How to Restring an Acapulco Chair

The Backstory On Our Acapulco Chairs

We have two Acapulco chairs, classic mid-century modern outdoor furniture originally made in Mexico in the 1950's, which are perfect for patio or poolside lounging. Our chairs started to fizzle out this year after three years in the crazy California heat, so instead of buying new ones we decided to find some fresh vinyl cord and give it a go.

The two chairs we had were different: The black frame chair was an original we bought from an Eichler neighbor, who had already had the chair rewrapped; the white frame chair was a knockoff from a local discount outlet, which was noticeably inferior in comfort and restoration effort.

Let's Begin Restringing Our Acapulco Chairs

I cut the old cordage off the frames using utility shears and cracked open a Pacifico in the spirit of this project ;) 

Replacement Acapulco Chair Cordage

I purchased the PVC vinyl cordage via Etsy from InnitDesigns, a company based in Canada. I reached out the vendor with pictures of my chairs and they recommended two bundles of 135' 0.2" cord. All in for two chairs, four rolls plus shipping, ran us $84.

 The fresh vinyl cordage was soft like taffy.

The fresh vinyl cordage was soft like taffy.

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I found that the key to a good wrap is keeping the cordage evenly distributed on the outside frame, while keeping the ratio just right to keep the strands perfectly even on the inside hole.

 The cordage should wind evenly around the center ring.

The cordage should wind evenly around the center ring.

The number of winds in between runs to the center ring will change anywhere from seven to twelve. You need to eyeball it to see that the cord runs straight out to the outside frame. I didn't find a good way to calculate it precisely, especially my first time. You cannot just tell yourself 'seven wraps between runs'.

How to Restring/Rewrap an Acapulco Chair: Transitioning Colors

As you finish one color, you take a couple inches of the new cord and wrap the lead against the frame, then cut the cord you are phasing out. The new cord that should be wrapped under the previous cord will be held tightly as you begin to wrap the end of the old cord, keeping it tucked under the metal frame to hide a subtle bulge you'll create.

Time It Takes to Restring/Rewrap an Acapulco Chair

It took about 20 mins to remove the old cord, and about 2 hours to wrap the new cord.

Challenges With Restringing the Knockoff (white frame) Acapulco Chair:

  • It was manufactured using cord about half as thick, and the frame had a center ring about twice as wide, so it allowed for smaller spacing between runs to the center. The new thicker cord I bought wasn't going to fill the center ring evenly and leave enough cord to finish the chair, so I sacrificed a perfectly finished look.
  • The frame had a lot of additional bracing welded around the center ring, so it was impossible to string the cord bundle through the openings to fill the center ring evenly. While removing the old cordage, I noticed that each run to the center ring was a separate piece of cord so the assembly technique was completely different in order to wrap it evenly.
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 This is the remaining cordage left over.

This is the remaining cordage left over.

The only tip I can lend thus far, is using a utility clip to hold the tension which allows you to free up both hands to wrap the cord around. My hands were pretty dry and sore, so I reapplied lotion several times. The best video I found online was the one below. I'm sure I missed a lot of good tips, as a non-Spanish speaker, but it'll give you a the best view of what's going on.

Overall, I believe it was a success, but we'll see how long it holds up with my wrapping job ;)