How I Painted a Rocking Chair

After 15 years of being in this house- and discovering that I had a strong wifi signal- I decided to decorate my front porch.

I knew I wanted two chairs, but I had no idea of what type of chair- maybe whicker?

I also knew that I wanted to redesign the chairs; so I set out in a search of inexpensive chairs that were in need of TLC. I found them…

Hauling Rocking ChairsTip: Look for furniture made of solid wood.  

I found the petite rocker first, and unlike Goldilocks, I found it was “just right” for me. With it’s solid wood construction, good condition, and $45 price tag… it was in the back of my CRV in no time flat.

Now I was on the hunt for a second rocker.


I meandered through the countryside, stopping at a few antique shops along the way, until I spied the the wrecked rocker sitting outside a shop.

Mission style isn’t exactly my style, but underneath the dirt, and nasty cushion… I could see the hidden potential in this solid oak chair.

I had no idea of how comfortable it was- there was no way I was going to sit on it in that condition- I gambled that it was comfortable… I mean look at it.. those are springs in the cushion, and that screams comfortable to me.

For fifty bucks rough rocker was mine!

The petite rocker was in good, useable condition so I started working on the rough rocker first.

I was thinking lightly distressed black, and possibly a Marine vinyl covering. I needed inspiration, and I found it at JoAnn Fabrics.

This bold, bright Jacobean fabric caught my eye…

Fabric ChoiceTip: Use an outdoor fabric when furniture will be exposed to the elements. 

Now for a paint color…

Fabulous Grape won for it’s deep rich color-not mention that it harmonizes with our home’s brick exterior.

[Need help with color? Ask me, I’m a certified Color Consultant.]

Selecting Color

Now that a fabric and paint choice had been made, it was time to work!

I set the ratty cushion aside, and washed the filthy rocker with soap and water (a TSP substitute would work great, but I used what I had).

Ratty seat cushion

Next I inspected the chair for loose areas, and fixed them. Billy, my husband, couldn’t resist helping me with this (I think he just wanted to use that huge clamp lol.)

Tightening rocker

I used my husband’s Nana’s tack puller (that’s a mouth full lol), and a mini crow bar to remove tacks left in the back of the chair. 

Removing tacks

Once the joint was tightened and the tacks were removed, I sanded any high, rough, or deeply scratched areas.


A light cleaning to remove dust (a tack cloth works best), and I’m ready to open a can of primer on this rocker.

I use Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer, because it’s meant for all surfaces-including glossy finishes, it washes out with soap and water, and I like how it goes on.

close up of priming

A good coat of primer, and the rocking chair is ready to paint.

Gina with paint brushTip: Use a good paint brush for better application, and a smoother finish.

Whoa, this looks awfully bright on the brush! No worries, it’s just the lighting- Sherwin Williams Fabulous Grape is… well… see for yourself…

paint going on


fabulous grape

It took four coats of paint. [In hind sight… using a gray primer would have saved me a coat or two of grape paint- again, I used what I had.]

Below are the tools, paint and primer I used in this project (minus the tack cloth).

Tools and Supplies Tip: Invest in a canvas drop cloth- you’ll be amazed at how spilt paint lays ontop of it.

Well, there you have it… How I Painted a Rocking Chair.

Watch for How I Reupholstered a Rocking Chair to see the completed project.

Or if you’re impatient… follow the link Rough Rocker No More to see it now.


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