Outdoor Rocking Chair Refresh

After picking this up at a garage sale for five bucks, I decided this outdoor rocking chair refresh job needed to happen.

Garage Sale Find

There are few things I enjoy more than going to garage sales or auctions. You just never know what kind of hidden gem you are going to find. Not to mention, you can leave with a car full of new treasures for less than $50 most of the time.

This chair I picked up at a neighbor’s garage sale. It was only five dollars and I was excited to bring it home and put it on our deck or patio.

The chair already had some changes to it. Like some gold stenciling and some issues with a big ol’ crack.

Still, it is sturdy. For five bucks it can hang out on the patio and if it eventually crumbles to bits that’s just fine.

rocking chair refresh rough and tumble farmhouse

Prepping Wood for Repainting

I knew this chair wasn’t going to stay wood toned and was destined for a paint job. Our rambler farmhouse is from the 1970s and so much of the interior is natural colored wood OR wood paneling. A girl can only take so much of that so I decided that simply staining the chair wasn’t enough, it would need to be paint.

Before painting furniture like this, it is a good idea to sand it down. This will allow for the paint to get a solid grip on the wood itself, rather than on whatever varnish is already chipping away.

I used an electric sander to do the bulk of the work. Unfortunately the chair has a lot of nooks and crannies that I had to work away at by hand.

After sanding, I used a dry paint brush to dust off anything left behind from the sander.

If you are using an electric sander, it is a good idea to wear a mask to keep all those tiny dust particles out of your lungs.

sanding wood rough and tumble farmhouse

Painting the Chair

My first instinct was to use up some white chalk spray paint that I had leftover from another project. I only had $5 invested in this chair so far and I figure if I can do an outdoor rocking chair refresh for less than $10 I’m doing alright.

I didn’t have quite enough to finish the chair but did get a rough first coat on it.

As I left it to dry, making plans to pick up some more paint later that day, I changed my mind about it.

The stark white just doesn’t fit in with the earth tones of our front porch area. I toyed with the idea of doing the next coat in something like a robin’s egg blue, but that wouldn’t work either.

I made a trip to Wal-Mart and stared at the paint options for a solid five minutes.

In the end, I went with a pretty plain color, Cashew in a chalk finish.

This is just an acrylic paint. If I were painting furniture that would be out in the elements I’d use something made for outdoor use or just plain spray paint. Since this chair will always be under a covered porch, this will work fine.

painting old wood rough and tumble farmhouse

What kind of paint should I use for outdoor furniture?

Spray paint is a solid go-to for outdoor furniture. The nice thing about using spray paint is you typically don’t need to add any kind of primer to it.

If you are using more of a traditional paint, you may need to apply a primer coat first.

In this particular situation because I started with spray paint, that worked essentially as a primer for my other paint.

Tidying up a Paint Job

I’ll be honest, I’m not all that tidy when it comes to painting. I have sort of a “slap ‘er on there” mentality. This is also evident by the various paint marks that liter the sidewalk around our house.


At the end of a project I often have drip marks that have hardened in various places.

The bestt hing to do is avoid these altogether by not applying too much paint to any one area, and look for running spots before it has had a chance to dry.

If you are like me and miss them, the best ticket is to lightly dampen a bit of sandpaper and sand down the spot until it is smooth.

Touch Ups

After the first coat of paint has dried, you may need to apply a second coat. In my case because I had already done a spray paint primer all I had to do was fill in a few gaps.

Make sure the last coat of paint has had ample time to dry before doing any last minute touch ups.

Adding Character

The best thing you can do to add some character to an old chair is put a good throw pillow on it. If your chair is under cover like mine you can even toss a thin blanket on there if you want.

Another option is to go back after the paint has dried and add a few scuffs here and there with sandpaper. I know this thing will be dragged all over the place so I figure I’ll just let the paint wear naturally.

Watch and Learn

This outdoor rocking chair refresh project is nothing fancy, but if I can do it, anyone can! Here’s how I spruced up this old rocking chair.

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fixing up an old rocking chair rough and tumble farmhouse

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