Refinishing An Antique Rocking Chair

An antique rocking chair can add charm to a nursery or sitting room, but buying one already refinished can be expensive. Refinishing a chair yourself can save money!

While refinishing furniture can seem daunting, just follow these simple steps from The Foam Factory to make your antique rocking chair look new again.


1. Remove old upholstery

Some chairs come with attached seat cushions; others don’t. If your chair has attached cushions, remove them by pulling staples and nails holding them on. If the fabric is too far gone to salvage, don’t be shy about tearing it to get at the fasteners.

Do the same for cushions on seat backs.

2. Sanding

After removing cushions and upholstery, sand off old paint and varnish. Remember to wear gloves, goggles, and a dust mask, as paint and varnish particles can irritate skin, eyes, and lungs.

At this stage, also seal holes and fill imperfections with wood putty; sand the putty flush.

3. Cover it

Decide whether you want to stain, paint, or varnish the wood. Stain enhances the grain while adding color; varnish protects without adding color or enhancing the grain; paint covers. (Hint: If your chair has many imperfections, opt for paint, as putty will appear unsightly under stain or varnish.)

4. Reupholster

Finally, buy or have made replacement cushions for your refinished rocking chair. Sewing heavy upholstery fabric is best left to professionals who can give you exactly what you’re looking for, including cording, buttons, and cushion embellishments.

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