Patio Chair Makeover Test

We've had these relatively inexpensive metal chairs for eight years or so now, and although they're fine, they're not perfect.

Recently I had an idea of how to make them better and I gave it a test this weekend.


First, let's talk about the pros and cons of these things:

Pros: they're pretty durable, have a bit of a rocking motion due to what is essentially a large spring integrated into the frame, and not entirely unattractive. They're not too expensive either.

The cons: they're not really visually impressive, not the most comfortable things to sit on -- you're sitting on metal mesh after all -- they got hot when in the sun, and they need to be repainted every couple of years:

We have seven of these chairs as well as three bistro tables and two or three smaller chairs all in the same style, so even if my idea doesn't work there are more left to sit on (or to experiment on further).

My idea started with some cedar:

I chose a fence picket for this, as is was the right thickness for what I wanted to do.

Next, I cut the 6" (15cm) wide board into three roughly equal strips:

I cut the pieces to length, clamped the pieces to the chair, and fastened them.

The end result:

I now have a wonderfully comfortable cedar chair!

It still has a metal frame so is very sturdy, and the spring action still works:

I used fasteners that are designed to attach metal lathe to wood:

I didn't even know such a thing existed but it was exactly what I needed!

The pieces at the curves were a bit trickier, but just required some angled cuts and some sanding to round things out:

I'm really pleased with the results, but will use this chair for a little while before I dive in and start converting all of the others, just in case there are some changes needed that might not reveal themselves for a little while.

What do you think?

The wood is wet in some of these photos, so looks more colorful than it is when dry. The cedar will also weather to a shade of gray.


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Jean Campbell  – (June 16, 2015 at 8:57 AM)  

Fence pickets, a chair you were not crazy about and some fasteners. Lots of work. End result is most attractive and looks comfortable. Great job!

outlawgardener  – (June 16, 2015 at 9:18 AM)  

I'm impressed! The chair looks great with it's new cedar covering and knowing that it's more comfortable is an added bonus! You come up with the greatest ideas!

Mark and Gaz  – (June 16, 2015 at 9:33 AM)  

It looks fantastic Alan! The wood is gorgeous and it looks so seamless, very professional looking which is a testament to your great skills :)

Denise  – (June 16, 2015 at 10:13 PM)  

Very cool! The angles came out beautiful.

Hoover Boo  – (June 17, 2015 at 4:18 PM)  

Your craftsmanship is excellent.

Needs a cup holder! ;^)

Alan  – (June 17, 2015 at 5:28 PM)  

Jean: it was less work than many other projects I've done -- not too bad.

Peter: thanks! I wish it would dry off so I could actually sit in it a little while...

Mark/Gaz: Thank you, but it's not as seamless as you think. I left some gaps on purpose, but the next one will be better.

Gerhard: I think the materials cost me about $7. Can't remember how much the chairs originally cost, but probably around $80 each.

Denise: thanks! It's difficult to cover curves with straight pieces, but this came out pretty well the first try!

Gail: thank you! I'll get working on the cup holder for the next version. :)

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