and makes for a more comfortable spraying experience. I found one online at JoAnne fabric but our local Home Depot carries them too. Thought I would share this tip.|dc&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=&utm_campaign=Shopping+-+Crafts&CS_003=12310052&CS_010=[ProductId]&gclid=CLO18–yrMgCFQcTHwod694AmA

    • You know, I think I have one of those but I keep forgetting to use it! I think it was a gift at the last blogging conference I attended in Atlanta. Thanks, Debra…I need to get it out and use it next time.

  32. Cyndi Raines says

    Great job Susan! Safe travels – can’t wait to see Italy with you!

  33. These look lovely. I used the same Rustoleum spray paint on our outdoor metal furniture this summer and was very pleased with the results. Your tips would have come in handy though. All I had on hand to cover the glass on our table was newspaper and masking tape, and some of the paint got under it. I didn’t realize I could use paint thinner on the glass. Oh well, thanks to you, I will be better prepared next time.

  34. Thanks for sharing the products you used. The final result…wonderful!

  35. The bistro set turned out fabulously! I know you’ll enjoy it, what a perfectly romantic little garden enclave!

  36. Is the bistro table outside or inside? I can never tell. You make me feel like I can buy something used and change the color to fit my tastes

    • It’s outside…on my deck. I’ve had it about 10-15 years, forgot how long now. You could repaint one, Jeri…Rust-0leum is pretty awesome stuff.

  37. Susan that looks great. Two chairs for the diners and one for the petunias.

  38. The set looks so pretty, Susan. I have a table that needs just this kind of work done to it and I had not the slightest notion of how to begin.

  39. Hello !

    Absolutely, love all your ideas, hints, tips and your very incredible, amazing great taste! You should be a professional decorator !! I wish I could shop at the antique stores that you shop at !!
    Where I am, deals can be a bit difficult to come by. So I have been using Shopgoodwill auction online. Some very surprising things!!
    You truly inspire and motivate me !! Thank You !!

    • Thanks so much, Terry! I was truly shocked by how low the prices were when I went antiquing recently. I just don’t think antiques are appreciated now like they once were. I def still love them. Thanks for the tip on ShopGoodwill, I will check them out!

  40. Alice Mcmiller says

    Wow, that bistro set transformation is impressive! It’s amazing what a little refurbishing can do to bring new life to old furniture. Thanks for sharing this helpful guide!

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