Got rusted, ripped, or stained furniture? Repair, don't despair, and keep it out of the dump. With these easy DIY skills, you can breathe new life into Grandma's dining chairs and turn flea-market finds into your own unique treasures.
Though a little rust adds distressed beauty, it weakens metal. Scrape it off, then banish it for good with the right primer and paint.
Before you repaint, remove as much rust as you can. Use a metal scraper for big flakes, a wire brush for the rest, and medium to fine sandpaper to smooth the surface. Then clean with a rag soaked in mineral spirits.
For light surface rust, green-living expert and author Annie B. Bond suggests scrubbing the surface with a paste of cream of tartar and water.
Remove the old seat. (Usually, you'll need to unscrew it from the frame.) Use pliers to pry out staples and strip the board of the old foam. Trace the board onto a piece of 1-inch-thick upholstery foam and cut just outside the outline.
Cut cotton batting and your fabric 2 inches wider than the seat all the way around and a piece of felt 1 inch narrower than the seat for finishing. Stack from bottom to top: fabric (facedown), batting, foam, and board.
If a water ring is just a few days old, try rubbing toothpaste or baking soda on it with a wet cloth. If the stain's had a chance to set, you may have to refinish the wood.
Sand the entire surface or use nontoxic Soy-It polyurethane stripper ($59 per gallon; ecosafetyproducts.com) and a plastic scraper to remove the old finish. Clean with mineral spirits. Then apply AFM Safecoat DuroStain (from $16 per quart; greendepot.com) with a rag in the direction of the grain.
Finish with a coat of AFM Safecoat Polyureseal (from $31 per quart; greendepot.com).