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Red gives any old patio furniture an effortless retro-chic look. The problem? Getting a true tomato hue. We've pinpointed the problem and found the secret to painting metal patio furniture red.

painting-metalTop row left to right: Anthropologie; RefinedStyle; Ficurinia, etsy; industry-west; Bottom row left to right: Anthropologie; Jules Seltzer Store; Remodelista

It all started with a red garden love seat (in fact, it's the one on the bottom left). I saw it at anthropologie last year and thought it would make a great addition to the backyard of my then-apartment, but ultimately passed it up because of the nearly $1000 price tag. (It eventually went on sale...for $500.)

Though I made the smart budget decision not to buy it, I still find myself thinking of the garden bench, mostly because red patio furniture is everywhere this season. Taking the DIY approach, I started to paint a wrought iron daybed in the hopes of re-creating the look, but stopped the project when the fire engine red paint started drying to a rusty orange hue. Not ideal.

The problem was all in the primer: I used a typical brown primer, which had pigments that deepened the red hue no matter how many coats I painted on. (You should always use a spray formula when painting metal furniture, by the way. It'll give you the most even coverage, especially for detailed metal work.) The other options? Orange or gray, which can both often give a dingy cast to red.

In my research for a primer ideal for painting metal, I came upon a red-tinted lacquer spray primer used for automotive paint jobs. It creates an even base that will let you layer on the wildest red you could ever want. You can find it on the Automotive Touch-up website. Use it with confidence.

Want more tips on refreshing your old patio furniture? Check out...
Cheap Trick: Fix Up Old Patio Furniture
Prepare Your Outdoor Furniture For Spring
How to clean outdoor furniture

And to see how a pro gets his patio furniture ready for summer, watch this...


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