Sustainable Life: New life for old furniture

Mia Swainson

Now that the weather’s warm and inviting us to sit outside, I’ve taken a look at my outdoor furniture.

Oh no! My lovely, natural wooden outdoor chairs are covered in a funny, black mould. It doesn’t look presentable for entertaining. Worse still, it also looks like my chairs are on the fast track to fall apart.

What to do with old, wooden furniture? Add a lick of new paint, of course!

I’ve got a heap of half-finished pots of paint in the garage. Better still, there’s a range of bright colours from my recent painting campaign to brighten up the inside of my home.

‘Indoor paint for outdoor furniture?’ I hear you say? Well, I think it’s better than leaving the furniture to rot.

It doesn’t cost me anything, lets me use something that might otherwise go in the rubbish and I can just re-apply the paint in a few years time when it wears.

Here’s what I did to make it happen:

Selecting my furniture

I chose wooden outdoor chairs, with a natural finish. They were close to starting to rot. Without repainting, they weren’t presentable for BBQs. Without a new coat of paint, they would have needed replacement.

The chairs were also a good choice because I use them all the time in warm weather. They provide me with regular happiness when I use and look at the finished product.

Finding paint in the garden shed

I took a look through the many pots of paint in the shed. Unfortunately my only outdoor paint was white or khaki green and these colours didn’t suit my brighten up the world campaign.

So, I branched out and looked at my spare indoor paint. There was a heap of different colours. I chose a different colour for each of the two chairs.

A gentle pink and light blue to give the chairs a look that speaks of fun and summer.

Have a think about the type of paint you’re using. If the paint underneath is enamel, then you’ll need to choose enamel paint or give the surface a good sand back and use a primer.

Prepare the surface for painting

I skipped quickly through this step and simply wiped the chairs down with a cloth then got started. The surfaces were all smooth, so no dramas from a painting perspective.

If you don’t have a totally smooth surface, then give your furniture a light sanding as well as a wipe down.

If your furniture has started rotting, you’ll also need to remove the rotting sections and pop in some wood putty to even up the surface. After it’s dried, sand it down.


Such fun! Pop your furniture down on the grass and get painting. I put two coats of paint onto my chairs to give the paint depth and help with preserving the wood furniture’s structure.

Each coat took about 30 minutes and was a lovely way to enjoy the sunshine in my back yard.

I’m so excited that I’ve discovered a way to give old furniture a new breath of life. It gives me great satisfaction to have extended the life of my outdoor furniture and re-used paint in my shed.

Oh yes, about that invitation to come over for a BBQ this summer: you’re invited.

Image of ‘Cute little boy and his father in red caps painting wooden fence together‘ via Shutterstock


Mia Swainson

Mia Swainson is passionate about creating a more sustainable world and believes that everyone can make a difference. Trained as an environmental engineer, Mia has worked in sustainable development with the Australian Government and community sector for more than 15 years. Mia’s work has taken her around the world to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and back to Canberra. She currently tends her kitchen garden, cares for three young boys and is growing her executive coaching consultancy ( More about the Author

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