• 1 used wooden deckchair
  • 15.5 yards of seat belt webbing (either from a scrap yard, eBay or as a last resort,—a site that sells super-cheap webbing by the yard)
  • 1 can of white, water-based paint
  • 1 can of eco-friendly wax/varnish to seal emulsion
  • 70 upholstery tacks—we use white, but choose an appropriate color for your webbing
  • Paintbrush
  • Sanding block and sandpaper
  • Lighter or matches
  • Scissors
  • Hammer


  • Remove old tacks and fabric from deckchair. Sand chair well using sanding block. (Don’t be tempted to use an electric sander; they are too powerful and waste energy that you can provide yourself.) When you finish sanding, wipe woodwork to remove dust.
  • Mix the paint with water and stir well (we use about 50% of each, but mix to suit your own taste). Apply a couple thin layers of paint to the chair frame and let dry. Then, sand the chair lightly all over with sandpaper to achieve a vintage look. Follow with a coat of clear sealant (wax or varnish) to protect the paint and guard against moisture.
  • Now for the tricky bit: Measure the length of the webbing — either by using the original canvas or by holding the new webbing up to the chair until you’re happy with the length (be sure to consider all seating positions). Measure and mark the belt placements, leaving a small gap between each one. You can usually fit eight strips of seat belt onto one frame.
  • Trim seatbelt webbing to your desired length; leave extra at each end to double over the chair frame for added strength. The belt will fray slightly where cut, so carefully run a lighter or match along the cut edge to seal in loose fibers.
  • Fit the webbing to the chair frame: Simply hammer an upholstery tack into the center of the top and bottom of each belt strip.
  • Repeat on the underside, doubling over fabric ends and using two or more tacks to secure. Now you’re finished. Sit back and enjoy your hand-finished, reclaimed lounger.
Story by Max McMurdo. This article originally appeared in Plenty in October 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008