How in the Hail do we Salvage the Patio Cushions?

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patio furniture

My neighbors and I recently experienced the unforgettable. We all got totally hammered. By hail, that is. Let me just say that we’re no strangers to the rain OR hail here in our neck of the woods. In fact, while most families practice semi-annual fire drills in their homes, our family has added hail drills to our survival training. Here’s how it goes:

Operation: Don’t let the Property go to Hail

My husband, myself, and the kids all stand at different windows around the house as the storm comes in. When the hail starts pounding, we all wait anxiously to see how big the stones are going to get. Meanwhile a “reporter” on the west side of the house dictates to us how the storm is building. This helps us know whether it’s just going to be a minor cloudburst or if we should prepare for action. Depending on size and time frame, on “GO!”, we burst into commotion. My husband grabs the keys and crams the cars into the garage. I stand with a pile of towels, and as my kids solemnly yet dutifully grab them, I scream out which garden area they are in charge of covering. I take the tomatoes. At the end of the drill, we all come in soaking wet, weary, and occasionally, bruised. But we have triumphed, most of the time.

Usually our drill is flawless. Occasionally, a plant will break off if a wet, heavy towel isn’t strategically placed, which is why we practice, practice, practice, in the first place. But really, when the smallest stones falling from the sky are marble sized, how can anything survive? This particular storm was like that. There wasn’t any drill that would have helped us, other than the “move to another part of the country drill.”

Needless to say, the garden was a wash – literally. We all lost our roofs that evening. Our newly pockmarked exteriors required some siding replacement and new paint jobs, our fencing had to be sanded and re-stained, and so did our deck. I could go on. But, we have thankfully finished up the major projects. The garden is up and running again. And I’m happy to report that I can finally repaint and re-upholster my beaten-to-a-pulp garden furniture.

Mission: Recovery

patio chair
Ready for a makeover!

Our outdoor furniture is antique wrought iron. So, I first sanded and primed the rusty trouble spots. Then I painted the skeletons of the chairs and the table with good ole Rustoleum spray paint.

In preparation for this project, I browsed around Etsy and found this pretty, vintage floral oilcloth which I love, love, love at “Oil Cloth by the Yard” . (Don’t worry guys. We’re going to talk power tools in just a sec.) Oilcloth is a waterproof fabric that is often used for patio cushions.

oilcloth for outdoor furniture
I found a pattern and a price I couldn’t refuse. And did I mention that I really love this pattern?

The Joy of Jigsaws and Hand Sanders

While I’m enthusiastic about the oilcloth, I am equally as excited about pulling out my jigsaw. It’s been awhile. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that my jigsaw has an LED light. I’m not sure who came up with the idea to put a light on a jigsaw, but they deserve the highest realm of glory in tool creator’s heaven. At least in my humble opinion they do.

Anyway, not only did I need to replace the cushions and the fabric, but the wood of the seat had become pretty well rotted, too. So I bought some 3/4 inch plywood and traced the old seat onto the new wood. I zipped the seats out in no time with my trusty Ryobi jigsaw.

cutting out plywood seat
Cutting out the seats for the patio chairs.

Then I used my handy dandy hand sander, and I sanded the cuts to soften them a bit so the fabric doesn’t get weak over time because of the edges.

hand sanding wooden seats
How can one survive without a hand sander?

How to Re-upholster Patio Cushions

I bought a package of four pieces of square foam that I glued to the top of each seat. After the glue dried, I trimmed the foam to fit the seat.

foam cushion for patio chair
Every seat deserves a cushion.

I traced the shape of the patio cushions onto the oilcloth, and I made sure to allow plenty of extra fabric around the pattern to wrap around the edges of each seat.

oilcloth for outdoor chair re-upholstry
Allow plenty of extra fabric. It’s better to have to trim than to over-stretch.
 oilcloth on patio chair seat
I began stapling the fabric onto the bottom of the seat.

The shape of the seats is a bit rounded in the front, so I made sure to make small pleats to gather the extra fabric as needed. And voila!

patio chair re-upholstry
I folded the corners like I would fold the corners for a wrapped gift.

Mission: Accomplished

re-upholstered patio furniture
I could hardly wait to fit the seats onto the chairs! A definite improvement. Now all we need is a yellow umbrella and some lemonade…

Operation Don’t Let the Property Go to Hail: Complete

As a preventative measure, we have officially added chair tipping to our hail drill. Just imagine a slow motion rescue scene from your favorite action movie. That’s exactly how we look as we take desperate dives toward our wrought iron chairs. Hail stones pelt our bodies as we curse the weather and scream to “SAVE THE CUSHIONS”! You might want to seriously consider adopting this method. Or, just bookmark this article for when the next hail storm rolls in (or any other time you might want to reupholster your patio cushions)!

Photo of author

About Amy

Amy spent her early years roaming a neighbor's corn field, much to her parents' distress, and eating tomatoes like apples in her Midwest grandmother's garden. She learned to snap green beans like a machine by the tender age of four. Later, as a Colorado gal, she battled the elements and finally had success growing a celebratory rhubarb plant in a high altitude garden setting. At that point, there was no turning back. She gave in to her green thumb and, in order of priority, is currently growing vegetables, flowers, kids, and pets on the high plains south of Denver.

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1 thought on “How in the Hail do we Salvage the Patio Cushions?”

  1. Wow, I really love the end result! You chose a great oilcloth as a replacement–it’s fun, bright, and beautiful. I’ve lived in areas with way too much hail for me (you haven’t seen hail until it’s the size of golf balls!) and it absolutely wrecks your cushions. It’s amazing the difference new cushions can make. Thanks for the inspiration!


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