Saturday, March 19, 2016

DIY: Reviving Old Wood Patio Chairs

Red Patio Chairs - Tehachapi, California
My wife, Amanda, likes to take old furniture that has seen better days and breath new life into them.  She calls it "reviving." She's done this with dressers and tables and beds and several different items. Others might think it's trash, but she sees the potential that a little work can bring out.

Her most recent project was two old wood patio chairs that were given to us by her mom. These chairs had spent years and years out in the elements and were in bad shape. The grayish-brown paint was peeling. You'd get splinters just from touching the chairs. Some of the wood was cracked and even rotting in some spots.

Her mom no longer wanted the chairs. They seemed more like trash than anything else. Yet, despite their problems, they were still fairly sturdy. So we gladly took them off her hands.

Here's the "before" picture:

Step 1: Sanding

The first step to reviving the old wood patio chairs was sanding them. My wife used a cheap electric sander and 100 grit sandpaper. She wanted to smooth out the rough areas and remove the peeling paint.

If she was going to stain the chairs she would have sanded them down to the bare wood, removing all of the old paint. But since she was planning to paint the chairs it wasn't a big deal that some of the old paint remained. We also took the opportunity to hammer in a few loose nails and bang in some new nails where some boards were loose.

It took about two hours of work to get the chairs sanded down to the point where they could be painted. She wore work gloves and a respiratory mask.

Step 2: Select Paint

Paint choice (or stain choice, if you are staining) is important. There are a lot of different brands and sheen options and colors, all of which can affect the style. 

At the hardware store I always look through the "oops" paint (paint that was mixed but wasn't the right color so now it's discounted) to see if something would match what I want. Any time you can save a little money is good. No luck this time, though.

For our chairs we went with Behr Premium Plus Ultra because it's a durable option for outdoor use and it requires fewer coats. We selected a matte sheen because we didn't need the chairs to be shiny and because flat paint shows fewer brush strokes.

The color that we chose was "California Claret" from the Gladden samples, and the paint guy at the hardware store simply used their color match machine to mix it for the Behr paint. We liked this color because it reminded us of some chairs we sat in during a coastal trip to Cambria, California, soaking in the great views and atmosphere.

Altogether, for the paint, brushes and supplies, we spent about $50. If you've shopped for patio furniture lately, you'll know that $50 is a heck-of-a-lot less than buying new chairs!

Red Chairs - Cambria, California

Step 3: Painting

Painting is easy yet tedious. We used 2" brushes and put on two coats. With both of us working on this it took about two hours to complete. We wore clothes that we didn't mind getting some paint drips on.

We didn't worry about the paint job being perfect because the chairs aren't perfect. They have a rustic look, so any painting mistakes only add to that. Once the paint was dry (and it dried pretty quickly in the warm sun), the chairs were finished!

A DIY project like this requires minimal expense and only a few hours of work, and the reward is quick. The chairs went from eyesore to eye-popping in a short time. We now have functional outdoor furniture for relaxing on lovely spring mornings.



This is a photography blog, so let me quickly talk about the pictures. All of the images (except for the Cambria photograph) were captured using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 pocket camera. Even though I have the camera set up to capture RAW+JPEG simultaneously, I used the JPEGs here because I didn't want to spend a bunch of time editing the pictures.

Because the camera is small and fits easily into my pocket, it's not a big deal to have it with me, even when working on reviving furniture or shopping at the hardware store. Quick snaps for a how-to blog post are no problem at all to capture.

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