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An outdoor chair with slates, sitting next to a table with a tea cup and biscuit.

Overview

The weather can take its toll on outdoor furniture but you can magically restore metal and tackle tired timber to make a battered chair look virtually brand new!

Steps

1Don't throw it away!

When left outside for a long stretch of time, metal frames and components of outdoor furniture begin to corrode and can eventually eat away at the structure. Orange-brown spots on metal indicate surface rust, which can be treated using a rust converter that chemically changes the iron oxide into a harmless phosphate; this can be simply wiped away while providing long-term protection. To prevent further corrosion, replace the fasteners with new galvanised hardware and seal the metal with a specialty rust-resisting metal paint or clear coat. Timber parts can often be revived with cleaning, sanding and revarnishing, and a little elbow grease. But if the frame is intact and the timber is beyond saving, have new slats cut in store.

2Tackle the frame first

Dismantle the piece using pliers with a shifting spanner to remove nuts and bolts, knocking off stubborn nuts with a hammer and keeping any timber for reassembly. Wipe over the frame with a damp cloth to remove loose dirt.

3Remove excess paint and rust

Working on a drop cloth, remove flaking paint and loose rust from the frame with a wire brush, using a scraper on stubborn patches. Tip: Wear gloves when working with rusty materials and wear safety glasses to protect from grit flicking off the wire brush.

4Apply rust converter

Soak a cloth with rust converter, applying it generously to patches of corrosion and surface rust, working over them with fine steel wool. Re-soak the cloth to apply solution all over the frame, leaving to dry. Wipe all over with a clean cloth.

5Paint the frame

Apply spray paint in a sweeping motion, working in sections to spray a pre-wetting light mist, then a full, even finish. Leave to dry, then apply a second coat.

Pro tip: For easy access, stand the frame up by supporting it with quick-grip clamps at the base.

6Restore the timber

If restoring the timber slats, fill the original holes to prevent water pooling in them, then smooth all over with a random orbital sander and 180-grit abrasive disc. Wipe away dust. Use a mini roller to apply a coat of varnish, then leave to dry. Smooth all over with 180-grit abrasive paper. Wipe away dust, and apply at least two coats of varnish. Leave to dry thoroughly.

7Refit the chair

Reassemble by positioning the slats on the frames, allowing clearance from the edges and drilling pilot holes from underneath, through the holes in the metal. Secure with new galvanised button screws, checking they don't protrude – ours are 20mm.

Photo credit: Natasha Dickins

Green Bunnings hammer
Pro tip: avoid using the original holes to ensure the new screws have grip.

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.