Often, pool furniture that needs a new paint job is clearly in need of refinishing, because the old finish is chipped, peeling or flaking off. Sometimes, a finish is failing but it is not so obvious. When an association considers replacing the vinyl straps and the glides, they should also test the finish for good integrity. If the finish looks good, but is several years old, simply rub your hand briskly along the exposed metal in several places. If your hand comes back clean, the finish is probably okay for several more years. If a powdery material -- the color of the finish -- comes off on your hands, it is "chalking" and is a sure sign that the finish is failing. The finish may not last as long as new vinyl straps will last, thus re-strapping may not be a viable option.
Once an association determines that they need to refinish the furniture as opposed to simply re-strapping and re-gliding it, they should pay close attention to the following details. Are modern safety features present in the existing chaise lounges? If not, you should strongly consider replacing their chaises to protect the community and visitors from injury, and to protect your association from liability concerns. If your furniture has good safety features, construction and quality, then it may be worthwhile to refinish it. The difference between stripping and repairing a frame versus the cost of a new one is not large. The finishing and strapping procedures and costs are generally the same.
Paper Cutter pinch point
First, look at the frames for the following details: Is there a space of at least three-quarters of an inch between the headrest and the frame of the chaise? If not, it may have a pinch point that could cause serious injuries, including crushed and severed fingers. We call this a "paper cutter." The injury occurs when a person is attempting to adjust the position of the chaise while they are laying on it. They reach awkwardly behind themselves, trying to move the headrest into a different position. They can't see their hands, the ratchet teeth or the back rail. Sometimes they miss the back rail, lose their balance and fall back. One injury that can occur is a whiplash or back injury. They may grab the side of the chaise trying to stop their fall, and get their fingers caught between the headrest and the body. If the headrest is right next to the body and their fingers get caught there, it is very possible to crush or sever them. If a chaise has arms, the arms act as a safety feature, because they tend to keep one’s extremities out of that pinch point. Another injury may occur if a person gets their fingers caught between the ratchet teeth and the back rail of the frame and falls back. If the ratchets are broken plastic or thin and sharp aluminum, nasty cuts, fractures or severed fingers may result.
Modern safety features
- A "safety space" of at least three-quarters inch between the headrest and the body.
- A "safety rail," where the side of the chaise does not run straight along the headrest, but is bent away, providing one to two inches extra clearance for the fingers.
All-aluminum ratchet teeth should be a minimum of three-sixteenths inch to one-quarter inch wide, so there is not a thin, sharp edge.
Cushioning on the back rail of the chaise where the ratchet teeth connect to the frame should have a ratchet guard, so there is not metal-on-metal. Sturdy hardware at the moving parts, preferably one-quarter inch stainless steel bolts and stainless steel lock nuts, that keeps the headrest in proper position and allow only up and down motion. Rivets may bend with repeated use, allowing the headrest to wobble from side to side, ultimate resulting in breakage and potential injuries.
The spacer is an aluminum bushing that separates the headrest from the body, and should be at least three-quarters inch wide.
Rivets that attach headrests to the frame may bend, causing damage to the frame and potential for injuries. This may allow the headrest to wobble from side-to-side, with potential for frames and/or headrests to break, potentially causing injuries. One-quarter inch stainless steel bolts do not bend, and are much stronger.
If your chaise lounges are missing these safety features, then it is worthy of serious consideration to replace them with new chaises that have them.
Damage from dragging
Look underneath the chaises for damage due to dragging. Those with sled-base construction and with commercial grade skids or wear plates are designed for dragging, and likely will show little or no damage. Chaises with legs or sled-base chaises that came with little nylon glides will likely have substantial damage if the glides were worn out long ago and never replaced. Refinishers can often weld aluminum skid plates to the bottoms of sled-base chaises after the fact and repair substantial dragging damage, but this increases the refinishing cost substantially, and often is so badly worn it cannot be properly repaired.
Check all the welds
Examine all the welds, looking for cracks or breaks. On chaises, pay close attention to the side support braces and frames where people sit down. On chairs, check the braces and joints that connect the seat and back to the frame. Minor welding and repair is generally included in refinishing costs, but if there are a lot of repairs, extra charges may become substantial.
Keep in mind, not all broken welds are visible through the old finish of the furniture. There may be hairline cracks hidden under the finish, which are not visible until the frame has been stripped.
Refinishers should strip and sandblast the frames first, then look for all cracks and breaks, THEN re-weld them with full circumference welds. This may result in additional "concealed damage" charges for repairs that were not visible at the time the furniture was quoted for repair and refinishing.
Commercial grade bracing
On all pieces, check the cross braces. Commercial grade sled-base chaises have at least two cross braces under the body, and two side supports on each side. This design provides maximum support where people sit down, with their weight in a concentrated area, which is the greatest stress point on the chaise.
Chaise lounges should have two side support braces (or “side pins”) on each side – total of four – and two chaise cross braces under the body. This keeps the frame from bending, distorting and breaking with heavy use. It is a common practice to have only one cross brace under the body, and to have only one big side pin or two little ones holding the sled base at the proper distance from the body. Quarter inch side pins are common, and are too small for commercial use. They will break. Having only one body brace is common, and will cause distortion of the frame. There should be one under-body cross brace between the two side pins in the middle of the body where people sit, and another one halfway down towards the foot of the chaise.
The two side support braces on each side should be at least one-half inch round minimum. Many factories today use three-quarter inch round side supports, which are much stronger. We sometimes use three quarter inch round side pins, which are more durable, but which also disrupt the flow of the straps. Straps are typically spaced about one half inch apart. One half inch side support braces are Industry Standard, and do not disrupt the spacing of the straps. A lot of older chaises were sold, and sometimes continue to be sold with one-quarter inch round side supports, and these often crack and break in even moderate commercial use. Chaises with only one body brace, with only one side support on either side (two total), or chaises with one quarter inch round side supports are considered to be of residential rather than commercial quality.
Dining chairs should have a cross brace at the bottom of the back legs, as well as the cross braces that hold the seat and back to the frame. We also incorporate an extra cross brace under the seat, to keep the seat side rails from bending or breaking with hard use.
Powder coat finishes
In new furniture, the completed raw aluminum frames are lightly etched with a sandblaster. Smooth silver aluminum tubing becomes rough and gray, which is the best metal preparation for commercial grade adhesion and durability. Then the powder coat finish is electrostatically appliedand is baked on at the appropriate temperatures and optimal curing times. These temperatures and curing times vary with different finishes, so it takes an experienced professional to determine the proper times, temperatures, and techniques to use. Most of the powder coat finishes used today are dried and powdered automotive grade polyester paint, with various additives for color, texture and durability.
Sometimes new furniture is acid etched with a primer coat afterwards, which is not as durable as sandblasting and cannot be used for refinishing.
Sandblasting off the old finish
In refinishing, typically, the old finish is sandblasted off completely, no out-gassing is required, and the new powder coat finish is electrostatically applied as with new furniture, after checking all the welds for cracks and thoroughly re-welding each and every one of them. The frames and hardware are checked for good integrity.
If the existing finish is a powder coat finish, with very good integrity and if you are not doing a major color change, then it is sometimes appropriate to thoroughly sand down or lightly etch the existing finish with a sandblaster and then recoat a new finish over it. For best results, the sanded frame should be run through the powder coat oven and be "out-gassed" before the new finish is applied. Running the frame through the oven bakes out any residual moisture and gasses in the old finish. After out-gassing, the frame is powder coated and run through the oven again. This double baking process in a high quality oven system results in an excellent, durable and affordable new finish. The new finish may well be as good as or more likely better than the original finish at significantly less cost than traditional stripping methods.
If the existing finish is liquid based, is peeling and flaking off or if there is substantial salt air corrosion under it, then the existing finish must be removed completely and the frame must be sandblasted especially well prior to recoating. In the case of significant salt air corrosion, the frame definitely must be out-gassed also.
Keep in mind that “Cast” aluminum is very porous, and does not hold a finish well in salt air environments. It too must be out-gassed every time it is refinished.
Every time a piece of furniture is sandblasted, a mil or more of metal is removed from the frame. After being sandblasted about three to five times, heavy gauge frames have likely been converted to light gauge tubing, and need to be replaced.
The association should always shop around for new commercial grade furniture and refinishing options, because it often costs about as much to refinish furniture as it does to purchase new furniture, depending on the resources utilized. Generally, associations will have half of their furniture refinished at a time, so that they may keep half of it onsite to use. This doubles the shipping charges, and the amount of time it takes to complete the job.
Benefits of refinishing existing furniture
There may be a substantial saving of funds, which is worthwhile if the existing furniture is high quality, has good bracing and safety features, and is in good condition overall.
In Florida, we will gladly take away your old ALUMINUM furniture (not steel or plastic) at no charge when we deliver your new furniture.
Benefits of purchasing new furniture
- The ability to upgrade to modern new Commercial grade furniture with better safety features.
- Factory new furniture warranties and no worries for many years.
- The association can use all their existing furniture until the new furniture arrives in one shipment, which is very convenient.
- They may be able to sell some of the old furniture and recoup some of the difference in costs, or donate it to a charitable organization for a tax deduction. For the best recycle value, the frames have to be stripped to aluminum only, with all straps, hardware -- unless aluminum rivets -- and glides removed. This process is labor intensive, but results in two to three times more recycle value than recycling it "as is."
- The new furniture job is done in half the time or less than the same job being refinished in two loads.
Look carefully at all the options for re-strapping and refinishing versus purchasing new furniture. Focusing on safety features will result in wise decisions as well as good looking and functional furniture, happy residents and fewer worries.
The decision to purchase new pool and patio furniture or refinish your old furniture can be a difficult decision. The team at American Park Furniture can help you weight your options and guide your through either process. Use the below contact form to submit your questions and our team of experts will contact you to follow up.
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