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The Adirondack chair brings up memories of sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows, or relaxing at the beach while watching the sunset. This iconic chair was designed by a man vacationing in the Adirondack Mountains in 1903 and has stood the test of time. Today, Adirondack chairs are still available in the original slant-back style with wide armrests. You can find them made from various wood species, resin and recycled lumber in a variety of finishes and colors. Not one to leave well enough alone, I like the option of an unfinished chair so I can paint it to coordinate with the rest of my patio decor. Or, in this case, get ready for a Fourth of July picnic. Follow these steps to make your own festive furniture.
Step One: Prime
Your new unfinished chair may have some rough areas, so sand down the edges and tough spots to ensure a smoother paint job. Since it’s an outdoor chair, choose exterior-grade primer and apply.
Pro Tip: Watch the weather for the day you choose to start painting your Adirondack chair. “The best weather conditions for painting outdoors are when it is clear and dry and not too hot or too cold,” says Andrew Schrage, DIY expert and co-owner of Money Crashers Personal Finance. “Although this will depend upon the area of the country you live in, you normally would want to schedule these projects for in the spring or fall. Summertime outdoor painting should be done early in the morning or later on at night, and in the winter, shoot for the middle of the day.”
Step Two: Paint
Paint your chair with your desired colors. Be sure to lightly sand between coats so you end up with a smooth finish. The possibilities are endless when it comes to painting chairs. I considered a traditional stars-and-stripes style, which would have alternating seat slates in red and white in the front and blue and white in the back. Instead, I decided to paint the seat and arms red and the back navy blue.
Pro Tip: A good paintbrush is the key to a clean finish, says Schrage. “Invest in good brushes – they’re all expensive, but spending a bit more on them will generate better results,” he recommends.
Step Three: Choose a Design
If you want something more than solid colors, pick a design to repeat across your chair. Instead of 50 small stars marching across the back, I went with a more stylized star. I drew it large on scrap paper, and then copied it twice, reducing the size each time. If free-hand drawing isn’t your strong suit, go online to find a perfect five-point star (or any design you choose!).
Step Four: Create a Stencil
Make a stencil by cutting out the star. Position the stencil on the chair and attach it with painter’s tape, which has a special adhesive making it easy to remove without damage to a painted surface. I started at the upper right corner with the bigger star. Remember, there are no rules— get creative!
Pro Tip: “If you can’t get an outdoor painting project done in one day, make sure your furniture is adequately covered overnight to prevent any unforeseen messes,” Schrage notes.
Step Five: Add Your Design
Fill in the opening of the stencil by gently applying exterior paint with a flat bristle stencil brush. Use a tapping motion versus back and forth so the paint doesn’t run under the paper stencil. Make it as dark or light as you want. After the paint dries, remove the stencil and move on to the next one.
The final product turned out so cute, I think I’ll paint a few more chairs to help celebrate Independence Day in style!
Merri Cvetan is a Wisconsin interior designer and an enthusiastic DIY furniture decorator. Merri writes her tips on customizing Adirondack chairs and other outdoor furniture for The Home Depot. To review a wide assortment of Adirondack chairs, you can visit The Home Depot website.