Originally Published on September 23, 2022. Last Updated on October 17, 2023.
Since its invention in the early 1900s by Thomas Lee, the Adirondack chair has been a feature on patios, decks, and porches around the world. Originally known as the Westport chair, the modern Adirondack chair’s heritage can be traced back to 1938, when Irving Wolpin designed the contoured back and seat that makes this chair so comfortable to use.
When it comes to choosing the best Adirondack chair, you have a wealth of options. In this comprehensive Adirondack chair buyer’s guide, we’ll walk you through all the different areas so you can make the right choice.
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Step 1: Is the Adirondack Chair the Right Chair for You?
Step 2: Choose the Right Materials
Step 3: Choose the Right Height
Step 4: Choose the Right Style
Step 5: Choose the Right Color
Step 6: Accessorize
What’s the Difference Between Muskoka and Adirondack Chairs?
The traditional Adirondack chair features a deeply sloped seat and flat, reclined backrest. The Muskoka chair differs in that it has a curved backrest and a more upright seat. Both offer wide armrests for relaxing or resting a drink.
Thomas Lee invented the Adirondack chair in 1904 in Westport, New York. The Muskoka chair is its Canadian cousin, and the most widespread origin theory is that northerners who vacationed in Canada loved Adirondack chairs so much that they toted them along on their travels. One popular summertime destination was the Muskoka region of Ontario, Canada, where families would relax on Adirondacks outside their cottages. The chair became so popular that an updated design was made and renamed after Muskoka, colloquially called the “Hamptons of the North.”
Step 1: Is the Adirondack Chair the Right Chair for You?
The Adirondack chair is a reclined chair with a backward sloping seat and back that sits close to the ground. It’s designed to relax back into, with good support for your back and bottom. It also has wide arms, giving you a good spot to grip to get out of the chair.
Adirondack Form and Function: Points to Consider
- Due to their reclined nature, Adirondack chairs are meant for relaxing and dozing.
- Adirondack chairs are close to the ground, so people with back or leg problems may have issues getting down that far.
- Ideally, you should pair an Adirondack chair with an ottoman or footstool for good leg support.
- Getting out of an Adirondack chair isn’t as easy as getting out of a regular chair.
- The deeply reclined shape makes your lap an ideal resting place for pets or small children.
- The wide arms are great for balancing drinks or small plates.
- Adirondack chairs often feature contoured seats and backs for better support.
- Adirondack chairs can also be paired with cushions and headrest pillows for extra comfort.
Step 2: Choose the Right Materials for Your Adirondack Chair
Adirondack chairs are available in a variety of materials: teak, aluminum, HDPE lumber, and injection-molded plastic are all available. When it comes to choosing the right materials, you’ll want to take several factors into account:
- Durability: how well will the material last when it’s left outside?
- Maintenance: how easy is the material to look after? Shop for maintenance-free Adirondack chairs when possible.
- Appearance: how will the material look over time?
- Design Aesthetic: how does the design of the piece fit with your outdoor space?
- Comfort: how comfortable and luxurious is the material?
- Weight: how easy is it to move the Adirondack chair around, and how resilient is it to weather?
- Price: how much value for money will you get from the chair?
Teak as a Material for Adirondack Chairs
Teak is one of the best woods for outdoor furniture, and is better than other woods like pine, oak, bamboo, or wicker: these other woods do not weather well and require lots of maintenance.
Teak: Points to Consider
- Teak is durable and resilient, as it produces its own oil. It’s a hardwood, so it isn’t easy to dent or scratch.
- It’s completely resistant to wind, water, and rust and can stay outside all year-round.
- It’s only available in one color: teak.
- It is difficult to maintain and needs to be regularly rubbed down and treated to avoid “silver patina.”
- Teak is one of the pricier options when it comes to outside furniture.
Aluminum as a Material for Adirondack Chairs
Although not as popular as some other choices, you can get Adirondack chairs made of aluminum. It’s a lightweight, durable metal, but may not have the comfort and appearance you desire.
Aluminum: Points to Consider
- Aluminum is tough, resilient, and easy to maintain.
- It can be left outside all year round, with no ill effects.
- It is highly durable and completely resistant to water and rust.
- Lightweight construction means it can be vulnerable to gusts of wind.
- Aluminum only comes in one color, and may not look as good as some other materials.
- Aluminum furniture isn’t as comfortable as some other options.
- It tends to be inexpensive.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Lumber as a Material for Adirondack Chairs
HDPE is a synthetic resin for building solid, high-quality, durable outdoor furniture. Its cost is offset by the luxury, comfort, and resilience it provides.
HDPE Lumber: Points to Consider
- It is easy to maintain, needing just a soft-bristle brush and clean, soapy water.
- HDPE is sturdy and resistant to wind. It can stay outside all year-round.
- HDPE is highly durable and completely resistant to wind, water, and rust.
- Comfortable, stylish, and luxurious with a high-quality, strong, and sturdy construction.
- HDPE is infinitely recyclable and is often made from recycled milk jugs.
- HDPE lumber is available in a wide variety of colors.
- HDPE lumber is manufactured to last a lifetime and its price reflects that.
Injection Molded Plastic as a Material for Adirondack Chairs
Plastic is an inexpensive option for outdoor furniture, but it isn’t comfortable or luxurious. For temporary outdoor furniture or spare chairs for when guests come over, it can be a good option.
Injection Molded Plastic: Points to Consider
- Easy to maintain, needing just a damp cloth and dish soap. It can stay outside all year-round.
- Because it’s very lightweight, it is vulnerable to wind gusts and often unstable when sat in: often breaking within a year of purchasing.
- Resistant to water and rust.
- Available in a wide variety of colors.
- It can lose its appearance quickly and will fade and take on stains and weathering quite easily.
- It is not stylish or luxurious. It is also the most mass-produced outdoor furniture, so craftsmanship is non-existent.
- Inexpensive, definitely the cheapest option for outdoor furniture.
Step 3: Choose the Right Height and Size for Your Adirondack Chair
Once you’ve decided on the right materials, you will want to think about the size, height, and spacing of your Adirondack chairs.
Adirondack Chair Dimensions and Sizes
Most Adirondack chairs will stand between around 36 to 42 inches tall, 30 to 34 inches wide, and 35 to 38 inches deep. Depending on the material, they could weigh anywhere between 15 and 45 pounds.
We recommend placing Adirondack chairs at least two to three feet apart. You will also want to have three to four feet of space in front of an Adirondack chair to make it easy to get into and out of. A patio or porch around 10 feet square can comfortably hold three to four Adirondack chairs.
Adirondack Chair Heights
To find the most comfortable Adirondack chair for you, you will want to pay close attention to the height of an Adirondack chair: shorter people will want lower seat heights to make getting into and out of the chair easier, while taller people may want a taller seat height.
Our range of POLYWOOD Adirondack chairs features seat heights between 14 and 16 inches. We even have a kid’s Adirondack with a 12-inch seat height that’s perfect for small children.
If you’re around 5’ to 5’5”, we recommend a small Adirondack chair with a 14-inch seat height. People between 5’6” and 5’10” will be most comfortable with a 15-inch seat height, while taller people will probably want 16 inches.
Step 4: Choose the Right Style of Adirondack Chair
Although the basic design of the Adirondack chair is straightforward and hasn’t changed from the classic design in the 1930s, modern twists on the chair add lots of flair to that style. Here at POLYWOOD, we’ve been refining and adding some flourish to our own take on the Adirondack, to create styles suitable for any outside space.
The Wave Collection: Adirondack chairs that pay homage to our beautiful oceans. When all four chairs are lined up in a row you can see the depiction of a cresting wave.
Classic Adirondack Chairs: a design that hews closely to the original 1904 design that was later refined into the comfortable, contoured Adirondack in the 1930s.
- Long Island Adirondack
- Classic Adirondack Chair
- Classic Folding Adirondack Chair
- Classic Oversized Adirondack
- Vineyard Adirondack Chair
- Vineyard Curveback Adirondack Chair
Modern Adirondack Chairs: Modern chairs with straight backs for contemporary outdoor spaces.
- Modern Adirondack Chair
- Modern Curveback Adirondack Chair
- Westport Adirondack
- Modern Folding Adirondack
- Quattro Folding Adirondack
Shellback Adirondack Chairs: a sleek style with a delicately rounded back and curved armrests.
- Nautical Adirondack Chair
- Nautical Curveback Adirondack Chair
- Palm Coast Adirondack
- Palm Coast Folding Adirondack
- Palm Coast Ultimate Adirondack with Hideaway Ottoman
- South Beach Adirondack
- South Beach Folding Adirondack Chair
- Seashell Adirondack
Some of these designs also fold flat, making them easy to store if you’re short on space.
Step 5: Choose the Right Color of Adirondack Chair
If you’re buying a teak or aluminum Adirondack chair, you’re likely to be limited in your choice of colors and finishes. If you’re going for injection-molded plastic, or even better, HDPE lumber, you will have plenty of choices.
Obviously, our favorite material is HDPE lumber: it’s manufactured to last a lifetime, stays looking great, is completely weather-resistant and durable, takes just moments to maintain, and genuine POLYWOOD lumber comes in a wide variety of colors:
These Adirondack materials are available in a wide variety of tones and colors. From beautiful grays, browns, greens, and other earth tones to vibrant hues of red, yellow, blue, and more that add some real visual distinction.
You can stay with a modern look by choosing black or white, or bring in a sense of the natural with brown or green.
Step 6: Accessorize Your Adirondack Chair
Finally, you will want to accessorize your Adirondack chair with the perfect additions. We recommend an ottoman or footstool for your legs so you can sink back and rest. Cushions and headrest pillows are also a great option, adding some padding to an already comfortable piece of furniture.
You can even add accent tables to create a complete set of beautiful furniture.