Introduction: Patio Chair Re-build

Picture of Patio Chair Re-build

Rather than spend $37+ each, to re-sling my patio chairs, I resurfaced them with wood slats for about $11 each.

Step 1: Replacing the Worn Sling

Picture of Replacing the Worn Sling

Weather got to my patio chair slings. A few web sites were around $37 for a single replacement sling (see links below). Or $148+ total for 4 chairs and my labor. I checked out a few web sites and a great YouTube video by Sling Masters ( After seeing what all is involved, like measuring, ordering, waiting, installing, I decided to resurface mine with wood slats.

If you would rather replace with fabric slings, an Internet search will give several hits like these.

If you want to do what I did, then for each chair you will need approximately (depends on your chair style and number of chairs--I have 4 chairs):

1"x3", I bought 20 for $1.92 ea.
1-1/4 self drill screw, 1lb box for $5.37.
1-3/4" or so length screw, 4.
Paint or stain. I bought 1 gal. exterior for $39.98.

All supplies came from Home Depot and totaled about $100. If you already have paint or stain, you can do 4 chairs for about $60. I like the savings, the weather resistant wood and I got to paint them with my wife's favorite color. That last one buys benefits well worth the $100 spent.

Ok, if I convinced you then let's move on.

Step 2: Measure and Calculate

Picture of Measure and Calculate

To determine how much wood to buy you will need to take some measurements and do the math as follows. My chair measures 20-1/4" wide and 51" long. I used a soft tape so I can measure the contoured length correctly.

Note that a 1"x3" actually measures about 2-1/2" wide. So take the length of you chair and divide by 2.5. This gives you how many slats you need. For mine, 51 / 2.5 = 20.4. Round up to 21 slats needed.

Each slat will be cut to the width of your chair. So multiply your total slats previously calculated by the width. For mine, 20-1/4 x 21 = 425.25. This is how many linear inches of 1x 3 slats I needed.

But I need to know how many boards to buy. Let's convert to feet and then get the number of boards. 425.25 / 12 = 35.43 linear feet needed. 35.43 / 8 foot board length = 4.4 boards to buy.

So I needed to buy 5 boards (rounded up) for each chair. This was all done rounding up and without factoring the gap distance between each slat, all of which will reduce the amount of boards to buy. But at $1.92 each, I'd rather have a little extra for cutting out bad spots or cutting wrong.

Step 3: Cut, Paint, Drill and Counter Sink

Picture of Cut, Paint, Drill and Counter Sink

I set up a stop on my radial arm saw to cut all my slats to the same length. After painting, I then made a jig to locate the pre drilled screw holes.

This jig trick is one I learned from a wise cabinet guy. He taught me this trick so I could locate the exact drawer knob and handle position on my new cabinets.

To make the jig, use scrap wood (3 pcs). Screw an end stop and side stop onto a larger block (see pics). Then locate your slat center and edge distance that you will use for your slats. Mark and drill this position. Hopefully the pics help explain this.

Now place a slat into position and drill the thru hole. The diameter drill is selected based on your screw size, but should be just large enough to slip the screw thru the hole. I used #6 screws and #32 drill.

I then counter sunk one side so the screws will sit below the surface.

Step 4: Screw the Slats in Place

Picture of Screw the Slats in Place

Having removed the old sling (see the You Tube video previously noted) and starting at the bottom, I began screwing the slats in place. I left a gap between each slat equal to a paint stir stick. This allows for expansion of the wood. There is nothing magic about this distance and I later thought I could of used a 1/4" gap or more.

I made an attempt to keep the slats level and learned I needed to try harder, or be content with imperfection--because I didn't succeed at keeping them level, I guess I chose less than perfection is ok.

The screw length is critical to this process. I made sure I had enough length to penetrate into the chair frame. On concave radius bends, a longer screw is needed(see the pic).

After I was done I decided to remove the first slat at the bottom. I remembered how shorter people complained at how the bottom slat pressed against their leg when sitting in an Adirondack chair I made.

Step 5: Sit and Enjoy

Picture of Sit and Enjoy

Now the reward is to sit and enjoy the view.


CrystiC (author)2017-10-15

Where did you get the wood? I have been looking for wood at Home Depot and everything sold by the foot and so it is turning out extremely expensive like $50 per chair and I have six chairs. Any recommendations???

diana3899 made it! (author)2017-06-13

We decided to take this a step further. We purchased canvas fabric and treated it with a water proofer. We also purchased outdoor foam and cut it into strips. One of us painted the boards and the other used spray adhesive to glue the foam to the boards. The fabric was stapled on one end of the boards and then wrapped around and stapled again on top. By doing this we left the board at the curve between top and bottom plain without foam. We used 14 covered boards and 1 uncovered. They were then screwed in place as the instructions indicated. The chair frame was sanded and repainted. The table was painted with Rustoleum metalic blue and the chair frames with Rustoleum 2X in Navaho White. We have had great positive comments on them!!! Thanks for this awesome tutorial!!!

ChristineT33 (author)2017-02-01

I am sooo going to do this. Thanks so much.

tekrednek (author)2016-12-03

This is a great idea!! I was just about to scrap 6 chairs and spend $400+ to replace them when I saw this. I like the idea so much I am going to use the same technique for the matching glass table. I will post the results when completed.

Havlicek stole the ball (author)2015-07-20

This works also very well with slats from a slatted frame (from beds). You may find these cheaply at thrift stores or even dumped ones on the street (meant for garbage removal) $$=0.

clydesimmons (author)2015-06-10

I appreciate all the positive feedback.

I really am pleased with the outcome. The chairs are well liked by all who have sat in them.

vrema01 (author)2015-06-10

Great idea and very well executed. Looks great!

ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-05-29

Great rehab!! What a cool idea using wood

tomatoskins (author)2015-05-29

Excellent first instructable! I would have never thought to use wood to repair a cloth patio chair.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to explore various media and also see what others are doing--you all amaze me with what you are able to do. The creative ... More »
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