Design & Decor - Crafts

Give old garden accessories a new lease on life

Karen Kirk
Photography by
Roger Yip

Make items from old garden chairs to ho-hum resin containers look like new with these easy ideas

When exposed to the elements, garden furnishings really take a beating. But miracles can happen. Before tossing your tired old pieces onto the scrap heap, consider how easily you can transform them with a bit of elbow grease and paint.

The basics

Prep your containers and chairs before you put on the finishing touches.

  • For resin or plastic, lightly sand the  entire surface by hand using fine- to medium-grit sandpaper.
  • For metal surfaces, use fine steel wool to remove any rust or paint that’s peeling. 
  • For wood that’s past its prime, scrape off loose or peeling paint, then sand until smooth with coarse-grit sandpaper (there’s no need to strip the paint to the bare wood).

Next, wearing rubber gloves, clean thoroughly with a TSP solution (trisodium phosphate, available at paint and hardware stores) or warm, soapy water. If mildew is a problem, add some household bleach to the TSP solution (one cup/250 mL per 4.5 litres of solution). Rinse and let dry.
Apply all-purpose exterior latex primer (we used Benjamin Moore
Fresh Start super-adherent interior/exterior primer). Note: If the fur­nishing is made of non-galvanized metal, use a non-water-based primer or red oxide, then follow with rust-proofing paint.

Once the primer dries, use exterior latex or acrylic latex paint in your favourite low- to soft-sheen finishes (we used Benjamin Moore Exterior Acrylic Latex Flat Enamel, and Exterior Acrylic Latex Soft Gloss Enamel, which is also suitable for primed metal surfaces). Another, quicker option for plastic or resin containers and chairs is to use specialty spray paint such as Krylon Fusion, available at most hardware stores. It can be applied directly after the furniture is wiped down with an ammonia-based cleaner, without sanding or priming.


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