Evergreen shrubs, an impressive bush of heady lavender and a fragrant rose clambering over an old garden wall make this south-facing terrace the ideal setting for a relaxing cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Is this picture ruined by that dilapidated metal garden furniture.

Repairing metal garden furniture

But although the setting is perfect the dilapidated metal garden furniture has become a real eyesore. Bought for a song at auction many years ago, and kept outdoors, the weather has caused some damage. The securing bolts are rusting, the paint is flaking, the metal is grimy and dirty and algae has started to spread.

In anticipation of a long hot summer ahead – ever the optimist! – this is a good time of year to do up metal garden furniture. As with most renovation jobs the hard work comes at the beginning and hours spent scraping, sanding and scrubbing on a close summer’s day is not to be recommended. Add to that the pollen, dust and flying insects of summer that can mar paintwork and a spring project is definitely the better option.

For the topcoat always try to wait for the perfect day – dry, slightly overcast though with no threat of rain, calm and warm (yet not hot – this makes paint reluctant to dry).

Metal garden furniture will invariably stay looking good for longer if you are able to store it in a shed over the winter months. However, if you’re short of storage space or if solid wooden benches are just too heavy to move around, make sure the legs are not left to stand on wet grass and cover with plastic sheeting to offer some protection against the rain and snow.

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Assess bolt condition; Dealing with awkward bolts

1. Assess bolt condition: Check the bolts holding the table and chairs together. Any missing or rusted ones must be replaced. Choose a spanner to exactly match the size of the nut. If it fails to undo them, spray with release oil, such as WD-40, then wait and try again.

2. Dealing with awkward bolts: A tap with a hammer will help break the corrosion binding the nut and bolt together, but beware of doing this on cast iron, which is brittle and cracks easily. As a last resort, saw through stubborn nuts and bolts with a hacksaw. Replace with new, corrosion-resistant ones.

Kill algae; Remove paint flakes metal garden furniture

3. Kill algae: Wearing heavy-duty rubber gloves, and keeping well away from children and animals, use fungicidal wash or sterilising solution on the furniture to kill off algae and spores. Apply by brush or sponge and leave for 24 hours before washing off with clean water. Household bleach will also do the trick equally well.

4. Remove paint flakes: Place a dust sheet or piece of plastic sheeting underneath furniture to make cleaning up easier. Wearing protective gloves, use a steel brush or scraper to remove loose and flaking paint to make a sound substrate for a new coat of paint. A clean, sharp scraper is very effective.

Sand metal; Scrub clean metal garden furniture

5. Sand metal: The tabletop is in a sorry state: the paint has worn away and exposed the metal to the elements. The aluminium alloy has degraded to form a fine powdery coating. Use a sanding block and wet and dry abrasive paper to work on the unstable surface until a firm base is reached. Always wear a protective dust mask.

6. Scrub clean: Thorough preparation is the key to a long-lasting paint finish. Scrub the garden furniture with hot water and detergent to remove any traces of grease and dust particles. Rinse with lots of clean water. Mop up surplus water with a sponge and leave to dry out completely before moving on to the next step.

Prepare the surface; Apply paint metal garden furniture

7. Prepare the surface: A specific range of paints can be applied straight onto bare metal garden furniture. The exception is if the metal is aluminium or an aluminium alloy, when a same-brand special primer must be used too. If using a generalpurpose paint, it’s essential to read the instructions on the can and apply the relevant primer first.

8. Apply paint: While wearing protective clothing, brush on a coat of paint and once completely dry give it a very light sanding with fine glasspaper to provide a key for the next coat. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best time to apply the second coat – some brands advise applying it within eight hours of the first.

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