Curbside Vintage Step Stool Makeover

Curbside Vintage Step Stool Makeover

A few years ago, while driving back to work from my lunch break, I spied a very cool but sad looking vintage step stool sitting at the end of someone’s driveway next to their trash.  I passed by, but it didn’t take me long to circle around the block and come back to pick up the stool.  Unfortunately the step stool stayed untouched for at least 4 years.  This time it wasn’t in my garage, I left the sad step stool in the back room of my office. Good thing I’m the only one who goes back there!  I finally decided it was time to show this little vintage step stool some love. Check out this step stool makeover.

Curbside Step Stool MakeoverThe structure of the step stool was in fairly good condition, but COVERED in rust.  In some areas thicker than others.  I thought about using the old school method and hand sanding the stool like Jeff talked about a few weeks ago (Painting Metal Patio Chairs ) but decided if I tried this avenue I would be sanding for a few months.  I also considered using a sand blaster to remove the rust.  And while it is a fast effective method, it is not practical for everyone.  After much thought I finally decided on a 3M sanding disk that attaches to any drill. Let’s get to it shall we?

Step Stool Makeover MATERIALS

– Painter’s Tarp
– Spray Paint (Valspar – Golden House)
– 3M Paint & Rust Stripper Drill Attachment
– Painters Tape
– 1/2 yd of Mariners Fabric
– Decorative Upholstry Tacks
– 3/4″ Plywood
– Flathead Screwdriver
– Pliers (optional)
– Jig Saw
– Hammer
– Drill
– Small Drill Bit (optional)
– Damp Cloth
– Safety Glasses

Step Stool Makeover Instructions:

Wipe down the stool (or whatever you are working on) with a dry cloth to remove any excess dirt or rust that might be chipping.  Also remove the seat and back to your stool if applicable.

Curbside 3M Paint and Rust Stripper Drill Attachment used for Vintage Step Stool MakeoverAttach the 3M Paint & Rust Stripper wheel to your drill.  Start your drill and apply some pressure.  The amount of pressure needed will be determined by the thickness of your rust.  You should be able to tell how much you will need once you get started.  Make sure to have your eye protection on when you start removing the rust.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool MakeoverOnce the rust is removed you can test the smoothness of the metal by running your hand over it gently.  If you find rough spots you can to back and take more of the rust off.  Take a damp rag and wipe all surfaces on the stool including the step treads.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool MakeoverContinue prepping your stool for paint by taping off the treads with painter’s tape.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool MakeoverApply a light coat of paint making sure to avoid any drips that can be caused by over-spraying the chair.  Our stool took two coats to get complete coverage.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool MakeoverWhile your paint is drying, remove the fabric from your seat back.  Use a flat head screw driver to get under the old tacks and pry them up.  I could not find our small flat head so I used our irrigation head adjustment key (sometimes you just have to improvise). Use the pliers to pull the loosened tacks out.

Upholstry 1Prep the fabric by cutting it 1 – 2″ wider than the outside of your seat.  Start upholstering the seat by putting one staple in the center of one side of the board pull the fabric taught and add a staple to the opposite side.  Continue down one side of the seat stopping about 1″ from the corner.  Do the same to the opposite side of the seat.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool MakeoverNow you are ready for the corners!
1. Using your fingers to hold the fabric taut, create an ear like tab and add one staple to each side of the tab.
2.  Hold the end of the tab and pull the tab flat to the back of the board.
3.  Making sure to keep the fabric taut, add 1 – 2 staples to secure the corner.
4.  Cut away excess fabric.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool Makeover

To cover all the staples, cut a piece of fabric roughly 1/2″ smaller than your seat.  Use decorative upholstery tacks every few inches to hold the fabric in place.  Keep in mind where the seat will be attaching back to your stool and make sure to leave adequate spacing for your screws or you will have to remove tacks to be able to re-attach the seat.  If you use mariners fabric, you can leave the raw edge exposed since it won’t fray. Bonus, the fabric is waterproof and very easy to clean.  If you are having trouble getting your tacks to go into the wood with out bending, you can pre-drill your tack holes.  This will save you a lot of headache in the end!

Curbside Vintage Step Stool Makeover

The bottom seat of the step stool was beyond repair and rotted out.  Using the old seat as a template trace around the seat onto a piece of plywood.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool Makeover

Use a Jig Saw to cut the new seat and upholster using the same steps listed above.  When your seat is complete and the paint is dry re-attach your seat.

Curbside Vintage Step Stool MakeoverCan you believe this is the same stool?

Curbside Vintage Step Stool Makeover

The white and yellow really pop!  The 3M paint and rust stripper disks really gave the vintage step stool a new life.  I am still amazed at how smooth the finish came out!


 ~ Learn more about Jacque ~


25 replies
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  1. Karen Funk
    Karen Funk says:

    Not sure if comments are still allowed. I have an old stool like this painted black. I would love to redo it. What would you do about treads that are badly worn? I’m not sure the old ones will even come off to be replaced.

  2. Dede Vaughn
    Dede Vaughn says:

    This is an old tread, but maybe I’ll get some help! 🙂 I aquire my grad mothers chair lIke this a few days ago and as I put it in the back of my suv, I cried like a baby!! It is all metal though. No upholstery. The chair and seat was red and now it’s covered in crackling spray paint. The rest is chrome and it’s fairly rusted, but mostly dotted. You can see more of the chrome than rust. I’d like to restore it to it’s former glory. Can the rust on the chrome be sanded and restored? Can the seat be sandblasted or stripped some how? Where would I find more information to restore this? Where do you find the replacement treads? Those are a lot of questions, but I’d be more than grateful for any information! Thanks in advance!

  3. jet
    jet says:

    Hi, i love this step stool, my grand mother had something like that, only it was made of wood.
    As a child i loved it, and was very interesting of how it could be a seat or a step.
    Awesome and magical, as well yours and how it became after all your work.
    Well done girl;-D

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    pdf says:

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