How to recover old folding patio chairs.

Published: Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Fall may be closing in on us Northerners, but technically we still have a few more weeks of Summer... "technically". So I'm going to keep enjoying my back yard as much as I can before it gets lost under a pile of snow.

I bought these two folding chairs around 3 or 4 years ago for about $5. Originally they were brown-ish and were upholstered in a very 70's yellow-brown-orange floral print, sort of like this (I wish I had an original picture)...

...which could be totally cool if you're going for a retro vibe, but I wanted bright colours. So I decided to give them a quick update by re-painting and re-upholstering them in a more upbeat colour scheme. They looked great and I loved them, but they sat outside for 3 whole years (or was it 4?), completely exposed to the elements. And the elements aren't kind to pretty chairs. I know, I know, I should have brought them in, but do you know how much effort that takes? (None, I'm just lazy).

Anyhow, this year I decided it was time to do it all over again, and bring these gross chairs back to pretty. And when I say gross, I mean it. It's actually kind of embarrassing to show you this, but whatevs...

Do you see all that yucky black mold on the chairs' back rests? Yeah, nasty. And the peeling paint off the frame? Not looking good, my friends. But don't despair, it can all be made pretty once more, and it's really quite easy. I'll show you how.

The first thing you're going to want to do is assess your chairs' condition. Take the chair cushion and back rest out, you're going to need to remove the upholstery. Since I had already done this before, I knew how it was put together. I armed myself with a flat head screw driver and gloves (gloves are important, those upholstery staples are sharp!). After removing about 5 gazillion staples, I was left with these... admire the beauty of sun damaged foam. Seriously, isn't that pretty? and weird? It's like the fabric print actually got embossed on the surface of the foam.

So, even thought the seat's foam was looking very artistic, the actual seat structure was fine. I can't say the same about the chair's back rest, though. The rain and snow had taken a toll on them, and the board was rotten and falling apart. Since I had some leftover 1/4" hardboard from previous projects, I decided to make a new back rest. I simply traced the old back rest onto the hardboard and cut it (I used a sharp utility knife to score it, but you can use a jig saw, too). I did this for both chairs. Sorry I don't have a picture to show you, but it's pretty straight forward I think. Once the chairs were completely taken apart, it was time to start making them pretty.

I gathered my materials:

- Spray Paint in your choice of colours. I used Rust-oleum Paint+Primer in Coral and Ocean Mist, Gloss finish (I love Rust-oleum paints...and I'm not being paid to say that)

- Gloves for painting

- Outdoor fabric prints (quantities will depend on the size of your chairs)

- Clear vinyl (again, measure your chairs to know how much you'll need)

- Staple Gun

- Heavy Duty Staples (I used 5/16" staples)

- Gloves for stapling (it can be hard on your hands)

I started by cleaning the chairs' frames really well, and spraying them with my paint. Before you spray paint, make sure to protect all surfaces. This is what my chairs looked like at this point.

While the paint dries, you can start with the cushions (but keep in mind you may need 2-3 coats). You will want to protect your work surface with an old sheet or towel. Lay the first seat on your fabric (cushion side down). Make sure your fabric print is straight and in the right direction (if it's a directional print), and cut around the seat, leaving a 3" margin. Fold over one side and place one staple right in the center. Then fold over the opposite side, pulling slightly tight, and staple in the center. Then do the same for the remaining edges (as shown in the middle picture). Once that's done, you can start stapling all around. If you're working with a raw fabric edge, you may want to fold over once and then staple, to avoid future fraying (you don't have to worry about the selvage). My chair had 2 square corners and 2 rounded ones, so I just folded little sections of fabric at a time, following the curves, and stapled in place. Don't be shy when stapling, add as many as you need.

Flip over your seat cushion and admire your handy work...

You will now need to follow the exact same process with the clear vinyl, to protect your pretty new fabric from stains. Then repeat all these steps for the back rest. See? It's not difficult. It's just a lot of repetition.

Once your seats are reupholstered, you can put them back on the frame (which should definitely be dry by now), and screw back the back rests. And you're done!!

 

Looking clean and brand new. I'm back to loving my patio chairs, and I'm no longer afraid that I'm going to catch some rare disease if I sit on them.

 

Go grab a drink, take a seat, and keep enjoying Summer for as long as Mother Nature will let us.

 

Later Gator,

Julia (with an H)

 

 

 

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Brilliant Instajoom

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