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How Best to Care for Adirondack Chairs? Both Wooden and Polywood

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Adirondack Chair Care

Adirondack chairs are one of the most relaxing pieces of patio furniture you can have for your poolside, deck, lawn, or patio. Unlike other outdoor furniture, Adirondack chairs can get by with minimal maintenance. However, this does not mean you do not have to do anything to keep these – or any other outdoor furniture – clean and in good condition.

So, consider this advice about proper care of your Adirondack chair. The advice is different for wood versus plastic, or Polywood Adirondack chairs. Following these tips, you can make sure your chair looks great for many years to come.

Types of Adirondack Chairs

There are two types of material used to make Adirondack chairs: wood and plastic.

Typical woods used are pine, Douglas fir, and white cedar or red cedar, and redwood. Probably the best type of wood, with very high durability, is teak.

However, much of the teak comes from illegally harvested trees. To be honest, we do not want to see this precious tree go extinct. So, if you are going to buy a wood chair, consider the other types suggested here.

Is Cedar Good for Chairs?

You should consider a cedar Adirondack chair because it has resins which help to preserve it naturally. Pine is the least durable material; Doug Fir is better than pine but not as good as cedar. Plus, cedar has a refreshing smell. Redwood is also a possible choice because it is resistant to aging.

Plastic is a general term for various synthetic material chairs, and often comes from recycled plastic containers to look and almost feel like wood. So it’s called Polywood.

Plastic Adirondack chairs require very little maintenance. Wood Adirondack chairs require both more preparation before use as well as periodic maintenance through sanding, cleaning, and refinishing.

Wooden Adirondack Chairs

Many people choose wooden Adirondack chairs because of their many different strengths, including its durability, style, and comfort. It is also a more natural material you can use if you are trying to keep that kind of aesthetic in your outdoor space.


In at least some cases, you’ll need to give your new chair some finishing, although you can also buy chairs that are already finished. To see one of the best wood adirondack chairs, go here.

There are three ways to protect your wood Adirondack chair:

Wooden Adirondack chairs are more prone to damage from water and sunlight exposure than Polywood. That is why it is important to cover the chair when not in use so that UV rays cannot affect it. Also, try to keep it away from the areas where it can come in contact with water.

Extreme weather conditions, such as stormy weather or ice and snow, can shorten the life of wood patio furniture. So, if you want your furniture to last for years to come, and look its best, be sure to maintain it.


One approach to take if you don’t mind giving up the natural wood experience is to simply paint your chair.

Ace’s Home Expert Lou Manfredini gives you step-by-step instructions on how to paint an Adirondack chair. Get simple tips to create a focal point in your yard, porch, or patio with a pop of color. See a demonstration of each step to get the best results for this simple project.


The best way to maintain the health of wood Adirondack chairs is by refinishing it once every couple of years. Giving this touch-up will both boost its appearance, but also protect the material against various weather conditions.

Regular Cleaning

If you think that refinishing is all there is to maintenance, think again. To boost the life of your Adirondack chair, use a pressure washer to clean out the tiny nooks and crevices in the wood. It is the simplest way to clean wood Adirondack chairs, or for that matter, any of your outdoor furniture.

Eliminating spills

The wood of the chair can become weaker if your spills stay on it for extended periods. We suggest wiping them as soon as possible as they can become harder to remove later. Just think of stuff like Coca-Cola, that some people use to clean up old engines.

The acid in a coke can really do a job on the wood in your chair. Likewise, who wants to deal with sticky sugar residues from spilled punch or beer. Make sure to sponge it off right away!

Supplies and Cleaning How-To

To clean your wooden Adirondack chairs, you can use a mixture containing one cup of ammonia, half a cup of vinegar, a quarter cup of baking soda, and a gallon of water. All of this can be mixed into a bucket. Use a sponge or cloth to wipe down the wood, taking the time to get every corner and area.

You can then hose down your chairs and allow them to air dry completely. It is best to avoid cleaning your wooden Adirondack chairs during the cooler times of the year, however, because the moisture in the air can cause the wood to begin to crack and split.

Once you are done cleaning your wood Adirondack chairs, it is recommended that you also apply a protective sealant to the chairs to protect the wood from any future moisture damage – especially before you store the furniture.

If you find that there are some more stubborn spots and staining and your chairs need a deeper cleaning, you can use a soft scrub brush to scrub away the dirt using a water, dishwasher detergent or oxygen bleach mixture. When scrubbing, always make sure to scrub in the direction of the wood grain. You can lightly sand out any stains that just will not go away.

Polywood Adirondack Chair Maintenance

Maintaining Polywood or recycled plastic Adirondack is simple compared with wooden Adirondack chairs. You do not have to worry about fading at all as recycled plastic can stay protected from UV rays on its own.

Basic Cleaning

The Polywood chairs should be cleaned at least once a month so that debris and dust do not gather on them. For this purpose, you only need mild soap and water as there is no need for an extreme level of cleaning. All you need to do is scrub the chair gently and clean it thoroughly with the cloth.

Avoid solvents

A common mistake performed by the owners of Polywood Adirondack chair owners is using harsh solvents for cleaning purposes. It results in negatively affecting the finish of the plastic Adirondack chairs. That is why mild soap and water are best for cleaning purposes.

You also want to avoid using any kind of abrasives like steel wool to clean your chairs because this material can quickly scratch up the chairs and cause extensive damage.

Supplies and Cleaning How-To

To clean your plastic Adirondack chairs, you will need a gentle liquid dish soap, a bucket, hose, and a sponge or cloth. Simply mix the dish detergent with some hot water in the bucket. You can then use the cloth or sponge dipped into the sudsy water to wipe down your chairs. Sometimes, you will need to scrub a bit harder on those chairs that have been left outside longer or have more caked-on dirt.

If this is the case, it is also recommended that you allow your cleaning solution to rest on the chairs for a bit to help loosen that caked-on dirt. It will make it much easier for you to clean. Once your chairs have been scrubbed down, simply use the hose to rinse them off. Extra water pressure allows you to make sure that you remove all the soapy residue and leftover dirt and debris.

If you still see some dirt or staining, you may need to repeat the process and introduce an old toothbrush or other scrub brush into your cleaning routine to help remove that stubborn dirt to get your plastic Adirondack chairs as clean as possible.

If there is staining that you just cannot seem to get off, you can mix half a cup of bleach in with the cleaning solution. However, you want to be sure you rinse this solution off immediately so as not to affect the coloring of your plastic chairs.

Once done, place the chairs in an upside-down position to allow them to completely air dry. However, if you need to use the chairs right away, use a soft towel to gently wipe them dry.

Preparing Adirondack Chairs for Winter Storage

Before storing your Adirondack chairs for the winter, you want to go through the cleaning processes outlined above to ensure they are clean and ready to go when you pull them out next season. If you do not take the time to clean the chairs, you may find that leftover dirt and other debris can cause mold and mildew to form on the chairs while they are in storage – depending on the material.

For wooden Adirondack chairs, after they are cleaned, consider adding a protective sealant to help defend against moisture while the chairs are being stored. Plastic chairs do not have to worry about the moisture; however, the cool weather may be enough to cause the plastic to crack. So, they should never be left outside during the winter months.

Finally, it also helps to cover the furniture while it is in storage to add another layer of protection against the extreme temperatures and elements. Secure a tarp or furniture coverings over them and then store them safely in your storage shed, garage, or other secure area.


Taking care of Polywood Adirondack chairs is pretty easy when compared with the models manufactured using wood. Although the wood Adirondack chairs need a little bit of extra maintenance, the rustic appearance and solidity are a plus, and they may also be cheaper than recycled plastic chairs. In the end, it is up to you and what suits you best.

Eric Arnow