Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vintage Cosco Stool - Restore?

Cosco step stools are a '50s kitchen requisite. This one belonged to my Great-Grandmother who lived in a 1930s Craftsman-style house with a 1950s kitchen. Although she lived in the city, she had chickens in her backyard, which we would eat when we visited her house. It was years before I realized that the chickens in the backyard were the same ones on my plate. I was very upset when I found out.
I can remember sitting on this stool in my Grandma's kitchen while eating fried chicken. I was very young at the time and liked sitting on the stool because it made me taller. My brother and I used to fight over sitting on it and we had to take turns.
It has beed used a lot and it really shows. A lot of the paint has worn off the back of the seat.
The vinyl on the seat is beginning to split. 
The chrome legs are rusty and there are paint splatters on the red metal parts. The rubber on one of the steps has cracked and broken off and one of the rubber feet has cracked. There is a defect to nearly every area of the step stool. It's in pretty rough shape, but still very functional. It's a very helpful item to have in the kitchen, especially when you're short, like me. 
I'm wondering if I should try to restore this step stool, or if I should leave it just as it is. I saw a vintage aqua Cosco stool at the flea market recently and it was beautiful. It was in like-new condition. It made me think about the potential this one has to look shiny and new. 
Of course, if I were to change the color to turquoise it would match my turquoise kitchen. 
Has anyone out there ever attempted to fix up an old Cosco stool?

32 comments:

1950's_atomic_ranch_house said...

I have a curbside freebie Cosco step stool just like this that needs restoration. But I have yet to do mine!

Jamie said...

I like it as is.

the chickens' auntie said...

I brought home one in much worse shape, all rusty & unuseable, from my mother-in-law's house and I'm planning to restore it. I think if hers looked as good as yours I'd leave it as-is (maybe clean up the legs a little). If you change it too much, it won't seem like your grandma's stool, will it? BTW, my kitchen is aqua, too, with LOTS of red accents!

Kitty said...

It'd look great in turquoise, but would be a bugger of a job. personally I'd probably do it as it obviously has great sentimental value to you.

Space Commander said...

I got a rusted eyesore for cheap at a fleamarket. The original paint was dark blue. I choose to fully restore it, and repaint it as classic red... because it did look pretty awful!

I would suggest that you might at least try some steel wool with a little elbow grease on the chrome... it's amazing how much it can clean up if it's not pitted deeply. This will also help preserve your step stool from further damage by rust.

MoonDoggie said...

You've just reminded me about my own grandma's step stool. Although it wasn't as cool as this one, I used to enjoy climbing on it.

Can't offer any restoration tips I'm afraid.

Maria Stahl said...

I have taken them apart and redone them before and I would advise against it.

First of all, to change the color or repaint, you'll need to remove the rubber treads, and I have not been able to find anything to replace them with that looks right. They don't come off in one nice neat piece, either. Besides, you're missing part of them.

Second, the vinyl is really in excellent shape! A little split like that is no big deal. If it's really annoying you, get some red vinyl tape and put just enough on to hold the split from getting longer. It'll show, though, so don't go crazy.

And like Space Commander suggested, use fine steel wool on the chrome legs. The rust and plaint splotches will come off nicely. They still sell the rubber chair feet tips at hardware stores; you could replace those without destroying the vintage look.

It's a treasure. :o)

Retro Keith said...

I have the same one! my restore of it involved de-rusting the chrome with 0000 grade steel wool. worked well. for the rubber i just used lots and lots of windex to get paint splatter off of it (mine had paint splatter as well). i used lots of windex on the paint splatter on the other parts as well. Give the windex time to soak into the paint so its easy to get off. sometimes your fingernail does the trick. For the vinyl, I also have small tears, but I would not even attempt to redo it out of fear of ruining everything. I think the small tears and light fading here and there add to the vintage beauty of it. My fear if I completely restored it would be that it would look like the common new ones you can buy at Target. for the cracked rubber feet, you can buy replacements at home depot.

Jennie@Wedgwood Tulsa said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments and tips! I've decided to follow the suggestions to leave the chair as is, but to give it a good cleaning.

vegan.vintagette said...

I love it the way it is!

Traci @ The Bakery said...

NOooOOOOoo, do NOT restore it...it has a story and YOU know it!! I have 5th generation doors in my new home....I did nothing to them because 5 generations of my husband's family has touched them...you can even see smear prints. When you know the story...leave it be. Oh, and where did you find the other step stool....I am needing one more for my bar and I live in Tulsa area... :) I would like a yellow or blue one.

Jennie@Wedgwood Tulsa said...

Traci,

The turquoise step stool was at the flea market at the fairgrounds. The dealer who had it is there every week, but I don't know how to direct you to him. He is a man who often sings (pretty well, too) and brings his little dog with him. His booth is long and narrow and he has a lot of very nice things that are usually not very cheap. I know I've given you very bizarre directions to finding the step stool.

Traci @ The Bakery said...

Thanks Jennie...I of course didn't get there this weekend...and the county fair is next weekend...sigh. Hopefully I will find one soon...thanks for the info!! Maybe we will see each other there sometime!!

Larry said...

FYI I am in the midst of refurbishing a Cosco stepstool from the late 1940's. No vinyl on my model- just 5 layers of paint, and heavily pitted chrome legs. I looked into chrome replating- over $400 in Phoenix area!!! So, it will have a metallic silver antirust paint.
The step pads- you can easily get rubber or vinyl mat material at a Home Depot, cut to shape, and glue or double-side tape on.

Michelle Burk said...

I just bought a blue one off craigslist for $10! It is missing one of the two side brackets that attach to the step stool and I have no clue it I could replace it! A little elbow grease, steel wool, and paint thinner for the vinyl and hopefully it will clean up well! I have always one of these in my kitchen!

mlaiuppa said...

I'm doing one now and I've done one before.

My neighbor gave me what probably was a Cosco kitchen chair step stool but the back was gone. It was in bad shape so I sanded and painted the chrome parts matte black and the steps blue and I put blue vinyl on the seat, with new foam padding. I still use it but must retighten the screws periodically. I may replace them and put in lock washers to keep it tight.

I'm doing a stool now that was left in my classroom from a previous teacher. It was missing a screw on the back and a nut for the seat, the seat was missing a chunk of vinyl and foam, the bottom step rubber is missing and the paint is scratched and chipped. I too it completely apart this weekend, repainted it moss green and am putting it back together with green naugahyde. It's thicker but I think I can make it work. It should wear better in the classroom. I picked up new nuts and screws at Home Depot as well as rubber washers to keep it tight when I tighten the screws.

I'd leave yours as is since it has so many memories. If you want a turquoise one to match your kitche, do a search on eBay.

addoctor said...

i have a backless white Cosco step stool . anyone know where to get the rubber treads?

addoctor said...

i am restoring a white backless Cosco step stool. i have one missing black rubber tread. anyone know where i can get a replacement?

JasonB said...

I just restored one my wife found at a estate sale. Her grandmother had one in her kitchen when she was young. We paid ten dollars for it and spent about twenty five on sand blast and paint. We were lucky that the step treads were in near perfect condition. Someone posted that you can get black rubber stair tread at a hardware store and cut them down, great idea!

AZredoRetro said...

Hello, Well I actually buy these stools as well as vintage vanity stools, and I redo them. I sand all the paint spatter off (which they all have), then I repaint any parts that are in need (sometimes changing the color), then I re-upholster them in retro but funky vinyls. I have sold many and have order for some now. I work full time so it is my hobby. I really enjoy doing it. Everyone who has seen them say the same thing .....Oh, my grandma used to have one when I was a kid... ;) I say redo it.....you will love it..

CoscoJean said...

I have refinished several Cosco stools and they look great! The chrome can be polished with a fine grade steelwool (0000) and chrome polish. I usually sandblast and powdercoat the seat and steps. You have to be careful removing the vinyl treads. I use an adhesive remover and a putty knife.

mxp said...

Can you tell me how you re-upholster the vinyl seat? That's the only part on stool that really needs to be replaced.

mxp said...

Hi AZredoRetro,

Can you tell me how to go about re-upholstering the vinyl? I have a cosco stool which is in great shape except for the vinyl, which is completely split.

Thanks

bambrunn said...

I have an aqua stylaire that I am going to restore as a project for my 50th birthday. We're both mid-century modern and I'm probably going to spend a ridiculous amount to do it, but I can't wait to see it bright and shiny and new looking!

Any idea where I can get the same original material that covers the seat and backrest? I don't think it's vinyl but some kind of plastic.

micky.maus.klub said...

I have 5 of these stools. Some I restored, others I kept original. I did take them all apart to clean the chrome however. My first one was a red one I bought on ebay. It was originally blue I found out after taking it apart. The restore was a bad one, couldn't tell by the pics online. So I stripped it all down and redid it in white. Then I found a blue one at a flea market, got it for 15.00, I left that one original, can't match the blue, and I like it as it is. I also have a bright yellow one, I did repaint the yellow as close as I could match, it was pretty rusty and the paint was awful and stained. I then found a beautiful light yellow one in the garbage fall of 2011!! The vinyl was near perfect, the paint was pretty rusted, so I redid that one, taking it apart, cleaning it up, I found a light yellow spray paint. I recently moved, and the kitchen is 1950s with yellow and black tile, the garbage pick stool goes perfect, so it's in the new kitchen! I recently bought a red one on ebay. It is in pretty decent shape, I'm undecided if I want to touch it up with some red spray paint or not. I have a bar in the new house basement, and I am using these as bar stools all in different colors...I love these stools!! As a sentimental value, I would keep your stool original and just clean up the chrome :) good luck! I find these stools addicting to collect in the different colors! LOL! especially fun to use as bar stools in the different colors!

Unknown said...

Im restoring one now. Mine doesnt have chrome legs or padding, but identical in color otherwise. I have it painted and ready foe reassembly.
Chad

Tim Shreve said...

I just got the step stool not the chair it reminded me of my childhood with the chair I paid 10$ from a buddy to have a small project to do plus there handy to have you can buy the chairs reproduction new for 55 to 80 bucks online still cosco making them they won't have the sentimental value if u still have an original but it should make parts not to hard to get well good luck with your projects and share your memories by passing them on with your kids enjoying them like we did

Tim Shreve said...

I just got the step stool not the chair it reminded me of my childhood with the chair I paid 10$ from a buddy to have a small project to do plus there handy to have you can buy the chairs reproduction new for 55 to 80 bucks online still cosco making them they won't have the sentimental value if u still have an original but it should make parts not to hard to get well good luck with your projects and share your memories by passing them on with your kids enjoying them like we did

Tim Shreve said...

I just got the step stool not the chair it reminded me of my childhood with the chair I paid 10$ from a buddy to have a small project to do plus there handy to have you can buy the chairs reproduction new for 55 to 80 bucks online still cosco making them they won't have the sentimental value if u still have an original but it should make parts not to hard to get well good luck with your projects and share your memories by passing them on with your kids enjoying them like we did

Brenda Anderson said...

Mine is all original yellow from my grandmother's kitchen. Still with original rivets holding it together and was in great shape until someone too large tried to use it. Now I have to restore it and try to unbend the bent parts without damage to the chrome. I read some of you use nuts and bolts to replace the rivets. If I can't do this myself, who can? I am in Florida.

Pamela Hammonds said...

I'm restoring one now I found at a tag sale for $5. It's bright yellow. I took it completely apart and used an SOS pad on the chrome and it worked great. The treads are in good shape and I bought 1/2 yard of marine vinyl at JoAnn's identical in color to the original. I spray painted, too, taping off the rubber treads. (Mine were in good shape.) My only dilemma thus far is trying to get the new foam and vinyl on the seat and back. I'm guessing I'll need more than two hands. Going to YouTube now for suggestions ...

Unknown said...

Just found one on the side of the road this afternoon and took it completely apart. Bought some COOL Japanese silver cherry blossom oilcloth on ebay for $14 and have started washing all the pieces. I took pictures, but I am terrified I won't remember how to put it back together. I saw a youtube video about how dropping the nuts and bolts in a small plastic water bottle and covering it with apple cider vinegar for about 10 hrs (shaking occasionally) works wonders at taking off the rust. Wish me luck! I am going to sand it and spray paint it with silver, gray or black paint, depending on which will be the best match for the oilcloth when I get it. (too hard to tell from the picture online). I am going to get a thin foam pad as my husband asked for it to be more cushy than just the batting that was originally in the seat and seat back. I am thrilled!

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