How to: DIY Bright and Shiny Bistro Table Makeover

How to: DIY Bright and Shiny Bistro Table Makeover

When I bought this sweet little yellow bistro table a couple years back, I loved it. It was the perfect size for romantic meals under the sky. Then, after the first season, the paint on all three pieces started peeling. See?

I touched it up, with yellow, but I couldn't keep up with the weathering. By the end of the second season, the cheery yellow had turned sickly, powdery yellow. When this spring rolled around I considered replacing the set with something new. That notion lasted about a minute, because, really, it was  the perfect project to undergo a makeover. 

BEFORE WE START: If you're planning to makeover any painted surface, it's wise to keep in mind the age of the paint. If the paint was applied BEFORE 1978, it may contain lead. Visit this EPA page concerning lead in the home and its dangers. If your project does have lead paint, there are precautions to take. Visit 3MDIY.com

to find all the 3M Tekk products that are available to help keep you safe.

To get started on my makeover, I assembled my supplies. They included

Before beginning, I geared up. Okay, not the prettiest girl at the dance, but certainly the most prepared for sanding and paint prep! 

To sand wood parts of the bistro set, I used an orbital sander

The paint was in such bad shape, sanding the wood slats with the orbital sander took about a half hour. Tops. For the metal legs, I used the sanding pad to give the paint more teeth. I highly recommend using Sandblaster pad to tackle these types of small and spindly surfaces. The pads bend the way you need them to and they don't rip, like traditional sandpaper. It made the job MUCH easier and less tedious.

I dampened my cloth and tacked off the sanding dust and then got down to painting.

I started by shooting the undersides of the pieces first. I set them on large pieces of cardboard I had on hand to spare my drop cloths. (Yeah, I'm one of those people who try not to get my drop cloths unnecessarily painty.) Within 20 minutes of spraying, I gave them another coat. When they were dry, I flipped them over, set them on the drop cloth and shot the top side with two coats as well.


The finish turned out lovely, EXCEPT for one slat. The paint really lifted the grain and made it look and feel fuzzy, which you can actually see in this photo:

To fix the problem, I taped off the flanking slats to protect the surrounding surfaces,

and then smoothed out the fuzz with my trusty sanding pad.

After I was done sanding, I tacked off the dust again and re-sprayed the slat.

Because both the chairs and the table are collapsible, I assessed places where metal might rub against metal when I folded them. The most concerning was this spot on the back of the chairs. To assuage my worries, I cut short lengths of tubing I had on hand and slipped them over the protruding tabs.

Like so:

So what does the sad, yellow bistro table look like now? This!

And, again, a "before" for comparison.

Honestly, I wasn't sure about the color I chose, or the fact that it was so shiny, but now that it's done, it's perfect!! I love my bistro table all over again. 

This post is a collaboration with 3M DIY. To keep up-to-date on projects, products and sampling visit 3MDIY.com.

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Caryl on Oct 31, 2015:

All I want to say is you did an awesome job can I come over and share wine and thoughts with you? lol. I purchase a set of 4 bistro chairs for children from a second-hand store called the Hidden Cupboard (Finley Lake, NY) and I have a good friend who owns a car collision place he is going to sandblast the chairs for me (at least 4 coats of paint) on them and then the fun begins. I don't have a preference on color I love all colors, it just a matter of which one to do this time and do I make the chairs in one color and the table in another oh well I just want to make it awesome. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work Ms. Maven

Diana W. on Jul 30, 2013:

I'm not sure what the big deal is, I thought you were wearing the mask for sanding the project; not for painting. I have spray painted for many years and always do so outside so not to have any issues with fumes. That said, LOVE the look of the table. I'm not a huge fan of red and will say that your set looks fab!  I am now considering painting my wicker table on my front porch.... again. This would be the third or fourth time? I've painted that thing!  LOL  can't help it, yall just keep inspiring me, year after year!

cindy on Jul 29, 2013:

I am concerned about the suggestion that that particular 3M mask is safe for use with spray paint. Unless it's latex spray paint (almost all spray paint is oil-based), that mask will not offer protection. I have looked into this before (and again just now using this link) and 3M doesn't even seem to offer a mask that will protect from spray paint solvent fumes. These are particulate filters and won't protect from paint fumes. I used the link to go to the mask you have listed and it clearly states that it is a " Paint sanding" valved respirator- this won't protect from fumes just dust from sanding paint. It states "Use for non-harmful dusts from sanding, grinding, sawing, and insulating particles."

 If 3M has collaborated, they should take responsibility for making the appropriate product recommendations. Many bloggers just use dust masks for spray painting but they are not the so-called 'experts'- I think it's misleading and potentially dangerous because readers may assume that 3M (experts) has recommended this product to be safe for this use.

 From what I could glean from the 3M site, only 3M's proper respirator (with suitable cartridges) is safe for spray painting, the disposable masks are not. Perhaps 3M could clarify this as not to mislead and put readers at risk.  I would suggest that 3M make the appropriate product recommendation for actual spray painting. 

btw- the last time I looked into 3M masks for spray painting was when 3M had sponsored a blog post and the blogger, again, suggested a 3M particulate respirator was adequate for spray paint. I think it's irresponsible for 3M to sponsor or collaborate and allow misinformation regarding health to be disseminated.

 Sorry for ranting but I believe health & safety warrants serious consideration.

Morah on Jul 29, 2013:

Nice! I spent SO MANY HOURS refinishing my bistro table + 4 chairs. I sanded, primed, painted, and varnished. It looked amazing until the first rains hit it about 4 months later, and my hard work immediately all peeled away. I don't think my husband has ever heard me say so many swear words in a row as when I saw the damage.  I hope yours holds up forever!  :)

Lis on Jul 29, 2013:


DIY Maven on Jul 26, 2013:

@Exbi--The spray paint I used was 2 in 1/primer paint combo. Zinsser is my go-to paint-on primer, but in this case, I wanted that smooth spray-paint finish. Paint-on wasn't an option for me because of the run/drip potential with all those slats & etc. So that's why I went with the 2 in 1. I could have used Zinsser spray-on primer, but I haven't used the product before, so I wasn't sure if it would be better than just using the 2 in 1, which is actually made by the same company (Rustoleum). In any event, I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Ezbi on Jul 25, 2013:

This looks great. I think perhaps this might be just a stop gap measure and I wouldn't be surprised if you don't start having some of the same problems with the paint again soon. IMHO, you did well with your sanding but you would have protected the wood better and given the new paint a stronger bond if you had first primed the set with a good primer. I have used the Zinser B I N primer for years on indoor and outdoor projects like this and it is more than worth the extra effort. The finish lasts forever after using the primer and it keeps the wood protected from water/sun damage that can cause peeling. No, I don't work for them; I just use and love their product. The choice of red for this set was spot on perfect! Good job.

Jené on Jul 25, 2013:

I love the new red color!

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