Upcycle tired garden furniture in just four easy steps

Revamp dated garden furniture and give it a brand new look with this simple garden paint project

garden bench upcycled with Rust-Oleum paint
(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

If your garden furniture has seen better days, you might be surprised how easy it is to give it a brand new look with nothing more than a couple of coats of paint and a bit of elbow grease. 

That faded wooden storage bench you've been thinking of taking to the tip, or the old outdoor dining set that you wouldn't dare to let grace your Insta, can all be transformed into colourful, on-trend focal points. 

So follow this step-by-step project for a quick and easy way to update your garden space in a weekend, then head to our buying guide for expert advice on the best exterior wood paints and find the perfect product for your garden projects. Got your heart set on investing in some new furniture instead? You'll find plenty of great buys in our guide to the best garden furniture.

You will need: 

upcycled garden storage bench painted a pale grey

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

Step one: get your space ready

It's a good idea to place your furniture on top of a large dust sheet or some old newspapers to avoid the paint staining anything such as your patio floor tiles. Where possible, do this project in a well ventilated space, especially if you are using the spray paint version of the paint (see step four).

Step two: clean the furniture surfaces

before shot of a garden upcycling project showing a plain wooden storage bench

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

It's important that any surfaces you're going to be painting are free from loose paint, rust, wax, oil and grease. Wipe them down with a damp cloth to clean them. For wooden surfaces that are particularly worn or weather damaged, it's also a good idea to lightly sand the surface of the wood to ensure you'll get a smooth painted finish. For small areas or items of furniture you can use sheets of sandpaper and do it by hand, but for larger pieces you'll find it easier and much quicker to use a small hand sander instead. 

Step three: prep the surfaces

Depending on the material of your chosen furniture, prepping the surface with a suitable primer is a safe bet to ensure a smooth finish. For example, metal furniture generally requires a primer prior to painting as the surface is slick – try Rust-Oleum Surface Primer (opens in new tab). If you're painting bare or previously painted wood, some products, such as Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Garden Furniture Paint (opens in new tab), can be applied to directly to the surface without the need for a primer. It can also be applied directly to wooden fences, brick, stone and plaster so you can give the rest of your space a makeover using similar colourful shades too. 

Step four: paint the furniture

garden upcycling project

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

With your surfaces prepped and ready, you can add your chosen colour to the furniture. Apply one coat, allow to dry fully, then add a second coat for even, durable coverage. If you're using Rust-Oleum Garden Furniture spray paint (opens in new tab), hold the can approximately 30cm from the surface of the furniture and spray in a steady back and forth motion, slightly overlapping with each stroke.

Add a few accessories to style up your newly painted furniture, such as outdoor cushions, some garden lighting and an outdoor rug and your revamped space is good to go! 

Read more: 

Beth's first journalism job was working for Real Homes magazine more than 18 years ago. It cemented her love of all things homes- and garden-related and she's never looked back since. She's worked for  and contributed to a number of leading magazines in the UK, including Ideal Home magazine, Period Living magazine, Grand Designs magazine and Good Homes magazine amongst others, before returning to Real Homes magazine as editor. Now the editor of Gardeningetc.com, Beth's attention is firmly outdoors, and she's constantly inspired by how people make use of their outdoor space. 

Her own garden is a really important part of her family's home, and they were lucky enough to inherit a space with lots of lovely mature planting when they bought their 1930s property. 

Since then, they've built several raised beds for a veg patch, increased the size of the flowerbeds to find room for yet more of her favourite David Austin roses and her husband's collection of hostas, created an outdoor living room complete with comfy sofas and festoon lights, and not forgetting the biggest challenge of all – trying to fit in the ever changing assortment of trampolines, climbing frames and outdoor toys that are inevitable when you have two young kids!