Replacing sling back chair fabric

Replacing sling back chair fabric DEFAULT

How to Replace Fabric on a Patio Sling Chair

Sling chairs are a popular choice for outdoor seating. They’re great for dining or lounging and are comfortable, weather resistant and low maintenance. If your sling chairs are looking faded, saggy or ripped, replacing the fabric is an easy DIY project that will give your chairs new life. We’ll show you how to replace that old fabric step-by-step in our how-to video.

DIY replacement fabric on a patio sling chair

Before you get to work on your chairs, you’ll need to decide on a new sling fabric to use. We stock two different brands of sling fabric here at Sailrite®: Phifertex® and Sunbrella® Sling. Both fabrics have been designed with sling chair applications in mind, are sturdy, and come in a variety of colors and styles. You can read our helpful guide “Selecting Patio Sling Chair Replacement Fabric” (#300062XHT) for a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of each brand.

Once you have your fabric picked out, use the Sailrite Fabric Calculator to determine how much yardage you need. The Fabric Calculator is an incredibly useful tool that we offer to our customers to help you estimate how much fabric you need for a project. We also show you a rendering with measurements so you know how to lay out and cut your fabric panels. We have a Fabric Calculator for pillows and cushions, awnings, canopies, shade sails, window treatments, sling chairs and more. At the bottom of any webpage in the blue bar, select "Fabric Calculator" under the "Resources" section.

There are a few different styles of sling chairs, so you’ll want to take a close look at how your chair is put together. In this video, we demonstrate how to replace the fabric on a sling chair where the sling material feeds into a channel in the chair’s frame. This is the most common configuration. On our chair the channels for the fabric run along either side of the chair but, as Eric shows in the video, on some chairs the channels run across the top and bottom of the chair. The steps for replacing the fabric on these chairs are the same; just make sure to orient your fabric appropriately for your chair’s setup.

If your chair doesn’t have channels for the fabric and most of the chair’s hardware is inside the fabric, you likely have an envelope style chair. To learn how to re-cover an envelope style chair, watch our “Sling Chair Cover Replacement (Pocket Envelope Style)” video (#200519XHT).

In this video, you’ll learn how to carefully measure your chair, pattern your fabric, sew hems and sleeves, and reassemble your patio sling chair.


How To Remove & Install Slings

Of the many brands and styles of patio furniture, installing slings is easier in some than in others. We strongly recommend you look at how your furniture is built before you begin. Patio Furniture Supplies makes “tight slings”. The slings are as wide as from slot to slot in the sling rails. Installing the slings into the rails and resecuring the rails to the frame stretches the fabric to achieve a tight sling.

Step 1: Remove Sling Rail Caps

Carefully remove the sling rail caps from the chair, and avoid scratching the finish. A flat-head screwdriver and a hammer may be required. 

Step 2: Remove Bolts from One Side

Remove the bolts holding one side of the sling rail to the chair frame. Most manufacturers use a 1/4" x 20 thread bolt; a 7/16" socket or a 3/16" hex head socket is usually effective. Use a ratchet to break the bolts loose, and remove them with a drill socket. (Figure 1)


Step 3: Remove Support Bars

The chair may have support bars. If they are straight, spread the sling rails apart by using a screw clamp that stretches instead of squeezes. If the support bars are curved, pull on the center while pushing on one end of the bar near the sling rail. (Figure 2)


Step 4: Remove the Old Sling

To remove the old sling, pull it through the sling rail. Sometimes a pair of pliers makes this job easier. If the sling will not be used as a pattern or for another purpose, cut it down the middle and remove it. (Figure 3)


Step 5: Install the New Sling

Insert the sling spline (included with your sling order) through the sling pockets (one on each side). Starting at the top, insert the sling into one sling rail; slide the sling to the end of the rail. Do not allow the sling to fold over the top of the sling rail, or it will tear. Detach the sling rail and install the sling in the other (attached) sling rail. (Figure 4)


Step 6: Replace the Bolts

Lay the chair on its side and replace the bolts using the drill socket. If the bolt does not reach the chair frame, loosen the bolts on the opposite sling rail, then tighten all the bolts. (Figure 5)


Step 7: Finishing Touches

If your furniture has support bars, reinstall them. If the support bars are curved, it may be necessary to hit the curve dead center with a rubber mallet to tighten the support bar (Figure 6). Cut the excess sling spline (Figure 7). Replace the end caps. 



Selecting a Fabric

Our slings are all custom-made and available in more than 100 solid colors and patterns. Please go to Grade A+ Exclusive, Grade A Select, Grade B Premier or Grade C Sunbrella fabrics for availability. Because computer monitors are notoriously inaccurate for color, Patio Furniture Supplies recommends you order samples of fabrics before ordering slings or premium umbrellas.

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How to Replace Fabric on a Sling Chair

DecorHow To's

  • By Alyssa
  • 1 hour 30 minutes

Outdoor furniture is expensive. Especially if it is good quality. And if you have some of your own, after years of use, you know the inevitable. The fabric on the chair will eventually start to show signs of wear.

But don’t fret. Today, I am going to show you how to replace the fabric on your worn out outdoor sling chairs so you can get the most out of your money.

Using Phifertex on outdoor sling chairs is more than worth the investment. These fabrics will last you years even in extreme climates and contain microban, a technology that helps prevent the growth of stain-and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew.

How to Replace Fabric on a Sling Chair



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Step 1: Measure

You are going to want to take a few measurements to begin with. The first should be the length of the sling chair mesh. Do this by measuring about 1/8th of an inch from the beginning and end of each sling rail. Make sure you follow the contour of the chair closely to get an accurate measurement. Make a note of this measurement and add 1” for seam allowance.

Measure your chair

Then, measure for the width of the mesh. Measure the distance between the sling rails at both the top and bottom edge of the chair. Not all chairs have the same width at the top and bottom so you may have to cut your piece at an angle. Add one inch to both sides for seam allowance and to make channels for the spline.

Measure the width as well

Step 2: Mark and Cut

Draw your measurements onto your Phifertex fabric using chalk or a fabric marker. Indicate where the seam allowance is so you are able to easily fold and sew your fabric. Cut it out.

Mark and cut out the phifertex

Step 3: Pin and Sew

On the top and bottom, fold over the raw edge towards the back of the fabric ½” and pin it in place. It may help to use the handle of your scissors to create a crease.

Sew where you just folded.

Mark seam allowance

Then, fold the sides in towards the back of the fabric 1” and pin. This will create a channel. Sew this channel with two rows of stitching making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.

Pin and sew

Step 4: Insert the spline

Push the spline through each of the channels. I used a lighter on the ends of the spline the cut end a little smoother so it would slide through the channel easier.

Insert the spline

Step 5: Remove old fabric and prep chair

Mine were falling apart so I removed them a few days before and glued them together as best as I could and painted them

Remove the caps off of the sling rails very carefully with a screwdriver or knife edge. .

Remove any old fabric from your chair by cutting it away with a knife and then pulling the spline out of the edges with pliers.

Cut away old fabricPull the fabric out of the sling rails

I found this chair at the Brimfield flea market and it was pretty beat up so a fresh coat of paint did it wonders.

I am going to be sanding down this chair and applying Rust-oleum primer and a liquid repelling barrier over the whole surface.

Spray paint chair

Step 6: Insert fabric into rails

You can use petroleum jelly to make this easier

Make sure that the rails are facing the right direction and slide the spline through the channel.

Slide the new fabric into the sling rails

Step 7: Put the assembly back together

Trim down any extra spline and place the caps back onto the sling rails.

Screw the sling rails in about half way all the way around.

Put the assembly back together

Now, you need to place the tension bar(s). There are a few methods I have found for doing this. I saw people use some type of spreader tool or jack clamp or even a car jack. Not everyone has something like that lying around so we are just going to use a good old fashioned rubber mallet to get the job done. Start by slightly bending your tension bar and then slipping it into the holes on either side. Then cover the bar with some sort of fabric and start pounding it back into a straight position.

Hammer the tension bar back in place

Finish screwing in your sling rails and attach any additional hardware and then your chair is complete!

Shop Phifertex!

Questions & Comments

Have a comment? We want to hear! You can use the questions box to leave a comment too.

How to Replace a Chaise Lounge Sling

Replacement Sling Installation Instructions for a One Piece Patio Sling Chair 

View the video above or follow the step by step instructions below.

This is a tutorial of a basic replacement sling installation for a one-piece patio sling chair. Your installation may vary as no two patio sling chairs are made the same. Installation of replacement slings is not without risk. Injury may occur during a sling installation or furniture may be damaged in the process. For this reason, we recommend professional installation as the best option when at all possible. Not every patio sling chair is installed in the exact same way. This patio sling installation tutorial is just a guideline to help you through the sling installation process. If you need some assistance or some basic moral support, just contact us. Our sling installation experts have done and seen it all. We are here to help you through the sling installation process.

List Of Basic Tools For A Patio Replacement Sling Installation

  • Hammer
  • Pliers
  • Wire Cutters or Scissors
  • Utility Knife
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Watered Down Dish Soap in a Spray Bottle
  • Penetrating Oil
  • Spouse/Significant Other/BFF for assistance

  • Take careful note of how your patio sling chair comes apart. If you own a digital camera it would be beneficial to take photos of your patio chair before disassembling.
  • You MUST completely disassemble your patio sling chair to install the new sling. You can not install the new sling by just loosening the bolts that hold the rails to the frame. The rails must come all the way off to make installation easier.
  • Please do not compare the size of your new sling to your old sling. The new patio sling will seem like its too small. Do not worry. The patio sling fabric has tons of stretch to it. If you follow our instructions, the sling fabric should end up tightly stretched across the patio chair frame. We understand that it does not seem logical for your new patio sling to be a bit smaller than your old one. We got this! Promise! Your old sling fabric has stretched beyond its limits and is probably dry and brittle. The new sling has a ton of stretch to it. Some patio sling fabrics have more stretch than others and we take that into consideration when we determine the cut size and final size of your new replacement slings. Might take a little elbow grease and your BFF, significant other, or a local handy man to get it installed, but we know you can do it.  Just contact us if you need some guidance. Our sling installation team is ready to assist!
  • Kindly try to INSTALL before you CALL


1 – Remove the Old Plastic End caps on the Patio Sling Rail

IMPORTANT! As we mentioned, you need to disassemble your patio sling chair to get the new fabric patio sling installed.

Using a flat head screw driver or pliers, gently remove the plastic end caps from both ends of the sling rails. Be careful when removing your old end caps, they are often dry, brittle and break easily. We have a wide selection of common patio sling rail end caps that you can order to replace your current sling rail end caps.



2 ~ Remove the Old Sling Material from the patio chair frame

The easiest way to remove the old patio sling is to slice it down the middle using a utility knife or heavy-duty scissors. If you choose not to destroy your old slings by cutting them in half, unbolt both sling rails before proceeding.

IMPORTANT! No need to keep the plastic sling rod or spline. Your new patio chair slings include new supple sling rod as part of the package. Your old sling spline is likely too dry and brittle to reuse again. It will be very hard to rethread the spline into the sewn rod pocket of your new replacement slings.

It is not uncommon for the sling to be wedged inside the sling rail. Using both hands, break the sling free by pushing it back inside the sling rail. Due to the weight of the body sitting on the old patio sling fabric, the fabric and plastic sling rod has become wedged up to the top of the opening of the rail. This in combination with dirt and debris, makes the edge of the sling fabric feel sort of glued into place. To help loosen the sling and fabric, spray some watered-down dish soap, like Dawn or Palmolive along the entire length of the sling rail. Give the soapy mixture a couple of minutes to work its magic. It needs some time to absorb into the rail and start dissolving the dirt and oils that are sticking to the fabric.






HELPFUL TIP! If the old patio sling fabric is being stubborn and does not want to detach from the sling rail, break the fabric loose with a flat head screw driver. Push the patio sling fabric down into the sling rail with the flat end of the screw driver.



The old dirty fabric should slide out the bottom end of the sling rail with ease. Grasp the sling by hand or using a pair of pliers and strip it from the sling rail. Have someone hold the patio sling chair in place while another person pulls the old fabric out of the rail. Teamwork! Teamwork! Teamwork!



3~ Remove the Bolts from the sling rails.

IMPORTANT! Keep your hardware for the reinstallation process.

The sling rails are what holds the edges of the new patio sling fabric along with the plastic rod or spline that is threaded into the rod pockets on your new patio sling.

One or both of the sling rails will be attached to the main body of the patio sling chair frame with bolts. The bolts go through the sling rail and into the chair frame. Using the appropriate tool, remove all bolts (typically 4-6) from the patio chair frame. If your bolts prove difficult to remove, spray them with a penetrating oil (Liquid Wrench, NAPA 6300). The oil will help to loosen any rust or corrosion on the bolt. Let the oil soak for at least an hour before proceeding. Save bolts and any other hardware for reinstallation. If your bolts are bent or rusty it is a good idea to replace them.

IMPORTANT! – Do not force the bolt out of the frame. You risk breaking the bolts and possibly stripping out the threaded inserts, which will result in additional repairs to the frame.



4 ~ Insert the Sling Spline or Plastic Sling Rod

The new replacement slings will be shipped without the plastic sling rod or sling spline installed. Insert the sling spline into each side of the sling. The sling spline will be longer than necessary; do not trim away the excess until later in the installation process. If you are having trouble inserting the sling spline, try sharpening the end in a pencil sharpener. Insert the pencil into the opposite end of the sling or the end you are pushing toward. The pencil or pen will be pushed out the end by the sling spline and not get caught on the inner hem. Tah Dah! Sling spline installed. Happy Patio Sling Customer.



5 ~ Insert the new replacement sling fabric and spline Into the Sling Rails

Before sliding the sling into the rail, make sure the rails are in the same position as they were before they were removed. Slide the fabric through the sling rails making sure to keep the tag at the top of the chair as this differentiates the top and bottom of the sling.



6 ~ Start the Bolts through the sling rail and into the patio chair frame.

Place the sling rails with the newly installed sling onto the chair frame. Line up the holes and finger-tighten all of the bolts.

IMPORTANT! Do not tighten the bolts all the way. You want to work your way around the chair and tighten each bolt a little bit at a time, so the bolts tighten into the sling rails as the same rate. DO NOT fully tighten the bolts at this time.

DO NOT Tighten one side of the sling rail all the way!!!! You will never get the sling stretched to the other side!!!!



7 ~ Tighten Bolts

Starting with the bottom of the chair, pull the sling until it is even with both sling rails. Once the sling is flush with BOTH sling rails, tighten only the two bottom bolts. This will keep the bottom of the sling tight and in place.

This step is AFTER the hand tightening process described above.

8 ~ Stretch the Sling Material from the top and bottom

Eliminate any wrinkles left in the bend of the seat by stretching the fabric upward. You can use a pair of pliers to help stretch and pull the fabric through the sling rails. Careful not to pull so hard that you tear your sling fabric.

Note: It may be helpful to use a pair of clamps to hold the fabric as it tends to slip back down the sling rail. If you do not have clamps available, having someone to help with this step may prove useful. Position yourself behind the chair. Using pliers, stretch the sling upward to the edge of the sling rail so that both fabric and sling rail are even. At this point, use clamps or have someone hold the sling in place while you tighten the remaining bolts. The sling should now be tight and free of wrinkles.


9 ~ Install Spreader Bar

If your chair was equipped with spreader bars they must be reinserted. Flip your chair upside down being careful not to scratch the arms. Try bending the spreader bar over your knee just enough to allow the spreader bar to fit in to place.

If you cannot bend the spreader bar, a spreader tool will be needed to spread the slings rails apart allowing room for the spreader bar. If needed a spreader tool, it can be ordered, just contact us.


10 ~ Cut Excess Spline and Re-Install End Caps

Cut all excess sling spline with scissors or pliers and re-install end caps into sling rails by carefully tapping them in with a rubber mallet.

Note: Please try to install your slings before you contact us. New slings install snug and a certain amount of pushing and pulling is necessary to get the proper fit. If you are having a lot of trouble please consider purchasing one of our spreader tools.

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Back replacing chair fabric sling

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How to replace a sling

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