Garbage picking – before and afters

Anyone who lives around here (NJ) knows that garbage picking can be very exciting.  Who hasn’t screeched on the brakes at the sight of a big pile of stuff at the end of a driveway?  Especially if you see furniture in the mix.  I know people who make it a habit to cruise my town on Monday night ( the night before garbage pickup) making sure to go past the houses that had garage sales on Saturday.  Sure enough, a lot of people just put whatever didn’t sell on the curb.  Now you might feel kind of weird pulling over and hauling that bike, or cozy coupe, or desk chair into your minivan.  But let me assure you that the reason the stuff is there is so that you take it before the big ole’ garbage truck takes it away.

I have always been attracted to that old metal patio furniture from the 50’s and 60’s.  When our very old neighbour across the street put two chairs on his garbage,  I scuttled across the street and dragged it behind a bush on the side of our house.  Who cares that it had faded yellow paint and rust… I saw potential.  I am still looking out for a table to go with them.  I am fairly certain my dear neighbour does not recognize his chairs on my front patio. 😉

But the best snag was a whole set, 4 chairs, and a table with a glass top.  My father-in-law is a great garbage picker who happens to travel around town with a little utility trailer dragging behind his minivan.  Very convenient.  He saw a white metal set on the side of the road and grabbed them.  Unfortunately they had no seats.  He set off, but then he thought, “There must be seats, I’ll go back and ask them about the seats.”  Low and behold, the owner of the set came trotting out with the four seats when Dad pulled up.  He said “I thought you might want these.”  So Dad brought the set to us thinking we might want it on the covered porch in our rental home where we were living because of our house fire.  They were white with some surface rust, but I was delighted.

Metal furniture is about the easiest thing to clean up and get looking like new. 1) clean it   2) wire brush and sand the rust spots 3) find some big pieces of cardboard or a location to spray paint where you won’t accidentally add some interesting details to your car or house 4) prime it with outdoor quality spray paint that inhibits rust (think rustoleum) 5) go buy a special cap  with a handle trigger that goes over the nozzle so that your finger does not fall off from pushing that wee little nozzle cap. 6) spray-paint top coats over your whole project, in thin layers to avoid drips. 7) clean your black fingers and toes (yes I sprayed in bare feet – dumb)

The cost for a big project like the four chairs and table was about $40 to $50 in spray paint.  Well worth it I would say… where else could you get a set  with some character and class for that amount?  As for how well it holds up… the two chairs have held up perfectly because they haven’t been moved from house to house etc.  However, there are no signs of rust coming through on any of the furniture, and I just need to touch up a few scratches that show some white paint on the bigger patio set.


After two years:




About Lora

I am a 40 something wife to my patient and talented husband Scott, Mom to my five children (from toddler to teen) and oldest sister to eight siblings. I am interested in too many things, love to read everything around me, and have developed a strong interest in design and renovation along with my husband. I am conservative, Christian, and by the grace of God, trying to find His way through the ups and downs of my life.
This entry was posted in before and after, do-it-yourself, garbage picking, painting. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Garbage picking – before and afters

  1. joanne says:

    wow! they look great!!

  2. Nicolette says:

    very nice, lora. i would, however, disagree with the part of it being easy to do…. 🙂

    • Lora says:

      Ummm…. Well it actually is very easy. Just need to put in some sweat equity. Of all the types of furniture painting projects this is the easiest.

  3. Irene says:

    I need to learn how to see the potential in things like this. Looks fantastic!

  4. Jeanette says:

    Wow! Laura – looks awesome! 🙂

  5. Love this Lora! I’ve been holding back with “finding” things for so long now, I can’t wait to start some project soon as we get settled in our new (permanent-no more moving) place!

    • Lora says:

      It must be so exciting to get a new house! Isn’t all the planning and dreaming fun? Not so much the tons of work ;). I love finding things too but try to be disciplined so my basement, garage and attic don’t fill up with “some day” projects.

  6. Sandra says:

    Wonderful job, Lora! Do they have big garbage pick up every week by you guys?! Here our garbage is only allowed to fit in one big garbage container and is picked up every 2 weeks…. But, I can imagine the thrill of finding things in which you can vision potential!

    • Lora says:

      We can put out pretty much anything, anytime. We get pick up twice a week! Most people put out big stuff that is still useable a couple days before pick up with the idea that someone can take it. We’ve gotten a lot of plastic toys (ride on, sandbox, etc.) for our little kids that way. Fun but you need to limit yourself…

  7. Marcia says:

    Oh, for the land of great garbage! It all looks fantastic, Lora.

  8. Carol says:

    Well, I can’t say I’m anywhere near a DIYer but my front porch does have our neighbor’s former rockers (re-painted to match our house). And I don’t think she recognizes them either! 🙂

  9. Carol says:

    Oh. And the chairs and your front patio look amazing!

  10. Dor says:

    I love how you and Carol display your neighbour’s “stolen” furniture on your front porches! Just beware of “taking” your neighbour’s chairs that are set out at the curb in the winter — not for garbage day, but to hold their parking spot! LOL remember that?!

  11. kmdutchlife says:

    Lora, I just found out you had a blog! I am also a follower. Good job on the chairs! Iike fixing up old stuff too but I am definately living in the wrong country for that! I have seen an old couch or two (very old) on the side of the road here but that is just about it. We don’t really have major garbage pick ups along the side of the road like you guys do over there. I am jealous! 🙂 Enjoy your garbage picking….

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