How to Bring Your Outdoor Furniture Back to Life

After months of cold weather and awful storms, your outdoor furniture is probably not looking its best. Luckily, Hometalk.com has all the tricks you need to get your iron, wood, plastic, wicker, and rattan sets back in shape.

April 21, 2015

While it's been a harsh winter on many of us in the U.S., it's been especially harsh on our outdoor furniture. Even if you thought ahead and found some garage space to store them for the winter, your cast iron chairs have likely collected some spots and your wooden table has begun to dry out.

See also: How to Buy Furniture at Thrift Stores


Before you toss your damaged sets, however, take a look at some brilliant ways to fix and upgrade your tired outdoor furniture. It's not out for the count - it was just hibernating!


Tip #1: Break Out the Bleach

Photo via Dana @Bella Tucker Decorative Finishes

To bring your stained and mold-ridden cushions back to life, try spraying them with this surefire mixture of 75% bleach and 25% water. Then give them a good scrub with Fels-Naptha soap. After washing them well and then leaving them in the sun to dry, they'll look better than brand new!

Tip #2: Aim the Spray Paint

Photo via Christy @11 Magnolia Lane

In case you're having trouble getting rid of some stains (or you don't feel like hardcore cleaning), here's another way to dramatically change your outdoor cushions: After getting rid of any harmful marks (like mold build-up), give your pillows a bright springtime makeover using fabric spray paint, or paint mixed with fabric medium. This is an excellent way to update your old furniture and feel like you've splurged on a whole new set of cushions.

Tip #3: Update Worn Cushions with New Covers

Photo via Christy @Confessions of a Serial DIYer

If your pillows are looking really frayed and worn out, cleaning them, or even painting them, might not do the trick. While you might want to buy new at this point, it's also very likely that they've still got a great, springy structure, but they need a new face. Instead of scrubbing them to pieces or tossing them out, clean them as best as you can so that no mold remains, and then re-cover them with this simply sewn pattern.

Iron Furniture

Tip #1: Get Rid of Rust

Photo via Karen @The Graphics Fairy

Metal furniture is a little harder to clean than other types, but there's no patio set as classic as one made from metal. Start with metal-appropriate sandpaper to wear down the thick build up, or a bristly metal brush with some warm soapy water. If it's been a while since your last cleaning, you might need to break out a paint scraping tool.

Tip #2: Prepare for Paint

Photo via Carole

Before you give your piece a new coat of paint, accept that you probably haven't gotten every single rust mark off, so start with a sealer. Try Rustoleum's Rust Reformer, or Feronite rust converter. Any good converter will seal in the remaining rust and give you a smoother surface to paint.

Tip #3: Clean Away Stains

Photo via Carol and Randi @FrugElegance

If your metal chairs are looking old and weathered due to splotchy white marks, you've got an oxidizing problem. To fix it, simply mix 2 cups of water with Oxiclean filled to the 1 level line on the scooper. Wash your furniture well using your soapy solution, and then rinse it thoroughly. Once it's all dry, enjoy your like-new outdoor set!

Now what about that rattan, wicker, wood, and plastic?.....

Rattan and Wicker

Tip #1: Replenish Dry Fibers

Photo via Hayley @The Desert Rose

Strong sun or poor storage can dry out your wicker furniture and lead to easy breakage or decomposition of the brittle fibers. The trick to keeping your wicker healthy and your furniture sturdy is keeping it sufficiently moist - definitely not wet, but not exposed to harsh, dry air either. Try using a mixture of 2 parts boiled linseed oil to one part turpentine to completely replenish and renew dried out wicker. Another good way to keep your wicker safe is by protecting it with a coat of good quality paint.

Tip #2: Stick Down the Strays

Photo via Jo-Anna @A Pretty Life

Before you seal off your wicker furniture, make sure that all stray fibers are woven back in or well secured with a strong glue. For a seamless waterproof fix, try using contact cement. Though it can become pliable and lose its hold when exposed to long periods of direct sunlight, that shouldn't be an issue since wicker and rattan furniture shouldn't be left exposed to sunlight anyway.


Tip #1: Fix Weathered Wood

Photo via Laura @A Nurse and a Nerd

If your wood furniture is looking dried out after a long season of harsh weather, this will certainly do the trick! Before you do anything else, try an all in one wood cleaner. It will automatically foam up and bring the dirt and grime to the surface, leaving you with a plain but pristine wooden piece. Lastly, stain or simply seal your piece with a weather-proofing sealer.

Tip #2: Color it Young and Vivacious

Photo via Jo-Anna @A Pretty Life

Want to really make your wood pop? After the basic cleaning is done, use a fresh coat of bright paint to revive your tired wood pieces. Just clean well, sand smooth, and apply that fresh coat of springtime personality. That should definitely scare away the last of the winter blues!


Tip #1: Wash the Winter Away

Photo via Courtney @All Things New Again

Not every piece of furniture needs a full makeover - some just need a little TLC. Before you lose faith in your white plastic outdoor set, try some basic cleaning tricks. The right fix for your piece might be as simple as a wash with warm, soapy water, or you might do better with a touch of Soft Scrub, like these loungers got before their stylish paint jobs. Make sure to use a product that doesn't contain bleach because it can harm the plastic.

Tip #2: Create a Colorful Set

Photo via Bethany

Then again, you might be bored of plain white plastic. If so, after a basic cleaning, use some spray paint to give your plastic chairs a bright new look. If you're worried about the paint adhering to your piece, you can sand it with fine grit sandpaper, but it's not necessary. A better way to ensure that the paint sticks is using spray paint made specifically for plastic.

Tip #3: Adapt to Your Needs

Photo via Cherie

Don't be afraid to change your pieces to fit this season's needs. This fabulous upcycle turns an extra set of colorful plastic chairs into useful pool-side loungers! Do what works for you, so that you can enjoy these warm-weather seasons as much as possible.

For more tips, tricks, ideas, and inspirations, take a look at the outdoor furniture page on Hometalk.


Hometalk.com is the largest home and garden how-to community on the web, where millions of people share ideas and advice. Discover inspiration to help you better your home.