The Pinterest Project Chronicles: Lessons learned painting patio furniture

By Rebecca Hermance
For the Journal

We have all seen those beautiful images of outdoor spaces with the perfect setup of barbecue  grills and patio furniture for cozy alfresco dining, intimate conversation and marshmallows around the fire. Last spring, there was a wholehearted attempt to create a beautiful outdoor oasis on the concrete slab in our back yard. Working with a non existent budget, I purchased a faded green plastic Rubbermaid table from Idaho Youth Ranch for $8. I decided I would spray paint it a neutral gray color and it would be perfect with some brightly colored chairs.

Except it wasn’t. Six cans of gray spray paint later and I still had a table that looked like a splotchy mess. Some parts were glossy and some were matte, and bright sunlight only emphasized each flaw. Luckily, the legs and edges turned out okay, so when the top had plates of food on it, you couldn’t really tell how bad it was. 

I was disappointed though. My inexpensive ‘fix’ wasn’t amazingly beautiful and it was turning out to cost more than I planned. 

I have since discovered that an initial coat or two of spray primer probably would have made all the difference in my finished product. The old, second-hand table top had weathered enough that it was just absorbing all of the paint, and a primer would have sealed the surface first. In spite of its imperfections, the table was well-used last summer before being stored in the garage for winter.

Most people would probably call it quits on the old table and say ‘lesson learned.’ On the other hand, I was determined to keep a perfectly good and sturdy table from the landfill. I brought out the gray table this week and decided to see what I could do with it once more. 

I love gathering ideas on Pinterest and noticed some cheerful stenciled and geometric patterns on table tops. I decided to use painter’s tape and some leftover paint to make my own design on the top of our patio table. Since I chose to add a few colors to the gray table, I taped off a simple pattern to keep things from looking too busy. When all of the paint was dry, I coated the entire table with a water-based outdoor urethane to protect it. 

As far as thrift store furniture makeovers go, this particular project cost more than I anticipated.  Still, it came in under $50, and when you consider the cost of a brand-new table, this one doesn’t seem so bad.  Paired with an outdoor rug and brightly painted chairs, I think we are well on our way to a fun outdoor dining space.  Bring on the sunshine, cheeseburgers and icy lemonade!

Rebecca Hermance has a master’s degree in interior design from Washington State University. See more on this project and others at

Hermance Table

Leave a Reply