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Caring for and Cleaning Your Adirondack Chairs

Get advice on how to care for and maintain your adirondack chair to keep it looking its best for years to come.

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Maintaining Wood Chairs
Which woods are good for outdoor?

All of our Adirondack chairs are suitable for outdoor use (unless noted otherwise). Western red cedar is a fine-grain, dimensionally stable wood that is naturally weather-resistant. It will last a lifetime. Our alder Adirondack chairs are painted with a high-gloss, two-coat, water-based enamel and are a very stable choice. Cypress Adirondack chairs are made from a beautiful, distinctive and durable wood that assures years of trouble-free satisfaction. Mahogany Adirondack chairs season/weather well with minimal shrinkage and checking. Other popular choices include pine, teak, oak, fir, shorea, and eucalyptus.

How often should I refinish my wood chair?

The answer to this question is not as simple as you may think. There are many factors to consider when caring for your Adirondack chair. Consider the weather where you live. Is it sunny and hot or cool and wet? Do you store wood Adirondack chairs in the winter? Do you keep your wood Adirondack chairs covered in the off season?

Consider the look you like. If you decide not to refinish your teak or shorea Adirondack chairs, for example, you may let them slowly weather to a silver/gray. Many of our customers love this look while others prefer to keep the 'like-new' look. The sun and exposure to the elements change the surface color of unprotected woods in unfinished Adirondack chairs but does not affect the structural integrity of the wood. It really is a matter of personal preference. Whether or not you decide to keep the 'like-new' color or let it gray, it is important to clean the outdoor Adirondack chairs at least once a year.

What kind of weather finish should I use on my chairs?

While there are many good products available, there are particular features that you should look for in a good weather finish. Read on for more details on choices that range from exterior paint to spar varnish or tung oil.

Unfinished Adirondack Chair
Unfinished Adirondack Chair

You can certainly paint your wood Adirondack chairs if you so desire. Be sure to use a good primer on the clean, bare wood before applying the finish coat to your painted Adirondack chairs. Of any exterior finish, paint offers the best form of protection. However, paint will eventually peel and will need to be refreshed. In fact, most outdoor finishes on wood Adirondack chairs will only last 1-3 years before they need to be renewed.

Oil or water based for your Adirondack chair?

Typically oil-based products last longer on wood Adirondack chairs, but they are usually harder to clean up and more toxic to you and the environment. Water based products are generally easier to use and clean up.

For a more environmentally friendly oil-based finish, consider using tung oil or linseed oil, both derived from natural seeds.

Do you live in a wet climate?

Look for a product with a mold inhibitor. Consider a spar varnish, formulated with the boating industry in mind, and designed to withstand marine conditions.

Jayhawk Plastics<br/>
 Recycled Plastic Seaside Adirondack Chair
Jayhawk Plastics Recycled Plastic Seaside Adirondack Chair
Do you live in a hot and sunny climate?

Choose a wood finish with UV protection, and a yearly application is recommended.

Whatever finish you decide to use, always consider your health and safety and follow all manufacturers' directions.

If you don't intend to renew the finish on your wood Adirondack chairs, the wood will turn a silvery grey color. Once the exterior of the wood is gray, the rate of wood deterioration to the wooden Adirondack chairs slows tremendously. (The damage to the surface actually prevents UV light from penetrating to the interior of the wood.) So it's fine to let the wood's natural properties protect against decay, rot and insect infestation.

How do I clean my wooden Adirondack chair?

A pressure washer makes cleaning super easy. Otherwise you can clean them with a soft brush and a good wood cleaner. You can find these things at any hardware store. Be sure to rinse well and allow the wood to dry thoroughly before applying any finish.

A mild soap and water bath once every couple of weeks is a good, inexpensive way to start your wooden Adirondack chairs care program. Just use a pan of warm sudsy water and a cloth. Follow up with a pan of clear water and rinse the soap off so that you don't end up with a soapy film on your chairs. Be sure that the surface is dry after washing.

Spills on your wood chairs should be wiped up as soon as they happen, especially carbonated beverage spills, they can be very hard on clear finishes and paint if left sitting.

Do I need to store my wooden Adirondack chairs in the winter?

It is always best if you can put wood Adirondack chairs away in the garage or shed for the winter. If you do not have a place to store them, and you would like them covered, just remember to make sure the furniture is dry before you cover it. Plastic tarps often can promote mold growth or will leak, so be careful and check their condition mid-season.

Shine Company Westport Cedar Adirondack Chair
Shine Company Westport Cedar Adirondack Chair
Maintaining Plastic Chairs

Plastic Adirondack chairs never need staining or waterproofing because, even though they look like they are made of wood, they don't need to be maintained like real wood. The recycled plastic chair comes clean with a little soapy water (avoid harsh solvents or abrasives), followed by a quick rinse and a dry towel. All-weather plastic chairs can even be left outside year round with no deterioration or wear.