12 Ways to Wake Up Your Tired Outdoor Furniture

When spring is in the air and the weather starts to heat up, so does your outdoor entertaining. But after a long winter, your outdoor furniture might be looking shabby, particularly under the bright, unforgiving glare of the sun. Before you hop on the Internet to order new furniture, see if there’s something you can do to revive that patio set, picnic table, garden glider, or favorite pair of lawn chairs. If your furniture is actually falling apart, it may be time to retire it. If it's structurally sound, however, no matter what it's made of, there's probably a way to freshen it up. For example, spray paint is a panacea for wood, wicker, and metal. Most pieces can also be revived with a thorough washing, scrubbing, and sanding. If the finish is beyond saving, or if you're just sick and tired of it, you can recover it—by slipcovering or reupholstering. Or maybe all you need are the right accessories—a few throws and pillows—to bring your furniture back to life. Take a look at these smart ways to bring your old garden furniture to new glory.

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  1. Spray Paint


    A can of spray paint can go a long way toward making a weary-looking piece seem nearly new. Spray paint is inexpensive, and it’s easy enough to repaint a chair like this every year. So, go ahead—try something bold. You can change your mind next year. Be sure to wash and dry your piece thoroughly before painting.

    Related: 10 Unexpected Uses for Spray Paint


  2. Reupholster


    Chair seats can get faded and forlorn after a few seasons, especially if they receive direct sun. You can spruce up your patio set by reupholstering the seats. It takes only a little fabric and a staple gun. Just remove the seat pads from the chairs, and put on something new and stylish. You can remove the old fabric or leave it on if it’s not too thick and isn’t badly damaged.

    Related: Without a Stitch – 9 No-Sew Projects to Dress Up Any Room


  3. Taking Care of Teak


    Although teak wood furniture is extremely hardy and long lasting, it should be refreshed every few seasons. Use a cleanser especially for teak, follow up with a light sanding, and then seal it with protective sealer. With care, teak will stay looking beautiful for years.


  4. Spray-Painting Cushions


    Refresh faded cushions with—wait for it... spray paint. Yes! You absolutely can. If you just can’t find new cushions you like, or if you don’t want to invest in new ones, you can extend the life of your current fabric with nothing more than regular spray paint right off the rack of your local hardware store. You’re welcome.


  5. Slipcover


    Bring a quick fix to drab and dated porch furniture by draping it with slipcovers. There’s something light and airy about a slipcover blowing in the summer breeze. It’s cheerful, inexpensive, and by no means permanent. You can reserve the right to change your mind and do something different next year.


  6. Get Graphic


    Bring some funk to the ubiquitous plastic lawn chair. Apply painter’s tape in varying widths and then spray-paint the chair. These fluorescent pink seats are definitely conversation starters.


  7. Tung Oil


    If you like an oiled look for your natural wicker, you can apply tung oil to your wicker pieces after washing them to protect them from the elements. Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies. The oil will harden to a deep, rich protective finish.

    Related: Wicker Gone Wild—10 Easy Ways to Transform Old Into New


  8. Add Colorful Accessories


    Sometimes a few colorful throws and pillows are all you need to refresh your outdoor furniture. It’s a quick fix and a simple way to update a style that feels a little tired. And when trends change, it's easy to refresh again.


  9. Remove Rust


    With some time and elbow grease, you can renew rusted metal furniture that you thought was headed for the trash heap. Knock off loose paint and rust with a stiff wire brush, then sand the painted edges smooth. Wash thoroughly and let it dry, and it’ll be ready for primer and paint. You won’t believe the transformation.


  10. Whitewash


    A whitewashed finish looks great in an outdoor setting, and it’s not difficult to do. Water down white paint with two parts water to one part paint. Brush on and wipe with a dry towel. Go over the finish again with a dry brush to give it some depth. The beauty of whitewashing is that it shouldn’t look perfect—so don’t be afraid to try it.


  11. Restain


    Weathered wood furniture can look good as new with a fresh coat of stain. Sand and clean your piece first, then thoroughly wash and let it dry. Apply your new stain according to the manufacturer’s directions. The difference is dramatic and well worth the effort.

    Related: How To: Stain Wood Furniture


  12. Washing Wicker


    Wicker is an outdoor decorating staple, but over time it's bound to show dirt and dust (and maybe even a little mildew). That’s OK, because it’s totally washable. Use a regular garden hose (NOT a pressure washer), a gentle scrub brush, and mild soapy water. Let the furniture dry completely in the sun for 24 to 36 hours before sitting on it, so as not to leave the lasting impression of your backside on it.


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