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How To Preserve Rusty Patina On Metal Furniture

Preserve rusty patina on metal furniture with a good coat of neutral colored wax. Remove any loose paint then clean and wax to preserve the rusty patina. You guys probably remember the rusty metal lawn chair I found at my favorite junk shop several weeks ago. It was a must have when I saw the layers of paint and rusty patina.

preserve rusty patina on metal furniture

I cleaned it up and put on a coat of wax to preserve that rusty goodness and to keep the rust from rubbing off on anything or anyone. I also made a video showing how I removed the loose paint and how I applied the wax. It’s at the end of the post and has a lot more detail than the photos in the post. I talk you through the whole process.

rusty metal chair from my favorite junk shop

The chair was $15. Not a steal for sure. It was grungy and needed an overhaul. I wanted it for my front porch. It will look so pretty surrounded by flowering plants and ferns.


making repairs to meal furniture

The JTS replaced a couple of missing screws in the leg and seat on one side. I wouldn’t want to sit in the chair with those screws missing.


brushing loose paint from rusted metal furniture

I set the chair on a table outside the workshop where it would be easy to work on. First thing I did was use a stiff brush to remove the loose paint. I sure didn’t want all that pretty green paint to come off but the loose paint had to be dealt with.

cleaning rusty outdoor furniture

Next I used Simple Green to clean the chair top and bottom, front and back. You can also use plain old soap and water.

preserve rusty patina on metal furniture using wax

Once the chair was good and dry I applied a coat of Howard’s Wax, neutral color.

apply wax to vintage metal furniture to save rusty patina

Always apply any type of wax with a lint free cloth. I use old sheets and pillowcases. If you don’t have any they are really cheap at the thrift stores. You can get a lot of rags out of one sheet. Let the wax dry for 20 or 30 minutes then buff with a lint free cloth. The buffing is the magic. The finish will be so smooth and will have a nice soft sheen or patina.

how to protect the patina on rusty metal furniture

And the chair looks so nice on the porch. I’m waiting another week or two before buying my Spring flowers. Don’t want the cold nights to get them and I’m too lazy to cover the flowers at night. Time to watch the more detailed video of cleaning and waxing the chair…..

How to Preserve Rusty Patina on Furniture

How to preserve rusty patina on metal


Do you like the rust or not. I know rusty stuff isn’t for everyone. Thursday I’ll have a new painted furniture project. Thanks for being here, Kathy

Kathy Owen founder of Petticoat Junktion
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Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. You need a high temp wax, something with Montan in. We use Montan waxes whenever we detail dark cars in our business in the UK as it withstands high temps found on dark cars

  2. I have old metal chairs that were my moms. They were originally orange with white arms and feet. She painted them white somewhere along the way. I have let them set out and weather to the point that the white is very chippy and almost gone. Thankfully. They are getting patina rust on them as well. I would like to add color to them as I do not prefer orange. I was thinking teals, yellows. But still want that aged look. Can you give me any pointers on how to do this?

  3. Can I leave a chair like you waxed in the sun and sit on it without ruining my clothes?

  4. A steel brush might be too rough. I usually get the loose flakes off with a large 3 inch or 4 inch paint brush then I wipe the piece down with a cleaning agent like Simple Green. That usually removes any other loose paint. Then you can apply an outdoor sealer or if the furniture will on a covered patio etc., then use a good wax on the piece.

  5. Question, I have 2 white rusted patio chairs that I want to preserve their patina. I want to remove any paint flakes that would catch my clothes, but keep the rust & the paint that’s not flaking. Will using a steel brush make gray marks on the white paint?

  6. No. Once the wax dries buff it up good with a lint free rag. The wax layer is not very thin and it just becomes part of the finish!

  7. If the chair is to be use for sitting on, will the warm sun melt the wax! I have a whole table and six chairs to do, all very decorative and I love the rusty patina but worried about sitting on melted wax? Would appreciate your advice. Thank you in advance.

  8. Hi Annice, I love your Angel saying! I may steal it. Since the chair will be in the weather I would apply a clear water based exterior sealer. Apply the sealer after you paint your saying on the chair.

  9. Thanks for this information. I have an old metal folding chair that was painted cream at some point. After cleaning, before waxing, I’ll paint “Leave room in your garden for Angels to dance” & place chair in garden. Since it’s going to be in the elements, would it be best to wax then apply a clear spray paint? Or just use clear paint to seal? Do I buff each coat of wax or just the last coat? Will any wax brand work? Thanks for taking time to answer.

  10. I think it’s wonderful! Your technique has inspired me to try it on some rusty things! Great tips!!!

  11. Excellent advice! Thank you! I love the “rusty” look, especially in my garden!

  12. My husband and I were questioning our mutual love of ROT (rusty old things) just the other day! We would leave it just as you have – thanks for the tips on keeping the beautiful patina!

  13. Yes! Luv the rusty, previously well lived & loved life this chair shows!!! It’s fabulous

  14. I’m not a huge fan of the rusty stuff but Ivan appreciate how nice it turned out with the wax.