We did that! – Adriondack Chairs

The name of these chairs make me want to yodel.  Even though my brain knows the Adirondacks are in NY and not Switzerland (thanks Google) the thought is very tempting.

Any(yodelayhee)who…  we did THIS:


When looking for chairs for the front porch we were originally thinking rockers.  Although shopping for rocking chairs can give you sticker shock!  Even on craigslist rockers were ‘antique’ and therefore overpriced and rarely came in pairs.  I did find that the Cracker Barrel near our house had their ‘last season’ rockers marked down 70%.  Which was a good deal except 1) I never remembered to drag Matt there and 2) we couldn’t fit one, let alone two, rockers in our cars.

And then walking through Home Depot this past winter we saw THESE.  Unfinished adult-sized Adirondack chairs for less that $40 a piece!  SOLD.  Never mind that the only thing I ever stained was when ‘helping’ my dad with our deck when I was 17.  Or that furniture assembly almost cause Matt and I to break up when we were dating (true-ish story).   We immediately loaded two of the huge boxes in our car and lugged them home to sit in our garage for a few months (don’t judge, it was tax season).

Fast forward to spring time when I finally have my husband back… it was a beautiful sunny day so we dragged the boxes to the back patio and unloaded them.  And although the instructions were only slightly more helpful than ikea’s they were not all that hard to assemble!  Soon we had two beautiful (albeit stinky) solid fir wood chairs ready to be stained.  Knowing they would take multiple coats of stain / sealer we set them up on cardboard out in the garage.


I had already picked out the stain color, Dark Walnut by Minwax, to go with the other dark accents on the front porch.  I just ready the directions on the can and went for it using my experience reading diy blogs.

Here are the steps I used:

1) Lightly sanded my chairs with a medium grit sanding block just to get rid of any splinters or rough spots in the unfinished wood.

2) Wiped down the chair with a clean rag to remove and lingering dust / dirt.

3) Used a natural bristle brush to paint the stain onto the wood.  I tried to not use an excess amount of stain each time to avoid drips.  Then after approximately 15 minutes I rubbed the wood down with another clean rag to remove and excess stain (which can cause the wood to never dry properly and your sealer to not adhere well).  We did the underside of the chairs one night, let them dry, and flipped them over to do the topsides the next night.  There were a few places where stain from the bottom dripped down from the night before but we were able to blend with the new stain pretty well.


Note: Stain is STINKY.  Do this in a well ventilated place that is still protected from the elements (like a garage).  I wouldn’t recommend using this stuff inside lest the fumes infiltrate your stuff.  Also you can keep your unwashed brushes in a sealed bag in the freezer until you’re done with the project so you only have to wash them at the end (and they won’t dry out).  Genius!


Isn’t that color gorgeous?

Since the chairs would be outside we had to seal them with a weather proofing top coat.  On recommendation from my dad we got ‘spar varnish’. Spar varnish is what is used to weather proof boat hulls – it seals the wood not only to water but light as well.  I don’t know that one brand is specifically better than another but we went with the Rust-oleum brand.


Rust-oleum Spar Varnish and the cheap-o paint thinner we used for this project

After letting the second stain dry again over night I flipped the chairs back bottom-side up and was ready to seal.

The steps we used to stain are pretty much what we used to seal:

1) Wipe the chair down with a clean cloth – even in our garage there was a fine pollen dust on them!

2) Use the same bristle brush (cleaned) to lightly paint on the varnish.  Avoid drips by not over loading your brush and paint them out when they do occur.

I did one coat on the bottom side and let it dry over night.  The next day I went for two coats on the topside – letting the first one dry for more that 4 hours per the instructions (but not more than 12 unless I wanted to sand in between… and I did not).


NOTE: I cleaned my brushes with paint thinner after the staining & varnish steps – this stuff is hard to get out!  I don’t know that they will ever be brushes I could use for paint again but I will keep them around for future stain projects.

And that was it!  We let the chairs cure in the garage until they were no longer sticky to the touch (a few days) and then moved them to the covered front porch.  We waited a few more days to really let the varnish cure before sitting on them but other than that they were done.

And they are prrreeeeeettty!!!


All in all the project probably cost around $100 for the chairs, stain, varnish, & paint thinner (but I have leftovers of the supplies for another project) and around four hours plus a week of drying time).   Considering that you can’t buy one nice finished Adirondack chair for that I am super happy with the outcome.

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