How to revive an outdoor chair

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!

Bunnings magazine, September 2020

Tools and materials


Drill with 3mm bit

Drop cloth

Exterior timber filler in a matching colour

Exterior timber varnish

Fine steel wool

Galvanised button screws

Mini mohair roller and tray


Random orbital sander with 180-grit abrasive discs

Rust converter

Safety equipment including gloves, mask and eye protection

Shifting spanner

Small hammer


Specialised metal spray paint

Quick-grip clamps x 2

Wire brush with scraper

Don’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.

1. Tackle 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.

How To Revive An Outdoor Chair

2. Remove 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.

How To Revive An Outdoor Chair

3. Apply 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.

How To Revive An Outdoor Chair

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

How To Revive An Outdoor Chair

5. Restore 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.

How To Revive An Outdoor Chair

6. Refit 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. Tip: Avoid using the original holes to ensure the new screws have grip.

How To Revive An Outdoor Chair

Now you’ve refreshed your rusty pieces …

Try out our step-by-step guide to giving your timber furniture a second life.


Photo Credit: Natasha Dickins

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. 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. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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