When we volunteered to host my dad’s surprise 65th birthday party, suddenly a lot of little things seemed like necessary improvements in the weeks leading up to the party. Tim spearheaded a bunch of these tasks: clean out the garage (and man, it looks AWESOME), tackle the insane weed problem happening on the brick patio, deal with the mosquito population that seems to have set up camp under our deck. None of it was super-pressing, but we knew our list would make our guests more comfortable and make us feel better about showing off our house to a lot of people who hadn’t visited it yet.
One item on the list that Tim identified was cleaning up some patio furniture we’d been using for ages. (I don’t remember the full history of the set, but I think at one point, Tim’s mom owned it and it was painted a pale pink. The glass-topped tables have been dining furniture in a few of Tim’s apartments, as well as our first apartment together, and in the dining room of this house, before we bought a proper dining set.) Every now and then, we’d comment on the flaking paint and think “oh, we could sand that down and repaint it someday.” Turns out, Dad’s party was the perfect impetus for “someday.” So with prompting from Tim, I rolled up my figurative sleeves and tackled the set, which consisted of two table frames and five chairs, decorated with scrolls and ivy leaves.
Tim gave me some basic guidelines about knocking the loose paint off and removing the rust, and handed me his hammer drill with a wire brush bit, our Dremel (maybe it’s a knock-off, I cannot recall right now) with a tiny wire brush attachment, and the plastic and wire bristled hand brush. A warning not to let the drill slip off the surface and gouge my leg, and Tim set off to do some heavy-lifting in the garage. I alternated between all three tools, but before too long, the Dremel brush bit couldn’t stand up to the heavy-duty task, and the tiny wires sticking out of the attachment got knocked off a little at a time until I had a bald bit at the end. So much for the Dremel. I continued to use the hand brush if I really couldn’t get the hammer drill brush into a crevice, but for the most part, that heavy-duty power tool was the way to go. It took nearly 6 hours to do all 7 pieces of furniture, because the little scrolls and leaves meant you had to attack from every possible angle, instead of having a nice flat surface to brush free of debris. I had little bits of black and pink paint all over me (this was definitely a goggles and mask situation) and my forearms were aching, but I was super proud when everything was as smooth as possible and the rust was buffed away. I dragged the pieces out to the yard and sprayed them down with the hose to get rid of any dust that could mess with the spray paint, and then we let them dry overnight.
Sunday morning, I was up nice and early and hauling the chairs around the backyard. I snagged some fliers from the recycling bin to put under the feet of the chairs and tables, so we didn’t end up with an unpainted section from where grass had covered the metal. As you can see, the black paint had worn down quite a bit, so the first step was to spray a primer on, which would protect against rust and help the spray paint last longer (because my poor forearms couldn’t fathom dealing with this all again in two years). Tim handed off the paint he’d bought from Lowes the day before, one can of primer and two cans of paint in an oil-rubbed-bronze finish. It turns out that wasn’t going to be nearly enough paint, as I was low on primer after selectively spraying two chairs and part of a table. I asked Tim to get more paint and gave him an estimate, but then called while he was at the store and practically doubled it, with the understanding that we could always take unused cans back (we are seriously at the home improvement stores a few times a month, even without a major project) but running out again during this process was going to be a pain. He came home with tons of paint and I got back to priming and painting, moving the chairs to different spots in the yard to keep them out of direct sunlight as the morning progressed. When the dry chairs were in the sun, though, I got very excited, because the oil-rubbed-bronze color is so pretty and sparkles a lot in the sunlight. Tim had made the call on color the previous day without input, and it was absolutely the right one. A subtle neutral with tons of gold sparklies to amuse me when the sun was shining on it.
While out of the house on Sunday, I ran to Joanns to check out some outdoor canvas, because with the pretty new paint job, it seemed a shame to put the dingy green vinyl seats back in. Luckily, the canvas was on sale for 50% off that week, so I had no problem picking up some gorgeous green, blue and brown striped fabric to recover the seats. (As Tim will attest, I am crazy for stripes.) I was a little nervous using fabric to recover the seats that I’d have to line up somewhat precisely, but they came out pretty well. I get apprehensive about projects like, this, thinking I won’t be able to get it to look very professional, but a good staple gun goes a long way towards getting things neat and crisp. Plus, if it looked terrible, I could always just pry the staples out and try again.
While we were at it, the cabaret table and and chairs got a little upgrade, too. They didn’t get a brushdown, but Tim freshened up a few areas where the paint was pretty faded, and I recovered the seats, too. Those were a bit more challenging, as the other seats were basically a square, and these were more of a trapezoid. They are a definite improvement, though, and the whole deck looks better with the splashes of color and pattern instead of sad green and black seats.
This was totally not a project that needed doing before the party, but I’m really glad we had time for it, because it looked so good and I was super proud of it. Though I do not want to use the hammer drill to wire-brush anything else for another three months, minimum!