DIY: Upcycled Poolside Chairs


Posted by Katie Gambone

pin_lifeguardchairCalling all lifeguards!  Or just people who enjoy sitting on lifeguard chairs by the pool and pretending- I’ve got a fantastic DIY for you.

Today’s post features a project that I have been wanting to do for a while.  My best friend Tina and her husband Eric moved into their new home a little over a year ago.  One of the many nice features of their home is their pool, which their daughters Tabitha and Marlena love to play in. Sitting next to the pool are these two chairs, which were left by the home’s previous owners.   They are extra wide and were just screaming to me “Please make us into amazing lifeguard chairs!”



So, after convincing Tina and Eric that I could turn these chairs into something special (and that I would replace them if I ruined them) they agreed.  Thank you Tina and Eric for believing in me and for allowing me to experiment on your personal belongings.  You guys are the best!  Also, thank you Carlo, who helped me with the finer details – measuring and touch-ups on the lettering because he has a steady hand and I do not.

So again, here is what the chairs looked like before.  Please note Tina’s skeptical expression.

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And here is what they look like now!




It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to give new life to a piece of furniture.  For those of you with pool side chairs that could use a makeover, here’s how I did this project.

My Supplies

2 Chairs (donated by Tina and Eric, as mentioned above)
Wet rag
White semi-gloss exterior paint
Red acrylic paint (must say weather resistant)
Small roller brush
Paint brush
Detail paint brush
Painters tape
Drop cloth
Paper for making stencil
X-acto knife
Cutting board
Measuring tape

My Process

It took me about six days total to finish the two chairs. It took that long because my work space is my living room so I was only able to work on the chairs for a few hours in the evening after my little guy went to bed.  If you have a dedicated work space and more time during the day, you could probably complete two chairs over a weekend.

I started the process by laying out the drop cloth and sitting the chair in the center so that I could watch TV and work at the same time. I then wiped down the chair with a damp rag to get rid of any dirt and cobwebs.  If you really want a clean slate, you can also sand the chairs.  I did not sand Tina’s chairs because I wanted them to have a weathered look (also, sanding takes forever!).

Once I had a clean surface, with the chairs sitting upright, I used my small roller brush to apply three coats of paint, allowing the paint to dry completely in between each coat.  You may need to let the paint dry overnight.  I used the regular paint brush to cover areas of the chair that the roller couldn’t reach.


With the top of the chair painted, I flipped the chair over and applied two coats to the bottom of the chair.  The bottom took a little longer to paint than the top because of all the nooks and crannies around the chair legs.  If you look closely at the TV in the photo of me painting below you can see Ned Stark.  Clearly I am watching a Season 1 Game of Thrones rerun as I painted.  Such a good season!


I created the lifeguard sign and cross stencils using a simple Word document.  For the lettering, I used Californian FB size 150 font.  Because it was so large, I had to break the word  up over two pages and tape the letters back together when I was ready to paint.  The cross was a graphic I found by going to Google Images and typing in “lifeguard cross.” Once I found one I liked, I pasted the image onto a third sheet of paper.


Using my very sharp X-acto knife and a cutting board, I was able to cut out my stencil fairly quickly and precisely.

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With my stencil cut, Carlo then measured the chair and the stencil to ensure that the cross on the seat was centered and that the word “lifeguard” was centered on the top wrung of the chair backing.


We then taped down the stencil using painters tape.


The lettering on the top did not lay exactly flat, which is why we (and by we I mean Carlo) had to do a lot of touch up paint.   After we finished both chairs I suggested that perhaps I could have avoided all of the touch up if I had traced the letters with a pencil first and then painted in the lines.  I think we’ll try that on the next project.

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Anyway, I am so pleased with how the chairs turned out.


Tina and the girls were happy with the final results – here they are posing.  That is followed by an adorable picture of Marlena sitting on the lifeguard seat with her baby doll.  Sadly, Eric was working when I dropped these off but hopefully he is happy with them too.



I have been wanting to redo a piece of furniture for a long time and I am so excited to finally have one under my belt. I am now on the hunt for another piece of furniture that needs an upgrade because I can’t wait to do another one!

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This post was shared on the Over the Moon link party on Marilyn’s Treats, on the Made By You Monday link party on Skip to My Lou, and on the Two Cup Tuesday link party on Pint Sized Baker.

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