Up-cycling Patio Furniture

up-cycling patio furniture

Written by KS

July 18, 2021

In a previous post I mentioned re-purposing outdoor furniture.  Therefore, in this one I’m going to cover up-cycling patio furniture in more detail, because we’re in the middle of summer.  And let’s face it, we all appreciate a comfortable place to sit on the porch.  Or the back patio.  And if we’re entertaining guests, we’d love to have the ideal outdoor furniture to lounge on.  Some of us have even spent thousands to have just that.  While the rest of us would rather not shell out that kind of money for patio furniture.  So instead we either maintain what we have, or wait until there’s a sale.

However you don’t have to do either unless you just really want to.  If you’re a crafty person, this post is definitely up your alley.  But you don’t even have to be exactly handy for this.  Because this is something Daystar Handyman loves to do: Create and up-cycle things.  In fact, you could say it’s one of our specialties.  Therefore, before you decide to throw away your patio chairs from last season, read the rest of this post.  And when you get to the end of it, consider up-cycling your patio furniture.  Either yourself, or having Daystar Handyman making you something out of it.

outdoor purple sling chair

This is a representation of one of the sling chairs that we refurbished, though it isn’t the actual one.

What is “Up-cycling” Anyway?

First, let’s discuss what up-cycling means.  It’s a word, along with recondition, reuse, and a host of others, that basically all mean the same thing:  To make over or give something a face-lift.  And it doesn’t just apply to patio furniture.  There are so many different things that can be refurbished.  Although, why would we want to restore old and worn out outdoor furnishings?  Especially if we could afford the more expensive and new alternatives?

  • It saves money

Even if you can pay ~$1000-$3000 for a backyard conversation set, restoring what you have will save you tons of cash.  Particularly if you DIY.  And that money you saved, you can use toward an awesome vacation.  Or something else, whatever you want.

  • It promotes community

Any time you have the opportunity to endorse a local artist, by purchasing something they created, you’re supporting your local economy.  And that also benefits you.  Because when the community is thriving, everyone is benefiting.

  • Better quality

Depending upon the materials you use, a lot of the time, if not most of the time, making-over furniture can turn out to be better made than purchasing new.  That’s because the more affordable patio furniture out there isn’t designed to last.  It’s produced quickly and cheaply.  However if you buy new and want something that’s going to last, it can be cost prohibitive for a lot of people.

  • Custom-made

Either re-purposing your own patio furniture yourself, buying up-cycled from your community, or having someone else do the work for you will result in the same thing:  Custom-made, one of a kind outdoor furnishings.  And over time your unique pieces will have their own distinct story and history that you were part of.

  • Eco-friendly

Three years ago (2018), Americans disposed of over 12 million tons of furniture and furnishings.  The majority of which ended up in landfills.  Additionally, plastic (found on most less expensive patio items) is made from petroleum products, isn’t biodegradable, and ~8 million tons gets dumped in the oceans annually.  Although, most up-cycled furnishings available utilize sustainable materials.

Now that I’ve given you some solid reasons why restoring outdoor furniture is a great idea, I’ll give you some examples.  Furthermore, it’s likely you have some supplies readily available.

Up-cycling Patio Chairs

The chairs for this sample are sling stacking chairs.  They can be found at home improvement stores and Academy Sports.  A neighbor of ours was throwing out her set of 2, because the vinyl fabric was torn and falling apart.  But she freely gave us the set.

Supplies for up-cycling patio furniture:

  • Used sling stacking chairs
  • 3 1/2 ft wide x 6 ft long cedar fence pickets
  • Table saw
  • Power drill with drill bits and screws
  • Power sander with sandpaper
  • And sealer like Minwax Polycrylic Clear Finish

Instructions for up-cycling patio furniture:

  • Remove the torn vinyl fabric from the frames of the sling chairs
  • Using the table saw, rip the cedar fence pickets into 1 3/4 inch wide strips
  • Then cut those strips to the width of the chairs, ~18 inches (so, the slats will be 1 3/4 in x 18 in)
  • Pre-drill holes in the slats and the chairs
  • Next, sand the rough areas of the cedar down
  • Then seal the slats with a clear finish
  • And finally, after your finish is completely set, screw the slats into the frame
up-cycled outdoor stackable sling chairs with colorful cushions

This is the finished product, complete with colorful cushions.

Re-purposing Dining Chairs

So, for this next example, we were given a round glass table with 4 metal-backed dining chairs.  We didn’t need them.  And we really had nowhere to put them.  But for some reason we kept them.  The padding on the dining chairs was worn out, however rather than just restoring the metal backed dining chairs to their original condition, we decided to re-purpose them.

Supplies for re-purposing dining chairs:

  • Set of at least 2 dining chairs
  • Cedar 2x4x6
  • Power drill with drill bits and screws
  • Compound miter saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Power sander with sandpaper
  • And stain (we used Valspar Cedar Naturaltone one coat outdoor stain and sealer)

Instructions for re-purposing dining chairs:

  • Remove chair pads from the dining chairs (wood, stuffing, cloth, and plastic) till all you have are the metal frames
  • Drill holes into the chair frames (underneath in the seat area)
  • Using a compound miter saw, cut the cedar boards to length
  • Using a jigsaw, cut the cedar boards to fit the frames
  • Screw the boards into the chair frames
  • Sand, stain, and seal (the one we used was a stain and sealer in one)
  • And finally, when the stain/sealer is completely dry, add bench cushions

 

Most of the time all you’ll need for a quick update will be some sanding, a can of paint, and sealer.  Or some stain.  Projects like the 2 above are when actual seats are torn or missing.  Though it’s always an option to replace cushions or padding.  However we just decided to do something different with the dining chairs.  And now we have 2 benches.  Additionally, all we had to purchase, other than the cushions, was the wood.  Most of the items we already had.

re-purposed cedar plank bench with cushion and potted plants

This is the final look of our re-purposed chairs.

Up-cycling an Outdoor Lounge Chair

Our last illustration is an outdoor lounge chair.  It was originally ours that we purchased from Amazon.  Although it only lasted 2 seasons.  Furthermore it was plastic with a metal frame.

Supplies for up-cycling an outdoor lounge chair:

  • Frame of a used lounge/lawn chair
  • 4×8 x1/4 inch thick plywood (we used a remnant that we found)
  • Power drill, drill bits, and screws
  • Table saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Power sander
  • Stain and sealer

Instructions for up-cycling an outdoor lounge chair:

  • Remove all of the plastic or vinyl, if there’s any remaining on the frame
  • Lay the plywood on the ground, and place the metal frame on top of the plywood
  • Trace the form of the metal frame onto the plywood
  • Then cut out the traced form with the jigsaw
  • With the table saw, cut the plywood into slats
  • Next, place the slats onto the lounge chair where they’re going to go, spacing out with 1/8 inch tile spacers
  • Carefully drill holes into the metal frame and the slats
  • Be sure to number the slats on the back of the wood, since they’re all different
  • Then sand down the slats and stain
  • Allow them to dry before screwing the slats into the frame
  • And once the slats are screwed into the frame, then seal

Everything in this last design, besides the stain, screws, and tools we already own, was found or in the trash.  Or headed there.  And the only thing we would change with it would be to go with 1/2 inch thick plywood for strength.  But again, the plywood was found, not purchased.

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