How to Repair Sling Patio Chairs

Kathy Adams

Patio chairs fitted with a mesh sling seat are designed to be durable and withstand the elements. Over time, however, the mesh wears out, tears or stretches to the point the chair is no longer comfortable or possibly even unusable.

Replacement slings give new life to your old outdoor chairs in time for summer.

Instead of replacing the entire chair, the sling itself can be replaced, rendering the chair useful once again. Replacing the sling requires measuring the chair frame first to ensure the new sling fits properly.


Sometimes the old sling material is difficult to remove from the track. Prying it free with a screwdriver helps loosen it. Replacement slings are sold at some patio supply stores and specialty shops.

  1. Measure the width of the chair by stretching a tape measure from the center of one side rail to the center of the other, across the back or seat of the chair. This ensures the new chair sling is the proper width.

  2. Measure the length of the chair frame to determine the right size for the new sling. Place a cloth tape measure at the top of one chair rail at the highest point of the sling, traveling downward along the rail and following the shape of the chair along the seat to the bottom of the sling. Measuring the side rail rather than the sling material ensures an accurate sizing for the new sling, because the old sling may have stretched beyond its original size. Purchase a new sling based on the chair measurements.

  3. Pry the plastic end caps off of the top and bottom of each sling side rail using a utility knife, putty knife or flat-tipped screwdriver. Take care not to crack the caps, because exact replacements may not be available.

  4. Slice the old sling vertically with a utility knife to make it easier to remove from the frame. Slide the old sling material out of the side rail tracks on each side. It may take a bit of prying and wiggling of the sling to get it out.

  5. Loosen the nuts on the sides of the frame so the spreader bars spanning the frame, used to support the sling, come out more easily. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the nuts. Wiggle the spreader bars out by hand.

  6. Place the plastic splines that came with the sling in through the pockets on both sides of the new sling material. In some cases, the splines may already be installed. The splines may be longer than the sling; leave them this way for now.

  7. Remove one of the side rails that house the sling track by removing all bolts and nuts with an adjustable wrench.

  8. Slide the new sling material through the sling track still on the chair frame by pushing the side edge containing the plastic spline up through the track, being sure the top of the fabric faces up. A care tag or label is often on the back side. Continue until you reach the top of the track.

  9. Slide the removed side rail over the other side of the chair sling, keeping the rail aligned in the same way as the other side to ensure the chair goes back together properly.

  10. Hold the loose side rail along the chair frame until the holes line up with the frame holes. Replace the bolts and nuts, and tighten the bottom set completely with the wrench.

  11. Tug upward on the sling fabric to remove any wrinkles and to ensure both sides are evenly aligned. Tighten the remaining nuts once the sling is taut and even.

  12. Flip the chair upside down onto a blanket or the lawn to avoid scratching the frame. Replace the spreader bar by wiggling it into place. A spreader tool or pipe clamp pressing the sides of the chair frame outward may be necessary to help provide the space you need to press the bar back into place.

  13. Trim any plastic spline material sticking out from the sling, using wire cutters. Press the end caps back into the side rails.