DIY - How to Restore a Cast Iron and Wood Garden Bench

Updated on May 24, 2011

Restored Garden Bench

Make a old bench look new again
Make a old bench look new again | Source

Close up of end of Bench before Restoration

Look closely and see the rust on the cast iron and the discolored wood
Look closely and see the rust on the cast iron and the discolored wood

From Old to Beautiful Again

If you have a garden bench, or other outdoor furniture, that is in need of a new look, you can make the repairs yourself and save money.

The great thing about outdoor furniture is, it does not have to be perfect to fit in just fine in a casual, relaxed setting. But, you don't want to be using furniture that is ready to break either.

The best way to maintain your outdoor furniture is to store it during the winter months so it won't be exposed to the harsh winter weather. But, if you don't have a place to store the furniture, you can use covers especially for outdoor use.

But, what do you do if you have a garden bench that is in need of updates in order to keep it from getting to far gone? Restore the garden bench, or other items such as a table, or chair. It is the same basic principals regardless of the item.

For this article the focus will be on restoring a cast iron and wood garden bench.

This bench was purchased used, because we knew it could be beautiful again, and we love to restore items that are old back to new again. If was a "treasure" found at a local peddlers mall. It was the end of the season, and the price was right, so it found a new home.

After its restoration this bench is proudly display in the front lawn. The photo on the right is of the finished product. The garden bench was made out of good materials, and was still strong, except for being shakey, and needing new hardware.

The bench was rusty of the cast iron ends and the wooden slats needed to be sanded to get years of builtup grim, and wear removed.

It had potential, and it took some work to get it back to like new again, but it was worth it, and now it is good for along time. Notice the photo on the right, it is a closeup of the back and end of the bench before it was restored.


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Wooden Slats

Notice the difference in the color and look of the wood before and after it was sanded.
Notice the difference in the color and look of the wood before and after it was sanded. | Source

Before the ends were restored

See the rust and dirt built up on the cast iron end of the bench
See the rust and dirt built up on the cast iron end of the bench | Source

Details on Restoring a Garden Bench

Here are some details for a restoration like this-

Disassemble the entire garden bench. It will make the project much to complete.

Plan on replacing the hardware- screws and washers, nuts etc. they will be rusty, and new hardware is better here.

After the bench is taken apart, sort and place the wooden slats on a table and sand them. Use an electric belt sander if you have one. This is a lot of wood to sand by hand, but it could be done.

Sanding with a belt sander takes about 5 minutes per board. Dust off all loose particles after you have sanded the wood.

Apply a coat of clear weatherproof sparuratane (outdoor poly) to all sides and ends of the wooden slats.

The cast iron ends will need to have the rust removed, by an electric 4 1/2 inch angle grinder.

Carefully use the grinder to remove all rust from the cast iron ends. (Wear protective safety glasses, sparks will fly).

Remove all loose particles from the iron when finished.

Depending on if you want to keep the garden bench it's original color or change it, choose a paint color for the ends. Spray paint the ends with a rust resistant paint.

Allow the wooden slats and the cast irons ends to dry overnight before you reassemble the garden bench.


After the ends were painted

The freshly painted ends of the garden bench
The freshly painted ends of the garden bench | Source

Enjoy your "like new" bench

When all of the parts to the bench have been left to dry overnight put the bench back together and enjoy it in your favorite shady area of your yard.

Re apply a new coat of sparurathane every few years to keep the wood protected.

You have just created a family heirloom for the next generation. The bench should be stored during winter months to prolong its new look.

Also to avoid rust, place the bench on stepping stones, or another solid surface instead of grass.

Keep it away from grass being thrown on it during mowing, to help keep the grim and buildup from accumalating on the legs and seat.

With proper maintenance your bench should last for many years.

The cost of a garden bench like this one new is approximately $300.00 - $400.00. It is made with teak or cedar wood and heavy cast iron ends. Total cost for bench, and new hardware, and sparurathane was less than $70.00.

And there is a story that goes with the bench, so that makes it priceless.

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Art 

        2 months ago

        Just finishing the exact same bench. Consult with your local lumber yard as to the proper wood and what they have available. Teak, mahogany, redwood, and ipe are ideal due to their weather resistance and working qualities, but can be very expensive. White oak, cedar, cypress, and others are fine but will not last as long.

        Slat dimensions I used where:

        9 pieces at 7/8" x 2" x 48"

        3 pieces at 7/8" x 1 1/4" x 48"

        note: original boards where 3/4" thick, but the slats where being cut from 1" stock so I opted for thicker slats.

        Replaced all screws with stainless steel domed and had the lumber yard chamfer the holes they drilled and routered the top face of the boards.

        Used Watco teak oil for the finish.

      • profile image

        gerald beckman 

        5 months ago

        where can I find the proper wood for this bench? Is it 1x3? That appears to be the width allow in the cast iron and how thick should it be?

      • profile image

        Cheves 

        7 months ago

        I have the same bench, I'm doing almost the same but I'm sandblasting the sides, powder coating them and replacing and staining the wood.

        As far as I been reading the bench is french and from the late 1800 early 1900.

      • profile image

        Carly 

        15 months ago

        I have this exact bench. I did an antique blue powder coat on it but have to replace all the wood and hardware. Curious if you know details on the manufacturer/date.

      • profile image

        Sharron 

        16 months ago

        Where can I get new slats.? The wood is beyond repair.

      • profile image

        Nancy 

        17 months ago

        We're looking to restore a bench identical to this one in the picture this summer but currently looking for "boots" for the feet in the mean time as it has rusted our patio. Any suggestions as to where to find them or do they make them?

        We welcome any advice as it was passed down from the parents

      • profile image

        R W Merritt 

        19 months ago

        Are these bench ends still available for purchase?

      • profile image

        Don 

        20 months ago

        I am in the process of restoring a bench similar to the one you show. The wood was very worn so I purchased 4'-3"x1" quality oak boards from Menard's (our local lumberyard - similar to Home Depot or Lowe's.) The project is coming along great! I will also be cleaning the cast iron ends and repainting them. FUN!!!

      • profile image

        Lisa Davies 

        20 months ago

        I wonder if wooden bed slats would work as replacements, my daughter's just got new beds for her kids. She gave one of the beds away, the other wasn't in such good condition, So it's going, inc. slats. They're from a single bed, but Id like a shorter bench, maybe have it indoors. I dont have the metal ends of the bench yet!, the people up the road have a pair in their garden,( lol, Im nosey ) the ends only, no bench, just discarded Im gonna offer them something, If you dont ask...!

      • profile image

        Daryl W. 

        2 years ago

        What kind of wood is preferred - oak, cedar, etc.

      • profile image

        Todd 

        2 years ago

        When using an angle grinder to remove rust from cast iron what type of disc should I use? I've got two different style wire brush heads standard and a cone.

      • profile image

        Steve 

        2 years ago

        Hi, I'm in the process of restoring my neighbors cast iron/wooden slat bench. This is my 3rd restoration. Most bench slats are 48"x 2 1/2"x 3/4". I cut my own using various woods, and replacing the bolts, nuts & washers. I've used a reciprocating saw to cut hard rusted bolts. Used different stains for looks and protected with varathanes.

        Some cast irons were sandblasted and repainted, this particular set, the owners wished to keep the original finish, but needed to rid some of the rust. Long story-short, I used a green scouring pad, and used a medium gloss cleaner & beautifier, brought the luster back. and protect with a clear spay.

      • profile image

        Amy 

        2 years ago

        Great job! I have a similar bench and have to restore it every few years because it sits in full sun. Has anyone seen slats made from the new engineered wood they use to make decks and fences? It's supposed to last forever. The wide pieces are kind of expensive, but you wouldn't need much.

      • profile image

        TJ 

        2 years ago

        Does anyone know where to get the little support braces? I have two benches and a table, but 1 bench and the table are missing their supports, making them very shaky.

      • profile image

        Major N Crispin 

        2 years ago

        I have the exact same metal end pieces that you show. How wide are the 2 top of the bench wood slats? They look like they are narrower than the other slats because the holes in the metal ends are closer together at the top of the bench than in the rest of the bench. Please email me your answer. Thank you in advance for your help. Major N Crispin

      • profile image

        Libby 

        2 years ago

        I too had rusted bolts. I tried some of that nasty spray that loosens them, and a few came off. The top slats I could use a hack saw to saw a notch in the middle and then a hammer to break them and remove the halves out the ends. The bottom slats were bolted onto the frame, so if the spray rust remover didn't work, a bolt cutter did the trick. Mostly it was brute force that took out all my old rotten wood and rusty bolts.

      • profile image

        syd 

        2 years ago

        Hi Tim,

        I find a hack saw if really bad will do the job. Or just take your time with spanners!

      • profile image

        Tim Graham 

        2 years ago

        Hello,

        My slats are really rusted on with the bolts. Do you have a trick for removing the rusted bolts?

        thanks.

      • profile image

        Carol 

        3 years ago

        Hi Carol

        I have a bench made of cast iron and oak by Parkland Heritage - unlike the photo mine has cast iron pieces in the back. But I'll give you the dimensions of mine in case it's close to yours.

        The wood slats for the seat are 48" (4 feet) long x 2½" wide x ¾" thick, with a support strap measuring 13/16 wide x 1/16 thick running under the seat. I have had this bench apart several times to refinish and it needs that strap for support.

        I too was on here looking for a source to purchase new wood replacement slats. I did find a website that comes up in my search for the Parkland heritage benches and they had this info:

        http://www.dcamerica.net/faq.htm

        Q:How to order replacement parts for my bench?

        Call Customer Service at 1-800-238-5296. Indicate to the representative you would like an order form for replacement part (s) for your bench. At your request, it will either be mailed or faxed to you.

        I haven't tried to call them yet so I don't know if they sell the wood pieces.

      • profile image

        Carol 

        3 years ago

        I also only have the end pieces, I would LOVE to re~do this bench but I need to find the original dimensions of the wood. If anyone knows where to purchase the replacement wood PLEASE post some info. Thanks In Advance!!

      • profile image

        Lauren 

        3 years ago

        Hi there. Was there an answer on replacement slats?? Thanks so much!

      • profile image

        Lisa pirtz 

        4 years ago

        I just came across the same exact garden bench and wanted some history on it. I would love any details you could share like age and its original color. Mine was painted white and wood is now sun bleached. I cannot believe I came across this !!! Thanks lisa

      • profile image

        Kelly 

        4 years ago

        Can you send me your dimensions as well? I have the ends but not wooden slats. Thank you,

      • profile image

        Charles 

        6 years ago

        Kathy,

        Thank you! I too need to purchase slats.

        I've looked at lumber stores and home depot etc and they have wood that can be used but it is not beveled and smooth...(which makes the sitting experience a wee bit more enjoyable I think)

      • profile image

        Kathy 

        6 years ago

        Is there a place that one can buy the replacement slats? I have an old bench with two broken slats, the two in the front. I'm not handy with saws and such so making the slats is not an option. I just need to replace the two slats to have a neat garden bench.

      • profile image

        Freda Eckel 

        7 years ago

        Hi Henry,

        Send me your email address and I can take a pic and send it to you. I will measure the wooden slats for you too.

        I can be contacted at my profile page, or firstimpressionsdecor@live.com - put garden bench hubpages in the subject line.

        Thanks Freda

      • profile image

        Henry 

        7 years ago

        I have the side pieces of a bench exactly like the one you restored but none of the original wood. Can you give me the dimensions of the wood on yours? I am also unsure of how the two brackets are attached. Do the bolts go through one of the middle slats or are they just screwed in from underneath ? A photo of the bottom would be helpful.

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 

        7 years ago from the short journey

        Thank you so much! I have 3 benches that I want to restore before the heat of summer sets in! I'll probably only get to 1 by then but that 1 is nearly an exact copy of your example here. You have encouraged me to go forward with the project and given me some good tips. :)

      working

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