Finishing & Maintaining Western Red Cedar & Barn-wood Adirondack Furniture
STAINING:  Do it yourself.
If you want  the beautiful wood grains to show thru the stain, I have used a product by BEHR purchased at Home Depot.  This is a deck stain. You can use the #500 Natural Clear finish or the #501. This stain is easy to use because it cleans up with water.  The 500 is clear and the 501 has a tint of natural cedar.  Both stains are transparent so wood grains show through. The stain gives UV protection from the Sun and water proofs the wood.

After assembling, brush on a thin coat of stain.  Wipe any thick or runny areas of stain with a rag to evenly distribute the stain.  Let completely dry. Takes about half day to dry, depending on humidity and  temperature. 
OPTIONAL: After first coat dries, take a medium grit sanding sponge and lightly and quickly sand the first coat of stain. 
(the first wet coat slightly raises the grains in the wood) The sanding knocks down the raised grain and makes the wood smooth again. For an Adirondack Chair, this should take no more than 10 minutes or less.  Apply a thin second coat of stain to exposed areas. No need to stain under the chair. Again smooth out the stain with a rag.  This second coat of stain gives the wood a deeper and richer look.  There are better quality, but more expensive alternatives to finishing western red cedar, such as Marine Spar varnish, Polyurethanes, Penofin and other high quality stains.  Please consult with you paint professional at Sherwin Williams or another paint store, to find out how to proceed with these products.
Always assemble furniture before starting the finishing process.  The reason is, there are small areas that need to be glued so the furniture will be strong and durable. If stain or paint gets on these gluing areas then the adhesive properties of the glue will be substantially reduced.

It's easier to finish the chair in two separate parts. Finish the back rest assembly separate from the rest of the chair.
After finishing the back rest assembly attach to the chair. 
Because different parts of the country have their own unique environment, it is good to consult with your local paint and stain supplier to see what might be the best option for your area.
  Sherwin Williams Paint stores have excellent individuals that can explain the options that will work best for your area.

DIRECT EXPOSURE TO ELEMENTS: If wood is left unfinished, is stained or painted, and furniture is exposed to direct sun, rain or snow year round, then a yearly maintenance schedule should be followed. Wood expands and contracts with differing temperature and weather conditions.  Some slight fading of paint may take place although the paint I spray on is resistant to fading.  Eventually the screws and or bolts may need to be tightened and the finish touched up. Before touching up finish, a light sanding will smooth out the surface.  After a few years you may want to re-glue some of the loose parts by simply backing out the screws and gluing the part back on again.  This makes a big difference in the durability, rigidity and strength of the furniture. It's a good idea to store or cover the furniture during winter or severe weather.

INDIRECT EXPOSURE TO ELEMENTS:  Furniture that is protected, even partially, under an overhang such as an awning or porch will require less maintenance.  You may not have to do any maintenance for three or four years.
PAINTING: Do it yourself.
After assembling, a thin coat of stain blocking primer needs to be applied to the wood.  KILZ 2® LATEX is a stain blocking interior /exterior water-based primer located at all Home Depot or Sherwin Williams Paint stores. You can also buy in a spray can. Takes approximately two spray cans per chair. Prime the western red cedar by brushing or if using a spray can, spray one thin coat over all surfaces.  After primer dries, take a medium grit sanding sponge and smooth down the primer.  Takes about 10 to 15 minutes to sand.  When primer is sanded smooth the surfaces are ready to paint.  I purchase my paint at Sherwin Williams Paint store. Ask for a "Solo" brand paint. This paint is  an interior/exterior paint and dries quickly.  If brushing on paint, two coats should be applied.  If applying paint with a sprayer  then one coat is sufficient.  Annually clean painted surface with warn soapy water and wipe dry. CAUTION: Don't use exterior only latex. This paint is for outdoor exterior trim.  Not good to sit in as it will seems like it is tacky and not dry, even though it is dry.

COPYRIGHT © GARDEN FURNITURE MILL LLC, 2003 - For personal use only -  not for commercial use

Stained Chair
Stained big boy chairs
BEHR #500 Natural
BEHR #501 Cedar Tint
USA paint colors
yellow chair
Western Red Cedar is a soft wood but is strong and durable.  If left unfinished and exposed to weather, eventually the wood will turn a barn-wood gray.    Like any wood with exposure to sun, rain, snow and temperature variations, the chair will have to be maintained.  In two to three years, screws will have to be tightened.  Possibly some parts will have to be
re-glued. If proper care is taken, western red furniture furniture will last for years. 
Barn-wood chair wood has been naturally aged over 10 - 15 years on the high plains of Wyoming.  Made from natural recycled snow-fence wood. Chair parts have been sanded to remove burrs and roughness that occurs during the aging process.
Because wood will continue to age, maintenance of wood consists of lightly sanding time to time to keep wood suitable for sitting. Best to use a medium grit sanding sponge.  After sanding, you can either flush wood with water and let air dry or wipe with a damp cloth to remove dust. No other cleaning is necessary other than to keep clean of dust and debris..

Check annually for sturdiness.  If parts are loosening up, re-tighten screws.  In a few years, some parts may have to be taken off and re-glued.  Best to store chairs in protected area or covered during extreme weather conditions.