What do you do when the porch swing on your new fixer upper looks like weathered death? If you’re like me, you look at the prices of new ones, decide you’re far too cheap to give up now, then set your mind on making the old one look amazing. Follow along to see how I transformed this tired old swing into a front porch-worthy piece and show you how to restore outdoor furniture!
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Here are the tools and items I used for this project:
Materials & Products
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- Initial Cleaning and Sanding
- Repair Wood Rot on Outdoor Furniture
- Painting with Milk Paint
- Outdoor Furniture Finish
- Hang Porch Swing
Initial Cleaning and Sanding
First thing to tackle was getting the layers of crud off this swing. It was caked with years of dirt, spider webs (and eggs), and bright green algae. I grabbed the air compressor and blew away what I could, then grabbed an old handheld broom and swept away stubborn debris. A light sanding with 180 grit sandpaper took the splintered edges off pretty well. I also removed all the original hardware that was rusted and tired. One final blow with the air compressor, and the swing was ready for the next step.
Repair Wood Rot on Outdoor Furniture
Now, take a good look at this arm.
Isn’t that a beauty? I had my doubts that this arm could be saved, but thought I’d at least give it the ol’ college try before giving up.
I chose Minwax’s High Performance Wood Filler for this task. Since I can’t be around heavy fumes and this stuff is really potent, Mike stepped in to take over this step for me. He first mixed the wood filler then worked quickly to apply the mixture to the damaged areas on each arm. With this particular product, you have about 10 minutes until it’s too hard to work with. He pushed it into the open wood grain as best he could, then we waited about 2 hours for it to cure.
The next day, I grabbed my respirator as well as an orbital sander with 80 grit and started sanding. Once I’d gotten it down close enough to the profile I wanted, I hand sanded with the same grit until the shape looked right, then moved up to 180. This was actually pretty fun (minus all the dust) and turned out better than I’d hoped! I then removed all the dust I could with the air compressor from the surrounding areas of the swing.
Painting with Milk Paint
Now it’s time for paint! I’m a huge fan of General Finishes Milk Paint, so this was a no-brainer for me. I grabbed a can in Lamp Black and used a chip brush to paint a total of 2 coats on, waiting at least 4 hours between coats. It went on like butter and leveled out nicely.
Outdoor Furniture Finish
Then, I applied 2 coats of Exterior 450 in Satin for extra protection from our extreme Georgia temps and brushed those on (at least 4 hours between coats) with another chip brush. If you use the same type of brush, watch closely as you apply for loose bristles that stick in the paint/top coat as you paint. I had maybe 5 total that I had to remove while applying. Not enough to switch brushes to one I’d have to clean later (ha!), but enough to be aware of.
Hang Porch Swing
I knew I wanted new hardware for the swing since the original was rusted beyond repair. We scoped out the chain selection at Home Depot and chose a stainless steel chain with the appropriate weight allowance for our 7 foot swing and cut 21 feet of it to hang on our porch with 9 foot ceilings. This turned out to be just the right length when hanging it. We also took the old hardware to match sizes in new stainless steel and bought a swing mounting kit. (The kit that’s linked here is slightly different that ours. Ours did not include the chain, only the mounting hardware.)
Now, for the fun part! Our swing was mounted below our back porch when we bought the house, so we had to engineer a way to hang it on the front porch for the first time. We added blocking across the trusses of our porch ceiling to directly mount the chain hardware into. If you’re interested in seeing how we did that, stay tuned…We have an upcoming blog post and video covering those details!
Now all that was left to do was decide who would be brave enough to sit on it first! No matter how sure you are that something will hold, it’s always a little terrifying to test it out. While it would’ve made for a much more exciting photo if it hadn’t held, we’re happy to report that it’s holding strong and has become a new favorite family hangout spot!
Favorite parts of this project!
1- How well the wood filler blended into the original arm. There’s seriously no way anyone would know it had ever looked so awful unless they saw this photo!
2- How great the milk paint and top coat are performing in our extreme Georgia temps! It hasn’t offered to chip, peel, flake, or dent in our 100 degree summer or our chilly fall mornings so far. I’m thrilled!
Thanks for following along, and if you take on a similar restoration, use #woodshopmike to show us how it turned out!
Let us know if you have any questions, and until next time, have fun making something!