Thrift Rocking Chair Makeover with 3M Frameworks Products

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3M Frameworks

In this article, I share a tutorial on how to makeover a grungy old rocking chair with 3M Frameworks products.

This was my first time testing a piece of furniture for lead. I found the process very easy to perform and complete. It was also my first time reupholstering a piece of furniture, which did require a bit more skill. Overall, I consider the entire process to be a Beginner to Moderate project in terms of skill. I completed the project in just under four hours, so it’s a makeover you can whip up in just a weekend, depending on the size of your piece!

Project Supplies Supplies:

3M LeadCheck Swabs
3M SandBlaster Sanding Sponges (or Sanding Sheets)
3M TEKK Protection Eye Protection
3M TEKK Protection Respirator
3M TEKK Protection Painter’s Gloves
ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape with Edge-Lock
Paint brushes
Craft knife
Grungy chair
Staple gun & staples

Step 1 Step One: Find an old piece of furniture

Find a grungy old piece of furniture for your project! I found mine at a thrift store, but yard sales and curbsides are great sources, too.

Step 2 Step Two: Test for lead

Since I’m not sure if my chair was painted after 1978 or not, I decided to check it for lead paint. I used my 3M LeadCheck Swabs. If the swab turns red, it means lead is detected and I should contact a lead-safe certified contractor.

Step 2 The swab system is very easy to use! You simply activate the swab, rub it on a notch in the furniture and await your results! It’s like performing a little science project while you craft.
Step 2 My rocking chair was lead-free (yay!), but the system also includes a Test Confirmation Card, so you can verify that you activated your swab properly.
Step 3 Step Three: Disassemble the furniture

Disassemble your chair! Be sure to wear your 3M TEKK Protection Eye Protection to protect your eyes from furniture staples and nails as you remove them. I discovered the original chair cushion was a funky shade of avocado green crossed with entirely-too-old mustard yellow. I used the old fabric to create a pattern for my shiny new fabric.

Using new padding and new fabric, reupholster your chair cushion. Pull the fabric taut and use a staple gun to attach the fabric to the underside of the cushion board.

Step 4 Step Four: Sand and prepare for painting

Choose the proper 3M Sandblaster products for your project. I used the 3M SandBlaster Sponges for Paint Stripping and Between Coats.

Step 4 Sand your entire piece to prepare it for painting. Wear your 3M TEKK Protection Respirator, so you don’t breathe in particles of dust while sanding.
Step 5 Step Five: Paint and reassemble the piece

Paint, paint, paint! Wear gloves to keep paint and stain off of your hands. I used two coats of high gloss black paint for my chair.

Once the paint is dry, reattach your like-new cushion to the chair using the same hardware you previously removed. In my case, the cushion was attached to the frame with four screws.

Step 6 Step Six: Decorate with handmade stencils

This step is optional, but definitely a fun and easy way to add unique decoration to your piece! Using ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape with Edge-Lock, create a stencil to apply to your chair.

Step 6 Apply ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape to a cutting surface. Tape your image to stencil on top of of the painter’s tape. Using a very sharp craft knife, carefully and slowly, cut your design from the tape. Voila!
Step 6 Apply the tape stencil to your chair. Press the entire surface of the tape firmly to the chair. Using stencil paint, blot the design until it’s solid. Remove the tape and reveal your new design!
Step 7 Step Seven: Enjoy!

Bask in the glory of your completed project!

While I’ve got your attention, don’t forget to check out 3M’s CoupleSpeak video contest. Enter by Thursday October 6, 2011 for a chance to win one of two $5,000 prizes! Read more here.

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  1. Justin says:

    Wow! With the prices of well built furniture sky-rocketing and the craftsmanship not being what it used to be, this is a GREAT way to really breath new life into old, well built products.

    I love the “new” chair and it looks so good! It seems like 3M really thought of everything to make a quick project out of this. It seems like something even I could do :laugh:

  2. Amanda says:

    You make that look so easy that I’m tempted to try it myself. Nice to see that a company like 3M has a lead paint test kit. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Natalie says:

    ROCKING chair! I know I should do lead paint tests, I didn’t realize they come so easy. Beautiful refinish!

  4. christy jewell says:

    First of all this chair looks AMAZING. I love projects but always do much smaller ones but this makes me wanna *go big or go home*. I am super excited for the endless possibilities of what I can do with 3M. What an awesome product.

  5. Krista says:

    Wow, this looks so easy! I’ve never upholstered anything but I could totally do this. Your chair turned out beautifully!

  6. Jamie says:

    So cute! I need a chair like that for my front porch. I had no idea there was any kind of lead test kit in existence! Thanks for the tutorial…I’m now off to the thrift store!

  7. Roula says:

    Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for and so easy to follow!! Cant wait to redecorate! Looking forward to your next tutorial!

  8. Loni says:

    How did I not know about these 3M lead testers?? So quick and easy. Definitely a must for older vintage items to ensure safety. And I hate how crafty you are… when I say hate I mean LOVE! Great project, especially if you can find an old piece on craigslist for CHEAP!

  9. Lauren says:

    What an amazing project! So beautiful! Can’t wait to do a project like this soon!! I love 3M products, but never realized how vast their marketing is! Looking forward to using their products on my next project!

  10. Ericka says:

    Awesome project!!! Looks great!

  11. Brie says:

    That looks Great! I am restoring a small wooden dresser so the 3M Instant Lead Test is just what I need. Also the Sanding Sponge is great becuase it seems I can hold it in my hand better then the sheets. Great Job 🙂

  12. Shay says:

    Wow! The chair looks brand new. 3M products are of good quality so this chair should last for years to come. I might try it on something for my LO’s room.

  13. Kristin says:

    What a great transformation! The “new” chair looks awesome.

  14. patty says:

    Love this project. What kind of paint do you use for the body of the chair?

  15. Cathy says:

    Wow I would never have thought that grungy chair could turn into something so beautiful!! I love 3M’s lead tester and the Sandblaster makes it look “easy” to sand. Great job! Love it!!

  16. sweets4ever says:

    Thanks, all!

    The LeadCheck Swabs are so important to me. I buy lots of thrifted pieces and antiques to use as photography props with children. Pretty awesome that I can check them for lead instantly now!

    Patty, I’m not entirely sure. I know it’s high gloss, but I’m not sure the brand or specifics. I’m a wee bit obsessed with buying “oops” containers of paint. I buy them from the end cap at the paint center. They’re the smaller cans that are rejected or returned from customers for some reason (and put on heavy clearance!). They’re a great steal and perfect for random crafty projects.

  17. Melba says:

    Did you know this is called a sewing or quilting rocker……that is the reason it has no arms.

  18. sweets4ever says:

    Wow, I didn’t know that, Melba. I love it even more now.

  19. Emily says:

    Wow! Great looking chair! I never thought to use Painter’s tape for a stencil, but with the edgelock I could probably do it!

  20. Sarah says:

    Simply FAB! I love this! And the idea of making things like this for photo props is awesome! I was just at the store looking for some supplies, and wish I would have seen this before. Its great that 3M has products to make sure we have safe stuff to use. The sanding sponges will be my next crafty purchase. Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. Meladie says:

    Wow! Makes me want to run out and grab the supplies to finish the chairs in my kitchen! Thanks for info on the 3M LeadSwabs, this is the first I have even heard of them and will be purchasing some to check out a few items around the house! Thanks for the steps and information!

  22. Madison says:

    WOW! That is awesome! I will definitely be trying that out.. I have lots of grundgy chairs!!! 🙂

  23. Elameno says:

    You know, I swear we have that exact rocking chair in our spare bedroom. It belonged to my great grandmother. While thankfully the cushion is not avocado green meets mustard yellow, it’s not quite as hip looking as this one. 😛

  24. sweets4ever says:

    Haha, that’s awesome, Elameno! But now I must know. What color IS yours?

  25. Beth says:


    I wonder how much 3M paid for this to be posted on Craftster,

    I think it is tacky to have such a thinly veiled ad on this site.


  26. sweets4ever says:

    I’m sorry you feel that way, Beth. I do state that this is a Sponsored Article in the very first line of the post, so our intent is obviously not to veil an ad. 3M provided the sample pack of products for me to review, and I was more than happy to accept! 🙂

    Also, we (Craftster) would never knowingly advertise a product that we believe is poor. As demonstrated in my tutorial, I’ve used these products firsthand and every word of this article is 100% from me personally.

  27. lesia says:

    If the paint is thick, how deep down would the lead test work? I live in NYC. Many walls have non-lead paint for the past 10 coats, but the stuff under that is what might have lead. When you disturb the paint, you get all of the layers.
    Maybe scrape through many layers before applying the tester?

    Also, rumor has it that bedbug eggs can be on the wooden portion of furniture from an infestation. I would isolate anything coming in from the street and give it a good wash. (I mostly walk by the furniture on the street now, bedbugs are not fun.)

    Your chair ends up beautiful.

  28. sweets4ever says:

    Lesia, awesome discussion! And thank you for your kind words. 🙂

    The swabs have instructions for various testing instances and surfaces, from dust screening to lead in vinyl products (who knew?). For this project, I followed the instructions for “painted surfaces.” Step b covers exactly what you’ve mentioned — testing ALL of the layers. It instructed me to cut a small 1/4″ notch at a diagonal to expose all of the painted layers down to the bare surface.

    And I wouldn’t have even thought of bed bug eggs. ACK! I wonder if washing AND sanding would resolve such an issue. I definitely need to research more on this.

  29. djsemira says:

    Hi, you say to dissassemble the chair, when do you reassemble?

  30. nurhal says:

    wow,Ilike it too much

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