I have repainted a few furniture items, but am still very much a novice at refinishing. So each time I take on a refinishing project, there is something I am bound to learn. That usually means learning "the hard way," but on the plus side, I guess the lessons are more likely to stick in my head, at least in theory (how many times have I had to re-learn something I should have remembered?!).
After inspection, it looked like there might be a few layers of paint on the glider, so I started by stripping it with Citristrip paint stripper. I already had the paint stripper on hand from previous unrealized refinishing projects, and I like that the product is advertised as "safer"/"no harsh fumes"/"safe for indoor use," all of which I hope is actually true. However, this is still a chemical solution and has risks, as attested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Database. Regardless of the proclaimed safety of a product, I always use a breathing mask, chemical resistant gloves (such as those made specifically for refinishing - stripper will eat through regular latex or nitrile gloves) and eye protection; I also have an old pair of sneakers that are reserved specifically for projects such as this, and which stay in the garage...and they looked pretty nasty after this project. Additionally, it is recommended to always check with area regulations for how to properly dispose of stripper sludge, paint waste, et cetera. The first couple paint layers came up pretty well with the paint stripper, but lower layers didn't really budge. I don't know if that was due to the type of paint, how long it had been there, or what; but I didn't want to scrape the metal too hard trying to get them off, and my second layer of paint stripper wasn't very effective either,so I hoped sanding would work for the lower layers. Unfortunately, at this point, I had to leave the project, and wasn't able to get back to it for over a week. During that time, surface rust developed.
After I had cleaned up the glider as much as I could from the stripper and let it dry, I started sanding. I used a random orbit sander for most of the glider, but used a drill with wire brush attachments for getting under the chair edges, around bolt holes, or in other nooks and crannies. The random orbit sander did a great job of removing paint down to the metal for most of the glider, cleaning up the dried "gunk" left behind from the paint stripping that did not wipe off, and removing surface rust. Even though I spent an entire day sanding while my husband watched the kids, the random orbirt sander made the job go quite smoothly (no pun intended).
Once I finished sanding, I changed out my tarp for clean plastic sheeting, wiped everything with a soft cloth and then a tack cloth to pick up any small debris and dust, propped pieces up on spare bits of wood or brick, then sprayed everything with Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer. When that dried, I lightly sanded uneven patches (primarily where parts of the glider were touching another surface, and I hadn't let it dry long enough before turning over to paint the other side) and drips, wiped with a tack cloth again, then sprayed with Rust-Oleum Gloss Protective Enamel in red, to match the patio table/chairs set that I had purchased. This was the first time I used a spray paint handle/grip gun, and I highly recommend it - it kept my fingers from getting fatigued and gave a more even, controlled spray; these are usually under $10, so not too expensive but very helpful. I did the sanding, priming and initial red paint coat in one day. It took me about 10-11 hours (mostly sanding), but I made sure my husband was available to watch the kids all day, so that I could sand and immediately get at least the primer on - I didn't want to again leave exposed metal and risk developing surface rust.
I sprayed about 3 coats of the red paint to correct some unevenness, then gave my final coat of paint at least a day to dry before my husband and I put everything back together with new stainless steel outdoor bolts. I could have been finished at that point, but decided to be more ambitious. I had read on some Martha Stewart post that it is a good idea to apply carnauba wax (which is the main ingredient in some car waxes, like Turtle Wax) to metal patio furniture annually to help protect it from the elements. I thought this sounded like a great idea, and figured it would make the glider look shinier too. Wrong...at least for someone like me who is not experienced with using carnauba wax. I bought some Turtle Wax at an auto parts store, applied it, let it dry to a haze as instructed, then tried buffing it off. I ended up with a streaky, dull, hazy looking coat on my glider, even after buffing as hard as I could - this was quite disappointing after all the work I had put into the refinish project and given how much I was looking forward to putting the glider to use on our patio. So my final step of the project ended up as a cleaning step - I removed all the wax with Simple Green cleaning solution and more elbow grease.
Finally, after years, the glider refinish is done. It is not perfect - there are some spots where paint drips are still visible and areas that show slight unevenness in sheen - but I am happy with it.
- Use thick disposable plastic sheeting for paint stripping next time instead of a nice tarp (at least I think this will hold up to the Citristrip paint stripper that I used). It should have occurred to me beforehand, but stripping paint is a very, very messy job that is not fun to clean up. I find it much preferable to dispose of plastic sheeting than to clean stripper sludge and paint flecks off of a good tarp.
- When refinishing metal, make sure there there is a sufficient block of time to move from one step of the project to the next without extensive breaks in between so as to prevent rust from developing during down time. After stripping the glider, it was more than a week before I was able to start sanding, and surface rust had started to develop.
- When spray painting, I need to do a better job of covering all areas with plastic sheeting prior to beginning. I forgot just how far the spray paint mist travels, and we definitely have a fine layer of red paint mist on parts of the garage floor and some items in the garage. I think I got everything critical covered sufficiently, and some of the fine paint may wear off with time or a good washing, but meanwhile, it is a bit unsightly. If I'm able to create plastic "walls," with one side open to the outside for ventilation, that might be the best option next time.
- Wear shoes that can be specifically designated for painting projects. Not only were the tops of my shoes covered in paint mist, but the soles acquired a thick layer of paint from walking on the plastic sheeting during painting. The sheeting was VERY sticky with paint. As I walked around spraying the glider, I was like a cat with tape stuck to it's paws - I would lift a foot and shake it to detach the sheeting before moving on and doing the same on my next step. (This is also a good reason to weight down the edges of the sheeting - it helps provide resistance and helps the sheeting to detach from sticky feet more easily.) I'm sure I was a sight, lifting my feet high and shaking them as I gingerly walked around my project in my ventilator mask, eye protection, and holey, baggy, paint-splotched, 1980's-style hunter green sweat pants with a sagging waist band.
- Not everything advocated by Martha Stewart (in this case, carnauba wax on spray painted metal patio furniture) works well for those of us who are closer to being domestic demons than domestic gods/goddesses.