Without regular staining, an unfinished Adirondack chair (and, indeed, all outdoor wood furniture) will soon turn gray and suffer from wood rot. While some people prefer the coastal style of an unfinished Adirondack chair, most homeowners would prefer to transform and protect their unfinished Adirondack chairs with a rich, weather-resistant stain. By following our stain tips below, you’ll defend any unfinished Adirondack chair against the natural elements.
Step 1 – Sand your way down to smooth.
Older, unfinished Adirondack chairs almost always have some chips. Even a brand new, unfinished Adirondack chair can have a rough spot or two. Sandpaper is the solution for both situations. Start with 150-grit sandpaper and then switch to 220-grit sandpaper to create a velvet-smooth surface. Remove excess sawdust with a damp cloth.
Step 2: Prepare your security team.
Wear gloves and goggles. Be sure to dye in a place with excellent airflow to protect your lungs. Lastly, because staining can be a messy job, you may want to protect the floor of your workspace with a drop cloth.
Step 3 – Condition the Wood.
Applying wood conditioner is a great way to prevent discoloration later on. Simply apply a thin layer of conditioner and wait 15 minutes for it to dry before brushing out the stain.
Step 4 – Select a stain.
There are two main categories of wood stain: oil-based and water-based. (Some manufacturers create oil/water hybrids.) Dyes, pigments, and mineral spirits are combined to create oil-based dyes. In general, oil-based stains take longer to dry, since oil penetrates deeper into the wood pulp than water. This feature also results in a more even finish. If you plan to leave your Adirondack chairs unfinished in severe weather, oil-based stains are the best option, as they are more durable than water-based stains. Those who live in moisture-prone locations should be sure to select oil-based stains with mildew inhibitors.
An advantage of water-based dyes is that they exist in more colors than their oil-based cousins. People with lung conditions should also choose water-based dyes, as they don’t release harmful fumes. For the same reason, water-based stains are the most environmentally friendly option. Water-based stains dry faster, are more flame resistant, and are easier to clean with soap and water. Don’t worry about searching for a mold inhibitor; water-based stains naturally resist mildew.
Once you’ve selected a tint base, choose a shade that flatters the exterior of your home, as well as a level of opacity. Opaque stains offer more protection, but more translucent stains show off the natural beauty of the wood better.
Step 5: Stain like a pro.
Distribute the color in the can with thorough agitation. You can apply the stain with a brush or rag. Some people prefer disposable foam brushes for staining unfinished chairs. Saturate every inch of the unfinished Adirondack chair with stain. Leave the tint on to encourage a darker shade or wipe off excess tint for a lighter color. Promote penetration by rubbing in the same direction as the wood grain.
Give the stain a day or so to dry. Apply another coat of stain if the color doesn’t seem bright enough to you.
Step 6 – Apply a protective finish.
To make sure unfinished Adirondack chairs last a long time, it’s important to apply a protective finish. Oil-based finishes are best for patio furniture. Some time-saving products contain stain and finish.