How to Restore and Refinish Adirondack Chairs

Adirondack chairs add charm and character to any outdoor patio or space. Even though they are typically made from strong and sturdy wood, they can still be vulnerable to wear and tear over time. If your chairs have endured quite a bit of weathering, restoring them could be a possible solution. Here are our top tips on how to restore and refinish Adirondack chairs.

Examine the Chairs First

The first step is to thoroughly examine the chairs to assess the full degree of damage. Look for any missing hardware, cracks, holes or damaged boards. This will give you a better idea of what type of repairs the chairs will need. 

Use Wood Filler to Repair Cracks

Most wooden chairs tend to develop some cracks and holes with enough exposure and use. To fix them, all you need is some wood filler which you can find at any hardware store. Wood filler is very easy to use, just apply it to the damaged area using your finger. Make sure to use a scraper or something that will even out the filler, so it is completely flush with the wood. Then let it dry for as long as the instructions dictate, usually at least 30 minutes to an hour.

Sand the Chairs

When the filler is completely dry to touch, and all of the imperfections have been patched up, you'll need to sand the chairs. A power sander is the best method for this, preferably with a finger attachment. This will let you cover the entire chair, including all of the crevices to make sure the entire wood surface is smooth and ready for priming. Before firing up the sander, don't forget to wear a dust mask and appropriate glasses for protection. You don't want to inhale or get any of the dust in your eyes. Once this is complete, wipe the chairs down to remove any dust, and be meticulous! 

Prime the Wood

Next up is priming. Priming is always a beneficial step to do before painting wood. It adds another layer of protection by filling in the wood grain and sealing the surface to prevent the wood from absorbing the paint. This produces an even smoother end result. For efficiency and ease, we recommend using a spray primer if possible, but a standard brush will work as well. Make sure to cover all of the chair's surface, including underneath the chairs too, and go extra heavy on the seating area since it gets the most wear and tear. Don't panic if the primer makes the wood appear rough. The final round of sanding will smooth it out perfectly. 

Final Sanding

This round of sanding is much faster. Just use a fine-grit sanding block, focusing on the most used area of the chairs – the seat and armrests. 

Clean Chairs

After sanding, it's important to clean the chairs one last time before painting. Use a damp rag and a little bit of mild cleaner or detergent for this. After cleaning, rinse the cloth and wipe it down again. This process may feel tedious, but it's important to be thorough so the paint will adhere properly.

Paint the Chairs

Before you dive into painting, make sure you place down a drop cloth to protect the floor. Once the chair is completely dry after cleaning it, stir your paint of choice, turn the chair upside down, and begin painting its underside first. We don't recommend using a spray for this as it's usually too thin, so stick with standard paint. Keep an eye out for any drips and carefully cover all of the surface, flipping the chair over to get the crevices between the wooden boards. Once it's dry after at least 12 hours, apply a second coat. You may need to apply a sealant after as well if the paint brand suggests it or if your location experiences extreme weather.

And that's how to repair Adirondack chairs in a nutshell! In many cases, when the chairs are too far gone, repairs might not be enough to create a stable and safe seat, in which case, replacing them will be the only practical solution. If you're on the hunt for new Adirondack chairs, we make it easy to find the specific design and material you're looking for. Browse our selection at The Best Adirondack Chair Company.