How to Paint Adirondack Chair?

I have had the unfortunate experience of being embarrassed by my own outdoor furniture. A terrible paint job – or a 10-year-old one – can turn even the most beautiful chair into something that should be hidden away in a shed. 

Imagine that perfect part you’ve been dreaming of hosting. All of the guests are there and everything looks great except for the seating. You’ll feel mortified and want to send them all home. 

Before you let that happen, here are some simple tips on how to paint Adirondack chairs.

Painting an Adirondack Chair

5 Steps For Painting Adirondack Chair

There are a few methods you can use to successfully and beautifully paint an Adirondack chair. You can hand paint them, spray paint, or use a stain. In this guide I will guide you through the process of all 3 and you can choose what sounds best to you. All of these approaches will give you a beautiful Adirondack chair.

1. Wash the chair

Before you begin, you’ll want to clean the chair as thoroughly as possible. Don’t worry about stains, they will be covered by the paint. Any dirt that you can feel should be removed the best you can. Use a hose to spray the chair to remove large debris. Then, you can use a towel or a soft bristle brush to scrub any remaining dirt with a mild detergent. Rinse and towel dry the chair.

2. Sand the surface of the chair

Now that your chair is sparkling clean, you can prepare the surface of the chair for a fresh coat of paint. To be sure your chair has a smooth surface to sit on, you need to sand down the old paint and rough edges. Use a 220-grit sand paper and a sanding block, sand until the surface of your chair feels smooth to the touch.

3. Prime the surface

It’s extremely frustrating to have to redo work you’ve just done. You’ve probably experienced that “I just repainted that!” feeling at least once in your life. Using a quality primer will keep the paint job like new for longer. Shake the can of primer for about a minute to make sure it’s ready to use. Holding the primer 10-16 inches away from the chair, spray an even coat of primer. Allow the primer to dry.

4. Paint the chair

For painting by hand

If you are choosing to hand paint your chair, you’ll need a few paint brushes and about a quart of paint. When you open the paint, be sure to stir it thoroughly with a paint stir.

Using your brush, apply an even coat of paint to all parts of the chair. When the paint dries, apply another coat. To reach the underside of the chair, wait until the top is completely dry. Flip the chair over and rest it on a tarp. Apply two coats of paint to the underside of the chair.

For spray painting

If you are spray painting your chair, the instructions are similar. Holding the can 10-16 inches away from the chair, spray the paint all over the surface. Wait for it to dry, then spray another coat. Flip the chair over on a tarp to reach the underside. 

When you’re spray painting anything, be sure to choose a day without a lot of wind. This will keep paint and debris from getting into your eyes or mouth. It will also give you a more even finished project. You can also use paint sprayer for painting your chairs. 

5. Seal the paint

Using a spray urethane sealant, coat the chair evenly. This is a great way to get a beautiful finish and prolong the life of your chair. Some spray paint has sealant included, so if your spray paint is a paint and sealant, you can skip this step.

Staining an Adirondack Chair

Painted chairs are nice, but what if you’re looking for that natural, stunning wood grain look. Staining might suit your style better. Staining an Adirondack chair might be a bit trickier, but we’ll guide you through it.

1. Sand and clean the surface

Sanding and cleaning the surface of the chair is the same as when you’re painting it. Use a 220-grit sandpaper and a sanding block and be sure all areas are smooth. This is extremely important when you’re working with stain as it is less forgiving than paint.

When you’re finished sanding, wipe down the chair to remove any fine dust that could be leftover.

2. Condition the wood

Using a quality wood conditioner, coat the surface of the chair. Wood conditioner is essential when you are staining wood. The purpose of it is to help the wood absorb the stain better. If you use wood conditioner before you stain, you will get a beautiful and even finish. 

You can apply wood conditioner with a brush or a rag. Let the conditioner absorb for 20 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. Remove any excess conditioner that hasn’t absorbed with a clean, dry cloth.

3. Apply the stain

Brush the stain on the chair carefully. Stain is harder to work with than paint, so be patient with it until you get the hang of it. Brush the stain on in the direction of the wood grain. This will help the wood absorb the stain better and will give you a more even finish.

Apply another coat once the initial coat is dry. When the top of the chair is dry, flip it over on a tarp and stain the bottom of the chair. Use the same method used for the top.

4. Seal the stain

Just like with paint, you don’t want that hard work to go to waste. When you’re finished with the staining process and everything has had a chance to dry, you will need to seal the stain in. This will protect it from wear and tear and weather. It will save you from having that “Ugh!” moment later.

Stain sealer usually does not come in a spray can. To apply the sealant, dip a cloth or brush in the sealant and apply it all over the surface that has been stained. Apply the sealant with the grain of the wood. Allow the sealant to fully dry before you use your chair.

Paint vs. Stain

If you’re still having trouble choosing paint over stain, here are some advantages to both. Paint and stain are similar and choosing between them depends largely on your personal style preference.

Advantages of paint:1. Protects the wood from damage2. You can customize with any color or design you want3. The color is more vibrant than stain

Advantages of stain:1.Protects the wood from damage 2. Gives you a beautiful, natural look3. Lasts longer than paint


It’s time to stop being afraid to have company over. Painting your Adirondack chair will prolong its life and you will want to show it off to your friends. After you paint your Adirondack chair, you will never want to get rid of it. It would be a shame to throw out your chair or hide it away in storage when you can give it a beautiful new look and have fun doing it. Hey, you can even tell your friends and family you painted it.

Related Article:

About the Author Jason Brown

This is Jason, I have strong knowledge and personal experiences about a variety of chairs include how to use, maintenance guide, and recommendation so you can pick the right one.

Leave a Comment: