You don’t have to live in the wilderness of New York to appreciate the classic composure of an Adirondack chair. They’re practically summertime staples, no matter where you enjoy them. If you’re ready to start reclining in these classic (and even a little bit preppy) chairs, we’re here to help you choose the right design.
What is an Adirondack Chair?
Also called Westport and Muskoka chairs, Adirondack chairs got their start in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York in the early 1900s. Even the styles of the chairs evoke this woodsy origin. Traditional Adirondack chairs have deeply angled backs that let you sink in and relax. The seats are low to the ground, too. Sprawling out in one of these chairs is almost more like reclining than sitting, and you might be tempted to take a little snooze. Fortunately, this outdoor furniture is ideal for an afternoon catnap.
Traditional Adirondack chairs have flat, sloping backs and seats that angle slightly upward where your knees rest. These features, paired with the chairs’ low seats, can mean that people with mobility issues may have a harder time getting out of the chairs. However, the large arms on Adirondack chairs are easy to grasp. They can give you some extra leverage in getting up.
For even deeper relaxation and leg support, trying a matching ottoman with an Adirondack chair. Pillows and cushions can add some extra bounce and support, too. One of the things we love most about these chairs is that you can make them as cozy as you want — think of them as Adirondack nests!
Adirondack Chair Materials
The original Adirondack chairs were crafted from hemlock wood, but you can enjoy the chairs’ classic form in a wide variety of materials these days. The material you choose doesn’t just determine the chair’s durability, either. It gives you a great opportunity to express your style and stay comfortable. Learning more about common Adirondack chair materials can help make your selection process smoother.
Wood is one of the most beloved (and traditional) materials for Adirondack chairs. It exudes that warm, rustic ambiance these chairs are known for. Considering that you’ll use these chairs primarily outside, it helps to know that certain wood types stand up to the elements better than others. Teak, an extremely durable hardwood, resists outdoor moisture, but it can be heavy to move around. Cedar and acacia are lighter choices that aren’t as dense as teak, but they still make great options for your Adirondack chairs. Remember that these can fade after sun and moisture exposure.
The lightest and easiest to move of all the material options, plastic adirondack chairs come in a wide array of colors. It’s easy to wipe down for cleaning. Plastic’s inexpensive price point makes it simple to stock up on a smattering of chairs for guests. However, plastic degrades quickly in sunlight, which makes it prone to cracking. Its color can fade, too, if you don’t store it indoors.
Like plastic but much more durable, resin doesn’t rust or fade. It can be made to look like wood with grained textures and is easy to find in many different colors. Resin pieces are heavy so they’re harder to move. This also means they won’t blow away if things get gusty during your gathering. Like wood, it can give a little when you sit down, so it’s a bit more comfortable than metal.
Adirondack Chair Dimensions
The approximate overall dimensions of an Adirondack chair are 36 inches tall x 30 inches wide x 36 inches deep. For sitting, the seat dimensions typically range around 20 inches wide x 20 inches deep whereas the seat height generally falls between 13-16 inches off the ground.
Different Styles of Adirondack Chairs
Traditional Adirondack chairs have an instantly recognizable shape and pitch to them. These days, designers are riffing on that classic shape to create some new style options. Adirondack chairs are taking on new shapes, from modern waveforms to embellished, Thai-inspired curlicues.
Look for chairs with cutout shapes in their backs — like your favorite state or a seashell silhouette. Choose backs with splayed slats that resemble an old-time wingback chair. Some modern Adirondack chairs are even styled to look more like sleek dining chairs with thin arms and taller legs. Try one of these fresh, on-trend takes on the trusty classic to invigorate your patio or deck.
Adirondack Chair Finishes
The beauty of Adirondack chairs certainly isn’t just skin deep, but the finishes and colors they’re available in do make a big impact on how they look. Stains and paint give you the option to adorn your chairs with some dazzling new colors while protecting them from the elements. Your chosen chairs might also arrive with a specific finish that has unique care requirements.
Unfinished Adirondack chairs don’t have any treatments applied. For wood, this means it doesn’t have any sort of stain, paint, varnish, or other finish to protect it. You can let the wood age naturally without a finish — if it’s teak, it doesn’t really need a finish anyway. Other woods eventually turn gray and become less durable. Treat your wood Adirondack chairs with a UV-resistant outdoor sealer to keep them in good condition.
Stains are designed to be used with wood Adirondack chairs. They tint the wood a different color while letting its natural texture show through. Stains also provide an extra layer of protection. Some are more highly pigmented than others, so you can choose the level of coverage you get. Stains typically come in natural colors like greens, browns, and reddish hues. They help you preserve and enhance your chair’s rustic texture.
You can paint most Adirondack chairs — it’s just a matter of using a paint that’s formulated for the material your chair is made from. In general, you’ll need to clean the chair and apply a primer for the paint to stick to. Using spray paint creates an even coat that doesn’t show paint brush lines. You might also need to apply several coats to get the level of coverage you prefer.
Another great thing about paint? You can apply a new color whenever you feel like switching things up. Go for something bold and bright or soft and subdued — whatever strikes your fancy. Krylon, Valspar, and Rustoleum create specialized spray paints that can work on wood, metal, plastic, and resin.
Ad Chair Features
Adirondack chairs are also available with your choice of features. Consider lightweight folding chairs that are portable for those hikes to the beach — or easy storage. Many manufacturers also often make matching ottomans to pair with chairs. These typically have gentle curves to support your legs from the knees down. Love to settle in with a drink? Choose Adirondack chairs that have cup holders built into their arms to secure your glass.
Arranging Your Adirondack Chairs
To enjoy maximum comfort in your Adirondack chairs (and keep your guests feeling relaxed, too), it’s a helpful idea to position the seating in certain ways. You can create a conversation area by positioning these fire pit chairs around a fire pit or angle two chairs toward each other overlooking the lake. Leave about 30 inches between chairs on the sides and several feet in the front so people have room to sit down and get up. Most chairs take up about 8 square feet, so keep that in mind if you’re arranging them on an enclosed patio.
Whether you love traditional rusticity or modern flair, there’s an Adirondack chair out there to set your decorating heart aflutter. With this helpful guide, you’ll have an even easier time finding it.