This story covers the steps and options for painting iron and steel furniture and ornaments.
No matter what kind of structure defines your first painting project, if you are involved with painting long enough, sooner or later you're likely to run into some kind of metal object whose surface needs refreshing. Many of these will be made from ferrous metals -- iron or steel. With the exception of stainless steel, the primary element that begins their deterioration is rust, the oxidation of the surface brought on by exposure to air and moisture.
Rust can not only eat away at the metal and spoil its appearance, it can undermine any primers, paints, or other coatings applied to protect it.
Rust can start on bare metal more quickly than you might imagine -- immediately when an unprotected surface is exposed to moisture in any form. Your objective, then, is to stop any rusting that has begun and to keep moisture and air from getting to the metal after painting. To prepare ferrous metals, you'll need to remove both the rust and any peeling paint.
On smaller jobs, use a scraper and a wire brush -- the scraper to take off heavy rust and loose paint, the brush to remove the rust residue. On larger jobs, use power brushing and disk sanding with aluminum oxide paper.
These steps will leave the surface covered with small particles of rust and dust, which should be removed before you apply any coating. Brush them off with a soft-bristled brush, scrub the entire surface with a detergent-and-water solution, then rinse it thoroughly with clean water. Cleaning will also remove any mill oil (a residue from the manufacturing process), which can interfere with the paint bond. Prime the surface with a top-quality latex rust-inhibitive metal primer as soon as it dries. Brush or spray the primer at the recommended spread rate and apply a second coat to get the maximum resistance to corrosion.
Top-coat the metal with a high-quality acrylic latex paint. It can last as much as two to four times longer than conventional alkyd paints without serious cracking or fading.
Examine the surface thoroughly and remove loose rust as you come across it. Use new wire brushes of different sizes to get into as many of the small corners as possible. Where the brush won't fit, slide aluminum oxide sandpaper or strips of emery cloth to strip off the rust.
Set up your home office -- or any office for that matter -- in style with colorful file cabinets. Although you can find colorful cabinets at commercial outlets, you can also transform your existing "institutional" models into a bright arrangement sporting your own color scheme.
You can paint the cabinet with the drawers removed or leave the drawers in. Remove or mask off the handles and hardware. Then mask the interior sides of the drawer and spray paint the cabinet and edges of the drawer face. Apply a mist coat first, then several light coats.