how to paint outdoor wood rocking chair | Refreshing your porch’s 2023

Are you looking to breathe new life into your worn-out outdoor furniture? Your wooden rocking chair might be screaming for a makeover, and it’s a project you can easily tackle on a weekend. Learning how to paint an outdoor wood rocking chair not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also adds years to its lifespan by protecting it from the elements. Whether you’re aiming for a chic, modern look or a rustic farmhouse vibe, you’re in the right place. Here are the steps to take for a rocking chair transformation.

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Paint Outdoor Wood Rocking Chair

how to paint outdoor wood rocking chair
How to Paint Outdoor Wood Rocking Chair?

Materials and Tools List for Painting an Outdoor Wood Rocking Chair

  • Drop cloths or plastic sheets – for ground protection.
  • Paint – (options include oil-based, water-based, and acrylic-based paints)
  • Base coat or primer – to prepare the wooden surface for painting.
  • Sealer – (preferably waterproof and possibly with UV protection for sunny locales)
  • Sandpaper – (coarse grit)
  • Microfiber or damp cloth – for cleaning the chair.
  • Spray shelter (optional) – beneficial for controlled painting.
  • Electric sander (optional) – can be used instead of manual sanding with sandpaper.
  • Paint sprayer (optional) – offers a smoother finish.
  • Paintbrush – for detailed application.
  • Paint tray – to hold and access paint easily.

Step 1: Preparing Area for the Perfect Paint Job

Before you start slapping on a fresh coat of paint, it’s essential to prepare the area. Here’s what you need to do:

Choose a Well-Ventilated Area:

Whether you’re working on a piece of furniture or painting intricate details on dining room chairs with a chair rail, ventilation is crucial. Always select an open space, perhaps outdoors or in a garage with the door wide open.

Protect Your Ground:

Painting can get messy, even if you’re a pro! Lay down drop cloths or plastic sheets. This will safeguard against paint spills.

Set Up Your Spray Shelter:

If you happen to have a spray shelter or are considering investing in one, now’s the time to use it. It’s an awesome idea to ensure your spray paint goes only where you want it, especially when you’re working on more complex projects like building a wooden outdoor chair.

Step 2: Prepping your Rocking Chair:

You wouldn’t wear your suit without washing it first, right? Likewise, before you transform your chair with beautiful colors, a little prep work is needed:

Gentle Cleaning for a Fresh Start:

Before any actual painting can commence, ensure your rocking chair is free from dust. A damp cloth, preferably a microfiber one, can work wonders here.

Sanding for Smoothness:

Sanding is where your rocking chair starts to shed its old skin, making way for a vibrant new identity. You can choose between coarse grit sandpaper or an electric sander to lovingly remove the old, loose paint and create a receptive canvas for the fresh coat of paint.

Feel the grains of the wood, understand its texture, and work in harmony with it. This step is not just about removing the old paint but forming a bond with the chair, understanding its nuances, and preparing it for a beautiful transformation.

A Final Wipe Down:

After the sanding process, the rocking chair carries remnants of its past — a dust layer that needs to be wiped away. A tacky cloth or a dry microfiber cloth works wonders in removing this residue, making sure that the rocking chair is ready for its much-awaited transformation.

Step 3: Choosing the Perfect Paint:

So, you’ve prepared your workspace and the chair. Now, the exciting part begins – picking the paint! With so many types of paints available, making a choice can be daunting.

Oil, Water, and Acrylic Paints:

Between oil-based paint, water-based paint, and acrylic-based paint, your options seem endless. How do you choose? For an outdoor wooden chair, you must think about the environment it will be exposed to. Oil-based paint offers a robust layer, resisting the wear and tear of time, giving your furniture protection from moisture damage and scratches. The water-based paints are easier to clean, dry quickly, and have fewer fumes. On the other hand, acrylic-based paints dry quickly and resist fading, making them an excellent choice for pieces that face harsh weather conditions.

Pondering Over Paint Colors:

The color of paint you select is a reflection of your taste and the ambiance you wish to cultivate. While dark colors lend an air of sophistication, they might retain more heat, especially under the blazing sun. Lighter shades, though serene and beautiful, might betray dirt and smudges more easily. Always keep in mind the surroundings and conditions.

Step 4: Applying a Base Coat or Primer:

Did you know that a primer can make a world of difference in your painting process? Think of it as preparing a canvas for an artwork.

The Need for a Base Coat:

If you’ve chosen lighter paint colors or if your wooden surface has visible stains, a base coat ensures that the final paint color shines true and uniformly. Once you’ve applied the primer, it’s time to step back and allow it to work its magic. The drying time is essential, so follow the guidelines on the product label.

Step 5: Painting the Chair:

You’ve come a long way, and now it’s time to see your vision come alive.

Select your Tool and Start to Paint:

If using a paint sprayer, which can provide a smoother finish for larger surfaces, fill your indoor paint sprayer with your chosen paint. If opting for a brush for more control and detail, pour your paint into a tray.

Start with a light coat of paint, making sure to get into those intricate crevices and painting spindles. The goal is to cover the chair without letting the paint drip.

Final Coat:

Once the first coat has dried (refer to the paint can for dry time), apply a second coat. This ensures a smooth surface and provides your chair with added protection.

Step 6: Apply a Suitable Sealer:

As you admire your freshly painted rocking chair, you might think you’re done. Not quite! To ensure your chair remains stunning through sun, rain, and time, a good sealer is paramount.

The Shield Against Nature:

Living outdoors means your rocking chair will face its fair share of challenges. From the scorching sun to drenching rains, your masterpiece needs defense. Opt for a waterproof sealer, and if you’re in an especially sunny locale, consider a product with UV protection. These sealers act like invisible shields, keeping the beautiful colors of your rocking chair vibrant for years.

Double the Shield:

Much like the paint, one coat of sealer might not be enough. Once your first layer has dried, go in for a second. This added layer ensures the ultimate protection against abrasive elements, ensuring your effort pays off in longevity.

Step 7: Final Touches:

With paint and sealer applied, you’re on the home stretch! A few final checks will ensure your rocking chair is truly a work of art.

Check your Chair Closely:

Now, with most of the hard work behind, take a moment to scrutinize the entire piece. Your keen eye might catch minor imperfections – an elusive drip here or a missed spot there. It’s these final touch-ups that elevate your work from good to outstanding. Armed with your paintbrush or spray painter, make these last-minute corrections, ensuring your rocking chair is nothing short of perfection.

Once the paint and sealer have dried to perfection, it’s time to place your rocking chair in its pride of place. Whether it’s a quiet corner of the porch or amidst a bustling garden, the chair stands as a testament to your dedication and craftsmanship. Now, sit on your newly painted outdoor chair and relish the fruits of your labor.

Concluding Thoughts:

In revitalizing your outdoor wooden rocking chair, preparation and detail are paramount. From setting up a well-ventilated space and prepping the chair to selecting the right type of paint, applying primer, and sealing the finished product for long-lasting vibrancy, each step is integral to achieving a stunning result. The process, though intricate, can undoubtedly breathe new life into an old piece, making it not only visually appealing but also extending its lifespan. As you embark on this transformative journey, remember that with patience and care, your effort will culminate in a beautifully restored chair that stands as a testament to your craftsmanship. Embrace the challenge and relish the rewarding outcome!


How long should I wait between applying paint coats?

Wait until the initial coat is completely dry, which could be anywhere from 2 to 6 hours, depending on the paint and weather conditions.

Can I use spray paint for my rocking chair?

Absolutely! Spray paint can give a smooth finish, but ensure you use one formulated for outdoor wood.

Do I need to seal the paint after painting?

While not always necessary, a sealant can offer additional protection, especially in harsh climates.

How often should I repaint my outdoor rocking chair?

Typically, every 2-4 years, depending on wear and exposure to the elements.

Are there any eco-friendly paints recommended for outdoor wood?

Yes, many brands offer eco-friendly options. Always check the label for low-VOC or VOC-free paints.