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: