Commercial restaurant chairs are very expensive. We couldn’t find any restaurant quality chairs for our new coffee shop that cost under $100. On one of my estate sale crusades, I happened to come across a warehouse that was being liquidated. It was there I found these used restaurant chairs priced at $25 each. Because we bought 18, they let us have them discounted at $15 each. Score!
The chairs were a great style that fit into the decor we were striving for. They were well made with solid iron and wood yet lightweight and the perfect size to fit under the coffee shop tables we were going to use.
BUT as with most DIY great deals… they needed quite a bit of work.
The seat covers were in horrible condition and the fabric was damaged.
And the wood had seen a lot of wear and tear and was chipped all over.
Nothing a little fabric, sanding, stain and elbow grease can’t solve!
Thankfully my mother-in-law moved to San Antonio because she was my refinishing buddy on these chairs. Being that there were 18 of them, I needed all the help I could get.
First, the chairs were scrubbed clean. Then the seat covers were unscrewed and removed.
Once the seat covers were removed, more problems were identified.
as well as discoloration and lots of dirt!
Which involved more and more cleaning.
Then we sanded away. The chairs only needed a light sanding in most places but more extensive sanding in the chipped areas. We sanded everywhere including the sides and even the parts of the chairs that weren’t damaged so that the stain would adhere.
Next, it was time to stain. The chairs came in 3 colors and we wanted to maintain that variety and keep them the same color. I tried my best to find stain colors that matched the current colors and the colors that seemed to be best suited were Minwax’s Natural, Red Oak and Ebony.
The stain made a large difference. The chairs actually looked new again.
Here are the red ones before…
and then after…
Looks new doesn’t it!?
After all the chairs were stained and the excess wiped off, Howard Feed N Wax sealer was applied.
Next it was time to work on the chair seats. I don’t have pictures of this in process but it was very easy. The old fabric was removed and new fabric was adhered by stapling underneath. We used duck cloth which is one of my favorite fabrics to work with. Duck cloth is relatively inexpensive and it’s strong enough to be used for upholstery fabric. It’s a thick canvas like material that’s very durable. Duck cloth comes in lots of solid colors and is usually always available at most fabric stores.
Since the wood on the chairs came in a variety of colors, we decided to also use a little variation with the seat covers by using two different fabric colors: blue and grey.
Here are our assembly lines of our work in process. All 18 seat covers were replaced and sprayed with 3 layers of Scotch Guard. Since they will receive lots of traffic, the Scotch Guard will help protect against spills and dirt.
The blonde and red colored chairs still have sealer drying on them but the black chairs are dry and completed.
All the black chairs are completely finished and have their new seat covers reattached. I am really impressed with the difference. Even though it was quite a bit of work, it was a large savings and the results are better than any of the “new” chairs available for purchase.
Here is another before and after comparison!
Such a transformation, don’t you agree? I’m very excited about how well they are turning out. I’ll post pictures of all of them including the blonde and red ones after they are all completed this week.