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

Eight dollar chairs… Woohoo!

About six weeks ago, I came across this Craigslist ad…


Eight bucks, for wood chairs?? Sold.

We’ve been wanting to change out our kitchen chairs for a while now, but just hadn’t found the right deal yet. Don’t get me wrong, the black leather parsons chairs are classic and comfortable… it’s just that the black chairs plus the black table and the black bar stools are a lot of black in one small area for me, so I wanted to try a little contrast.


We figured we’d buy six chairs (6 chairs for $48 bucks?!!!), fix them up and then if we didn’t like them we would just resell them on Craigslist. Like I’ve said before, I like to buy, try, and either return/sell if we don’t like them. Plus, I just like fixing stuff up anyways, so no matter the outcome, it’s win-win for me.

The chairs were pretty filthy when we got them home. Nasty, was more like it. Gross. I used a damp rag and magic eraser to clean them. Some of the finish was worn off in spots and there were areas where someone had haphazardly reinforced the chairs, leaving messy screw holes.

Once they were clean, I set one of the chairs by our table to see how it looked. I liked the style and size, but the wood was too blonde compared to the rest of our stuff. It stuck out like a sore thumb, actually, so I decided to refinish them in a darker stain.

Now, I’d refinished furniture before, and learned first-hand that EVERY trace of clear lacquer must be removed to achieve an evenly stained finish. And sometimes its hard to determine if all of that lacquer has been completely removed. But, I figured that since the finish was in such shoddy shape to begin with, I’d at least give it a shot. I removed the seats, which were simply screwed on, and started sanding with 80 grit sandpaper to remove the finish. I did it by hand, since there were so many curvy areas on the chairs. The larger areas were easy, but I was having trouble with detail areas like this….


I knew it was imperative that I sand in the direction of the wood grain to prevent ugly sanding lines once stained, so removing the lacquer in these areas just wasn’t happening.  At least, not with the tools I had available to me.  One afternoon, as I futilely sanded during Lucas’s nap time, our neighbor walked over with the gift of lacquer thinner. He instructed me to rub it on with a rag to dissolve the finish.  After thanking him profusely and staring at the can as though it radiated magic beams of light, I began this process.

Sadly, I found that it was very slow going and VERY fumey.  I spent several hours rubbing lacquer thinner onto various chairs thinking that I just wasn’t committing fully, but alas, in the end I still felt that I couldn’t safely stain ANY chair and achieve an even finish.  So, I decided to paint the chairs instead.

I returned the lacquer thinner to our neighbor with a huge thank you, and called it a day. After a little mental recovery period (of a few weeks), I purchased, this spray paint….


I had used it on our patio furniture in black and was really impressed by the spray quality and finish. So, I bought some in gloss white. I decided to start with one chair and see how it went. I roughed up the finish with 220 grit sandpaper, wiped the chair clean, then applied several light, even coats of spray paint, leaving 10-15 minutes of dry time between each. Which left this…


While I liked the glossy finish, the flaws were definitely evident with the spray paint, and I was using more paint than expected (almost 2 cans for this one chair and I could’ve used more). Take a gander…




I didn’t have a complete problem with the flaws. They kind of lent a shabby-chic kind of feel. But since our table is currently in a peninsula formation against the wall, we only need 4-5 chairs to be used on a daily basis (with the other chair(s) to be used when we have guests). So, I thought I’d hand-paint one of the chairs to see if I liked that finish better. Then, later, I’d repaint the odd-man-out to match the others without having to sacrifice our normal day-to-day seating.

Having seen the flaws that showed on my spray-painted chair, I decided to use this wood filler to fill any large gashes and screw holes.



After the allotted dry time, I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out, then repeated the process with a second coat of wood filler followed by sanding. The second application really was key in making a smooth, even finish. I thoroughly cleaned the chairs to remove all the dust. Next, I applied a coat of Kilz Premium primer with an angled brush, waited an hour (per the instructions) then applied 2 coats of leftover white trim paint left by our builder. Which left me with this…



I definitely preferred the hand-painted to the spray-painted version. It just appeared more crisp. Plus, it was free since we already had the paint and primer. So, hand-painted it was. With that, I proceeded to prime the remaining four chairs by hand.

The next day, I walked into the garage where my completed hand-painted chair was drying and took a look.  Only to discover unsightly yellow bleed-through. Jeepers. (My pics of this didn’t turn out, unfortunately.)

Now, I’m not sure exactly what I did to tick off the DIY gods, but my projects lately seem to be riddled with way more obstacles than usual. Seriously. Now, I had not one (the spray-painted chair), but two chairs to repaint. Not the end of the world, really, but not something I was über excited about at this point either.   So, I purposely decided to ignore the problem children chairs for now and refocused on the others…

Since one coat of primer was clearly no match for yellow bleed-through, I added a second coat to the four chairs that I’d primed the previous day.  Then, I waited until they’d fully dried and searched for telltale signs of yellow betrayal. For the most part, the chairs looked good, but there were a few small areas that did need a third coat. The next day, (after inspecting for more bleed-through) I applied 2 coats of shiny white paint.  And I’m happy to report that we are “so far, so good” on the bleed front. I’m hoping that the second/third coat of stain-blocking primer was adequate to stop future bleed-through from occurring. (Fingers crossed!)

For the spray-painted chair, I knew that I’d need a different primer since most spray-paint is oil-based. Latex over oil = A peeling mess.  And, since I had the yellow bleed-through problem with the other chair, my mother-in-law, Mac (who has oodles of experience with painting, especially white painting), recommended a shellac-based primer. It can go over or under any paint, sticks to any surface, and blocks all bleed-through. It’s a smidge more expensive, but seemingly worth it. Plus, I could use it for both chairs.

So, I bought a quart of this…


I painted one good coat of shellac primer over both of the remaining chairs, then followed with two coats of white paint. And it worked like a charm. Thank yoooouuuu, Mac!

So, here’s where we are so far….


All chair frames are primed and painted. Finally. (The other two were drying in the garage when I took this pic)

And they look so glossy and fresh. I can’t wait to get the seats on them and bask in their doneness. And beauty. Did I mention beauty? Speaking of which….

Next, is the really fun part…. I’ll be back with details for recovering the seat cushions with a bold fabric (that I’m 100% completely obsessed with) and then the final “after” results.  We’re in the home stretch with these $8 chairs, my friends… (Fist pump!!)