How to Restore an Old and Knackered Outdoor Rocking Chair

Give your old tired and battered rocking chair a new lease of life with this DIY guide.
Christopher McFadden

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Do you have an old, tired, and weathered outdoor rocking chair lying around? Why not give it a new lease of life and restore it to its former glory?

Find out how to do that with this handy tutorial. 

diy rocking chair restore complete
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Tools and materials needed

Like any project of this nature, you will need some tools and materials to get you started. 

Step 1: Dismantle the chair

The first step is to dismantle your old rocking chair. Take your time during this step, and make sure you don't unduly damage the old rocking chair as much as you can.

Keeps all the pieces and, if needed, take notes of how to reassemble the chair later. 

diy rocking chair restore dismantle
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Depending on the design of the chair, you'll need a mixture of screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches to complete this step. For any fabric elements of the chair, if they are too far gone, dispose of them appropriately. 

diy restore rocking chair dismantle
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Step 2: Clean and restore any wooden components

With that complete, it is time to move on to the restoration phase. Exciting. 

Let's start with the wooden elements -- if any. If the chair has been out in the elements for a long time, like this example, the wood may be in very bad condition. 

Pull off any loose pieces of wood, and then remove any weathering to get back down to the clean wood underneath. Use a steel brush for the best results.

diy rocking chair restore sand down
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

For any splintered or broken parts of the wood, use wood glue to reaffix them to the main wooden elements. 

diy rocking chair restore glue wood
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Clamp the piece securely and leave it to dry fully. Do the same for any other delaminated sections of the wood too. Buff and sand down any other wooden parts that are in better condition.

diy rocking chair restore sand down
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Step 3: Remove rust and clean up metal components

Now, let's move on to the metal frame elements of the rocking chair. Remove any plastic caps to any metal tubing. Next, sand down all parts of the metal tube to remove any rusting. 

You want to get back to the bare metal underneath if possible. As always, wear appropriate respiratory equipment when doing this -- especially if painted. 

diy restore sand metal
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You may find it easier to use an angle grinder with a sanding attachment for any painted parts. Make sure you complete any sanding down in a well-ventilated space.

With the metal parts stripped to the bare metal once again, repaint as needed. For best results, especially if the rocking chair will be used outdoors, use outdoor paints. 

diy restore rocking chair spray paint
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Leave it to fully dry. 

Next, take any other rusted chrome elements, soak them in white spirit, and brush off any rust. Use a plastic bowl and gloves to do this. Also, make sure you complete this step in a well-ventilated space.

diy rocking chair restore strip rust
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

The white spirit will loosen the rust, making it much easier to remove with a regular brush. This will enable you to clean them up without overly damaging the chrome effect. 

diy rocking chair restore chrome
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Step 4: Finish and stain the wooden components

Once complete, remove the clamps from the wooden elements. If needed, sand them down to expose the clean, bare wood underneath. 

diy rocking chair clean wood
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Stain the wood as required. Make sure the wood stain is a waterproof type if the rocking chair is to be used outside. 

diy rocking chair restore stain
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Step 5: Refurbish any fabric elements

Next, it is time to move on to the fabric elements, if any, of the old rocking chair. Take the old reclaimed cushioning, and recover with a new fabric. 

How you do this will depend on the design of the existing cushioning. In this case, the rocking chair cushion is stapled to the new outdoor-proof to mark out the shape.

diy rocking chair restore refabric
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With the overall shape marked out, cut the new fabric to shape, as shown in the video. 

diy rocking chair restore cut fabric
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Now glue and fold the sides of the new fabric that will stretch over the steel frame, as the original fabric did. 

diy rocking chair fold fabric
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For added strength, sew the folds to ensure they won't come loose in the future. Depending on the fabric used, you may need to pre-make the sew holes with a fabric chisel. Watch the video for more details on this part.

Sew the seams by hand, or using a sewing machine, as needed. 

diy rocking chair sew chair
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Step 6: Reassemble the chair

With that, all the main elements have now been successfully restored. Now it is time to reassemble the rocking chair. 

diy rocking chair restore reassemble
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Reattach the leg frames to the wooden rockers, add the plastic caps back into the main chair frame tubes, and reassemble the entire chair, as needed. 

diy rocking chair reassemble
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Take the original screws and bolts, and connect the chair and legs together. If needed, remove rust from the screws and bolts as well (if not already done). 

Now, reattach the hinges and other chrome elements of the folding rocking chair, as needed. 

diy rocking chair restore hinges
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Now, reattach the wooden arm pieces to the metal frame, as needed. 

diy rocking chair restore arms
Source: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

With that, your newly refurbished rocking chair is finally complete. Now just give the rocking chair a test drive, literally sit back, and bask in your hard day's work. 

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