Painted Adirondack Chairs – Easy Tutorial

This post will show you how I repaired and painted Adirondack chairs, including what spray paint I used and tips and tricks to help you along the way.

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Ahhh, summer’s not too far away now.  

It’s time to clean off the outdoor furniture, pull the chair cushions out of storage, and add colorful flowers to your outdoor planters.  


Painted Adirondack Chairs

…take care of that rusty, broken, full of splinters wooden adirondack chair you have.  

Don’t give up on it just yet!

Take a look at my old adirondack chair we had sitting out on our porch for the last two years:  

Adirondack Chair - Before
Adirondack Chair - Before

It’s okaaaay.  Upon closer inspection, it’s a little rusty. 

It’s almost orange looking in some places.  The paint is chipping off.  It’s pretty dirty.  Oh yea, and it’s missing part of the seat!  

And take a look at it now.  

Adirondack Chair - Painted - The After

It’s pretty again!

We love this chair now!  My son/daughter and I sit it in it all the time, just taking in those dreamy spring breezes and listening to the lovely birds.  It’s heaven.  

I’ll walk you through the entire process of painting adirondack chairs.  

Let’s get started.

Things’ You’ll Need for Spray Painted Wooden Adirondack Chairs

I ended up using 2 full cans of Rustoleum for one chair and the ottoman.  On my second coat, it was mostly covered, with the exception of a teeny bit of red still showing through in some small areas around the bottom. 

Rustoleum has several finishes.  I chose gloss because I was told it reflects more light and will help protect the chair a bit more outdoors.  Plus, I just love a glossy finish sometimes!  

Process for Painted Adirondack Chairs

  1.  PREP:  The most important step in all of this is your PREPWORK.  Cleaning and sanding are your best friends.  I used coarse sandpaper – 80 grit.  My chair had some rough edges and areas where the paint was chipping off.  I really wanted to start with as smooth a surface as possible.  If you are starting with a bare chair in decent shape that wasn’t previously painted, you can probably get away with a sandpaper grit of 100 or more.   Another easier option?  Use a Liquid Deglosser.  I didn’t use one here but it can make your job WAY easier if you have a lot of paint to strip.  It will strip and clean the finish on the chair for you and also help the new paint adhere better.  You can pick up a deglosser at home improvement stores.
  2. REPAIR:  My chair was missing a slat right where your bum would go.  And guess what I ended up using to fill the gap??  A WOODEN GARDEN STAKE!  My local hardware store sells them in various lengths for under $2.  I chose a sturdy one that was a bit longer than the width of my chair (see photo below).  It doesn’t bother me that the woods are not matching since I was painting over it anyways.  I attached the stake to my chair on each end with long screws.  Then I used a saw to take off the excess from the one end.  Finally – I sanded that end until it was smooth.   It is not an exact match, but it worked perfectly.  And it’s so nice to have a slat there for your bum!  The other thing you may want to do now is tighten up any loose screws!
  3. CLEAN:  Take your tack cloth and clean off the dust from the chair.  A tack cloth is specially designed to pick up any little dust and debris and they are usually lint free as well.  I also took just a bit of water and dawn soap with a scrubber brush to clean some of the dirt and mildew off the chair.  I towel dryed it and left it dry in the sun after that.  You have to let your chair dry completely though before painting, as wood does absorb water.
  4. PAINT:  It’s important to hold the spray paint can at least 10 inches away from the chair and spray light coats in a back and forth motion.  Otherwise, your paint could run and drip.  You can wipe up the drips with a cloth – but it’s gonna look a little funky until you completely cover it (and sometimes it will be permanently funky looking).  So it’s best to just take your time with light coats.   You won’t be able to cover the whole chair in one coat so why rush it.  It’s best to apply your second or more coats minutes apart from your first coat.  The chair dries to the touch in 1 hour and will be completely dry in 48 hrs.   If you found that you were able to fully cover your chair at this point – good for you!  If not and/or you ran out of paint like I did, please proceed to step 5.  (wah wahhh).
  5. DRYING TIME:  Allow your chair to dry completely for 48 hours.  Yes, I know.  Two days seems like a long time.  Because I ran out of paint, I missed my second coat opportunity and had to wait.  Our kitchen window looks out into the backyard and I found myself staring at the chair like a freak, just longing to put on another coat.  But, in those two days, you will really notice where you really need more touch ups and the process goes much faster.
  6. APPLY TOP COAT:  Finally, two days has passed and you can apply your other coat now.  By this point, your chair should be looking real nice.   Allow it to dry another 48 hours.  I know, it’s so hard.
  7. YOU’RE DONE: Enjoy your new chair!  It’s so beautiful!  Great job!
This post will show you how I repaired and spray painted wooden adirondack chairs, including what spray paint I used and tips and tricks to help you along the way. Painting an outdoor chair is not as hard as you think and you will fall in love with your adirondack chairs again! Click through to get ideas for painting adirondack chairs.  
Fix a slat in your wood Adirondack Chair with a sturdy wood garden stake.
Use a wood garden stake to fill as a chair slat. Just make sure to saw off the pointy end and sand it down.

Ok – some of you might be wondering if I skipped the bottom of the chair.  And no I didn’t actually.  Not really. 

I was able to bend my neck in such a way as to tackle the bottom from underneath.  Because I’m a spray paint ninja like that.

However, you can always flip the chair over but you would have to wait for the paint on top to fully dry.  Those dreaded 48 hours again.  Unless you are starting with the bottom.  Then you have to wait to do the top.  You know what I mean.

I noticed that some areas of the bottom are still showing a bit of red.  But it doesn’t really bother me at this point.  It’s a nice white chair for the most part now.  And I can always add a quick coat of spray paint to the bottom later.

Here it is all done!

Paint Adirondack Chairs - White Chair in Grass with Blue Striped Pillow

Tips and Tricks:

  • If you are scared to spray paint, you might want to start with the bottom until you get in the groove with it and then go to the top.  I know how you feel.  I was scared to spray paint at first too.  But you will never learn unless you try.
  • Read the directions on the can.  I gave you the directions for the Rustoleum Painter’s Touch 2x Paint and Primer (say that three times fast), but if you are using a different paint, the drying times may be different.  Please read the directions first.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  My chair ended up looking really nice and no, it’s not perfect.  But I actually like a bit of a worn in, rustic look.
  • Messed up?  You can always start over after it’s dried and sand off the messy parts.  Or you can buy a cushion or pillow and cover it up. 🙂

Best Paint for Outdoor Furniture

In my personal opinion, the Rustoleum Painter’s Touch 2x Paint and Primer is hands down the best paint to use for your outdoor furniture.  And no, they are not paying me to say that.  You can check out their website here.

Spray paint is so easy because there are no paintbrushes or other supplies involved.  This paint adheres to wood, plastic, metal and more and it’s for indoor AND outdoor use. 

It comes in a variety of finishes and it is super easy to use!  I just love it and will definitely use it for other projects in the future. 

Check out how I used their Chalk Spray Paint and distressed it.

How to Weatherproof your Adirondack Chair

The nice thing is that exterior paint offers one of the best protections for weatherproofing your Adirondack chairs.

You will eventually have to touch up the chair – unless you go for an all-weather chair. I highly recommend these Polywood Chairs. We purchased two white ones for our front porch. And man – are they maintenance-free! We live in Seattle, trust me on that.

Related Post: Trex decking – See the before and after

It’s generally recommended to touch up your chair every 1-3 years. Depending on your climate and how the chair is holding up. But as you can see from this tutorial – it’s not that hard. You will be a pro!

I hope this helped get some of your chairs off the donation fence. 

Thank you so much for reading and visiting today!

xo Karen

4 thoughts on “Painted Adirondack Chairs – Easy Tutorial”

  1. Hi Karen,
    I have a pair of Adirondack chairs in need of sprucing up. Thanks for the inspiration! Your chair looks great!!

    1. Thanks Martina! I’m so glad this inspired you! It’s funny because we hardly used the chair when it was red. Now we use it ALL the time! Good luck and have a great weekend!

  2. valerie becker

    i’ve been spray painting everything since the weather warmed up — it’s my ‘thing’!!! love rusteoleum, but noticed the paint has been clogging — that never happened before. bought a ton since everything needed touched up, and many of them clogged — did the upside down thing with the can, even changed tops with other cans – some worked, some didn’t. anyone else having a problem like this????? thanks

    1. Hey Valerie! I’m so sorry to hear about your issue with clogs with the Rustoleum spray paint. That is a bummer! I’ve never had that issue before and I do use their paint a lot. I know that sometimes dried paint can clog them and basically they are useless after that. Here’s a little trick my dad told me that may help you (not sure if you tried this already)! Take the clogged nozzle off your spray paint can and swap it with the nozzle on a can of WD-40. Then spray the WD-40 with the clogged nozzle on there. The WD-40 can help to unclog the nozzle and tube. He said it’s been able to clear many spray paint clogs for him! Or you can try and get a little needle to clean the tube out but be careful not to poke a hole. Let me know if it works for you!

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