How to upcycle wooden dining chairs

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Bring something old back to life and give your dining area a stylish makeover - all at once! It’s easy to find chairs on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace and with a little know-how you too can create an on-trend addition to your dining space.

Tools and materials

2 x dining chairs

Dulux flooded gum sample pot

Dust mask

Ear protection

Eye protection

Gap filler


Paint equipment (brushes, rollers, trays)

Sanding equipment (sandpaper, sanding block, electric palm sander)


1. Find some old chairs

This is the fun part – dumpster diving! Well, not quite, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to deciding which chairs you’ll use for this project. Upcycled furniture is very on-trend, so it doesn’t matter if all your chairs look different – it all adds interest to your room. Social media sales sites are great places to find interesting pieces, but keep an eye out at council pickup – you’ll be amazed what people throw out.

2. Safety first

Once you’ve picked out which chairs you’d like to upcycle, it’s time to suit up in some protective gear. We’re going to be sanding and using power tools, so ear protection and safety glasses are recommended. A dust mask is also good, and will protect your lungs from any old dust or toxic old paint that’s being removed. 

How to upcycle wooden dining chairs

3. Remove all dirt

Before we get into painting the wooden chairs, we need to make sure they’re nice and clean. Give them a good wipe down first. But be warned – you need to wait until they’re completely dry before sanding otherwise you’ll mess up your sandpaper.

How to upcycle wooden dining chairs

4. Sand away

We used both an electric hand sander (these are great) and separate sandpaper squares to get into those tricky-to-reach areas. You don’t need to get carried away taking it all the way back to the wood, you just need to make sure the surface is nice and smooth. If your chair is really old, it might have some gaps or major dents in it. If it does, grab some gap filler or wood putty and plug the holes – this will smooth everything out. Allow it to dry and sand away the excess putty and you’re ready for the next step.

How to upcycle wooden dining chairs

5. It’s time to paint

After everything’s wiped down clean, you’re ready to paint. Pour your paint into a tray first and roll your roller out in it to make sure you get a nice, even paint distribution – you don’t want any blobby bits.  We used a Dulux Sample Pot – there’s enough paint in one of these to do two chairs, so it’s extremely economical. If you’ve got a detail – like the wrought iron back plate we had on ours – make sure you take that off while you’re painting. You can add it back once it’s done, or leave it off if you’d prefer. Give your chair two coats of paint, using both a roller and a paint brush for tricky-to-reach spots.

How to upcycle wooden dining chairs

6. Job done!

How good do your new chairs look? If you want to achieve different looks, feel free to use different paints. Chalk paint is great for a designer, ‘country’ look, or go high-gloss for maximum impact. Feel free to use the same process on other pieces of furniture!

How to upcycle wooden dining chairs

Keep watching

Watch the full episode and more D.I.Y. projects from Make It Yours Episode 1: kitchen makeover by Haus of Cruze.


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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 DIY 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

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