Protective coat over painted outdoor Adirondack chair?

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Forum topic by Jwalter posted 12-14-2018 08:53 PM 945 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 607 days

12-14-2018 08:53 PM

Okay, so here’s my dilemma.

I built an Adirondack chair (using pine) and painted it with a whole bunch of different paints (mostly spray paint, but I used some acrylic and decocolor paint pens as well).

My thought was that at the end I could just polyurethane the thing to protect it from the sun and rain here in NY in the summer months (it’ll be stored in the winter).

I’m finding out now that I should’ve gone with exterior latex paint and no need to seal it.

Anyway, I’m obviously no pro, and not a perfectionist. The chair is already complete, and I’m not going to redo it with exterior latex.

So essentially, what I’m wondering is, in it’s present condition, all painted and such, what’s my best bet to use to seal it with? Poly, water based poly, spar? Something else?

I appreciate the help.

8 replies so far

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1624 days

#1 posted 12-14-2018 11:28 PM

Your best bet for a clear finish is to spend the money on genuine marine spar varnish from a boat supply company. Epifanes and Interlux are two brands with which I am familiar. I tried using Minwax “spar” varnish on some cypress Adirondack chairs I built and it failed in about a year. By that I mean the varnish cracked and peeled in places and developed black mold where the finish came off. I had to sand the chairs down to wood to restore them. The chairs were located on a North facing front porch in mostly shade and the only time they were wet was during storms with a blowing rain.

View jutsFL's profile


198 posts in 649 days

#2 posted 12-14-2018 11:28 PM

Short of sanding and re-doing it, personally I’d go with a wipe on spar urethane. Get one of your choice, and either mineral spirits or turpentine – either is fine. Mix 50/50 spar to solvent. This will be your wipe on finish. Wipe on, dry for a couple hrs depending on conditions, repeat. Give it 3 coats and your done. Final dry for a day. You can light sand in between coats if you’d like, but to do so you’ll have to let each coat fully dry before sanding.

-- I've quickly learned that being a woodworker isn't about making flawless work, rather it's fixing all the mistakes you made so that it appears flawless to others! Jay - FL

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Fred Hargis

6324 posts in 3301 days

#3 posted 12-15-2018 11:56 AM

Any urethane finish is going to not work very well. Urethanes just don’t do well in high UV conditions, which is why the best marine spar varnishes have a different resin in them. Also, anything oil based may give you an unwanted shift in color since they will have an amber cast to them. So I’m not sure what to recommend, since I think anything you do won’t work all that well. But I had to do something, I’d probably paint over it wit an oil based exterior paint that hasn’t been tinted. This will have the appearance of an oil based varnish (the amber cast part) but it will also be an exterior finish with UV protection built in. But the best solution given the circumstances may be to keep the chair in a protected area, under a roof.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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John Smith

2518 posts in 971 days

#4 posted 12-15-2018 12:11 PM

my favorite finish for items that will go on boats or outside furniture is Marine Spar Varnish.
but, any exterior “varnish” is a MAINTENANCE item. there is not just one brand or type
that you can “coat it and forget it”. so, unless you are willing to sand and reapply
the varnish every year or two, clear coats over other finishes are fruitless.
also – is the chair going to sit on the bare ground or on a patio ??
and – is the “pine” just regular Big Box construction grade or pressure treated ?
if not pressure treated, the areas that come in contact with the ground will fail first.
and once moisture has an avenue of entry into the wood, it goes downhill from there.
it is hard to say how your chair will hold up over the years in your environment.
just use this experience as a learning tool for when you build your next one.



-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View fuigb's profile


583 posts in 3766 days

#5 posted 12-15-2018 12:25 PM

@OP – this is probably a case of live & learn because you (unknowingly?) are so far down the wrong path. You’ll do better next time. The good news is that what you’ve made will still provide years of use. I say that from experience: as a test I made a few similar chairs from similar material. I expected a single season of use, but the damn things gave me ten, and this is in a four-season environment (like your own).

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View OSU55's profile


2651 posts in 2798 days

#6 posted 12-15-2018 12:58 PM

Maybe use it as is, let the paint peel, then redo it correctly or make a new one. If you just have to put a clear coat on it, try Target coatings em9300, exterior wb poly water clear.

View bilyo's profile


1137 posts in 1911 days

#7 posted 12-15-2018 11:21 PM

I agree with OSU55. Let the paint you used weather and otherwise do it’s thing. Then refinish with the proper paint. To coat it now with a proper exterior clear finish will just compound your problem by having more different types of finished to re-do in the future. Getting a good quality exterior clear finish may also be expensive.

View Rich's profile (online now)


5718 posts in 1398 days

#8 posted 12-15-2018 11:25 PM

+1 for OSU55. Best advice in the thread.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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