How To Refinish A Rocking Chair?

Rocking chairs have been a staple in homes for generations, offering a cozy spot to relax and unwind.

Over time, however, these cherished pieces can show signs of wear and tear.

Refinishing a rocking chair can breathe new life into it, restoring its beauty and extending its lifespan.

Key Takeaways:

  • The importance of refinishing a rocking chair.
  • Steps involved in the refinishing process.
  • Choosing the right materials and tools.
  • Tips for achieving a professional finish.

Why Refinish a Rocking Chair?

Refinishing a rocking chair is not just about aesthetics; it’s about preserving a piece of history and ensuring it continues to serve its purpose for years to come. Here are some reasons why refinishing is essential:

  • Restoration: Over time, the paint or finish on a rocking chair can chip, fade, or wear off. Refinishing restores its original beauty.
  • Protection: A fresh coat of paint or sealant protects the wood from damage, ensuring longevity.
  • Value: Antique or heirloom rocking chairs can hold significant value. Refinishing can enhance this value, especially if done correctly.

Materials and Tools Needed

Before you begin the refinishing process, gather all the necessary materials and tools. Here’s a list to get you started:


  • Paint or stain of your choice
  • Primer (if painting)
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Wood filler (if needed)
  • Sealant or topcoat


  • Paintbrushes or foam brushes
  • Sanding block or electric sander
  • Clean rags
  • Safety gear (gloves, mask, goggles)

Steps to Refinish a Rocking Chair

  1. Preparation: Begin by cleaning the rocking chair thoroughly. Remove any dirt, dust, or grime.
  2. Sanding: Sand the entire chair to remove the old finish. Start with coarse sandpaper and work your way to finer grits for a smooth finish.
  3. Repair: Check for any damages, like cracks or chips. Use wood filler to repair these areas.
  4. Priming: If you’re painting the chair, apply a coat of primer. This ensures better adhesion of the paint.
  5. Painting/Staining: Apply the paint or stain in thin, even coats. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next.
  6. Sealing: Once the final coat is dry, apply a sealant or topcoat to protect the finish.

Tips for a Successful Refinish

  • Choose Quality Materials: Invest in high-quality paint, stain, and sealant for a lasting finish.
  • Work in a Well-Ventilated Area: This ensures safety, especially when working with fumes from paint or stain.
  • Take Your Time: Don’t rush the process. Allow ample drying time between coats for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I refinish my rocking chair?

The need to refinish a rocking chair depends on its usage and the environment it’s kept in. If the chair is frequently used or exposed to elements like sunlight or moisture, it might require refinishing every few years. However, with proper care, a refinished chair can last a decade or more without needing another touch-up.

Can I change the color of my rocking chair during refinishing?

Absolutely! Refinishing offers the perfect opportunity to change the color or finish of your rocking chair. Whether you want to stain it a different shade or paint it a vibrant color, the choice is yours.

Is it expensive to refinish a rocking chair?

The cost of refinishing a rocking chair varies based on the materials you choose and whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. DIY refinishing can be cost-effective, especially if you already have some of the tools and materials.

Advanced Refinishing Techniques

For those looking to take their refinishing skills to the next level, there are several advanced techniques to consider:


This technique gives your rocking chair an aged, vintage look. After painting, use sandpaper to wear out certain areas, mimicking natural wear and tear.


Decoupage involves adhering decorative paper cutouts to the chair and sealing them with varnish. This can add a unique, personalized touch to your rocking chair.


Using stencils, you can paint intricate designs or patterns onto your rocking chair, giving it a custom look.

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