Painting our rusty metal gate

Hey y’all!  So, I’m back with a how-I-did-it post about painting our metal gate.   As you can see here, it was not in the greatest shape…

It was faded, rusty, didn’t stay closed due to a broken latch, and one of the gate caps was broken…

Not so hot.  It basically sucked the life out of our curb appeal.  It’s amazing how a seemingly small element can do that.

Our first order of business was to find some gate cap replacements.  Apparently, both Home Depot and Lowe’s have discontinued sale of most of these items, but we were lucky enough to find some simple plastic black caps at Home Depot before they sold out…


I googled them as well and discovered that you can also order them online from several different retailers.   Once we had these on hand, I went about prepping the gate.  First, my trusty dad came over with a friend and welded the gate latch so that the gate would actually close (I took no pictures of this… sorry).

Then, I taped and protected the surrounding stucco and flooring around the gate with paper and got to brushing the rusty areas with a wire brush to loosen any rust particles and peeling paint…


For the more stubborn peeling areas, I used various sizes of putty knives to scrape off the offending paint…

I apologize for my putty knife.  I have no excuse for (1) the fact that it’s gross or (2) that I chose to photograph it anyways.  Ha!  Sometimes I just get so involved in a project that I quickly snap progress pics, and then decide when I look back at my photos later that I must’ve temporarily lost all sense of vision.   In any case, despite it’s appearance, my unattractive well-loved putty knife was highly effective in removing the paint, which is the most important thing.

Once I was finished scraping, I moved on to using low grit sandpaper followed by high grit to try and further smooth the surface.   Honestly, the gate was in such bad shape in spots that I had no illusions of getting it smooth.  My goal was to simply get it slightly less wonky.

I wiped the gate clean with tack cloth and then it was time to attach my end caps…

(P.S. The above shot was actually taken before I started, so I definitely sanded down those paint drips and rough spots before painting) To attach the caps, I simply set them up there (as shown) and then tapped them into place with a rubber mallet.  It was a perfect fit.

Now, it was painting time.  Before beginning this project, I’d completed some research and found  that a good method for painting rusty outdoor metals was to apply a rust-inhibiting primer followed by an oil-based rust-inhibiting paint, so I went with Rustoleum brand products, which I found at Home Depot.  I primed my surface using this…

And no, I didn’t follow Rule #1 of Home Improvement 101: Wear Gloves.  And yes, this was another what-was-I-thinking shot that’s causing me embarrassment (rightnow).  And yes, I still chose to post it anyways.  Honesty.  It’s a virtue that I try impart on this blog if it means you might learn by my mistakes.  So, please, for the love of Lucy, don’t follow my lead.  Please wear gloves and protect your skin.   That is Recommendation #1 of things to do differently than me in this post.

To spray my primer, I simply kept the can about 10 inches from my surface and kept my arm moving the entire time, applying a light, even coat to all surfaces of the gate.  I held a large piece of cardboard behind the gate as I sprayed to limit the over-spray (hence the crazy amount of paint on my hand… I never claimed to have great aim). 😉

After the gate was primed, it looked like this…

Already a huge improvement, right???

Next, I used Rustoleum’s oil-based paint in gloss black…

I don’t have any pictures of the painting process because about a quarter of the way in it started to lightly drizzle.  I was literally hauling bootie to finish.  Fortunately, it was only a VERY light sprinkling of rain and it stopped quickly, but it put the crazy-woman-panic in me to where I was just trying to get ‘er done before the skies decided to open up again (which they didn’t).  Since I was using an oil-based paint, the water did nothing to the finish whatsoever, but really…. I consider myself lucky.   If it had rained any harder I may not be able to claim that.    So, Recommendation #2 of things to to differently than me in this post: Check the weather forecast before painting outdoor items.

As for how I applied the paint, I simply brushed it on with a paint brush and it worked like a charm.  I’ve never worked with oil-based paint before and, aside from the fumes, it was amazeballs.   It covered like a dream and smoothed right out leaving a glossy hard finish.

Like I mentioned before, I knew that our gate would never be completely smooth. You can see in this shot that there were areas where the metal was just too eaten away because of neglect over the years. Fortunately, these rough spots aren’t too noticeable unless you’re right on top of the gate inspecting it (or staring at a high resolution photograph.  Lol.).   We’ll eventually have to replace the gate, but in the meantime, hopefully priming/painting the metal has inhibited further rust damage enough to extend its life and make it look more presentable.

In any case, despite the bumpiness, it still looks way better than it did before with that rusty, decapitated gate cap.  This is the same post, but with the gate open…

I plan to add a second coat of paint to the gate eventually which will hopefully smooth out the surface more.  The coat that I did covered really, really well, so at the time, I didn’t feel like I needed a second, but we’ll see.  Added protection couldn’t hurt.

A shot of the gate before so you don’t have to scroll up…

And now…

You can see that the old/wrong front door was in when I started this project, and I’d already started painting the new/correct front door when I actually got around to taking “after” pictures.  I love seeing the evolution of things.

Here’s the other view from when we closed on the house…

That’s how the gate stayed for months since it didn’t lock.  After we moved in, the courtyard quickly turned into a weed-fest since that mulch that you see above was only applied in a very thin layer (probably just for showing the house).   Since then we’ve added layers of cardboard to smother the weeds, topped with decomposed granite.  And I’m happy to report that it’s so far, so good on the weed front.   We also had the house painted (which included that stucco wall).  Its a slightly darker color with more of a grey tone to it than before….

The courtyard is just so much neater. I have to say that I really like the simpler gate caps.   They really streamline the gate to make it feel slightly more modern.  And I love the crisp blackness.   It adds much needed contrast and sophistication to the courtyard.   Now to address those faded lanterns. Funny how making one thing look good, makes another look just awful.   So, we’ll be addressing those at some point soon.   Eventually we want to add a nice, stained wood wrap-around bench around the perimeter of the entire courtyard and maybe some pavers underfoot to give this space some additional function.  Eventually.  We’ll get there.  🙂

In any case, the courtyard is much more presentable now and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

TDC Before and After

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