Very natural wood-like appearance. Easy to assemble and maneuver. Never requires re-staining or water sealing.
Uncomfortable angle between seat and back. Some sun fade reported. Construction material fragile.
Traditional Adirondack construction, not molded plastic. Seat angle is very comfortable. Very resistant to weather elements.
Difficult to remove or reduce staining over time. Polymer material can become brittle. Assembly hampered by misaligned holes.
Synthetic material resistant to rain and other outdoor elements. Arrives mostly assembled. Various colors available.
Smaller than expected. Seating angle uncomfortable for some users. Instructions could be clearer.
Available in a number of bold colors. Heavy duty polymer resists sun damage and warping. Oversized arms and slats for comfort.
Assembly a challenging, two person operation. Back is not angled comfortably, some users report.
Many a lazy summer afternoon has been spent sitting in an Adirondack chair, sipping iced tea and basking in the sunshine. The very shape and silhouette of this famous chair are synonymous with relaxation and fun.
While the design of the Adirondack chair hasn’t changed for decades, the materials they’re made of have developed over the years. Finding the right chair made of the right material for your climate may not be the easiest task.
This shopping guide can help you determine which materials and design features would work best for you. We’ve also included our top picks so you know which chairs we think would give you the best value for your money.
Traditionally, Adirondack chairs were made of wood. Today, there are more woods to choose from, as well as plastic and polywood.
The climate you live in will greatly determine which wood is right for you. Those who live in wet climates will need a durable wood that resists bug infestation and rough weather. Dry climates need wood that resists sun damage, cracking, and fading. A globalized economy provides more options than ever before. A few of the most common woods include the following.
Teak: Teak is one of the most durable hardwoods on the market. A special oil found in the heartwood gives it the strength and durability to last a good 60 to 70 years. Even in weather conditions that swing from hot to cold and wet to dry, teak won’t split, rot, or crack. You will need to apply a sealant each year, but that’s it for upkeep. This popular wood comes at a high price, but you can leave it outside for years, and it will still provide a beautiful, relaxing surface on which to sit.
Pine: While pine takes more maintenance than teak, it is far more affordable. This light wood slowly fades to an attractive gray. As a softwood, it’s more susceptible to dings, scratches, and, unfortunately, bugs. You’ll need to refinish it every year or two to keep the wood looking its best and to help protect it from the weather. But if upkeep doesn’t worry you and you’re on a tight budget, pine is an excellent choice.
Cedar: While not as tough as teak, cedar does make a more durable chair than pine. The wood has a natural oil that resists bug infestations and decay. Like pine, a cedar Adirondack chair will need to be refinished every year or two. Cedar naturally adjusts to the moisture found in wet climates, making it an excellent choice for chairs that will be left in the rain.
Oak: Durable and solid, oak is a popular wood for all types of furniture, and for good reason. It’s heavy, giving Adirondack chairs a solid feel, and it’s beautiful. The price is comparable to that of pine and cedar. However, maintenance is another matter. Direct sunlight can cause streaking or color changes. Oak chairs should be kept in the shade, and they will need a UV-protectant stain.
Cypress: This popular wood has a beautiful grain and natural oils that protect it from bug infestations, warping, and rotting. A white acrylic stain is often used on cypress Adirondack chairs.
Mahogany: Mahogany rivals teak and oak for strength. It has a rich, dense grain and resists decay. It also has good scratch resistance, but it requires refinishing every year to stay that way.
Shorea: If aged wood in shades of gray and silver appeals to you, you need an Adirondack chair made of shorea. Some types of shorea start as light brown and slowly take on a soft gray if left unfinished. Shorea resists bugs and holds up well in tough weather conditions.
Polywood is not actually wood but a material made from recycled plastic. Consumers value it for the following traits.
Resists pest and sun damage
Many color options (some fade more than others)
Can be expensive
All-weather plastic chairs are an affordable option. You may need to wipe them down or clean them once in a while with soap and water. Benefits of plastic include the following.
Many color options
Lightweight and portable
Little maintenance required
Concerns over deforestation may have you rethinking the traditional wood Adirondack chair. If you want the look of wood without the environmental impact, a high-quality polywood can be almost indistinguishable from natural wood. Polywood doesn’t require the maintenance of wood and can hold up in extreme weather conditions. Recycled plastic is another option that offers a colorful addition to your backyard.
Rocking chairs: Adirondack rocking chairs have the same comfort and look of a traditional Adirondack chair except the legs are on rockers. If you enjoy the rhythmic comfort of a rocker, you may wish to consider an Adirondack rocking chair; it makes a great addition to a front or back porch.
Comfort back chairs: A comfort back has a slight curve to it rather than the traditional straight back. You may want to sit in one of these models before purchasing because, depending on your size, the curve of the back may not fit you.
Foldable chairs: This type of chair has hinges that allow you to fold it flat for easy storage, which is great if you don’t have a lot of storage space. They’re often made of wood that can’t be left out in tough weather. Foldable chairs are also more portable if you want to take them camping or on vacation.
Chairs with oversized seats: Oversized seats work well for anyone who is taller or larger than average. They give you more space and room to get comfortable.
Reclining chairs: The back of a reclining Adirondack chair can fold down nearly flat for sunbathing. These models often include a footrest so you can lie flat on your back with your feet extended.
Swinging chairs: Adirondack porch swings fit two or three people and are a lovely way to relax on a summer evening.
Gliders: These chairs offer smoother movement than a rocker but still provide a rhythmic way to relax.
Wooden chairs can be hard on your backside. Cushions are usually sold separately, but they can make your Adirondack chairs much more comfortable. You’ll need to make sure the cushion fabric repels water and resists fading in sunlight. Cushions should be removed in the winter months if you plan to leave the chairs outside year-round.
Before deciding on a chair material, consider how much maintenance you’re willing to put into the chairs. It might be worth spending the extra money for teak or polywood to minimize your maintenance requirements. If you’re willing to refinish the wood every year and keep the chairs covered when they’re not in use, you can get an inexpensive set of Adirondack chairs.
Inexpensive: For less than $50, you can find a hemlock or pine Adirondack chair. They may be finished or unfinished, but chairs at this price will require regular maintenance.
Mid-range: Between $50 and $100, you’ll find painted wood chairs, foldable models, softwoods, and a few hardwoods.
Expensive: In the $100 to $200 range, you’ll find foldable and reclining models in high-quality hardwoods and polywood. These chairs can withstand tough weather conditions.
Plastic Adirondack chairs will never need to be stained or waterproofed. However, they will need to be cleaned periodically. Be sure to avoid harsh solvents and abrasives that could scratch or harm the integrity of the plastic.
All-weather plastic chairs can be stored outdoors year-round.
If you live in a wet climate, you’ll want to use a mold-resistant finish or paint. Varnishes made for boats also work well if you live on the coast where humidity and moisture will be an issue all year.
Q. Will I have to assemble my new Adirondack chair?
A. Most wood chairs purchased online will have to be assembled. Plastic chairs usually come fully assembled. Assembly isn’t too difficult. However, gliders, rockers, loveseats, and swings may require more extensive assembly and specialized tools.
Q. Do cushions come with some Adirondack chairs?
A. Most cushions have to be purchased separately. Many manufacturers make cushions to fit their chairs, but unless you purchase a specialty chair with a wide seat or curved back, a generic cushion should fit almost any basic Adirondack chair.
Q. Does the color of a polywood Adirondack chair bleach over time?
A. There will be some change in color, especially if it’s a bright, vibrant hue. Polywood maintains its color better than painted wood. However, the color tones down rather than bleaches.
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