Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Is It About Wicker?

Wicker! It's been around since the ancient Egyptians and it has come a really long way in more ways than one. There was a time not so long ago that wicker was in danger of trending so far down the list of appropriate patio furniture material that it was close to going away for good! This type of furniture, while beautiful in a natural way, also had this tendency to succumb to the elements quickly, becoming moldy at the drop of a hat, providing a natural habitat for every bug imaginable and fading from the sun. 

Like this one:


And then we invented plastic--but fake wicker looked really fake when it was made of early plastic (plus you'd stick to it like nobody's business and then you'd have a criss-cross pattern on your legs once you got un-stuck). If you didn't sit on it or look too closely at it, it was beautiful! Fortunately for us all, progress marches on--modern science has come to the rescue and saved us all from losing out on this beautiful, ancient art-form-as-furniture, by creating "synthetic wicker" which looks and feels like the real thing, but will last a long time. 

If you're really a purist, keep in mind that due to other scientific advancements in resin coatings, varnish and the like, you can still get the real thing with a good, protective coating on it. But you'll pay dearly for it if you can even find it--and if you do, know that it requires a little more TLC, even with a good coating,  in terms of upkeep.
Just because it looks like all wicker doesn't mean it is. Underneath the weave and cushions, you're likely to find a metal frame (probably aluminum). This is a good thing, since not only does it reinforce your furniture, the ability to incorporate metal into a natural wicker weave allows for the crafting of things you used to not be able to get in wicker (gliders, serving carts or bar stools, to name a few). Best of all, however, modern wicker is fairly maintenance-free--you can hose it down easily and let it air-dry and it'll look as good as new, since it's treated for the elements as part of its outside coating (and that includes sun-fading!). Another great advantage is that if you scratch or chip your piece, the color is embedded all the way through the material, so you won't see "chips" where color has fallen away.

Our favorite thing about wicker, though? It looks great, no matter where you live--whether in the countryside or in the city....

 The multitude of styles that modern technology has allowed us to apply to wicker means you are sure to find a piece that pleases you, even if you're incredibly picky. So when you start looking for new furniture for next season (or if you're still out and about finding year-end deals this year), keep wicker in mind. Remember, too, that we have a large variety of replacement cushions specifically for various lines of wicker furniture, including a special series of Erwin & Sons replacement cushions. We can help you spruce up your current wicker with some fabulous colors and comfortable seating!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Style Ideas for Your Outdoor Patio Living Space

When you know what you like, sometimes it's hard to "settle" for something else or buck the trends that everyone else seems to be getting into. Nowhere is that more true than with furnishing and decorating, especially for the outdoors. While it might be fun to be "trendy", it's often better to shoot for simplicity. The Next Big Thing often ends up being a bust within a very short time, and now your space looks "dated". And after spending a lot on high-end furniture, who wants that?

It is with this in mind that we take a look at some classic design motifs, which are elegant and timeless. These are the kinds of designs that an update to cushions or pillows or draperies can change an entire look, allowing you flexibility and creativity for different times of the year.

Outdoor English Garden:

If you want to do it like the Brits do it, you will bless your space with an overabundance of flowers and other greenery, to enhance the decor of an older-style or historic home.  For this design, you would probably want to utilize furniture in teaks or other hardwoods, in keeping with the traditional gardens of old. Your cushions and pillows might be made of gingham material or prints (though you need to be careful not to have an array of flowered fabric competing too much with the real things). So best to look for timeless solids for large cushions, and accent pillows of florals or other light prints.

Modern Contemporary

Contemporary often is used as a catch-all term for "anything that doesn't have its own look", but true contemporary is a mixture of influences, new technologies, and trends (there's that word again!). One can "blend" different styles as long as one keeps it simple. This look is generally bereft of clutter, is understated yet elegant, and is not overwhelmed with multiple colors. Straight lines in metal or aluminum--or if you like wood and don't mind spending a lot, you can find a lot of teak furniture that is considered "contemporary design". Great accents to a basic sofa or patio chairs or chaises might be a bold-patterned throw rug or unique tile or decking, or some wall art which matches the general color scheme. Voila! Instant modern...


 A personal favorite where we are (Texas), this style evokes the world of old, utilizing warm colors and traditional furniture. Much of the design is very basic, made of metal or wood (which gives you a broad selection of aluminums, teaks, or wickers). Tiling is an excellent way to create the feel--underneath a basic outdoor sofa or chairs, this can be used to capture the atmosphere as strongly as furniture and color schemes. The colors are also traditional--ivories, rust, apricots, creams, accented with degrees of blues and greens (turquoise being a particular favorite). But you can do so much with this--a simple change of pillows or planters can make all the difference.


 Last but not least:


Clean, simple, elegant and tranquil--if you have a smaller space and imagination, you can make a lot out of a little. The wonderful thing about this decor is that your furniture can be contemporary or old-fashioned--it's almost more about the accessories than the furniture, which allows for a lot of creativity and flexibility. Below, the decorator used the underneath side of a deck, and built around that, using hanging lantern fixtures and the wood decor to enhance a feeling of peacefulness and openness.

The greatest part of all is that we have so many colors and fabrics to choose from, you're sure to find a pattern or color to inspire you. Visit our fabric pages to take a look--you can order the fabric to make your own, or you can send us measurements and we can customize some cushions especially for you. The sky is the limit!

Till next time...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Meanwhile, Back in the Land of New Fabrics...

We will see some fine new colors and patterns for next season! The 2014 colors are arriving in droves, and they're beautiful!! We have a bounty of Sunbrella outdoor fabrics, along with some kicky Premier colors--these are too pretty to keep to ourselves!

These will be available for ordering as soon as we can get them in by the bolt! We will definitely let you know when that happens. In the meantime, enjoy :)

Printed polyesters from Premier Fabrics will make great outdoor pillows and seat pads!

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

Sunbrella 2014

But Can We Fix It?

Having done this sort of thing for over 20 years now, there are days when patio furniture repair tasks can be a wee bit predictable--particularly at the end of the season, when we get our weekends back! This is the time I take a look around my own backyard, both to think about my furnishing/designing goals for next season, as well as to assess what might need fixing after this past summer's activities.

When doing the latter the other day, I noticed one of our older sling-chaise lounges had the sling torn up. As I went to grab my measuring tape, I had an awful thought:

Isn't this the chair that I really can't fix myself?

Whereupon I reached for my trusty Chair Care Patio Furniture Repair Replacement Sling FAQ. Sure enough, there it was: The Welded Stabilizer Bar!

Ugh. Yes, I have that. Allow me to share the following, because it'll save you hours of trying to measure something you're ultimately going to need additional professional help with:

Are there sling chairs that are too hard for the do-it-yourself fixer to fix?
While the majority of replacement slings can be installed by the customer, there are a couple that we strongly recommend you NOT try to install.

Some chairs and chaise lounges have welded stabilizer bars at the back of the frame that give the chair back strength. The stabilizer bar cannot be removed, making the installation and correct fit of the sling very difficult. We highly recommend that you not attempt such installations at home.

Chair Care Patio only makes sling for patio chairs and chaises where the opening of the sling rail is positioned at the front of the chair. Occasionally you will see sling furniture where the sling wraps around the side or to the back of the frame. These slings are very difficult to install for the homeowner. And, our measuring formula does NOT WORK for this style of chair. This furniture also has welded stabilizer bars at the back making EXTRA DIFFICULT to install. Please do not order slings for this style of furniture from our website. They will not fit and you will NOT be able to get them installed. It takes a professional installer to complete this project.
Please inspect the construction of your patio sling chair or chaise lounge prior to ordering. Here is an example of a chair with the sling rail opening to the side and not the front.

If you find yourself with this dilemma, or have questions about it, please drop us an email at [email protected]. We're happy to provide clarity on this. We want to be absolutely up-front with our customers--we don't want you to order slings you can't use and can't return because they aren't installable as a DIY project by anyone other than the pros. 

Meanwhile, my torn-up chaise lounge will have to wait until I can get 'er into the shop for repairs. I do so love, though, that these types of chairs are not so common (naturally, I have a set of four, so grateful that only one needs fixing :)) Hmmm. I see that webbed aluminum chair that I've been putting off the re-webbing on is still waiting for me to fix it. That should keep me busy for a few days. In fact, I can even get the webbing on sale!

Until next time! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Patio Furniture: What Makes It "High-Quality Furniture"?

Is buying up patio furniture after Labor Day the smart way to shop? It sure looks that way, as we've been seeing lots of great ads and sales for "outdoor furniture clearance sales". It makes sense, too; the bulk of summertime activity is over and done, the kids are back in school and now there's some time to sit back and plan ahead for next year. So now's the time, really, to be checking around for deals. 

But what is "high-quality" when it comes to actual construction and makeup of such patio furniture? Do you get what you pay for, even when it's on sale? How do you know if "high-quality" is what you're really getting? We get asked this a lot, and this is as good a time as any to try and provide an answer.

First and foremost, understand that "high quality" does not always equal "spending big bucks!" If you're looking for furniture that you won't use a lot, and you figure to replace it altogether every few years, you would probably do well to stick with casual low- to mid-price individual patio pieces or outdoor sets. You can find these at just about every major retailer. Lowe's, Target and K-Mart all feature a wide variety of such furniture, at some really great season-ending prices (last year, K-Mart kicked everyone's butt by marking outdoor furniture down up to 90%, so watch those ads, both in print and online). If you're looking to spend a little more but still don't want to spend as much as you might on interior furniture, Ikea is ideal, as are many department stores which still actually carry furniture onsite (some, like Sears and JC Penney, encourage shopping online and scheduling in-store pickup, so may not always have a big selection in the actual store). You should just understand that neither option typically generates furniture where the materials are of the highest-quality or workmanship. That doesn't mean they're "bad". What it tends to mean is that they often won't last for more than a few seasons.

Your high-end sets and long-term purchases of patio furniture can be found primarily with independent retailers, and can also sometimes be ordered from online warehouses. There are also parts of the country where you can find outlets (North Carolina is a big destination for all kinds of furniture, not just the outdoor variety). This is the kind of purchase that you really want to shop carefully for--check with several sources before making your decision. Depending on your needs, you can easily spend upwards of $5000-6000.00 (that's not a typo, really!), so you definitely want to be prepared before you walk into a store and a salesperson zeroes in on you. 

Typically, you can find better prices on whole sets than on individual pieces--this is true for any price level of furniture. Below, we offer some general info on what to look for.


Whether you're going high-end or you're on a tight budget, there are some basics for choosing patio furniture. Your biggest review should encompass the frame of any given piece. This is the foundation on which everything else sits (literally) and, particularly if you are spending a lot, look for quality workmanship. Stay away from flimsy aluminum frames that someone slapped a couple coats of paint on--this will chip and peel quickly, and before you know it, corrosion will be all through it and it will be ready for the junk pile. Look instead for high-strength, powder-coated aluminum. This costs more, but it's worth the investment--and when taken care of, this type of furniture frame can easily last for well over a decade, if not longer. 

An alternative to powder-coated aluminum or steel is today's varieties of "rattan". It's not what it used to be either--the best looking, sturdiest rattan is now a product of the laboratory (as opposed to nature). Advances in molded polyethylene (PE) material allow for the creation of a furniture frame that looks like rattan, but isn't. It holds up under typical outdoor weathering, won't stick to you on a hot day, and the color stays original a lot longer. This material is now the rattan of choice when it comes to producing high-end outdoor patio furniture. It's not all molded, either--the best PE rattan can still be hand-woven attached to a frame and it looks fabulous! Depending on the maker, it's usually lest costly than powder-coated frames, but that's not always true. Still, you can be sure this type of material is in it for the long haul.

If "price" was the sole arbiter of "good vs. not-so-good", you may sometimes be disappointed with the quality of some of the cushions being turned out for "luxury patio furniture", after the maker impressed the heck out of you with that high-end lifetime warranty and workmanship of the frame. And we're talking about the original cushions which ship with the units, not replacement cushions custom-made for luxury furniture. We've heard that more than once, too, particularly from customers who have us replace their worn cushions with ones we customize for them. We heartily recommend (and use) high-density foam padding and superior outdoor fabrics made to resist fading and stains, such as olefin or Sunbrella® outdoor fabric (would we lie to you? We have what seems like an entire rainbow's worth of colors in these types of fabric, stuffed to the max with high-density padding!)

Choosing luxury outdoor patio furniture doesn't have to mean choosing between beauty and brawn. With just a little upfront attention to details like the frame, rattan, and cushions, you can have it all – for years to come. Want to know more about luxury outdoor furniture that lasts? Check us out next time--we'll review some top brands for you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cleaning Up and Getting Ready for the End of the Season!

We hate to see summer end around here, just on general principle. It means...kids going back to school, it means cooler weather, and it means "clean up and put away the patio furniture".

Yes, "clean up"! If you spent a small fortune on your outdoor living space, you definitely want to maintain it and take good care of it! Plus, if you have your lawn chemically-treated regularly, all that spray stuff settles eventually--and if your furniture is anywhere in the general vicinity, it's going to settle on it, too. While those chemicals are "safe" to be around, over time, they can also dull your furniture frames and discolor the cushions or slings.  So a good "furniture wash" is really important, at least once or twice a year. That might sound daunting, but the nice thing about patio furniture is that it tends not to be a problem if you get it all wet. So that fall cleanup will probably not be as tough as you think (unless you have a lot of furniture). Still, it helps to have some tips and tricks under your belt before you get started, so today's topic is "Cleaning-Up Patio Furniture--The Basics".

Keep in mind, first and foremost, that you can't do this cleanup "quick and easy" with a power washer. While materials like wrought-iron would seem to be easier to clean that way, you don't want to do that unless you don't mind losing a lot of paint off the frames! Similarly with most cushion and sling fabrics--a power washer can tear holes or runs into the fabric. Some wickers can be cleaned with power washers, (particularly if you're actually trying to get the paint off an older set), but you have to be really careful not to get the wicker too soaked through with water. It'll look like it's starting to fray afterward, and when it dries, it may feel like you're sitting on a porcupine.

Your big car-wash sponge is actually perfect for this chore, but in a pinch, an older hairbrush or another brush with soft bristles works great, too. You really only need that, a bucket and/or a hose, and some gentle dish soap or laundry soap. A word about soaps--if you've got the scented kind of dish or laundry soap, and it smells like flowers or otherwise perfume-y? Use something different, or every bee on your property will start hovering around and interfering with your work! The "free of additives" soaps are your best bet there. There are patio furniture cleaners, but those tend to be good only for your plastics (plus they're usually more expensive).

Before you start wetting-down and scrubbing, take a look at the seats and at the underneath side of your cushions first (particularly if you forgot to flip them at least once this year). If you see pollen or dirt or pine needles, and you have an outdoor vac, use that to suck up the "big stuff" before you break out the soap and water.

Most cushion and sling fabric dries quickly, of course. So you don't want to soap up a large area or multiple pieces at a time, as the soap can dry on the furniture, making it dull. Do them one or two pieces at a time--wash, rinse, repeat. If you've got some really stubborn stains, soap them up and let them soak, then rinse, wash again, and then a final rinse. For mold or mildew removal, it depends on the type of furniture--outdoor bleach can be used (Clorox makes one), but you want to be careful of your cushion fabrics! For plastics (and particularly on the underneath sides of some patio umbrellas), though, this is the ticket! Mix some of it into your water and watch the green crud disappear!

If you have metal (ex: aluminum) in your chairs or chaises, did you know you could use car wax to clean those parts up? You would use it just like you would on your car--apply it, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it down. It really does a nice job of shining it up, plus the next time the furniture gets wet, the water will bead right off!

Once everything is all nice and clean and dry, you want to put the furniture away if possible. If you don't have an inside space for it, there are a number of options for outside storage. Deck boxes are very handy for this purpose--you can store your cushions and umbrellas in those. You can also get some really good outdoor furniture covers (and we have these in an array of sizes, styles and prices here).

All in all, a little TLC for your outdoor patio furniture at the end of each season will make next spring's patio setup--when you pull it all out again--easy-peasy! Plus, taking good care to clean up your furniture regularly will enhance it and keep it looking beautiful for years to come. Happy scrubbing!  :)   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How We Make Replacement Slings

Each season,
Chair Care Patio makes approximately 30,000 replacement slings for its customers both wholesale and retail. That's a LOT of outdoor fabric! W
e thought you might find it interesting to see all the serious coordination inherent in keeping the process moving along--from initial order placement to delivery, there's never a dull moment around here.

Because we were the first on the Internet to offer custom-made replacement slings (over 20 years ago!), we have been able to refine the order and production processes to accommodate our volume. And at the same time, we've been able to document the basics so that you can take the final product and actually use it with a minimum of fuss. None of this has happened without goofs, headaches or bumps in the road, but we've definitely learned what works and what doesn't! With that in mind, grab your favorite beverage and a notebook--we're going to take a tour of the process from start to finish!

First things first, though--the First Step starts with you! We blogged last week about "how to measure for replacement slings", and we also have a handy-dandy guide right on our website on how to do that (so rather than repeat in this entry, when you're ready, simply click on the highlighted text link here, which will take you to this part of our website and then click on the first entry, "How To Measure Patio Chair Slings". Or, click this link for our blog version). 

We can't stress enough about how important this is--for you to be happy with the end result, understand that it is:


One other point on measuring, and then we'll move on with our tour--when taking your measurements, do not--DO NOT--measure the old sling! The old sling is torn, stretched and baggy. Measuring the old sling will result in a new patio chair sling that will not fit (and unfortunately, we cannot cancel or refund an order because the measurements were done incorrectly!)  Really, we can't stress that enough--make sure the sling rails are tightened up to the frame and perform measurements on the frame. Even if the sling is ripped and shredded (hanging in tatters, off the rails), it's okay--we need you to measure center of the rail to center of the rail on the frame. We make our slings to fit the frame, not to copy the old sling. The "width" numbers are the most critical. Measure from the center of the sling rail from front to back. 

Sometimes, finding the center of the rail can be confusing. The picture below shows what the sling rail looks like with the fabric removed:

NOTE: Oftentimes you'll see additional fabric inside the rails and you can't measure it. Don't worry about that additional fabric: we do make allowances for it!

Once you have your measurements...yes, that's right, it is


You've come to the right place, too--Chair Care Patio offers the largest selection of replacement sling fabric online today. We offer only top quality replacement sling fabrics from manufacturers such as Phifer, Twitchell, Batyline and Sunbrella. Phifer and Twitchell are by far the largest manufacturers of replacement sling fabric in the USA. 

After taking your measurements from the frame, you would place your order on our website. Ordering is so easy, once you have your measurements and fabric selection ready. Follow the online steps and proceed to checkout. Once complete, you’ll receive an email receipt confirming your order. 

Now, you get to sit back and relax, and wait for your order to arrive. We take it from here...


We organize all these rolls of fabric in our shop by fabric and each season we cut and sew tens of thousands of yards of it (in the summertime, these rolls haunt our dreams, too, but we digress :-)) To keep the shop floor organized and our employees safe, the fabrics are placed on rolling racks that can easily move around the production floor. The big strong guys that work in our shop help the ladies get the sling fabric rolls onto the racks. The fabric racks are also numbered so we can easily locate the correct fabric for production.


Each morning, orders received the day before are printed and reviewed. Our online system produces a production order for our sewing shop. The production order includes all the important information about your order including sling style, fabric and measurements. 


Each production order for replacement slings has a bar code associated with the order. All replacement slings are processed in the order they are received. Each replacement sling we make is custom cut and sewn. No two orders are the same. Therefore every sling is measured, marked and cut by hand. No automation for this process, just some accurate cutting and very sharp scissors, utility knives and a ruler. Our talented sewing staff takes care of this--some are simply "cutters", cutting the slings according to order measurements, while others do the actual, final sewing. 


The cutters working on your replacement sling order look for the fabric name, quantity and dimensions to cut the fabric. Because we have bar code tracking for each order, the person cutting the slings scans the production order to begin the process. When the cutting portion of the job is complete, she scans again to close the cutting cycle. The production paper work stays with the job until it’s time to ship. This way, we don't get your order mixed up with someone else's.

The cut slings then go to the staging area and wait for their turn at the sewing machines. As you can see from the picture the cutting folks do a good job staying ahead of our amazing seamstresses!


The next step is the actual sewing process. Our sewing crew has been utilizing our current processes for almost 10 years now--and between them, they have hundreds of years of sewing experience under their belts. Because of it, every one of them has the know-how to run an industrial double-needle sewing machine at lightning speed! 

Each sling is sewn with a special thread called SolarFix®SolarFix is guaranteed to last, in writing, by the manufacturer! This PTFE thread is extremely strong, has excellent UV stability and will not deteriorate in the sun. In addition, it won't lose any significant strength due to UV or chemical exposure, unlike conventional polyester, nylon or cotton. Other replacement sling dealers only offer this as an optional add-on, because it's pretty pricey--from Day One, Chair Care Patio has used this as the ONLY option and we don't charge extra for it. And that has paid off--in the last 10 years, we have not had a single sling returned due to failed or deteriorated thread. This extra cost on our part is well-worth it--an insurance policy for us (less returns = less wasted $$) and especially for you (no return = no hassle = you're a happy customer!)


Your replacement slings are sewn, using a double-needle stitch on all four sides. The hem sizes are predetermined and are the same for every sling we make.  We use these nifty folding gadgets on our double-needle machines to keep the hems the exact size every time. No guess work on the part of the sewer. Just a matter of running the replacement sling fabric through the machine and...voila! She is done!

Each sewer measures width and length and compares it to the final size measurements provided on the production order, as another "verification" step in our process....



Once the slings are measured, sewn and verified, the order is once again scanned to confirm it's been through production. Completed slings are placed in shopping carts and moved through the warehouse to the shipping area. 

Shopping carts? Yes! Fear not, though, we didn't go around "acquiring" carts off the local grocer parking lots--you can now find local businesses selling used carts and so we've purchased a number of them. They're a great way to carry bundles of finished slings from one end of the warehouse to the other and (with safety in mind, of course) can occasionally provide us with lighter moments during Silly Season (it's not at all unusual to see a seamstress pushing a cart full of slings AND another seamstress, over to our Shipping department! Hey, that's a long walk!)

Almost done! Next, it is


Once the completed sling orders reach the shipping department, they are placed in boxes along with the appropriate lengths of spline or sling rod and any additional parts you may have ordered along with your slings. We also include our printed instructions on how to install patio furniture replacement slings.


They LOVE us, for one thing. We ship via UPS Ground, and each week our crew averages about 3000 slings per week. That's a lotta boxes! It's a good thing this guy isn't exactly small...

Because we use UPS, you can....that's right,


Once the package is logged into the UPS system, you will receive an email, letting you know your sling order has shipped. The email provides you with the UPS tracking number so you know about when you can expect your shipment. If for some reason you lose the email from UPS, that's okay--you can always check the status of your sling order through the Chair Care Patio website. Click on the VIEW STATUS button in the upper right hand corner; enter your email, order number and zip code. Our online status system will show you if the order has shipped, or is in process. During peak season, replacement slings may take up to 15 working days to manufacture due to the high volume of orders. Please be patient. Plan ahead and order early in the season before the mad spring/summer rush. 

 Mind you, we're not perfect and won't ever claim to be--sometimes, we make mistakes in cutting or sewing. If we made your replacement slings incorrectly, we're happy to correct them. But we're pretty good at this stuff: with the processes we have refined, we definitely have minimized such error to the point where we can say it's not common.


By now, we're hoping this mini-tour hasn't put you to sleep! We don't just live, breathe, eat and sleep outdoor patio furniture repair. We actually love what we do and we love our customers! We hope that this information will give you a better understanding of how we make slings, and also why we ask you to measure in a specific way. Altogether, we have over 20 years of experience making and installing slings. It’s not guess work, but just good measuring on your part (and a little math on ours) will determine the proper size of your slings. We do this every day--you can trust us! The slings we make should fit. Just take your time measuring, watch our videos on how to measure and read the installation instructions thoroughly before you order. AND, and, and...don’t forget that you can order FREE sling fabric samples before you order the slings themselves. That way, you can make sure it matches your decor (or even that you like it) before you take the time (and spend the money) putting together measurements and ordering from us--particularly since computer monitor resolution can sometimes be deceiving. 

And don't worry--if you still have questions or concerns regarding your replacement sling order, you can call us. If you're calling about sling installation, we only ask that you do one thing:


Please remember your sling must be stretched and you must disassemble the patio chair or chaise lounge in order to do the installation. It really, really helps everyone involved if you try to INSTALL before you CALL--it will make it easier for us to help. It's really challenging to help via phone, but we know what we're doing, we promise you!  The fabrics we use for replacement slings will stretch more than you realize. May we suggest ordering the spreader tool when you place your order? This will help you spread the sling rails and bolt the rails to the frame--it's an amazing gadget, handier than you could ever imagine. Every little bit helps!