Paint for Metal Surfaces | Milk Paint Edition

Have you ever wondered options for applying paint to metal surfaces? Here’s an option you might not have thought of but you will love!

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searching for vintage goodies

Finding cool vintage items and recreating them into useful home decor pieces is the best part of my job.  Hubby and I hunt for our pieces at yard sales, auctions, and thrift shops. 

One of our favorite ways to find the good stuff is to search through our local publication called The Guide.  Literally, it is a guide to all sorts of goodness from used cars for sale to job openings.

Hubby goes right to the yard sale section on any given Saturday and we map out a course.

The particular Saturday that we found this unique table, was like hitting the jackpot!  When we arrived at the address, it didn’t look like a yard sale was going on at all.

  • no tables with knick-knacks were set up
  • no one manning a booth or money box
  • no other customers were in site

we almost left!

Then someone came out from the house and said that the ‘yard-sale’ was in the back building.  She led us to what was her late husbands workshop.  He was also a collector of interesting things and both my husband and I started scouting out all the good stuff :).

we came home with a truckload!

We spotted this little typewriter stand way in the back under huge pile of stuff.  The military green was what attracted my husband.  He is a big history buff.

We pulled it out from the rubble and were so excited to see that it was a portable typewriter stand that would have been used in military offices.

sad memories

Sad to say, but probably many sorrowful letters to families informing them of the death of a loved one during wartime would have been drafted on a typewriter sitting on a stand just like this one.

Thanks to all who fought for our freedom!!  We have so much to be grateful for!

The pressed wood top was falling apart.  But the metal base was in perfect condition.  We toyed with the idea of keeping the military green, but opted to freshen it up with a more neutral color.

paint for metal surfaces

You know I am a huge fan of Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint. It’s my go -to paint for wood. So, I wondered, can you paint metal surfaces with milk paint??

A little research and I found the answer!

Yes, you can! Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint works beautifully on metal.

A custom color mix using Farmhouse White and Schloss – equal parts of both – created a beautiful neutral tone.  I stirred it well and set it aside.

While the paint rested and absorbed all the water, I gave the piece a good cleaning.

Vintage Typewriter Table Transformation

fun vintage details

Before I get to the cleaning, take a look at the mechanism that converted this stand to a mobile table!

Just another reason to love vintage furniture!

To thoroughly clean the legs on the stand, I removed the rubber feet.  And wow, did I ever find some yuckiness when I pulled off the rubber feet!

I literally ran to get my shop vac!!

clean the table

You know how a dentist uses water and suction to clean as they go around your mouth?  That is the same method I use with a wire brush and vacuum on many of our projects – vacuum nozzle in one hand, wire brush in the other.

The next step was to wipe down the piece with a mixture of warm water and Simple Green.  The soft bristle scrub brush gets into all the nooks and crannies.

frog tape is your friend

It is easier to tape off rather than try to clean off the spattered paint later. Trust me on this and use tape to protect any areas that you don’t want paint on!

The stand will need at least two coats of paint plus a spray sealer so the tape will serve me well.

how to paint metal

Two coats of paint is all it took to cover the original military green.

See where the paint got on the underside of the stand?

A little bit of 220 sandpaper takes it off and gives the piece a professional look.  This little step is the kind of attention to detail I like to add to our finished pieces.

now for the distressing!

My favorite method of distressing worked perfectly on this metal stand!

Distressing the metal in the logical places like those areas that would have suffered a bit of abuse gave the finish an authentic look. High heels and hard sole shoes would have come into contact with the base of the stand.

clear coat

Coating the stand with Rust-oleum 2x Ultra Cover in Clear Satin will protect the finish. One light coat was enough.

I spray painted outside of my workshop with a face mask.  Be sure and use common sense when spray painting anything!  Here are some tips for spray painting.

farmhouse style top

The original top was in terrible condition and couldn’t be fixed so it had to be tossed in the trash.  My husband loves to build new tops for our furniture pieces!

While I painted the base, my hubby built the new top.  He used reclaimed lumber to build the farmhouse-style top.  He likes to work alone in his workshop so I don’t have any photos of the process.  But one of these days……

milk paint for metal surfaces!

Isn’t this the cutest side table you have ever seen??

The sides fold down independently so this little table will fit anywhere!

The bread board detailing on this table makes it a one of kind. It really adds a nice touch and my hubby loves to build this style!

Don’t you just love the mechanism for folding down the table top?

Taping off those wheels definitely paid off!

sweet little side table

Wouldn’t this stand look adorable as a nightstand or as a side table next to a chair.? Or maybe a little desk?


join the journey

Thanks for stopping in for this tutorial!  I would love to know if you find a piece of metal furniture to paint!

Join our journey so you don’t miss a post! We’ll even send you this fun freebie filled with ideas and projects to reinvent for your home!

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Until next time…

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  1. Great post, very well written

  2. I love your new find, Cindy! Y’all did a great job bringing it back to life. It makes the perfect little table and a great conversation piece. Thanks for joining us and sharing this at Homestyle Gathering.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Kim for reading the post! We have found a couple of these little metal stands. ? And I am enjoying the Homestyle Gathering!

  3. Gorgeous! Love the ‘how-to’, and love the story about finding it. I’m so glad you are linking up with Homestyle Gathering. I’m really enjoying getting to know you and your blog!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Julie, you are so kind!! And I really appreciate all the comments you leave here! It is fun joining in and seeing projects and decor from so many bloggers!!

  4. Jen Nelson says:

    My parents met at Fort Meade- both were typists processing release forms for soldiers at the end of the Vietnam War. This is a neat project!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks for sharing this Jen! And thanks to your parents for serving our nation!??