How to Paint Adirondack Chairs (The Right Way!)

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Hi friends! Today I’m sharing how to paint Adirondack chairs that will hold up to the elements without chipping and immediately fading.

I’ve been in search of a good set of outdoor furniture for the past few years. If you’ve done much shopping for a new set of wood adirondack chairs, you’re aware that they can be pricey. Especially a quality wooden set. Imagine my DELIGHT when I found all 4 of these listed on Marketplace for $120 total. I immediately claimed them, as I knew just one of these chairs costs at least $200 new.

They weren’t in terrible shape, but they had small areas of wood missing, deep scratches, and fading/chipping paint. Here’s how I went about re-finishing our patio furniture for a quality and long-lasting finish!

Here is what we started with (the marketplace listing photo).

SUPPLIES NEEDED TO PAINT ADIRONDACK CHAIRS:

– Exterior Paint (this is what we used) – we chose a Satin finish, color matched to Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams. Just make sure you are choosing an outdoor paint. 
– Primer (this is optional, but I assure you this will help greatly with creating a lasting finish)
– Paint Sprayer (alternatively you could use a HD foam roller & angled paint brush) 
– Wood Filler (if you have missing or damaged wood) 
Orbital Sander (alternatively sheets of sandpaper) 
120-grit sandpaper discs (or sheets for manual sanding) 
Plastic drop cloth *optional (to protect your surface if needed) 
– Something to prop chairs up on (we used extra bricks) 
High-Density Foam Roller and Paint Tray 
220 Grit Sandpaper *optional – read instructions below 
TSP Cleaner

WHAT KIND OF PAINT TO USE FOR REFINISHING ADIRONDACK CHAIRS:

Any exterior latex paint! It is important that the paint be made for outdoor use. We chose Behr Exterior Satin Enamel Paint & Primer. I still suggest pairing this with a primer (I’ll discuss that in just a bit).

DO YOU HAVE TO USE PRIMER TO PAINT ADIRONDACK CHAIRS?

No, technically you can sand them really well (down to bare wood) to ensure that the paint has something to adhere to. This will take more time and effort, for sure. 

Be using a bonding primer, you save yourself time and elbow grease. You also give your paint staying power! Do I highly recommend it? Yes. 

I highly recommend Zinnser Cover Stain Primer. This stuff is NO JOKE, and will stick to anything.

HOW MUCH PAINT WAS NEEDED FOR REPAINTING ADIRONDACK CHAIRS?

We sprayed our chairs with a paint gun (specially this paint gun from Harbor Freight since we found it locally on sale for $40). and used exactly 2 quarts of paint on 4 chairs (each chair took a half quart). So a half gallon in total was needed!

STEP-BY-STEP FOR HOW TO PAINT ADIRONDACK CHAIRS:

how to paint adirondack chairs

1. Clean your chairs!

First thing first! I recommend using a cleaner like TSP to get all the dirt and grime off before you begin. This cleaner helps with paint adhesion!

As you can see above, ours really needed some love. We also had arms that needed re-attaching.  

2. Fill any cracks or gauges in the wood with wood filler.

The next step will be to use a high-quality wood filler and fill any cracks or gauges in your chairs. I actually find doing this with my finger is easier than anything else. I do not worry about putting it on perfectly, as I know I will sand it smooth when dry. 

I love using DAP Plastic Wood. I’ve had great results with it, plus it’s easy to use – so I’ve never strayed.

how to paint adirondack chairs

3. Sand with a medium-grit sandpaper.

After wood filler has dried (it dries really quickly), you will give all the chairs a light sanding with a 120 grit sandpaper. You will gently sand down the wood filler at this time as well.

You want to “rough up” the chairs, not completely strip them. The primer we used works as a bond for the paint, and this helps to avoid having to sand down to bare wood. 

If you opt NOT to prime, I’d recommend really roughing up the chairs and stripping off as much paint as possible. 

4. Clean up sanding dust.

I opted to blow off remaining dust with our leaf blower and then sprayed them down with a hose.

5. Prepare your painting area.

We are lucky and have a concrete octagon in our yard, so we simply covered it in drop cloths for priming. If you are using a paint sprayer, there is definitely paint overspray – even when you think there isn’t. So make sure you are cover and move away from anything you do not want sprayed! 

You will want a flat surface that can easily be covered! Garage, basement, patio, etc. 

6. Prime your chairs with a bonding primer.

I highly recommend primer be your first coat. I recommend rolling your primer over the entire chair with a high-density foam roller and paint brush for grooves, especially if you use Zinnser Cover Stain. I LOVE this stuff – we actually used it when we re-painted our cabinets as well. It basically makes anything paintable, so this is an extra security that your top coat of paint WILL stick.

You’ll want to roll this on with a high density foam roller. This stuff is thick, and very hard to spray with a paint gun. I tried it out  *insert sweating face emoji*    Maybe a different primer would spray better, but next time, I will simply roll it from the start.

*If you do not use a bonding primer, I recommend sanding down to bare wood to ensure the paint sticks.

7. After primer has dried, consider gently sanding.

This is not NECESSARY, but does help you get a smoother finish. Zinnser Cover Stain primer is thick and unless you are incredibly careful to get everything smooth, you may have some bumps and edges. If you want your chairs to have a completely smooth surface, I recommend giving your chairs a light sand with 220-grit sand paper.  The great news is that this primer sands down incredibly well.

As these are outdoor chairs, I didn’t take the sanding of the primer too seriously but you can definitely see the texture of it underneath the paint. So again, this might be where your perfectionism thrives 😉 

8. Paint your chairs!

For the actual spray painting of the chairs, we propped them up on extra bricks in our back yard to limit the mess as much as possible.

We used a paint sprayer, so only one coat was needed.  

We used this paint sprayer from Harbor Freight. It did a great job, but I have used this cheapie from Amazon in years past and it’s always done great. It doesn’t hold as much paint and isn’t quite as powerful, but it does a great job! I finally ran it into the ground this year, but it’s been good to me for years and if you’re on a budget – it can get the job done. 

Whatever sprayer you use, you will just follow your instruction manual for setting it all up and application. In general, paint sprayers are way easier to use and operate than you might think. It’s just very important that you clean it all VERY well between uses.

how to paint adirondack chairs

8. Add a second coat or touch-up paint as needed.

The satin finish of the paint gave our chairs SUCH an upgrade. Again, we only needed to spray then once and touch up spots since we used a paint sprayer. If you are rolling, it may take 2 coats of paint to get the coat you are after. 

how to paint adirondack chairs

A fresh coat of paint on our wood chairs made a world of difference! These look professional and feel so durable. After we added some cozy pillows, our outdoor space feels like a little oasis! 

Happy painting!
Courtney

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