2 ways to Revive Aluminum Outdoor Furniture

A red, rusty antique bench.

Do you have aluminum outdoor furniture? If you've had it awhile or received it secondhand, you may have run into a conundrum. Though beautiful, after just one or two seasons of use your metal seating is probably damaged, oxidized, or simply hasn’t held up to the elements as one may have expected. If this describes the scene on your backyard patio, know that you do have options besides replacement. With a bit of creativity and elbow grease, you can restore your furniture to its previous glory.

This article will be broken into two parts surrounding two methods of counteracting weathered aluminum furniture, each with different degrees of issue. Method one remedies oxidation and physical wear and method two is ideal for less extreme, dulling of appearance.

Method One - Repaint

When the cushions are off and your furniture is in its most bare state, assess the damage to the frame of your piece. My parents have an antique outdoor set passed down from my grandparents, and before they restored it, I recall rough, chipped edges and an almost rust-like appearance from age (despite the fact that aluminum can't actually rust.) Should yours not need a great aesthetic overhaul, a simple spot touch-up with a soft brush and acrylic paint may be enough to bring back its charm. Here's what to do for the rest of us whose patio set require a bit more attention.

What You’ll Need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Hose
  • Metal primer
  • Exterior-grade acrylic enamel paint

Step 1 - For a complete aluminum furniture makeover, sand down your pieces, beginning with the chipped and roughest spots, until bare metal is visible. Spray down with a hose, removing excess debris.

Step 2 - Using a brush, apply a thin layer of metal primer, again taking special care to cover the most damaged parts.

Step 3 - After allowing dry time, apply a top coat of acrylic paint. Allow to dry in the sunlight again before applying more coverage as needed.

Method Two - Buff and Wax

This idea is an interesting one as it uses, in a unique way, a typical item found in most modern garages. If your cast aluminum furniture isn’t too badly damaged by the great outdoors and simply needs a small pick-me-up to look new again, this trick may be for you.

What you’ll need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Hose
  • Automotive exterior wax
  • Dry cloth or sponge

Step 1 - Similarly to the methods described above, this idea begins with sanding the damaged and rough edges on the surface of your furniture until smooth.

Step 2 - Using a hose, rinse the furniture clean and allow it to dry completely.

Step 3 - Now just as one would on a car, use a rag to apply a thin layer of car wax on a small section of aluminum. Let it sit for a few minutes until dry to the touch and then wipe off the wax entirely. The more effort put in, the greater shine your (new) old furniture will attain!

Tip: Perform this waxing technique on a section-by-section basis. The goal, of course, is to create a surface on the furniture pieces that is seamless and universal in appearance. By working section-by-section, one can ensure the same amount of wax put on is also wiped off.