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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

New Life to Old Adirondack Chairs

Sunday, August 21, 2016

One of the best things about covered porches is the protection they provide furniture and pillows. Our Adirondack chairs, however, sat on the old open deck for years and did not receive the TLC (tender loving care) they should have. 

Rain, sleet, hail, snow, and ultraviolet light took their toll and weathered the chairs to a dark gray. Hiding behind patriotic pillows in Three Easy Designs - Patriotic Deck the chair still looked inviting and was comfortable, but also looked a little forlorn and unloved.

However, with a lot of elbow grease, a power washer, a sander, and some paint I gave new life to our old Adirondack chairs this summer.

Step by step they regained a brighter, lighter look and regained some of their former glory. Do not expect them to regain the beauty of their youth; more like a well-done face-lift of a gracefully aging beauty.

Nor should these three steps of renewal be called easy. Remember the first thing I listed was elbow grease, but the finished chairs were worth the effort. 

Step 1  Power Washing

This took the longest time, except for painting, and was the hardest step physically. I power washed the two Adirondack chairs in the yard under the pear tree which allowed the tree to soak up the water and provided shade for me as I worked. 

If you have ever used a power washer, you know to wear old clothes. I was soaked from the back splash of water, and was filthy from the back splash of dirt from the ground. 

The chairs were so weathered the power washing really roughed up the wood. 

Had the the chairs been cleaned routinely, it would have taken less power washing to get them clean, and the wood would not have been damaged as much. 

Step 2  Sanding

The rest of the restoration was completed on the covered porch section of the new treehouse deck. A large plastic tarp protected the new deck floor. By setting the chair legs on paver stones, the chairs were lifted higher making it easier on my back as I leaned over the chairs to sand them. 

A power sander made this step easier. Since the wood grain was so damaged, I used a #80 grit sandpaper for the first sanding. The sandpaper package described #80 grit as the grit to use to remove old paint and/or to level uneven surfaces. 

Boy, did these chairs have uneven surfaces! So much so, I wondered if the chairs were beyond repair, but the coarse sandpaper quickly showed the chairs could be salvaged. 

I used #120 grit sandpaper for a second sanding to give a smoother surface and focused on the arms, seat, and inside back slats since these surfaces would be the ones with the most contact for people sitting in the chairs. 

Step 3  Painting 

I used Rustoleum spray paint and primer in Heirloom White. Since the chairs had never been painted or stained, the wood soaked up the paint. 

On the first coat, I began to have second thoughts again. This time about painting the chairs, wondering how they were going to turn out. You know that feeling... OH, NO, WHAT HAVE I DONE?  Should I sand all this paint back off and just apply a clear sealer? 

With the first coat of paint the chairs looked very much like they did before power washing the gray off. 

The chairs looked very rustic and C H I P P Y, a style that many people like. I prefer a little less chippy and a lot more painted surface. 

Each coat of paint reassured me that Heirloom White paint was the right choice to give new life to these old Adirondack chairs. 

Not quite there, but getting closer to the finished look... a white beach chair weathered over time from sitting in the white sand on the Gulf coast. 

One more coat of Heirloom White got the look. 

Please join me at these inspiring places for more joy of living. 

Dishing It and Digging It @ Rustic and Refined




  1. They look great. What a lot of work. I really don't love sanding and will avoid it but it certainly helped your chairs. I can't wait to see the reveal.

  2. You are a workhorse! I did this to a set of Adirondack chairs we used to have in Oklahoma. You can keep them going for several more years and they are fun with a coat of paint. :)

  3. Lots of work, no doubt, but now you have a gorgeous chair to kick back and rest in!! Nice job, I love the white. It's a classic!

  4. By now you know, I'm sure, that you did EXACTLY the right thing because the chairs are beautiful. I like the look of freshly-painted Adirondack (or Muskoka as we call them up here) chairs. The white is classic!

  5. Some old rockers on our back patio are going to get some white paint now thanks to your inspirational pictures ;-)

  6. That looks great! That was a lot of work but your chairs got a new life!

  7. Your hard work paid off! I hope you will take a few moments to sit in them :)

  8. Thanks, Deanna. They really do look much better.


  9. Judith, all that hard work paid off! They look great. It's good you could save them. Love your fun pillow too!

  10. They look brand new! It was worth all the hard work. Beautiful chairs! Love, love your pillow.

  11. Thank you, Maria Elena. We are loving the chairs on the deck, and the pillows add just the right amount of comfy support.


  12. These came out great! I love anything sea themed, so the pillows really drew my eye.

  13. There is nothing like a fresh coat (or 5!) of white paint. They look refreshed but not new, which I think is nicer. My painted Adirondack chairs need a new coat, but not this year! I have the same pillow in the last picture but in Aqua!

  14. The turned out great Judith!! Kudos to you for sticking it out and finishing them!! Thank you for sharing at TaDa Thursday!!!

  15. You did a fantastic job. I've always loved these chairs, but never had my own. They are so comfortable. Loved how that turned out. Thanks for sharing at Your Inspired Design.

  16. These look great! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!


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