Whether you do the job yourself or hire it out, someone is going to get their hands dirty. Half of getting used to working on a house includes learning to live with some dust and grime. I recently re-painted some steel patio furniture. The simple kind, spring chairs with mesh backs and seats. Some little cast flowers and leaves welded in the arms too. Seven pieces of furniture and a few small cast iron decorations. There’s a dozen ways to get almost any job done, prepping and painting patio furniture is no exception. This week would be hand prep and application. Hand application work makes a difference. It’s like the first time you hand wax your car and you see a bunch of scuffs you’d not seen before. Hand application. Until you literally rub out the whole thing by hand you just don’t see the details.
The furniture looked like it was in good shape. Just a color change really. Then I started cleaning the undersides with a wire wheel on a four inch electric grinder. That did a great job. When the wire wheel didn’t quite get it I switched to a sanding wheel on the same machine to really clean things up. Blow everything off, tack cloth it down and good to go. This part of the work got my gloved hands so dirty I had to clean up just to paint.
Oil base rusty metal primer. Most of the rust was gone by this point, but the good primer is reassuring. This stuff likes to dry overnight. More messy tool clean up. Latex gloves help, but they’re a mess too. Next day for the color coat. Oil base, satin black to top things off. I used a four inch wienie roller. Instead of the usual three eighths nap I used “velour”. Who couldn’t use a little more velour in their life? I know I could. It’s a little shorter than a quarter inch nap, which made for a great finish. Plus, twice in two days I was lucky enough to work with “velour”. I felt plush. The oil base, black satin paint covered amazingly. I had to use a brush to work some paint into some tight spots. This stuff looked great. I like rolling paint onto steel furniture. The paint gets worked into joints and inside corners. The nap of the roller works the paint into imperfect surfaces too. I feel confident when applying paint by hand.
Latex gloves kept ninety five percent of the paint off my hands. I use low VOC solvents to clean my brushes. It actually makes them softer and easier to use. I left the furniture in the sun for three days. When I moved it to the upper deck of the customer’s house it felt like it would like to dry another day or two before setting the pads on.
The job was a mess. Rusty dust in the air. Hot weather. Wearing a respirator keeps the lungs real happy, but it’s hot too. The clothes you paint in better be for painting. Then at a friends a few nights later they asked about the black spots all over one of my shins. “Oil base black satin quality top coat” I blurted. The furniture was impossible. It had to be painted upside down first, then turned over and painted from every standing, half kneeling and sitting position imaginable just to see everything. A little googly, really, by the time the painting is done.
This coming winter, looking out on that deck, all the dirt, sweat and grime will be gone. That machine sanded, hand primed and painted, black steel furniture will stand straight and stark in the snow. A simple reminder that a few days of dirty work make for seasons of satisfaction.