Easy Rocking Chair Renovation

From trash to treasure

Easy Rocking Chair Renovation is today’s DIY Project. What are your favorite rocking chair memories? Everyone has one. Was it at home or on a great family trip somewhere that just felt like home? Or even maybe at a popular restaurant, where you waiting impatiently to get inside and enjoy your favorite comfort food? Or maybe you’ve seen the BIG one I just discovered today, the World’s Largest Rocking Chair? Check out the link it’s huge.

My rocking chair memory involves a small white chair with a soft red seat cushion on it. It was given to me by my parents. There were some fun times, rock, rock, rocking away in it when I was a child. Then it sat in the basement, unused for years. Finally, once news my niece was on the way into the world, my Dad restored it and now it lives on in her home. It’s probable this was the first easy rocking chair renovation in our family history. Hopefully, this one will be passed down to the next generation in years to come.

Now let’s talk about trash

Because that’s where this easy rocking chair renovation story started.

Reduce, reuse, recycle trash

Our neighborhood alleys are famous for the “trash” people put out there. I’m not talking garbage trash but rather treasure trash. You can find everything from bicycles to furniture and lots of other treasures in between. If your timing is lucky, you could find your next great #salvagegardener DIY Project.

I’m talking about a good old fashioned easy rocking chair restoration.

A few years ago, I didn’t have to walk far. I found an old wooden chair with the back and seat cracked and falling apart, in my alley! A neighbor must have gotten tired of looking at it aging and disintegrating. Surely the cracked rattan style material that had once been a comfortable woven back and seat cover, would now have provided a few splinters if you sat in it. Or maybe you’d get a fast trip to the ground on your bottom.

As a lover of vintage furniture, particularly the outdoor variety, I dragged it down the alley into my backyard.

It moved from next to the house to the very far corner of the fence where no one could see it’s potential. Maybe the weeds and tree that decided to make their way around it gave it some love, but not people.

I’d visit it from time to time, wondering how I was going to bring it back to its glory. The bones of it had some beautiful wood that was just aged, and quite dusty from the yard. And it sat there for almost 3 years.

And it was time to rock once again, Let it Rock

Inspiration struck me and I was off to recreate this grand old chair into a cleaned-up version of itself. It was very shabby and needed a long trip to get somewhere near chic.

First, I hit it with the hose. Then a towel to clean off the dirt and repeated that a few times.

After that it, was time to get out the power sander. The wood was smooth and aged. Re-staining and sealing was an option, but I wanted her to shine in her new rendition. So out came the sander a for a few hours.

Rocking chair restoration made easier

I needed to get the dirt off and get the surfaced primed for some paint to start the makeover. I used a little machine that cost about $25 from Home Depot made by Ryobi. It’s compact and gets the job done much faster than if you were sanding by hand. That would probably take a few long days of hard work. You may remember it featured in my post called Cart, Cart, Cart .

So the sanding is done, and I wiped it down with a damp cloth to get the dirt off. Notice the cleaning off dirt, is a theme in any story remoted related to activity in the garden.

Rocking on to painting and sealing

Don’t forget a tarp or drop cloth to protect the surface below your project.

Then it was on to put a plastic drop cloth on the grass. I tell you this because if you use a sheet on your lovely stamped concrete patio, you will have memories of your rocking chair restoration project forever.

So back to the dropcloth selection, I used a tarp. I also decided to use 2 sizes of paintbrushes to apply white paint into all the nooks and crannies of the frame. Specifically, I used outdoor grade paint that had a primer already mixed into it. It took 2 coats to cover the wood frame with this bright white color.

Painting the frame of the rocking chair is complete.

Afterward, I used a sealant. I debated over that step. Two coats of paint took a long time to dry. The sealant called for 3 coats. I looked around at some other projects where the paint was starting to wear rather quickly. So I decided to apply the sealant to this one to see if it helped prolong the life of the paint. I am hopeful it will protect the paint and there will not be a need to touch it up further on this project.

Eco-friendly, supply run

The chair frame meets the scrap wood

And then it was off to the trash again, in this case, a construction dumpster on the street. A step up from the back alley this time. I see tons of wood tossed away from new home builds every day and I was delighted to find a piece large enough for my project. And the #salvagegardener favorite four-letter word, FREE, applied to this.

Measure TWICE, cut ONCE

Important fact!


Always remember this step. Not just a cliche but a true time and materials savings. I used a tape measure, a marker, and cardboard (there’s a use for those cardboard Amazon boxes) to create a template. Then I traced it onto the wood and marked the spots to save with an “x”. As I mentioned earlier, there are a ton of construction crews in the area, so I popped the wood into my Jeep with some bottles of cold water. I found 2 guys using a power saw that were grateful for the cold water, on a very hot day. They happily agreed to cut out the wood. I think they were also impressed by my professional markup and directions. Now I had the base for the cushions, saved some wood from the landfill, and made some new friends.

The tools for measuring success

I ordered some thick foam from Joann Fabric. It came in two large squares, so I used the same technique for the wood on the foam and fabric. I am also a huge fan of Sunbrella fabric. This particular fabric is made for the outdoors. It lasts forever without fading and you can just use some soap and water to clean it. It’s quite pricey, so don’t forget to use any discounts available. I got this Sunbrella material from Joann Fabric in logo red Outdoor. Here’s the video again to make sure you don’t forget before you cut anything.

The final stretch

Take foam and glue it to the wood, then put it on top and attach the fabric. I think a staple gun would be most efficient. Since I don’t have one, I used a hammer with some fabric tacks and tiny nails to get the job done.

Securing the fabric to the foam cushion

Getting this all together

Once the cushions are complete, power up your drill!!! Place the cushions on the frame and make sure the screws are thick enough to secure the wood on the frame, but not long enough to poke through and bite your butt.

And in the end, the trash became treasure once again.

Cushion from Pottery Barn, also made from Sunbrella fabric.

Ta, da—-here you have it. Thanks for reading. I’d love to see your rocking chair photos. Post on our social accounts and share!

PS – Until I started writing this post, I hadn’t realized it’s just a grown-up version of my first white rocking chair with red cushions. I am looking forward to making more memories.

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