New Life for an Old Chair

Alicia W
by Alicia W
5 Materials
5 Days

I had an Adirondack chair which really needed help. I was going to paint it then I had another idea.

The paint is chipped but it's still in good condition.

Step 1: Clean

I scrub the chair using a mild soap and water

Step 2: Napkins

I purchased printed napkins and cut out the individual flowers. For this project I used 3 packages of 20 napkins = 60 napkins but the amount will vary depending on the size of the napkin print and the size of the piece you are covering.

Step 3: Adhesive

I mix three parts white glue with one part plain water.

Step 4: Applying the adhesive

Working in small sections, I brushed the glue/water mixture onto the chair.

Step 5: Applying the napkin

Once the glue is applied to the chair, I laid the napkin on top of the glue carefully smoothing it into place

Step 6: Applying more adhesive

Once the napkin was in place, I applied a coat of glue/water mixture onto the top of the napkin. As I brushed it on, I smoothed out any remaining lumps.

I continued the process over the entire chair.

The napkins will be lumpy while they are wet but once the dry, they dry smooth.

I allowed the chair to dry 12 hours.

Step 7: Varnish

This chair will be used outside so I had to really protect it from the elements. I used Rust-Oleum Marine Coatings Spar Varnish. This is the sealant that is use for boats.

I applied one coat of varnish to the entire chair, allowed it dry for 24 hours then applied a second coat. I allowed that to dry for 24 hours and applied a third coat - according to the directions on the can.


The chair is now outside again and looks great.

And it stands up to the wear and tear of my dog jumping on and off of it. I love it!!!

We've had a few showers and the water just runs off the chair.

My daughter though I had painted on the design and was so surprised when I told her it was napkins! Who would have thought?!?

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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 84 questions
  • Poppi Heart Poppi Heart on Feb 11, 2023

    Do the napkins fade from the Sun?

  • Jody Price Jody Price on Feb 20, 2023

    Did you add napkins to the back of the chair? I’ve saved your chair for a couple of years wanting to do this! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE YOUR CHAIR!!!!

  • The Lake The Lake on Feb 25, 2023

    Can this be done on the outdoor plastic chairs?

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2 of 312 comments
  • Tammy Tammy on Feb 18, 2023

    Lovely job!!! I love to paint myself, but for non- artistic or for those that find beautiful images that would like to use, this is a wonderful way to do it. Marine varnish is used for a purpose- to be outside. Should last a long time. In the past, I’ve just used multiple coats of regular spray clear varnish and items have lasted outside for a couple of years (that’s in the mid south-east). In the extreme weather conditions, probably would need more protection though. But, you did a Lovely job on your chair- love those flowers!!!!

  • Lula Porter Lula Porter on Feb 20, 2023

    When I started looking at your project, I worried that the napkins would end up rotting the wood chair. Then I saw you used spar varnish. No worries now. That stuff is amazing! I wish I could kick everyone including dogs out of my house and use it on my wood floors.