How to Install Replacement Slings For Patio Furniture
Please Read and Follow Carefully
Installing patio slings can be a bit confusing if you've never had to do it before. Below are some general instructions on how to install replacement slings onto your patio furniture frames. Although there are many different types of sling frames and some sling frame assemblies may vary from the ones shown in the following pictures, the concept installing slings is usually the same. You should try to follow the same steps as outlined below when installing your new replacement slings while improvising for your specific frame when needed. We recommend that you take notes or digital photos of your furniture frames before and during the disassembly of your sling furniture. These will help you when you reassemble your chair frame with then newly installed replacement sling. Make sure you have all of the necessary tools ready before you begin. The first sling will take the longest. Typical time is about 15 to 20 minutes per chair.
- Step 1: Removing Plastic Endcaps
- Step 2: Removing Old Patio Slings
- Step 3: Removing Patio Sling Frame Rails
- Step 4: Insert Retaining Rods Into The New Sling
- Step 5: Slide The New Sling On The Frame Rails
- Step 6: Install The Sling Rails On The Frame
- Step 7: Adjust The New Patio Sling's Length
- Step 8: Stretch The Sling And Eliminate Wrinkles
- Step 9: Install Frame Rail Spreader Bars
- Step 10: Cut Down Sling Retaining Rods
- Step 11: Install the Rail Caps
Tools Required For Sling Installations:
Only a few simple tools are needed to replace the slings. The spreader bar shown at the top of the picture is normally not required. A spreader bar is normally required if your sling rails attach outside (or beyond) the frame supports. Only about 5% of chairs are made this way.
1. Remove the end caps.
Locate and remove the caps from each end of the two sling rails. (Consult the measurement page if you are having trouble locating your end caps)
Sling rail end caps can become dry and brittle from exposure to the sun and other outdoor elements. To avoid breaking, take extra care when removing the end caps from your sling frame rails. You should first check if they can be easily pulled off with your fingers. If they do not come off easily you can try to remove the end caps from the frame rail by gently prying them off using a flat head screwdriver. The bottom picture shows the end of a typical sling rail with the cap off. Note the nylon "noodle" inside. This nylon tube is also sometimes called the 'spline.' It's what holds the fabric inside the sling rail. You can see the spline inside the hollow frame rail at left.
3. Remove the old sling material
The easiest method to remove an old patio furniture sling is to simply cut the sling material in two down the middle using a pair fabric scissors or a sharp blade. If you would like to keep your old slings simply unbolt the sling frame rail bolts and skip the rest of this step.
4. Loosening The Sling
Old slings commonly become wedged inside of the sling rails as a result of pressure put on them by the constant weight of individuals. You can try to loosen the sling by trying to push it back into the sling rail opening using your hands. Do not attempt to pull the sling out though the slot. This will damage the frame rail.
5. Pull the old sling material out of the channel
Using a pair of standard pliers, grasp the old patio sling material close to the frame rail and try to pull the sling out with the pliers using your other hand to hold the sling frame steady. If it is difficult to pull out the sling you can try to spray the sling with a solution of dish soap and water to make it easier to remove the sling. Sometimes working it back and forth (pulling from the top, then from the bottom) also works. Give the solution a minute or so to soak into the rail opening before continuing. Another trick is to pull out the sling retainer itself. The retainer looks like a limp piece of spagetti, and is found in the sling rail. If you can grasp it with your pliers, pull straight down. Since you are throwing away the old sling and retainer, no need to be gentle with it.
6. Further Loosening Of The Sling Material (if necessary)
If the sling material still refuses to budge you can try to loosen it further by loosening the frame rail. Locate the screws that secure the rail, and loosen them a few turns. It is normally easier to remove and install the slings if the rail is at least loosely connected to the chair. Now push down on the sling using a screwdriver and this should completely loosen the material. Do not pry open the sling rail with the screwdriver, or pound it with a hammer as this will cause damage to the sling frame. At this point, if your furniture has a spreader bar on the back or seat, it should drop out easily. Remember to keep track of which bar goes where. They may not be the same length.
7. Install the plastic spline retainers.
Locate the plastic sling retainers shipped with your slings. These resemble long pieces of spagetti. Apply a small dab of vaselene or water soluble lube to the end of the retainer tube, and slide fully through the loop on the side of each sling. The rods will be longer than the actual material itself. DO NOT TRIM THE PLASTIC SPLINE until you are completely done with the sling installation. The excess length of the retaining rod tends to help the sling slide through the rails easier during the next steps.
8. Slide the slings onto the frame. Be sure to orient it properly.
Before proceeding, make sure your rails are on the correct sides of the frame and in the same position as they were before you removed them. Starting with the excess length of the retaining rod, begin to slide the sling fabric through the rails. Make sure the Casual Refinishing.com tag is on the top or back part of your sling frame when you finish your installation as this can make a big difference depending on the width variations we were given when the sling was ordered. The sling rails on most chairs are not parallel, and depending on your initial measurements, this can make a big difference on the ease of install.
9. Reinstall the sling rails.
Line up the holes of the rails and tighten all of the bolts as much as possible using your fingers. Repeat this step for the other side of the chair frame. If you had any spacers or washers be sure to put them on when installing the bolts. Don't overtighten. Tighten frame bolts evenly.
If your furniture has rails that attach to the outside of the frame, you won't be able to use the bolts to stretch the fabric. You will need to use a spreader bar to stretch the material over the frame supports, then attach the screws. While it may not seem like it, the sling material will stretch quite a bit. It needs to be VERY TIGHT when properly installed.
10. Stretch the sling material to the complete length of the sling rails.
Beginning at the bottom or front of the sling frame, pull the sling material until it is flush with the end of the sling rails on both ends. Once the front of the sling material is aligned with the rails you can tighten the bottom or front bolts using a ratchet. This will hold the front or bottom of the sling material in place for the next step of stretching. once the sling is fully stretched, and all wrinkles removed, fully tighten the side rail bolts that secure the rails to the chair frame. Don't strip the bolts!
Caution: I like to use a towel wrapped around the jaws of any pilers, clamps, etc. to prevent tearing the sling material. These pictures (for sake of clarity) don't show this. If you don't use the towel, the jaws of the pliers may ruin your new slings. Be careful!
11. Eliminate wrinkles left in the bending areas of the frame
Stretch out the sling material from top to bottom. It may help to use a pair of common clamps to hold the fabric down as it usually slips back down the sling rail before you get a chance to tighten the bolts. Position yourself on the side of the sling frame that hasn't been tightened yet and stretch the sling upward to the edge of the sling rail using a pair of pliers so that both the sling material and sling rails are even. You should now clamp the fabric down to the rail to maintain it's position while you tighten the remaining bolts. The sling should now be stretched tight and free of most wrinkles. Some wrinkles may remain. Minor wrikles or puckering usually work themselves out after some use. The sling material normally stretches more than you think, and will stretch from one end of the sling rail to the other, and from top to bottom.
The most common call we receive is that customers don't expect our slings to stretch as much as they actually do. The slings need to be very tight in order to look and feel right when you sit in them.
12. Almost done ! Even up both sides
Position yourself on the side of the sling frame that hasn't been tightened yet and stretch the sling upward to the edge of the sling rail using a pair of pliers so that both the sling material and sling rails are even. You should now clamp the fabric down to the rail to maintain it's position while you tighten the remaining bolts. The sling should now be stretched tight and free of most wrinkles. Some wrinkles may remain however these wrinkles should work themselves out after some use. I like to use a towel between any clamps and the mesh material, as this can prevent tearing
13. Installing the spreader bar - if your furniture has one.
Some sling frames come with spreader bars on the back of the frame to help with keeping the sling stretched out. If you have one, it will stretch across the back of the chair about even with your armpits when seated. If your sling frame comes with spreader bars they must be reinstalled. Flip your frame over onto a towel or blanket to avoid scratching the arms of your chair frame or scraping and damaging your new patio sling. Try to install the spreader bar, by snapping in into the two holes between the two sling rails. If it is too long, you can try to bend it on your knee just enough to allow it to fit into place, and bend it back once installed. If the spreader bar cannot be bent you will need to use a spreader tool to spread the sling rails apart enough to allow you to slide the spreader bar into position. MOST FURNITURE DOES NOT REQUIRE USE OF A SPREADER BAR.
14. Cut off the excess nylon tubing
Using wire cutters or a pair of scissors, cut any excess length from the retaining rods
15. Install the end caps
Install the end caps back into sling rails by tapping them in lightly and carefully using a soft rubber mallet. Be sure to install all four. If you break one, Casual Refinishing has replacements for most furniture.