Over time, the wooden slats on your favorite garden bench can crack, warp, or rot away from exposure to weather and moisture. But replacing the slats is an easy fix to restore your bench and prolong its life. This article covers simple DIY methods and pre-made slat options for hassle-free garden bench slat replacement.
Benefits of Replacing Worn Garden Bench Slats
Instead of discarding a garden bench with damaged slats, replacing just the worn slats offers advantages like:
- Cost savings – Far cheaper than buying a whole new garden bench.
- Preserves the frame – The existing, likely still sturdy, frame and legs can continue being used.
- Quick revitalization – Easy slat swap immediately improves appearance.
- Customization – Choose new wood type or color for custom looks.
- Prolongs lifespan – Your favorite bench can be enjoyed for more years to come.
- Eco-friendly – Avoids waste by salvaging the bench rather than replacing.
- Matches other furniture – Replace with matching wood to coordinate patio set.
With simple DIY slat replacement, you can restore the comfort and charm of your treasured garden bench.
How to Replace Garden Bench Slats
Replacing worn garden bench slats involves just a few easy steps:
Remove old slats
- Take out any screws, nails, or fasteners connecting the slats.
- Pry up the slats gently to avoid damaging the bench frame.
- Remove any remaining nails, staples, or debris with pliers.
Measure and cut new slats
- Measure the dimensions of the old slats. Add 1/4″ extra length to allow trimming.
- Cut replacement slats to size from quality exterior-grade lumber like cedar, redwood, or treated pine.
- Sand and finish new slats as desired if not pre-finished.
Install new slats
- Position slats in place and attach with galvanized screws, nails, or exterior wood glue.
- Drill pilot holes to prevent wood from splitting. Space fasteners every 12-16 inches.
- Trim overhang with a handsaw or circular saw. Sand edges smooth.
- Consider sealing slat ends with water-resistant coating to prevent moisture damage.
With simple DIY woodworking skills, you can swap out worn garden bench slats for fresh new ones in just an afternoon.
Purchasing Replacement Garden Bench Slats
For convenience, pre-made replacement slats for garden benches are available:
- Cedar slats – Sold by home improvement stores or online in common widths like 1×4, 5/4×4, etc.
- Plastic slats – PVC and HDPE plastic lumber provides a low maintenance option.
- Iron slats – Wrought iron slats offer decorative garden bench upgrade.
- Recycled slats – Some companies sell slats made from recycled plastic bags.
- Custom slats – Can be ordered pre-cut to your exact specifications.
When purchasing replacement slats, bring an old slat to match the dimensions and thickness. Cedar and recycled plastic are good eco-friendly options.
DIY Garden Bench Slat Ideas
For custom or more eco-friendly slats, consider these DIY ideas:
- Salvaged wood – Use old fencing, siding, barn wood, etc. Just ensure it’s exterior grade.
- Tree branches – Flatten and smooth branches from trees like oak or maple.
- Scrap hardwood – Glue together scrap pieces of exterior lumber for free slats.
- Pallet wood – Pry off clean, straight pallet boards and sand smooth.
- Repurposed oars – Old wooden oars or paddles make charming slats.
- Bamboo – Cut bamboo poles to size for a natural look. Seal ends to prevent splitting.
With creativity, you can recycle old wood into custom, rustic replacement slats that complement your garden.
How to Measure Garden Bench Slats
To replace slats, you’ll need to measure the existing ones accurately:
- Length – Measure from end to end. Round up to the nearest 1/4 inch.
- Width – Width is typically 3-5 inches. Measure at the widest point.
- Thickness – Use a caliper to precisely measure thickness in inches.
- Quantity – Count the total number of slats needed.
- Spacing – Note the gap spacing between each slat. Replicate this in new slats.
Also inspect the frame support under the slats and check for an end brace or center support to rest new slats on. Recreate the same support structure.
Tips for Installing Replacement Slats
Follow these tips for smooth slat installation:
- Pre-drill holes in slats to prevent splitting, using a bit slightly smaller than screw diameter.
- Use exterior wood glue for extra adhesion and water resistance at slat joints.
- Space screws or nails every 12-16 inches for secure attachment. Stagger placement.
- Use galvanized or stainless steel fasteners rated for outdoor use.
- Maintain a consistent gap between 1/4 – 1/2 inch for proper drainage and airflow.
- Sand and finish replacement slats prior to installation for easier access.
- Check for level placement across all slats and make any adjustments.
Taking the time to properly install replacement slats ensures your garden bench remains solid and level for years of continued enjoyment.
Protecting and Maintaining New Slats
To maximize the longevity of new garden bench slats:
- Apply exterior wood finish or sealer annually. This protects from moisture and UV damage.
- Consider metal end caps or other edge treatments to prevent water wicking up slat ends.
- Keep slats free of debris and standing water which promotes rot.
- Let wood dry out between rains or cover bench to minimize moisture exposure.
- Inspect slats periodically for any new cracks and address promptly.
- Replace slats again in 5-10 years depending on wood type before major rot develops.
Proper maintenance preserves your investment in new slats and extends your garden bench’s usable lifespan.
Replacing worn garden bench slats is an easy woodworking project that breathes fresh life into treasured outdoor
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