How to Paint and Distress Metal Bar Stools Like a Pro

Not a fan of the color of your metal stools? Don’t worry! Learn how to paint and distress metal with this quick and easy tutorial.

Not a fan of the color of your metal stools? Don't worry! Learn how to paint and distress metal with this quick and easy tutorial. #paintmetal #paintbarstools #diymetalstools #distresspaint

Last Christmas I purchased these gorgeous metal bar stools from Overstock to complete the look around our kitchen island. However, even though I loved everything about these beauties I found myself wishing they were. . . different.

Honestly, I love the color, but with our kitchen countertops being so dark as it is I felt like the bar stools just didn’t look right, or have the “popping” factor that I was looking for.

First, I tried just distressing the metal and the original paint job, but … ugh. Still not getting it done for me.

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So, what’s a girl to do when faced with suchhhhh a dilemma? Well, you either go big and bold, or you go home.

Are you ready to learn how to paint and distress metal bar stools? Good! Let’s get started!

Materials

metal bar stool

Steps

1. First things first, wipe down your stools with a little bit of lacquer thinner and a paper towel to clean off any random debris that could cause the spray paint not to stick or give it a weird texture.

2. Pick out the color of your choice for your stools (or whatever project you’re working on). I’m happy to announce that this brilliant can of happiness did just the trick!

I know I haven’t mentioned it in any of my previous posts, but I recently attended the blogger Haven Conference, and had such a great time! I met so many new faces as well as finally being able to put a name to a personality. Always a plus!

One of the other amazing bonuses about this conference was the amazing goody bags that everyone received! For instance, this handy-dandy Rust-Oleum Spray Paint Comfort Grip is such a dreamboat to use. No joke. I also have the standard version as well, and it works…. but this one is definitely my favorite.

rustoleom spray paint comfort grip


3. Then, it’s time to paint! Remember: use LIGHT and MULTIPLE coats to prevent running and drippage.

Also, if it’s crazy humid in your location you might want to bring your project inside a garage with a fan or a/c unit. I started off doing all the stools outdoors, but after an hour I found that they were still super tacky. So, indoors they went!

paint and distress metal

How to Distress Paint on Your Metal Bar Stools

4. After you have painted all your stools and they’re good and dry it’ll now be time to distress. My favorite method? Lacquer thinner. Just put a little bit on a paper towel like you were cleaning them again, and buff out the edges. Depending on how much distress you will want will ultimately depend on how long this part will take. For me, maybe 10 minutes. Nothing too crazy.

5. If you would like, go ahead and spray down your stools with a clear matte finish. Honestly, I do not think this step is necessary (since you want the distressed factor!), but it can’t hurt to add a little bit of protection.

6. Enjoy these lovelies!

I still can’t believe how much of a difference this color swap has made! Soooo incredibly happy that I went with my gut.

In a few very short weeks I’ll have the remaining projects posted for the kitchen, and then I will FINALLY be done! Yay for getting projects like one and How to Paint An Exterior Metal Door off of my to-do list!

You can’t see it, but I’m totally jumping up and down right now.

No, I am NOT twerking! Who said that?

First off, trust me, those crazy days are over for this girl. I don’t think I would even know how to move like that… or want to!

kitchen makeover
distress metal

What kind of projects have you guys been creating lately?

If you loved this project then you’ll definitely want to browse some of my other DIY projects that are full of step-by-step tutorials as well as freebies galore! Can’t wait to see you again, and Happy Crafting!

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This post was originally created in August 2015 but was updated in August 2021.

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34 Comments

    1. Thank you, Cynthia! Lime green is definitely a favorite of mine. It just screams fun and happy times 🙂

  1. I love how they turned out. I have been wanting some of those metal bar stools for my new island, but I couldn’t find any colors that I liked, now I can just grab the next ones I find a good deal on!

    1. Paint is truly amazing, and lucky for us… there are countless colors to always be able to select from 🙂

    1. Hi Desiree and thank you so much!! I am so psyched to be apart of your features for this coming week 🙂

  2. I love the new look and the color is awesome. They look great in your kitchen. I have a stool that needs to be painted. Thanks for the tips.
    Thanks for sharing at Wake UpbWednesday,
    Bev

    1. Hi Erin and thank you! Isn’t lime green the best?! I’m such a huge fan, and I’m so happy you like it too 🙂 Best of luck with your next project!

  3. Hi! Your stools look lovely, I love the color! I am looking to paint/distress wrought iron wall peace. Would I use the same method I would for metal? Also, does any old spray paint do? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kathy and thank you!! You know, I’ve never tried this method with wrought iron before, but I imagine it would work out just the same. You’ll definitely have to let me know! Personally, I’ve never had a good experience with using old spray paint. Boo, right?! Best of luck 🙂

  4. Hi there! I am painting my barstools today because of you! 🙂 Thanks so much for the tutorial. Just wanted to ask – how is your paint holding up? Scratch easily or anything like that? I am thinking of adding wooden seats to mine so that jean rivets and things like that don’t mark them up.

    1. Hi Jackie, and yay!! 🙂 Honestly, I haven’t noticed any “easy” scratching. It still looks incredible, love the color, but the beauty also of this particular project is that since it is distressed I probably won’t notice too much either. P.S. I love the idea of adding wooden seats! Best of luck!

    1. Hi Petra! Are they made out of metal or wood? If so, I definitely think this tutorial will be perfect! Best of luck 🙂

  5. Can’t see your pictures for some reason, but this sounds like the kind of tutorial I need to paint my barstools! Any chance you send me the pics?

    1. Hi Kathryn! Thank you so much for letting me know. How are they working now? Have a great weekend 🙂

  6. Hello..Love the color. I want to distress some metal barstools that I have without painting. I love the color (grey) but want the distressed look. Do you think the same rechnique will work without painting?

    1. Hi Larmonica! Honestly, I do not. I tried it on mine originally, but nothing happened. I would highly recommend at least adding one coat to have the same affect. Best of luck 🙂

  7. Hi! Thanks so much for the tutorial. I have these stools in bright orange, and I’m looking to swap out for a new color. Do you foresee any issues going from a bold color to something more subdued?

    1. Hi Jonathan, and what a fantastic question! Personally, I probably wouldn’t try to distress the paint on your stools if you don’t want to see it popping through. Even if you’re going from a bold color to a light one I don’t foresee any issues as long as you put on plenty of light coats over one another. Best of luck, and have fun 🙂

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