The three holes in the seat are there for drainage and look like they've always been there
Pretty solid but several old layers of paint had to come off, and I had to sand and patch some spots where there were rust holes.
So I used something that I've used around old cars before. It's a product called POR 15 patch. POR 15 (POR stands for Paint Over Rust) is a paint product that you can brush onto rust and it will harden to an almost plastic epoxy finish. It's sandable and it really sticks. You have to wear gloves and old clothes because if you get this stuff on your skin, it will stay there for days.
I remember brushing this stuff on the underside of an old car I was working on, and when I got done my face had lots of tiny black dots that I had to scrub repeatedly before I got rid of them. POR 15 reacts with oxygen and hardens pretty fast. You can get the paint on variety in small pint sized cans, but you really need to use it up because the lid will actually harden to the edges of the can if you're not careful, and I've had half a can go to waste because I didn't get a good seal on the lid and the liquid became rock hard. (By the way, I've used this with pretty good success on wrought iron railings that had rust issues too.)
So anyway, I had a tube of POR 15 patch (it's a paste, much thicker than the paint, so better as a filler) and used a popsicle stick to smear the paste onto the rusty areas on the chair. I tried to use some scrap aluminum mesh from an old screen door to give the paste something else to adhere to, but I couldn't get it to stay formed around the curve of the pipe so I gave up.
In this shot you can kinda see the black areas where I used the POR 15 Patch
I love how primer will make ugly bare metal look almost new.
By the way, a little tip for painting. Paint the bottom of your project first, then when that dries, turn the project up to paint the top parts so you don't have to lay your freshly primed top parts down on the ground or on anything that could mess up your fresh primer in areas where the finished product will be viewed the most. Same goes for finish painting. If you have a small thing to paint, try to rig up something to hang the object from and again, paint the bottom parts first, then hang the item so you can paint the top parts.
Also, wear a proper ventilated breathing mask and goggles when you're working with spray paints.
So after I hit it with a couple coats of sandable primer, I let the chair sit for a week or two and finally got back to it last week. I had been pondering a color choice, and lately I have a thing for red, so red it is!
Now that it looks this nice, I don't want to leave it sitting outside, so the chair is going to live on the tiki screened porch.