Outdoor furniture is perfect for getting creative with paint finishes. You can experiment with techniques that might be daunting on an indoor piece. If your patio table is looking more shabby than chic, consider giving it a faux finish makeover for a French cafe look. Or bring beach living right into your yard by sprucing up outdoor dining chairs with bright, zingy colours. A word of caution -- before you start painting, spend time preparing the item thoroughly.
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Wash the item with warm, soapy water or a trisodium phosphate solution. Rinse and allow to dry. If the existing surface is sound, all you need do is sand the surface lightly to provide a key for the new paint. However, if the finish is cracked or peeling, you will have to remove it with a chemical stripper or hand sander. You will need to seal oiled wood before painting.
Select a primer according to the furniture and your climate. Oil-based paint is generally more durable but cracks in hot, dry conditions. Latex paints are improving in durability but are difficult to remove should you ever wish to repaint in the future. Metal garden furniture requires a metal primer. Apply two coats of primer, then sand lightly with fine-grade sandpaper.
Outdoor tables look great with a faux marble finish. Oil-based paints work best. You will need white primer; a main colour, such as grey, beige or green; a small amount of black; white spirit; a sponge and a few large feathers. After priming, apply one coat of the main colour and while it is wet, start working into it with the feather to add black veins. You can also create white veins by lifting off the colour with a feather dipped in mineral spirit. Use the sponge to cloud the surface slightly. Seal with a minimum of two coats of polyurethane varnish.
Paint each surface of your furniture in a bright colour to give your patio a cheery look on even the dullest day. This is a good way to use up leftover paint. Turn chairs upside down to make it easier to reach difficult areas. Seal latex paint with varnish to increase its durability.
Paint furniture in large patches of black and white for a fashionable cow hide effect. Alternatively, paint on zebra stripes. Accessorise with black and white cushions and a matching umbrella for the "wow factor." Or choose two clashing colours for a dash of flair -- bubblegum pink with lime green or deep orange with royal blue.
Distressing and Antiquing
Use a combination of colours to create a well-used, shabby chic look. Apply the first colour and allow to dry. Rub a white candle randomly over the surface, paying particular attention to places where natural wear would occur. Paint the second coat and once dry, use steel wool to expose the first colour. Alternatively, use a crackle-glaze kit to achieve an antique effect. These finishes are fragile, so seal with the appropriate varnish for maximum protection.
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