Can Sling Patio Chairs Be Repaired? (Plus Recovering Tips)

When it’s time to get those patio sling chairs out again, there’s nothing worse than realising the fabric slings are sagging loose and need replacing. What about that BBQ party you had planned this weekend?

The slings on patio chairs can be repaired quite easily using a screwdriver, a razor knife and pliers. The best fabrics to use are Phifertex® and Sunbrella®, which are durable, water resistant, fade and mold resistant. They come in a variety of colors and are easy to clean with soapy water.

In this article we’ll consider how to repair sling patio chairs in more detail, what fabrics to use – and how to measure up your chair for the new fabric.

Can Sling Patio Chairs Be Repaired?

What is The Best Fabric For Sling Chairs?

Do your sling chairs look in need of some TLC?  If the seats are torn, damaged, stained or faded, the good news is that it’s easy to replace the fabric, and you don’t have to get rid of the whole chair. But what sort of material do you need?

Sling patio chairs take quite a hit during the summer. They are exposed to UV, sunscreen grease, crumbs and stains from al fresco meals, and if you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your yard, chlorine.

In poorer weather, there’s rain, wind, fallen leaves and even snow to deal with. And of course, like any yard furniture, there’s always going to be mess from bird poop, various critters, and pets.

So, you need a robust fabric that can resist water, fading, and hopefully stains. Phifertex® and Sunbrella® are two popular brands that make robust fabric for sling chairs.

Phifertex® has an attractive waffle design, and comes impregnated with Microban, which prevents the growth of mold and mildew. Is super-durable, fade-resistant, and easy to clean with soapy water.

Phifertex® fabrics are Greenguard certified, meaning that they emit very low or negligible levels of volatile organic compounds. 

Sunbrella is also fade and mold-resistant. In addition, it is protected against chlorine, so is a great choice for your poolside chairs. It has a softer appearance than Phifertex, because it has acrylic woven in among the PVC fabric strands. This arguably looks more luxe, but may not last as long.

Where Can I Buy Replacement Slings For Patio Chairs?

So, you’ve decided that your patio chairs need a refresh with some durable new slings. How do you go about doing this? You can buy one of the robust fabrics we mentioned above and make your own, or you can make life easier and order a replacement sling.

There’s a great choice of online stores that sell standard size replacement slings. Some sites let you search by model of chair, or you can measure your sling chair for a bespoke replacement. We’ll look at the best way to get the right size sling in a moment.

American Slings is an online store that sells all sorts of chair parts, including slings. There’s a choice of fabrics and colors, and you can order up to four free samples to help you decide. 

Slingfabs lets you order five swatches, and they have some great prints to choose from. Slingmasters is another online sling replacement site, and is a family business that’s been repairing yard furniture for almost 40 years.

So, there are a lot of specialist sling retailers out there, and there’s a great choice of fabrics. If you prefer to use a local store, take a look on yelp.com or similar, and see if there’s anyone in your area that deals with chair repairs.

How Do You Measure a Fabric Patio Sling Chair?

If you’re buying your replacement sling online, it’s important to order the right size.

Some websites will give the option of ordering by model, but most ask for the chair measurement. What’s the most reliable way of measuring your sling chair? Grab that tape measure, and here’s what you need to know:

  1. Unless your chair is already in pieces, always measure the sling while it’s still attached to the chair. This is because older slings can stretch and sag, but if you measure them when they’re on the chair, you’ll get the size you need
  2. Most sling chairs have a rail on each side with an opening, which is where the sling slides in. Find the top bolt for both rails, and measure between these. This gives you the top width measurement
  3. Repeat at the bottom of the chair, measuring again between the two slide rails. This gives you the bottom width measurement. Never assume that tip and bottom are the same…
  4. Next, measure the length of the chair by measuring from the top rail to the bottom rail, following the contours of the chair. This is the length measurement
  5. If your chair has separate pieces for the back and the seat, measure each one in turn, as above. You should end up with six measurements in total (top width, bottom width and length for each piece)
  6. It’s the same process for swivel chairs, chaise lounges, ottomans and loveseats
  7. If you have an older style chair where the sling fits between rods at the top and bottom, you may need to contact the store to discuss
  8. When you’re measuring, keep it as accurate as possible (down to the closest ¼ inch). Make it clear which measurement is which (ie XX”top width x XX”bottom width x XX” length).
Sling Patio Chairs

How Do You Replace Patio Chair Slings?

You may have engaged a local repairer, who can make and fit your new sling. Otherwise, the fitting stage is over to you. How do you fit your replacement sling?

You’ll need a flat head screwdriver, a razor knife, pliers and possibly a Philips screwdriver if the chair has cross head screws.

  1. Remove the end caps from the side rails (you may need a flat end screwdriver to help prise them off)
  2. Cut through the center of the old sling fabric, top to bottom
  3. Coax the two pieces of fabric out from the rails (you may need a lubricant like a soapy water spray to help)
  4. You may need to use pliers to get it out, so have a pair handy. Pull from the bottom
  5. Remove the spreader bars (the horizontal bars)
  6. You now have an empty frame, all ready for your new sling. The new sling will come with a hem on each side and two insertable splines. First, feed the splines into the hems
  7. Working from the top, insert the new sling into the top of one of the side rails (you may need to wriggle it a bit to get it going)
  8. Keep pulling it through. Pliers and a second person will both help, especially as you get towards the bottom of the chair!
  9. When it’s all the way through, tip the chair onto its side (sling side upwards) and remove the rail with the new sling (hopefully it’ll unscrew easily…)
  10. Put the chair back upright, and fit the sling into the other side’s rail. The sling is now in both side rails (although the first rail is still flapping about)
  11. Reattach the first slide rail to the side of the chair
  12. Pull the fabric gently as you tighten the side rail, to get tension in the sling
  13. Replace the bars, trim any excess spline, and out the end caps back on
  14. Sit down on your fabulous new chair, and have a cold beer or cup of fresh coffee to celebrate

Conclusion: How Long Do Sling Chairs Last?

If it’s well cared for, your sling chair should last you for years – and hopefully at least a decade. Most frames are made from aluminum, which is tough as well as light. The purpose-made fabrics we mentioned earlier should last ten years if you look after them well.

Make sure that you winterize your garden furniture properly (cleaned, dried, covered and stored indoors) if you want it to last. Clean it regularly to prevent unsightly stains and molds, and generally treat it as well as you do your indoor suite.

And of course the good news is, provided the frame is sound, you can give your patio chairs a lovely refresh any time you want, simply by replacing the sling.