Restoring metal furniture properly requires that you remove the paint completely before repainting or refinishing. To remove paint from metal, you must use a different process than removing paint from wood. You must take special care to ensure that the metal is cleaned and free of rust before refinishing. Remove and treat bubbling, chipped, or rusting paint aggressively to stop paint in the area from failing. Proper paint removal and refinishing will prolong the life of the piece of furniture and prevent rust.
Clean the painted metal surfaces. Thorough cleaning will allow the paint strippers to work more effectively. Clean the painted surfaces with a detergent solution or household cleaners. If stubborn stains persist, use a more aggressive cleaner and scrubber.
Apply generous amounts of paint stripper to the painted surfaces with a brush or cloth. Depending on the stripper used, it may take several hours for the stripper to cure.
Scrub the paint off with a putty knife and wire brush. Use a cloth scrubber to remove the paint without damaging the metal underneath. If the paint does not easily start to come off, apply more stripper, and allow it to sit. Avoid using steel wool because it can damage the metal.
Clean the metal thoroughly once you have removed all of the paint. Use a wire brush to scrub all the remaining paint off. Clean all metal surfaces with a wire brush, and follow with a clean cloth and white spirit. Use white spirit generously to clean all the surfaces before refinishing.
You can often remove paint without damaging the metal underneath by using power washers or sand blasters. If using one of these, start in an inconspicuous area first to make sure the metal is not damaged in the process.
Test the paint stripper in a discreet location before applying to entire finish to make sure the process is effective with no adverse effects. Use a mask when working with white spirit and paint strippers, and work in a well-ventilated area.