How to refresh old plastic chairs

How to refresh old plastic chairs
We're often too quick to throw things away and sometimes if you just hang on to it for a bit you may be inspired to bring it back to life.  This is exaclty what Upcycler Cassie Fairy has done!

We’ve all got some plastic chairs hanging around in storage, haven’t we? They’re either old garden chairs, kids’ school chairs or a swivel chair that was once used at a teenager’s desk. If your plastic chairs been stashed away in the shed or garage and have started to look a little worse-for-wear, don’t throw them out just yet. Whatever type of plastic chair you have, you can revamp it to give it a new lease of life. With the right paint and good preparation, you can make those garden chairs or vintage office seats look as good as new. 

You will need

  • Screw driver
  • Soap and scrubbing brush
  • Ventilation mask
  • Fine sand paper
  • Plastic spray paint (we used Rust-Oleum’s Direct to Plastic)
  • Vinyl spray paint (we used Rust-Oleum’s Direct to Vinyl)
  • Metal spray paint  

Step 1

If any parts of the chair can be disassembled, this will make it easier to work on the plastic seat. Remove any metal legs or vinyl seat pads.

Step 2

Give the plastic a thorough clean before you start painting. Our chairs have been in storage for years so are very dirty, dusty and stained. You’ll need to use a scrubbing brush and hot soapy water to remove as much dirt and dust as you can. Allow to dry.

Step 3

If the plastic has any sharp edges or loose ‘shards’ it’s a good idea to remove these before you paint the chair. That way it’ll be much more comfortable to use once you’ve revamped it. Wear a ventilation mask and use a fine grit sandpaper to carefully smooth down any spiky plastic edges. Wipe away any residue with a damp cloth and allow to dry.

Step 4

You can paint the plastic surface using a spray paint formula that’s suitable for use on plastic. We used Rust-Oleum’s Direct to Plastic spray paint in white. Wear a ventilation mask and work in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. Give the plastic seat a fine dusting of spray paint as a base coat and allow to dry. Build up fine layers of spray paint until the old plastic is completely covered and looks as good as new. Adding many fine layers and allowing them to dry out between coats will help to minimise drips and speeds up the drying process. 

Step 5

If your plastic chair has vinyl seat pads or metal legs you can spray paint these parts too. Simply use the correct formula of spray paint for the type of material you’re painting. We used Direct to Vinyl spray paint in black by Rust-Oleum to revamp the vinyl seat and back. Again, wear a ventilation mask and build up the layers of paint until the part you’re working on is completely covered.

Step 6

Once all the paint is completely dry, you can reassemble the chair. Carefully reattach all the screws and fixings and ensure the seat is well-attached and the chair is sturdy before using it. 
Congratulations – you’ve saved an old plastic chair from landfill and you can use it in your home or garden for many years to come.

Using this method, you could even completely change the look of an old plastic chair by using a vibrant colour or metallic spray paint. Simply choose a spray paint that is suitable for use on plastic and you can create a unique piece of furniture that no-one else has!

As with all our projects, please take care while using tools, materials and equipment and all projects on the Safestore blog must be completed at your own risk. We do not take responsibility for any harm or injury that may occur. Be safe!

Professional photos courtesy of Andy Greenacre 

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