DIY: Metal Folding Chair Re-Do

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Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

I’m not sure what it is about my Mom, but she has the BEST luck finding things for free on the side of the road. I hope to someday inherit her roadside-freebie-snatching skills. For about a year I’ve been keeping my eyes open for metal chairs to revamp. Ideally, I wanted ones with a cushioned seat, but any old metal chairs (that were less than $10/chair) would do. I wasn’t having any luck finding anything within my price range. Lo and behold, my Mom found 4 folding metal chairs WITH cushioned seats along the side of the road in my hometown. Score!

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

The problem was, they were in desperate need of some lovin’. Cue angels singing and my name being called from the craft store. For about $30 I was able to breathe some new life into these roadside freebies. Here’s how I did it!

Supplies Needed: 

  • Metal folding chairs 
  • Patterned fabric (I used 1 yard for 4 chairs)
  • Clear Vinyl
  • 1/2″ foam and/or batting
  • 1/4″ staples and staple gun
  • 220 grit sand paper
  • Damp cloth
  • Spray paint (~1 can per chair)

Step 1: I began by removing the seat of each chair. One thing that I didn’t do but would definitely do next time is number each chair and seat as well as separate the screws according to which chair they came from. I ran into some issues getting the seats to fit back onto the chairs because I got them all mixed up. This may not be an issue with newer chairs, but you’ll be thankful if you do it with old used ones!

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Step 2: I removed all of the staples and took off the old vinyl. Thankfully, the foam was in great shape (although a terrible color of neon yellow!) so I was able to reuse it. If you need new foam, now is the time to trace your seat base and cut out your foam and/or batting.

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Step 3: I cut my fabric into 17″ x 18″ pieces. I probably could have cut them a bit smaller, but I found it helpful to have a little extra to pull snugly and then to trim off the excess.

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Step 4: I lined up my fabric so that the pattern went in the direction I wanted it to face. I laid my fabric right side down, centered my foam and then lined up my chair seat. Once everything was lined up, I began stapling my way around the seat. I found it easiest to begin on one corner and work my way around the entire seat. It’ll probably take you a bit to find your groove, but once you do it should go pretty quickly! I thought the corners would be tricky, but they actually ended up being pretty easy! (See photos below for how I folded the fabric around the corners so that it would lay flat.) Once you get your fabric stapled down, trim off the excess.

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Step 5: I repeated steps 3 & 4 with my vinyl. I ended up using a ton of staples to get it to fit snugly but hey, nobody will see them!

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

I should point out that my husband picked out the seat fabric. Great choice, huh?!

Next it was time to paint the metal chairs! It was too breezy to paint outdoors, so I moved my chairs into a well ventilated workshop. Please be sure to work in a well ventilated space, spray paint fumes are not good for your brain cells and future offsprings. 

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Step 6: I pulled/cut off the old rubber feet and sanded the entire chair with 220 grit sand paper. Basically, I wanted to remove any rust spots and rough up the entire surface. Once I sanded down the surface, I went back over the chairs with a damp cloth to remove the dust & dirt.

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Step 7: Paint. I chose Krylon indoor/outdoor gloss spray paint in “Bright Idea.” I ran out midway through the project, and had a heckova time finding more since I had bought the last can at our local hardware store. Thankfully, Walmart ended up being the ONE place within 50 miles that carried the brand/color. Word of advice, make sure you have enough paint to start off with! I used about 1 can per chair.

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Also, I HIGHLY recommend using this fancy contraption called the Can Gun. My hubby got it for me for Christmas and this was the first time I broke it out. It makes spray painting a dream! No finger cramps or over-spray on your hands. Seriously, go buy one right now!

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

The essential to spray painting is to do multiple thin coats. Seriously, take your time and wait the manufacturers recommended time between coats. You’ll regret going too quickly because you’ll instantly get drips and splatters. I ended up doing about 3 coats on each chair and they turned out pretty well! I do have a few drips here and there, but nothing that I am going to lose sleep over.

This is what my chairs looked like after one coat of paint:

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

And after the third coat of paint:

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Step 8: I reattached the cushions and voila! New chairs! (See my note above about numbering the cushions/bases/screws).

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards
Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

Metal Folding Chair Re-Do | Simply Mrs. Edwards

I still need to get new rubber feet for the chairs. I bought some but accidentally got the wrong size (mental note – measure twice, buy once!). Overall, I’m ecstatic with how these free roadside chairs turned out! They will work really well as additional outdoor seating for our next BBQ or indoor seating for our next movie night. The best part is that if I ever get tired of the fabric, I can easily pop off the seats and change it out! Yay for free chairs that turned out fabulous :)

Budget Breakdown:

  • Metal chairs: free!
  • Fabric: $11.50/yd.
  • Clear vinyl: $4.99/yd.
  • Foam: free!
  • Staples & staple gun: already owned
  • Sand paper: already owned
  • Spray paint: $15.50
  • Total: $31.99

With a fancy new place to sit,
Mrs. Edwards

7 Comments

  1. These are fabulous! Love what you did with them! :)

  2. Hi,
    I just started my first metal chair Reno but I am struggling with the spray paint aspect. I have bought good quality paint but it is just peeling off super easy. I read your blog and you sanded your chairs, mine are new so they aren’t rusty but should I still sand them so the paint doesn’t just peel off at the slightest touch?
    The chair looks so damn cute….I just could never be able to touch it. Waah, please help me.
    Samantha

    • Yes – be sure to sand down the metal a little, even if it’s brand new. Your goal is to rough up the surface so that the paint has something to stick to. If it’s still having issues after sanding, I’d recommend a primer first – or a paint & primer in one. That should definitely do the trick! Good luck!

  3. So cute! I’m about to do my metal chairs as well, did you have any issue with the hinges being spray painted to where they stick? That’s my only concern. My chairs have no cushions, but are a powder coated surface and I made sure my spray paint was for metal as well.

    Can’t wait to try this!

    • I didn’t have any problems with the hinges – I think because I folded/unfolded the chairs enough between coats that I was able to get in the nooks and crannies without them sticking. Hope yours turned out well!
      xo, Terra

  4. I just came across your post while searching for some tips before redoing some little folding chairs for my kids. Do you know what gauge vinyl you used? I noticed that there are different gauges of clear vinyl at Joann.com. Thank you for sharing your great tutorial!

    • Ooo, good question! I don’t remember the gauge…but I do know it was not the thinnest, or the thickest. I want to say it was either 8 or 10 gauge. You want to make sure it’s pliable enough to pull and staple, but not so thin that it tears easily. Good luck!
      xo, Terra

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