Bringing outdoor furniture back from the dead

Principle 12: Creatively use and respond to change
While this project illustrates a few design principles, including produce no waste, I wanted to focus on principle 12 because I think that the proverb "vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be" is most appropriate.

The plastic chairs that my got handed down to me are cracking up, ugly and unsafe. Outdoor plastic items don't seem to last very well, and end up in the bin after a few years, best avoided in my book. I think that it's just about time to take them to the tip, where they may be able to recycle them if we are lucky.
We went to the local Scout car boot sale to try to find a replacement. We hit the jackpot with these pressed metal beauties that had been rusting away outside for years. My guess is that the chairs we made in the 50's or 60's, so they'd be over 50 years old and still perfectly useable. At $1 each we decided to buy 10 of them.

Pressed metal chairs that we bought at the local Scout car boot sale for $1 each, we got 10 in all.
After washing them and treating the rust with a dissolver the legs were given a couple of coats of black enamel
After a good clean we realised that they were different colours! We decided to go the whole hog and paint them, which I wanted to do properly so that they would last and look great. I had a 500ml can of 'Killrust' epoxy black enamel which I thought would look good for the legs and we bought a 500ml can of 'Metal Armour' flame tree red for the pressed metal seat. I used some rust dissolver - which may not have been necessary - to inhibit the rust, as I had some laying around and figured that it would ensure a longer lasting job.
Two coats of paint for the legs and two coats for the seat with some new feet so we can use them inside or on the deck. Now we don't want to leave them in the weather because they look so good, so keep them in the shed until we get around to making a cover for them.
All up the job cost about AUS $45 for the paint (with some left over), $10 for the chairs and $25 for the feet - $80 or so in all. It was a fairly long job as each coat took a day to dry, but not an unpleasent one and very rewarding in the end. Now we've got 10 sexy chairs with a story that should another lifetime (or two or three).

The stack finished chairs with two coats of flame red paint and new rubber feet
Inspired to touch up the outdoor table that I recovered from hard rubbish in Melbourne, I gave the frame a couple of coats of left over black enamel and used some old decking that I'd salvaged from a skip to rebuild the table top. With a couple of coats of linseed oil it looks as good as new! Now I'm thinking that I want to make a big Red Gum dining table for the chairs to sit around in the living room.

Table made from all recovered waste and repainted, while the chairs were brought back from the dead after a clean and paint.

I also gave an old rusty wrought iron table in the living room the 'chair' treatment while I was at it. Came up a treat and goes well with the bright red kitchen cupboards.
Well made metal outdoor furniture certainly lasts and can look great with some TLC, puts plastic to shame, and even wood, which, more often than not is uncertified and from rainforests. Wood has a very limited life outdoors, but is probably the most sustainable option if it is certified as sustainable, a hardy species and regularly maintained.

Wrought Iron table that was found in hard rubbish many years ago transformed with a couple of coats of paint (and some hard cleaning)


purplepear said…
Oh well done. They all look fantastic.
Linda said…
Fantastic to see something given a new life! And I love that you supported our cubs! Miss Eight is a keen cub - maybe we'll see your boys there one day! The chairs look absolutely brilliant!!!
Anonymous said…
Nice work on the chairs.
Wow! You really did an amazing job of getting those old, rusty metal garden chairs back to life. Thank you for this post.

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