How To Restore an Old Glider Bench

Don't Throw It Away! Reinvigorate It!

Lawn furniture is made to withstand the elements, and usually it holds up quite well to years of falling rain, searing sunlight, wind and inconsiderate birds. If you're like me, you don't want to part with that poor, weathered, yet still comfortable glider bench. With a little elbow grease, new hardware, and some protective enamel paint, you can breathe new life into it, without spending more than $20-$30. This is a terrific weekend project, which can be completed by 1 or 2 motivated people in 2-1/2 days' time.

  1. Snap a photo. Start by taking a "before" picture. This serves two purposes. One is obvious, to compare with the "after" picture. Second, it will come in handy if you find yourself in a state of confusion when putting the pieces back together!
  2. Disassemble the metal frame. There are usually two parts of the frame: the bench and the support. These are connected by four 'glider bars.' These are attached to the bottom of the bench and the top of the support. The bolts that attach these to the tubular frame should definitely be saved, because these are the hardest to find in the hardware store. Remove the glider bars to separate the bench from the support. The support structure is usually made up of 4 or 6 sections that fit together. Separate these and set them aside, saving your hardware.
  3. Remove the wood from the bench frame. Start by removing the boards that make up the seat and armrests. Gliders come in a few different variations, but in general, this procedure won't deviate too much. After the wood is removed from the metal frame pieces, set them aside. Be sure and save all of the bolts and nuts that were holding it together. These may be reused or replaced. If you decide to replace the hardware with shiny new nuts and bolts, save the old hardware so it can be inventoried and measured. Glider - BeforeThis way, you'll have a list, and reduce the risk of finding yourself in the hardware store wondering how many bolts you need! It may be a good idea, also, to mark the different pieces so you'll know there they go when the glider is reassembled. You may even bring them to the hardware store with you to make sure the new hardware is matched.
  4. Complete disassembly. Spread all of the parts out and check that you have separated all of the pieces. It's time to go shopping.
  5. Choose your paint. I would recommend using a protective enamel, preferably oil-based. This paint will stand up to the weather and it is extremely durable once fully dried. To create an interesting contrast, choose different colors for the metal frame and a contrasting color for the wood. You will also need some sealer to treat the wood pieces before painting.
  6. Replace that old rusty hardware! Check your inventory and pick up some shiny new hardware for the reassembly. It may not hurt to get a couple extra nuts and bolts just in case you lose a part.
  7. Thoroughly clean all pieces. With a mild soap and water solution, clean all of the metal and wood pieces, and allow them time to dry.
  8. Paint the metal frame. The wood sections will need more time to dry, so paint the metal sections first. This is a somewhat tricky part of the project. In order to paint the tubular steel portions of the metal frame, use twine to hang the pieces. I hung mine from my clothesline. You may not have a clothesline. In that case, just be creative! When the pieces are hung, it's time to begin painting. Use a narrow brush and paint in even strokes from top to bottom. Take baby steps with this. If you apply too much at once, the paint has a tendency to form drips. Once all of the pieces are completed, allow 24 hours to dry fully. Protective enamel stays tacky for a while, so be sure not to touch the pieces before they dry or you will most certainly leave permanent fingerprints!
  9. Paint the wood pieces. Paint the wood sections in the same manner. It is best to use a sealer on the wood before painting, since the glider is a piece of outdoor furniture. A single coat of sealer should be enough. Once the sealer dries, use a medium brush and paint the wood with the grain. Allow to dry, and apply a second coat. This will add greatly to the life of the wood.
  10. If you prefer a more rustic look. For a more rustic look, simply apply two coats of sealer to the wood and leave it at that. The wood will be protected from the elements, and still retain the 'natural' appearance.
  11. Reassembly! After the painted pieces are fully dried, it is time for reassembly. Using your "before" picture as a reference, reassemble the bench pieces and set the bench aside. Next, assemble the pieces of the frame. At this point, you will have the gliders left over. Glider - AfterAttach the tops of the glider bars to their respective holes in the outer support frame. Then, place the bench section within the frame section. Finally, attach the bottoms of the glider bars to the correct points on the bottom of the bench. Go around and make sure your hardware is good and tight, and you're done!
  12. Snap an "after" picture. This step is for showing-off purposes!


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I would suggest using a hacksaw or (preferably) a Dremel to remove the rusted hardware. Mine used standard 1/4 inch bolts and nuts, which can be bought at any hardware store for under a few bucks. Just be sure to take note of how many you need and where they go...and it never hurts to have a few extra just in case. Have fun!

By Patrick Smith