How to Refinish Adirondack Chairs

Welcome to our guide on how to refinish Adirondack chairs! Adirondack chairs are a classic and timeless addition to any outdoor space. They are known for their wide armrests, slanted backrests, and comfortable design. Over time, these chairs can become weathered and lose their original beauty.

How to Refinish Adirondack Chairs

But don’t worry; with time and effort, you can easily refinish your Adirondack chairs and make them look brand new again. This guide will discuss the steps on how to refinish your Adirondack chairs and the materials needed to refinish them. So, let’s get started!

Understanding Adirondack Chairs

Before we dive into the process of refinishing Adirondack chairs, it’s essential to understand their design and materials. Adirondack chairs originated in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York in the early 1900s.

Thomas Lee designed them as comfortable chairs for his family to relax while enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery. Adirondack chairs are typically made from wood, with cedar and teak being the most popular choices due to their durability and resistance to weathering.

Tools and Materials You Will Need to Refinish Adirondack Chairs

  1. Sandpaper or an electric sander
  2. Paint scraper or putty knife
  3. Use the wood stain or paint of your choice.
  4. Paintbrushes or a paint sprayer
  5. Clear outdoor polyurethane sealant
  6. Clean rags or towels
  7. Mild detergent and water for cleaning
  8. Drop cloth or plastic sheeting to protect your work area.

Step-by-step Guidelines on How to Refinish Adirondack Chairs

Step 1: Preparing Your Work Area

Before Starting the Refinishing Process

Before starting the refinishing process, preparing your work area is crucial. Lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to protect your surrounding surfaces from drips or spills.

Ensure that you have enough space to move freely around the chairs. Preparing your work area will make the cleaning and sanding process much more manageable. This step will also help prevent any damage to your outdoor space.

Step 2: Cleaning Your Adirondack Chairs

The next step is to clean your chairs thoroughly. Use a mild detergent and water solution to remove any dirt, grime, or mildew from the surface of the chairs. You can use a power washer on a low setting for tougher stains. Make sure to rinse the chairs thoroughly and allow them to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Removing Old Finish

If your Adirondack chairs have a previous finish, remove them before refinishing. Use sandpaper or an electric sander to remove the old finish from all surfaces of the chairs. If there are any stubborn spots, you can use a paint scraper or putty knife to scrape them off. Make sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain for a smooth and even finish.

Step 4: Applying New Finish

After removing the old finish, it’s time to apply a new one. You can choose between using wood stain or paint for your Adirondack chairs. If you opt for wood stain, use a paintbrush or sprayer to apply an even coat and allow it to dry completely before applying a second coat.

For paint, use a paintbrush or sprayer and apply multiple thin coats for the best results. If you want a natural finish, you can skip this step and move on to the next one.

Step 5: Sealing Your Chairs

Your Adirondack Chairs From Weathering

To protect your Adirondack chairs from weathering, it’s crucial to seal them after applying the finish. Use a clear outdoor polyurethane sealant and apply an even coat using a paintbrush or sprayer. Make sure to cover all surfaces of the chairs and allow them to dry completely before using. Make sure to reseal your chairs every year or two for maximum protection.

Following these steps, you can easily refinish your Adirondack chairs and restore them to their original beauty.

With proper care and maintenance, your Adirondack chairs will last for years to come, providing you with a comfortable and stylish seating option for your outdoor space. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for any products used in the refinishing process.

Additional Tips and Tricks to Refinish Adirondack Chairs

1. If you plan to paint your Adirondack chairs, consider using a spray gun instead of a brush. This will give you a smooth and even finish, especially on the intricate parts of the chair.

2. Before painting, sand the chair lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any rough spots or imperfections. This will help the paint adhere better and produce a more polished finish.

3. To add character to your chairs, consider distressing them before applying a final coat of paint. Use sandpaper or a wire brush to intentionally create scratches and worn spots on the chair for a rustic, weathered look.

4. consider using a polyurethane topcoat after painting for a more durable finish. This will provide extra protection against outdoor elements and make your chairs last longer.

5. If you are refinishing wooden Adirondack chairs, use an exterior-grade paint or stain specifically designed for outdoor use. This will ensure your chairs can withstand the elements and stay beautiful for years.

6. Consider using bright and vibrant colors to make a statement with your Adirondack chairs. These chairs are often used as accent pieces in outdoor spaces, so don’t be afraid to choose bold colors that will stand out.

7. To prolong the life of your Adirondack chairs, regularly clean and maintain them by wiping them down with a mild soap and water solution. This will help prevent dirt and grime from building up on the surface.

8. If you live in an area with harsh winters or frequent rain, consider storing your Adirondack chairs indoors during these times to protect them from damage. This will also help extend their lifespan.

9. Consider stenciling or using decals on the backrest or armrests to add a personal touch to your Adirondack chairs. This is a fun and easy way to customize your chairs and make them truly unique.

10. Finally, don’t hesitate to get creative with your refinished Adirondack chairs. You can add additional elements such as cushions or pillows for added comfort and style, and even use them as decorative pieces inside your home during colder months.

A Beautiful Finish on Your Adirondack Chairs

Following these additional tips and tricks will help you achieve a beautiful finish on your Adirondack chairs and ensure they are protected and last for years. Remember to have fun with the process and make your chairs reflect your personal style. Happy refinishing!  

Things You Should Consider to Refinish Adirondack Chairs

1. The first thing you should consider when refinishing Adirondack chairs is the type of wood used to make them. The most common types of wood used for these types of chairs are cedar, cypress, and teak. Each type of wood has unique characteristics, so it’s important to research and choose a wood that best suits your needs.

2. Once you have selected the type of wood, you should consider the chairs’ condition. If they are in good shape with no major damage or rot, then simple sanding and staining may be all that is needed. However, if the chairs have significant damage or rot, they may require more extensive repairs before refinishing can take place.

3. Before starting any refinishing process, it’s crucial to clean the chairs properly. This can be done using a mild soap and water solution or a wood cleaner specifically designed for outdoor furniture. Be sure to rinse off any residue and allow the chairs to dry completely before proceeding.

4. Sanding is essential in refinishing Adirondack chairs as it helps create a smooth surface for the new finish to adhere to. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and work your way down to a finer grit for a more polished look. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid damaging the surface.

5. After sanding, removing all dust and debris from the chairs before applying any stain or sealer is important. This can be done using a tack or damp cloth followed by a dry cloth. Any leftover dust can cause an uneven finish and affect the final result.

6. Regarding staining, various options are available, such as solid stains, semi-transparent stains, and clear sealers. It’s important to choose a stain specifically designed for outdoor use that will provide adequate protection against UV rays and water damage.

7. Before applying the stain, doing a test spot on a small chair area is recommended to ensure you are happy with the color and coverage. Once satisfied, apply the stain in thin, even coats using a brush or rag. Allow each coat to fully dry before applying another layer.

8. After staining, it’s important to seal the chairs with a clear outdoor sealer to protect them from the elements. This can be done using a brush or sprayer and should be applied in thin, even coats.

9. Finally, regular maintenance is key to keeping your newly refinished Adirondack chairs looking great for years to come. Be sure to clean them regularly and reapply stain and sealer as needed to maintain their beauty and protection.

Adirondack Chairs Are Beautifully Refinished

Following these considerations and steps will ensure that your Adirondack chairs are beautifully refinished and ready for many relaxing summers to come. Remember, proper preparation, choosing the right products, and regular maintenance are all key factors in achieving a successful refinishing project. So gather your supplies and get ready to transform your worn-out chairs into stunning pieces of outdoor furniture. Happy refinishing! 

Maintenance Tips for Refinished Adirondack Chairs

1. Regular Cleaning:

Regularly cleaning your Adirondack chairs is crucial to remove any dirt or debris that may accumulate on the surface. Use a mild soap and water solution or a wood cleaner specifically designed for outdoor furniture, and rinse off any residue completely. This will prevent any buildup of grime that can damage the finish over time.

2. Protect from Harsh Weather:

Adirondack chairs are meant to be used outdoors, but harsh weather conditions can affect their appearance. To prevent this, consider covering your chairs during extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or snow. This will protect them from potential water damage and prolong their lifespan.

3. Touch-Up as Needed:

Chairs May Experience Minor Scratches or Wear

Over time, your refinished Adirondack chairs may experience minor scratches or wear and tear from frequent use. To keep them looking their best, regularly touch up any areas that need it using the same stain and sealer used during refinishing. This will help maintain a consistent appearance and protect the wood from further damage.

4. Store Indoors during Winter:

If you live in an area with harsh winters, storing your Adirondack chairs indoors during this time is a good idea. Extreme cold temperatures can cause the wood to contract and expand, leading to potential cracking or warping. Storing them in a dry, temperature-controlled area will help preserve their appearance.

5. Reapply Stain and Sealer:

Depending on the type of wood and exposure to elements, your Adirondack chairs may need to be re-stained and sealed every few years. This is necessary to protect the wood from UV rays and water damage, ensuring its longevity. Regularly inspect your chairs and reapply stain and sealer as needed.

By following these maintenance tips, you can keep your refinished Adirondack chairs looking beautiful for years to come. Remember, proper care and maintenance are essential to extend the life of any outdoor furniture. Enjoy relaxing in your newly refinished chairs, knowing they will stay in great shape with a little TLC.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy your stunning Adirondack chairs!

Precautions Need to Be Followed for Refinishing Adirondack Chairs

Working With Chemicals and Stains

1. First and foremost, always wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and a respirator when working with chemicals and stains. These products can be harmful if they come into contact with your skin or eyes, and the fumes can be dangerous to inhale.

2. Before beginning the refinishing process, make sure to thoroughly clean the Adirondack chairs. Use a mild soap and water solution to remove dirt, dust, or debris. Let the chairs dry completely before moving on to the next step.

3. Sanding is an important step in refinishing Adirondack chairs as it helps to remove any old finish and smooth out imperfections in the wood. Use a medium grit sandpaper to start and switch to a finer grit for a smoother finish. Be sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain and not over-sand.

4. After sanding, wipe down the chairs with a damp cloth to remove dust or debris. This will help ensure that the new finish adheres properly to the wood.

5. When choosing a stain or paint for your Adirondack chairs, be sure to select a product specifically designed for outdoor use. These products are formulated to withstand weather and UV exposure, ensuring your chairs look good for years.

6. Before applying the stain or paint, test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the chair first to ensure you are happy with the color and finish. This is especially important for using a new product or trying a different technique.

7. When applying the stain or paint, always work in a well-ventilated area and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Use even strokes, and be sure to cover all surfaces evenly. It may also be helpful to have someone assist you in holding the chair steady while you work.

8. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying a second coat. This will help achieve a more even and durable finish.

Following these considerations and precautions will help ensure a successful refinishing process for your Adirondack chairs. With proper care, your chairs will look beautiful and last for years to come, providing you with the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Always follow safety guidelines and take your time to achieve the best results! Happy refinishing!  

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Refinish an Adirondack Chair?

The duration of time it takes to refinish an Adirondack chair can vary depending on the extent of damage, the type of finish being used, and your level of experience.

Generally, it can take anywhere from a day to a week or more to completely refinish an Adirondack chair. Taking your time and not rushing the process is important, as this can result in a poorly finished product.

What Tools Do I Need for Refinishing?

You Plan on Sanding Down the Old Finish

The tools you’ll need for refinishing will depend on the type of finish you are using and whether or not you plan on sanding down the old finish. However, some basic tools that are commonly used for refinishing Adirondack chairs include sandpaper, a paint scraper, a brush or roller for applying the finish, and protective equipment such as gloves and goggles.

What Types of Finish Can I Use to Refinish an Adirondack Chair?

You can use several different types of finishes to refinish an Adirondack chair, each with its pros and cons. Some common finishes include paint, stain, varnish, and oil-based finishes. The type of finish you choose will depend on your personal preference and the look you want to achieve.


Now you know how to refinish Adirondack chairs and have answers to some frequently asked questions. Remember, the key to a successful refinishing project is proper preparation and taking your time during the process.

With patience and attention to detail, you can transform old, worn Adirondack chairs into beautiful pieces of furniture that will last many years. So gather your tools, choose the right finish, and prepare to give your Adirondack chairs a new lease on life!  So, don’t hesitate to take on this fun and rewarding DIY project. Happy refinishing!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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