I am planning on building some Adirondack chairs for around our pool. We want to change it up a little from the traditional look by painting on some graphics such as waves, palm trees etc. Nothing too complicated but it will be in multiple colors. So, my question is this. What kind of paint should be used that will hold up in an outdoor environment (especially heat and sun here in southern California)? Also, should I paint the graphics directly over the wood and then a clear varnish or over the entire chair and graphics? Or maybe I should use something like polyurethane first then the graphics? And finally, what kind of wood do you think will be best for this project? Thanks! – John
Chris Marshall: I would choose an exterior latex enamel paint for those graphics on your chairs, but be sure to start with a quality latex primer over the bare wood before the enamel goes on. Actually, one of the most durable exterior finishes to both UV sunlight and moisture is good old paint. You could paint your entire chairs with latex enamel in some bright colors and graphics. The paint will seal the wood and offer long-lasting protection from the sun. If you’d rather have the look of real wood than a coat of paint, I’d build the chairs from exterior-tough woods like cedar, cypress, mahogany, redwood or white oak. Eventually, the wood will turn a silvery gray color, but I think rustic chairs are very appealing.
Tim Inman: It isn’t the heat that will be your paint’s biggest enemy, it is the sun — UV rays, specifically. So, I’d strongly suggest an exterior grade paint. I would also paint over a clear coat. It will just be easier. Follow it up with an exterior grade poly or spar varnish. What wood? Let me count the trees…. Depends upon your budget, your “heirloom quotient,” your weight tolerance, your budget — you get the idea?