Muskoka Chair Restoration – 10 Steps Back To Beautiful

The Muskoka chairs - beautifully refinished
The Muskoka chairs – beautifully refinished

The Iconic Muskoka Chair

A Muskoka chair is a style of chair typically used in outdoor settings and is a staple here in Canada, specifically in Ontario’s well-known Muskoka cottage country. The Muskoka chair, also known as the Adirondack chair in the United States, has become a symbol of cottage life and the embodiment of summer relaxation.

There’s something about a Muskoka chair that I’ve always been drawn to. I’m not sure if it’s the looks with its great quality and style or that it brings me back to being up north in cottage country (aka the Muskoka’s) sitting by the lake? Whatever it is, they are super comfortable, durable, practical, and look great in any outdoor setting.

The Recognizable Muskoka Chair

These chairs are easily identifiable, with their sloping seats, large flat armrests, and high, often rounded backs. The original design was made of wood, but these days they are available in a variety of materials. They can also be found in several styles including folding, and many colours from bright and vibrant to more natural tones like the original.

Adding A Muskoka Chair Into Your Space

With the advances in materials that are being used to build these chairs, it really makes them a great option for all seasons. They can easily be incorporated into any outdoor set-up, in both rural and urban settings. They are designed for comfort and are ideal for backyards, patios, pools, around a fire, or the most popular locations on the deck or dock. Muskoka chairs are a comfortable and inviting addition to any yard.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

The Muskoka chairs as we received them - they have seen better days
The chairs as we received them – they have seen better days

I found this double Muskoka Chair with an adjoining table on a freecycling group via Facebook. The opportunity presented itself and I was able to get it. Freecycling groups really are amazing! Who doesn’t love to repurpose something rather than throwing it away?

At some point this was a great seat for two, however, in its current condition, it was in need of some TLC. There were some screws missing or some that required adjusting, the paint was off or faded, they needed to be sanded down and re-stained/painted. Overall the chairs are solid and in excellent condition, they just needed some sprucing up.

I love finding DIY projects and envisioning their potential, check out some more of my projects here.

How To Stain Wood Chairs

Staining wood chairs is not hard; it’s actually quite easy. There are many nooks to make sure you don’t miss but as long as you are patient it won’t be difficult. For outdoor furniture, it is important to select paint or stain that’s specific for outdoor use. Also, ensure that you get quality oil stain or paint, it’s easier to apply and lasts longer.

In general wooden outdoor furniture can look great, but can also quickly look battered. Here in Canada, we have all four seasons to the extreme. Our summers can be very hot and our winters are cold and harsh. If you have a natural product that’s outside in the elements, it’s going to weather and can quickly go from something enjoyable to a piece of furniture that no one wants to use.

How we transformed these weathered Muskoka chairs

The Restoration:

  • Step 1: Tightened a few loose screws.
  • Step 2: Sanded with 80 grit sandpaper.
    *We used an orbital sander and oscillating tool with a sanding accessory. This removed the surface paint and smoothed out the grain.
  • Step 3: Sanded with 150 grit sandpaper.
  • Step 4: Sanded with 220 grit sandpaper.
  • Step 5: Did a hand finish sanding.
  • Step 6: Wiped off the sawdust – a step not to be missed!
    *We used a microfibre cloth, but any cotton rag is good just as long as whatever you use doesn’t leave behind residue.
  • Step 7: Time to stain! Using our chosen stain we applied the first coat and left it to dry overnight.
    *We went with a denim colour and used a bristle brush for the application.
  • Step 8: Applied a second coat of stain and left it to dry overnight.
  • Step 9: Applied the finish coat of Spar Urethane.
  • Step 10: Place your chairs in your desired location and enjoy your “new” chairs!
Steps during the process of the restoration
Steps during the process of the restoration

Bringing New Life To Old Muskoka Chairs

The Muskoka Chairs Before and After
Before and After

The “new” Muskoka chairs came out perfectly. They look so great and we look forward to when the weather is nice again and we can put them outside, until then we will enjoy them in our entry hallway, a much-needed spot to sit and put on winter boots and snow pants.

Muskoka chairs are truly a part of the Canadian cottage lifestyle. I look forward to sitting in our chairs, at home in our cottage-like setting, and enjoying nature.

Muskoka Chairs and forest views, the perfect combination
Muskoka Chairs and forest views, the perfect combination

Have you, or are you thinking about updating and renewing your chairs, I’d love to see your before and after pictures!

4 thoughts on “Muskoka Chair Restoration – 10 Steps Back To Beautiful

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    Marilyn Abel says:

    Very amazing Erica. They look gorgeous now. I must tell you Erica I am so impressed with your blog and every week look forward to Tuesday’s to read it. You are a very talented young lady. Keep up the blogs looking forward to next weeks.

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