Painting an Adirondack Chair

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Forum topic by Bill Hall posted 05-29-2008 10:58 PM 18618 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bill Hall

166 posts in 5197 days

05-29-2008 10:58 PM

Topic tags/keywords: adirondack paint chair

I have read a number of differing opinions on the subject, very few of which agree. I would like to build the New Yankee Workshop Adirondack chair and paint it a bright, happy color. Actually, I plan to do several of different colors for that fun, Caribbean feel. Stain or unfinished for this project is out of the question.

My questions are as follows:
  • Can I safely use pine outside so long as it is painted “properly”? I don’t want to get an expensive weather-resistant wood like cypress and then paint over it if at all possible.
  • What are the appropriate finishing steps? From what I’ve read, it seems to be something like this: – Protect the wood with something like a deck sealer – Paint a first coat with an oil based paint – Scuff-sand that – Apply two coats of an acrylic paint in the final color


Your thoughts and suggestions are highly appreciated.


9 replies so far

View Steelmum's profile


355 posts in 5294 days

#1 posted 05-29-2008 11:39 PM

I have painted my outdoor furniture. It is fun, it is cute. What lasts the longest is deck stain. What else works is house paint. Mostly you want to use primer, just like you were painting your house.

-- Berta in NC

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 5172 days

#2 posted 05-30-2008 12:16 AM

I kive in the Pacific NW just north of Seattle. In this part of the country pine does not last very long used out doors. I use Western Red Cedar, prior to finishing I put epoxy on all of my end grain, and rubber on the feet where it makes contact with ground. My next project I am going to go to the auto parts store and get some of the stuff they use in pick up trucks to coat the inside of the box and use that instead of rubber.

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5500 days

#3 posted 05-30-2008 12:24 AM

We had some pine furnature at our cottage. It was just painted with oil based paint. Lasted for years.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View tooldad's profile


665 posts in 5046 days

#4 posted 05-30-2008 12:51 AM

I am a shop teacher in St Louis area. My general shop class just produced nearly 80 of those Norm Chairs as a manufacturing process. We used pressure treated pine, same green colored pine used on decks. Using the proper oil based paint or exterior paint isn’t the problem, that will work. The problem is the joints and the areas that one part connects with another. Unless you prepaint or treat those areas, that is where the moisture will creep in a begin to ruin the chair. I also recommend using stainless steel fastners as Norm did. It only added about $5 to the cost of the chair. Also used an exterior rated glue or adhesive. A gorilla glue or exterior woodworker glue (what we used) works. It is the glue that adds most of the strength to the joints. However with the seat backs position and fasten first without glue, so you can move them to arrange spacing that is pleasing to the eye. You can then go back and glue the joints, but we skipped that step and used 2 screws in each seat. Another suggestion, which I had a few kids build “special order chairs” was using the 5/4 deck lumber. The only drawback is expense. You cannot get 5/4×4” wide, only 6” wide, so there was more scrap, however we found less twisting and knots. It also allowed us to countersink the screws and plug them so there are no visible fasteners except for the carriage bolts. Hope this helps. Maybe tonight I can post a pic or two. Tooldad

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 5227 days

#5 posted 05-30-2008 06:54 AM

Bill – I can’t tell you how many Adirondack chairs I’ve made, but I’ve made at least 50 of various sizes and styles. The majority of the chairs were pine and I’ve not had one person complain about the paint. I’ve always used a good quality house paint. The trick is to not skip a good primer coat.

As for the joints where the water can creep in—- you are painting the chair——use a good caulk to seal up those joints—- you’ll paint over it and no one will know the difference and your chair will last longer.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 5098 days

#6 posted 05-30-2008 02:19 PM

I would use a good oil based primmer followed by 3-4 coats of quality oil-based paint. Make sure all surfaces are coated.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5130 days

#7 posted 05-30-2008 02:37 PM

really, the most important part is getting the end grain painted, sealed, or otherwise,....Especially the the parts that touch the ground. The end grain is like a moisture wick… Seal it well or enjoy the rot

-- making sawdust....

View Bill Hall's profile

Bill Hall

166 posts in 5197 days

#8 posted 05-30-2008 02:39 PM

Excellent! Thanks to you all, I have a plan. Your advice is greatly appreciated. Cheers!


View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 5119 days

#9 posted 05-31-2008 06:29 AM


One last comment. I made the New Yankee design 3 years ago for my own yard. I actually bought a high quality paint at the Depot that claims to act as primer and final coat. I sprayed it on with a Wagner power sprayer and got it on nice and thick. I then applied 3 coats of poly. I like the poly top coat because it makes them easier to clean up when the birds come to visit and dirt and pollen get all over them.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

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