10 Tips for Reviving Your Outdoor Furniture

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Warm weather and sunny skies mean backyard barbecues are coming soon. Don't let worn outdoor furniture bring down the mood. From making new cushions to painting chairs to restaining wood furniture, here are 10 quick tips to help revive your outdoor decor.

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Before starting any DIY project involving furniture, be sure to give everything a good wash. A new coat of paint won't stick if there's dirt and rust underneath. Look to Better Homes & Gardens for cleaning tutorials for just about every piece of outdoor furniture.

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If you're strapped for time and want to revamp patio decor quickly, consider adding pops of color with spray paint. You don't have to worry about leaving behind brush strokes or applying multiple layers. After cleaning and sanding, spray-paint select pieces to create a refreshing color theme and add bright touches of pattern and texture. For example, spray between horizontal pieces of painter's tape for a striped pattern, or spray through wide strips of lace for a dainty floral look.

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The vintage furniture look is popular, so consider whitewashing outdoor furniture for a rustic appearance. White stands out against trees, grass, or the wood fence in the backyard. For a proper whitewashed finish, Bob Vila recommends brushing on watered-down white paint and wiping it with a dry towel. Compared with painting, this is a relatively easy process because an imperfect finish is actually the goal.

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Of all the items that take a beating outside, pillows may be the most vulnerable. Unless pillows are made from a truly weatherproof material, they tend to get dirty, soggy, and smelly after sitting outside for a season or two. To avoid that, create long-lasting outdoor pillows using an outdoor tablecloth. Simply cut square pieces of tablecloth made with indoor/outdoor fabric and sew together with plastic grocery-store bags stuffed inside, as recommended by the blog 2IY. They resulting pillows are cheap and stylish additions for any chair or chaise seat.

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Rust is an eyesore whether it's growing on a metal fence or climbing slowly down a chair leg. But rust and loose paint can be removed easily with a good scrubbing. Use a stiff wire brush to scrape rust away; try baking soda and vinegar for stubborn areas. Then use sandpaper to get a smooth finish. After a layer of primer and a fresh coat of paint, that rust-stained piece will look new.

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If outdoor furniture doesn't need new paint but you're itching to make a change, consider using stencils to add flair. Spray-paint floral corners on a table or add symmetrical shapes to create a pattern. For inspiration, check out some examples of stenciled pieces at Craftionary.

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It's not a barbecue until someone spills some lemonade or drops a splash of ketchup. Add weather and normal wear and tear, and you've got a recipe for worn and faded seat cushions. Try painting the cushions with exterior paint in a matching shade for an instant color revival. The painted cushions will soften over time and you'll have a bucket of color ready when you need it.

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An often overlooked part of outdoor decor is the ground. Unless you have a wood patio or grass, there's most likely some concrete underfoot. Consider turning the ground into an art project. Try painting a tile pattern for blasts of color, or paint some rocks green to mimic life-size succulents.

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Wood furniture can change drastically when left outside without occasional cleaning and restaining. If it's about time to revamp wood patio furniture, get some sandpaper and a can of spray stain in a preferred shade. The process is pretty simple: Sand, wipe clean, and stain. To personalize the pieces, consider adding stenciled words or patterns before applying the stain. Instructables offers a how-to guide.

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Patio chairs are comfortable and light enough for easy moving. After a few seasons, though, the straps can stretch, causing uncomfortable sagging. Repair the chairs with a new roll of webbing. Free tutorials are available online.