Spray Painting A Few Plastic Outdoor Chairs (aka: Chairspray)

File this under fab and almost free mini-makeovers anyone can do. We had two yellow chairs (relics from our three months in an apartment with a balcony) that looked sweet enough with our yellow door but looked more than a bit mismatched with our current red one. Nothing two cans of Rustoleum Universal All Surface spray paint couldn’t solve.

The stuff is new, and compelling for many reasons: it can be sprayed at any angle (no more straining to keep the can upright while you spray), it covers ANYTHING (from plastic and wood to metal and wicker), and it has a nice trigger spraying device (which is much more comfortable than those older buttons on the top of the can). And at around $6 a pop, the entire chair transformation was super cheap.

Check out our fabulous “new” porch chairs. Aren’t they so much better? We love the look of the glossy black with our classic looking rancher (they tie in with the black shutters, trellis and even our oil rubbed bronze light fixtures and door hardware). And it really was a super quick project (plus it feels pretty good to recycle stuff instead of investing in entirely new pieces all the time).

But speaking of eco-friendly things like recycling, this spray paint is insanely toxic (probably because it can bond to anything, so it’s chock full of chemicals). I sprayed both chairs in our two car garage with the door open and although it only took a few minutes I left with a headache, a bit of nausea and even felt a little woozy/high for a while. So let this be a warning to you: they’re not kidding when they suggest a ventilated area. If I could go back I would have sprayed the chairs on top of some cardboard on the lawn for even more airflow. And one more helpful hint: DO NOT attempt this project barefoot. I made that terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mistake and had to use about a half a bottle of paint thinner to pry the thick black tar-like build up from my poor feet. The overspray settles on the ground like other spraypaint, but instead of being dusty and harmless, this stuff is sticky and bonds like superglue- creating layers upon layers of black goo as you step in more and more of the dust. So wear old flip flops but prepare to exert some serious effort when moving your feet (they literally get stuck to the floor). It’s exercise meets home improvement.

But don’t get me wrong. The fabulous chair makeover was totally worth the effort, and there’s no need to be scared off by my warnings above. I just wanted to make it even easier on the next person. So now that you’re armed with all the knowledge for a fast and fabulous furniture makeover of your own… happy spraying!


  1. Jess says

    They look great!

    When we changed our front door lock and knob had to get gold (brass) since our HOA requires that color for the exterior, but we want the inside to be silver. Do you think this spray would work?

  2. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey guys,

    Glad you’re diggin’ the mini-chair-makeover. As for Doris’ question, they’re not sticky at all. Before the paint dries it’s really sticky (hence the claim that it can bond to almost anything) but once it dries completely (after 24 hours) they’re sleek and totally finished. Like they’ve always been that color.

    As for Jess’ question, we actually did some doorknob spray painting research a while back (when we had to replace ours) and we read that it was not a technique recommended for doorknobs since they get so much wear and tear. Granted, this is a new spray paint product, so it might work better and bond stronger. Please let us know how it goes if you decide to try it. Our fingers are crossed for you!

    We’ve also seen doorknobs at Lowe’s that are brass on one side (for the exterior of the home) and silver on the other side (for the interior). We were bummed because we needed oil-rubbed bronze outside and there were no half-&-half doorknobs with bronze & silver, but there are plenty with silver and brass so we thought we’d throw that out there. Hope it helps!

    Sherry (& John)

  3. Rowan says

    nicely done! the chairs look really nice.

    another thing to put out there about painting in a well ventilated area, i.e. the lawn or back patio, rather than in the garage (enclosed space) is that if there is a gas water heater there is a risk of combustion. the fumes tend to stay low and not dissipate unless there is a flow of air.

  4. says

    These turned out great. I may have to pick up a can, as Cory refuses to let me buy new stuff until we move to a larger house. Unfortunately, the forest green of the freebie set I have doesn’t work for me, plus the black looks so much swankier!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Arlee Leo says

    Great idea! We just discovered spray paint as a solution to change out our bathroom hardware – the original was gold/brass and we wanted something dark to go with the deep red we were doing the bathroom in. We found a hammered black that looks great – slightly glossy and a little textured – and it adhered to the hardware perfectly (even the light fixture). Now I’m trying to figure out what else we can paint!

  6. Marelis says

    I’m new to spray painting, but needed to spray paint a papasan chair base black so I’m going to give it a whirl! They came out great…hope my project does too!!

  7. says

    I just dragged my spray paint project off the porch…I wish I consulted your site first, because I managed to get it all over me (Probably should have worn gloves). This Rustoleum stuff may be the real deal. I’ll be using that on my next project for sure!

    With all the spray painting you and John do, do you have any tips on keeping tidy? I live on the 10th fl of a large apartment building so I have a small workspace. Thanks!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Court,

      Ooh, that’s a tough one. We actually make an effort to spray paint everything outside or in the garage with a huge piece of cardboard under it to protect the ground/floor (we saved the big box that our patio furniture arrived in a while back). I know that doesn’t really help with your apartment building situation, but back when were were both living in NYC John and I actually dragged a bunch of frames down to the street and laid out an old sheet and spray painted them all on the sidewalk in front of our building (and hung out outside til they dried). Maybe that’s an idea for the smaller easily lugged pieces? Hope it helps! Happy spray painting!


  8. Angie says

    I would like to spray some bronze bookends (which would look way cuter and more modern if they were not bronze). Would the Rustoleum Universal All Surface Spraypaint work for this project and if so, do I need to do any treatment to them prior to spraying?



    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Angie,

      Yup, it should definitely do the trick without any surface prepping. It’s seriously sticky stuff. Just spray in a well ventilated area (like outside) and you’re all set!


  9. Kathleen says

    Hi J & S,
    As it happens I’ve just purchased a can of this Rustoleum stuff by accident in hopes of taking it to a couple of wicker items…what do you think of spraying an old wooden deacon’s bench & some wood tables with this rather than sanding it down & staining it old school like?
    Thanks so much!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Kathleen,

      Well, that stuff does stick to anything! We actually always encourage people to use a thin coat of oil-based primer to block any stains or grease/oil from the wood (they can slowly come through and ruin your paint job) followed by two thin coats of latex semi-gloss paint. BUT if anything is a shortcut it would definitely be that crazy Rustoleum stuff. I can’t bring myself to say “go for it” but I can manage to eke out a “good luck!” if you have the guts to see what happens. We’re totally nerdy and old school about this stuff, but you just might have success for a lot less effort. Either way, let us know how it all turns out!


  10. Melanie says

    I just got a dresser for my kids room(hand me down) and it needs some fixin up. I tried to sand it but did not have the patience(its a pretty big dresser). I’m trying to see if I could just spary paint it?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Melanie,

      If you use spray primer (like a can of Kilz) followed by some thin and even coats of spray paint (be careful not to overapply it to avoid drips) that should do the trick. Hope it helps!


  11. says

    Hi Sherry,
    I’m a new follower of your website also. Your design ideas inspire me much as a newly home owner who is about to get married. I actually want to take my time and do it bit by bit. This also involves refreshing my single life’s furnitures.
    So, do you think, is it wise to paint or spray-paint furnitures that are not wooden but made of MDF or other materials like that? (This one, for example, http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20116274) I have a lot of them, they range in very different wooden colors. I want to paint them all in white, but I know I won’t get back the wooden effect at all, like you can do somehow in wooden furniture.
    A very long question, with lots of praises to this great work you’ve done. Cheers!

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