How to Restore an Antique Rocking Chair

Updated November 21, 2016

Rocking chairs bring comfort and charm to any room. Antique rocking chairs are sought after not only for their aesthetic appeal but their history. If you have an old rocking chair that you want restored, it is best to tread lightly so that the integrity of the piece isn't compromised. If you are considering repairing an antique rocking chair, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Look for signs of rot, cracking to the finish, rips in the seat's webbing, tears in upholstery or damage to joints in the glider.

Protect areas you do not want compromised during restoration of repair. If you are stripping the chair or adding new layers of paint, tape of the areas you do not want effected. If you are using any chemical bonding agents or paints, work in a well-ventilated area.

Sand the chair's surface with fine-grit sandpaper. Because the chair is antique, sand gently to avoid compromising the wood's integrity. Palm sanders are useful for this purpose. Sanding also is essential for adding new glue, paint or simply smoothing out imperfections.

Use a chemical stripper to remove the original finish. Prepare the chemical stripper according to the manufacturer's instructions and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the chair's surface with the chemical stripper and let it sit. Once the chemical stripper has done its work, rinse away the chemical and previous finish.

Replace any rotten or broken pieces. Because the chair is antique, you want to keep as many original pieces as possible. To repair small cracks in the wood, simply fill it with wood glue and push the glue in place with a vice or clamp. This process can be used for the chair's arms, legs or rocker joints. If the damage is more significant, you will need to replace the broken pieces.

Recover upholstery or sew together tears. If your chair features seat cushions that need to be repaired, this might require removing the cushion for reupholstering. To bring renewed comfort to the chair, add new upholstery foam or cotton batting.

Replace or repair any torn webbing. Many antique rocking chairs feature a webbed material that acts as the chair's cushion. You can use jute twine to reattach loose webbing or cut away the old webbing and replace it.

Things You'll Need

  • Painter's tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Palm sander
  • Chemical stripper
  • Spray bottle
  • Wood glue
  • Vice or clamp
  • Fabric
  • Upholstery foam
  • Cotton batting
  • Needle and thread
  • Webbing
  • Jute twine
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About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.