What to Put On Old Adirondack Chairs – for Weatherproofing?

Weatherproofing Adirondack Chairs

Adirondack chair is a type of outdoor furniture known for its wide, slanted backrest and broad armrests. It is usually made from wood and got its name from the Adirondack Mountain range in New York, where it was originally crafted and built during the early 1900s.

Today, people use Adirondack chairs as beach or poolside lounge chairs, patio furniture items, and even for their backyard or garden areas.

But have you ever wondered what you should put on your wooden Adirondack chairs for weatherproofing?

Since the unfinished natural wood of the chair can easily absorb moisture, it’s essential to provide some kind of protection against extreme weather. You could go the traditional route and use a coat of paint or stain or try something a little different, like a natural clear varnish.

This blog post will explore some of the best options for keeping your Adirondack chairs looking great all year long. And how you should actually weatherproof them without worrying about the elements. So whatever the weather throws your way, you’ll be prepared by following the tips below…

Best Finishes for Wooden Adirondack Chairs

Most Adirondack chairs are made of cedar, teak, or mahogany. Unlike pine, oak, bamboo, wicker, or plastic, these woods are naturally resistant to rot and decay and can even be left out in the winter.

However, you must take proper steps to protect them from the elements and last for years. So, here are some of the best finishes for weatherproofing your Adirondack chairs made from natural wood:

1- Paint

I suggest using oil-based enamel paint with a satin finish to weatherproof your Adirondack garden chairs. This type of paint will safeguard the wood from moisture and sun damage while concealing any surface imperfections.

You can pick any color you want, but it’s best to go for a lighter tone, such as white or cream, for outdoor use to keep the chairs cool in summer. However, you may choose darker hues or vibrant shades like red or blue for indoor usage.

Be aware that the paint should be sprayed or applied correctly with a natural bristle brush and refinished every few years to maintain a new look.

2- Wood Stain

Another option for weatherproofing your Adirondack chairs is an oil-based wood stain. This will give the chairs a bit of color while still allowing the wood grain to show through.

If you want a unique look, a metal dye stain, a gel stain, or a lacquer stain can also be tried (do not use water-based if you use your chairs outdoors). Just be sure to add a coat of clear wood sealer in conjunction with the stain for extra protection.

3- Spar Varnish

Originally developed for use on boats, Spar varnish is a clear, protective finish that can be applied to the unpainted wooden surface of Adirondack chairs with a brush.

This finish is an excellent choice for outdoor use because it is elastic and flexible, which means it can tolerate temperature changes and high humidity.

Also, unlike wood stains and paints, spar varnish and sealants do not change the color of the timber. So, if you prefer to keep the natural look of your Adirondack chairs, this is a great option.

4- Wax               

Wax is another good option for weatherproofing your Adirondack chairs, as it creates a barrier against moisture and dirt.

Many types of waxes are available to keep the wooden chairs looking shiny and new, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Apply the wax with a cloth and rub them well for a smooth finish.

5- Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a synthetic resin often used as a protective coating for outdoor wood. It’s one of the best finishes for Adirondack garden chairs because it provides a durable, hard finish resistant to scratches and stains in hot and sunny climates.

Available in water- and oil-based formulas, you can apply it with a natural bristle brush and allow it to dry completely before use. Make sure to sand the surface lightly before applying the polyurethane finish, and reapply every few years to keep the chairs looking new.

6- Oils like Tung Oil and Teak Oil

Teak oil is derived from teak trees, while tung oil comes from the nut of the tung tree. Both of these natural oils penetrate the wood of your outdoor chairs to protect against moisture and dirt.

You can apply them directly on unfinished wood with a cloth or brush and let them penetrate the wood entirely before using the chairs. Reapply every few months for best results.

cleaning and refinishing adirondack chairs

How to Clean and Refinish Your Adirondack Chairs?

Cleaning, restoring, and refinishing your old wooden Adirondack chairs is not so tough. All you need is to follow the detailed steps here…


A pressure washer is a great way to get rid of dirt, grime, and mildew quickly and easily. Here’s how to use one to clean your chair:

  • Fill the pressure washer with water and detergent according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Turn on the pressure washer and hold the nozzle about 6 inches from the chair’s surface.
  • Move the nozzle in a back-and-forth motion until the entire chair is covered.
  • Rinse off the chair with clean water and let it air dry.


Once your chair is cleaned, here’s how to refinish it:

  • Use medium-grit sandpaper to sand the chair and clear any existing finish, dirt, grime, or stains.
  • With a damp cloth, wipe away any dust. Then, apply a primer coat to the chair so the paint or stain can adhere to the wood more effectively.
  • Proceed to apply the paint or stain finish on the chair. Leave it to dry for 2-3 hours, apply another coat, and wait for it to dry for a whole day thoroughly.
  • Apply a coat of polyurethane to protect the finish from scratches and stains. Wait for the sealer to dry and cure for 24 hours before using the chair.

If you reside in a region that experiences extreme weather conditions, I advise keeping your chairs in a garage or shed to shield them from outside elements such as rain, snow, sun, and dirt. Also, consider covering them with tarps or furniture covers.

Make sure that the Adirondack chair covers you intend to use are equipped with water-resistant, UV-stabilized fabric to provide a snug, custom fit using an elastic cord.

The Bottom Line

For those who own classic wooden Adirondack garden chairs, knowing how to clean and protect them from weathering can be confusing. This article will hopefully provide helpful tips and methods on how to weatherproof your Adirondack chairs and maintain their appearance for years to come.

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