10 Tips to Revive Your Outdoor Furniture

BACKYARD COMFORT

Warm weather and sunny skies mean backyard barbecues are coming soon. Don't let worn outdoor furniture bring down the mood, though. Whether it's making new cushions, spray-painting chairs, or restaining wood furniture, here are 10 quick tips to help you revive your outdoor decor.

A CLEAN SWEEP

Before starting any DIY project involving furniture, be sure to thoroughly clean everything with a good wash. A new coat of paint won't stick if there's dirt and rust underneath. For cleaning tutorials for just about every piece of outdoor furniture, check out the comprehensive guide at How to Clean Anything.

NEW PATTERNS AND COLORS

If you're strapped for time and want to quickly revamp the patio decor, consider adding pops of color with spray paint. You don't have to worry about leaving behind brush strokes or applying multiple layers. After cleaning and sanding, spray-paint select pieces to create a refreshing color theme and add bright touches of pattern and texture. For example, spray between horizontal pieces of masking tape on a chair for a striped pattern, or spray through wide strips of lace for a dainty floral look.

A WHITEWASH FINISH

The vintage furniture look is very popular these days, so consider whitewashing your outdoor furniture for a rustic appearance. White stands out against trees, grass, or the wood fence in the backyard. For a proper whitewashed finish, Bob Vila recommends brushing on watered-down white paint and wiping it with a dry towel. Compared with painting, this is a relatively easy process because an imperfect finish is actually the goal.

DIY TABLECLOTH PILLOWS

Of all the items that take a beating outside, pillows may be the most vulnerable. Unless pillows are made from a weatherproof material, they tend to get dirty, soggy, and smelly after sitting outside for a season or two. To avoid that problem, create long-lasting outdoor pillows using an outdoor tablecloth. Simply cut square pieces of tablecloth made with indoor/outdoor fabric and sew together with plastic grocery-store bags stuffed inside. They're cheap and stylish additions for any chair or chaise seat.

RUST-FREE SURFACES

Rust is an eyesore whether it's growing on a metal fence or slowly climbing down a chair leg. But rust and loose paint can be removed easily with a good scrubbing. Use a stiff wire brush to scrape rust away; try baking soda and vinegar for stubborn areas. Then use sandpaper to get a smooth finish. After applying a layer of primer and a fresh coat of paint, that rust-stained piece will look new.
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STENCIL STYLE

If your outdoor furniture doesn't need new paint but you're itching to make a change, consider using stencils to add flare and accent. You can spray-paint floral corners on a table or add symmetrical shapes to create a pattern. For inspiration, check the examples of stenciled pieces at Craftionary.net.

PAINTED SEAT CUSHIONS

It's not a barbecue until someone spills some lemonade or drops a splash of ketchup. Add weather and normal wear and tear and you have a recipe for worn and faded seat cushions. Try painting the cushions with exterior paint in a matching shade for an instant color revival. The painted cushions will soften over time and you'll have a bucket of color ready when you need it.

COLOR BELOW

An often overlooked part of outdoor decor is the ground. Unless you have a wood patio or grass, there's most likely some concrete underfoot. Consider turning the ground into an art project. Try painting a tile pattern to add blasts of color, or paint some rocks green to mimic life-sized succulents.

RESTAINED WOOD FURNITURE

Wood furniture can change drastically when left outside without occasional cleaning and restaining. If it's about time to revamp your wood patio furniture, get some sandpaper and a can of spray stain in a preferred shade. The process is pretty simple: Sand, wipe clean, and stain. To personalize the pieces, consider adding stenciled words or patterns before applying the stain.

REFURBISHED PATIO CHAIR

Patio chairs are comfortable and light enough for easy moving. After a few seasons, though, the straps can stretch, causing uncomfortable sagging. Fortunately, patio chairs can be restrapped with a new roll of webbing. Free tutorials are available online, including a good guide from eHow.