Adirondack Chairs

Types of Adirondack Chairs

History of Adirondack Chairs

They say necessity is the mother of invention. Well, imagine being at your cottage (or summer home as some may call it) in 1903 and not having a comfortable lawn chair to sit in while enjoying the lake and mountain views.

Enter Thomas Lee, the owner of that summer home in Westport, New York in the Adirondack Mountains, in 1903.

Apparently, without a comfortable outdoor chair to sit on at his summer home / cottage, he designed what is now called the Adirondack Chair – or as some call it in Canada, a Muskoka Chair. (If you know a little about geography, you will notice that these names are also places or areas in Canada and the USA.)

A basic chair with a basic design, the original wooden Adirondack lawn chair was made simply with 11 flat pieces of wood. Other original features included a straight back and seat, along with very practical wide wood plank chair arms – perfect for drink holding or just arm resting.

Classic Adirondack Chair
Classic Adirondack Chair – with flat bottom and seat back

Fast forward to over 100 years later…the Adirondack Chair is still as popular as ever. Thank-you Thomas Lee! You know if something is still around 100 years later, you must have done something right.

Let’s take a look at the evolution of the classic and iconic Adirondack Chair over the last 100 years or so.  


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Adirondack Chair Materials –

There are basically 2 types of materials used to manufacture Adirondack chairs today. You can choose from wood and plastic or resin.

Classic Wood Adirondack Chairs

The original Adirondack chair designed by Thomas Lee was made of wood slats. If you want to indulge in the classic Adirondack Chair look and feel by purchasing one made of wood, cedar is a brilliant option. Cedar is durable and due to its rot, decay and insect resistance will last a very long time without much maintenance.

Western Red Cedar Adirondack Chair
Western Red Cedar Adirondack Chair will last a lifetime with proper maintenance.

There are other woods available but they may require more maintenance to prevent the wood from rotting prematurely.

Plastic and Resin Adirondack Chairs

The perfect choice for someone wanting the comfort and look of a traditional Adirondack chair without the maintenance requirements of wood is plastic or resin versions.

There are many benefits to having outdoor furniture made with plastic resins. This man-made material will not rot, splinter, chip, or peel.

Poly resin plastic Adirondack chairs require no annual maintenance and are easy to clean. No more sealing, staining or trying to waterproof like the traditional chairs. As well, if you happen to purchase a bright yellow adirondack chair made with resin or plastic, it will never fade. Your bright yellow will remain bright yellow for years and years to come. No having to get out that paint brush to freshen it up.

Colorful Adirondack Chairs made with Resin Plastic
Plastic Resin Adirondack Chairs in bright colors will add life to your dock or deck for a lifetime

Colorful Adirondack Chairs made with Resin Plastic will maintain their bright colors for years to come.

Adirondack Chair Styles –

While almost everyone can identify an Adirondack Chair when they see one based on the classic characteristics of: a chair made of solid wood boards, or wood-like or wood-look planks, and having a deep wide seat with wide arms. The style and design changes over the years, while seemingly minute, are there, making for many varieties of Adirondack Chairs available today.

Style Differences from Classic Adirondack Chairs

Some new, yet basic, design changes found on many newer Adirondack chairs are the curvatures now found on both the seat bottom and the seat back. Altering the classic flat seats and backs to more rounded, curved shapes make for a much more comfortable chair.

Some Adirondack lawn chairs have very square lines while others have a much more rounded or curved styling. These shapes generally apply to all parts of the chair but especially the seat back design.

Classic Adirondack Lawn Chair and Ottoman
Classic flatter seat and back design of an Adirondack Chair
Modern Adirondack Chair and Ottoman Set
Note the curved rounded back and seat on this modernized version of the classic Adirondack Chair. The straight lines of the arms and top seat make this a more contemporary version of an Adirondack Chair.

While the above example may look quite modern, there are also more modern stylized versions of an Adirondack chair today.

Modern Stylized Wooden Adirondack Chair
Modern Stylized Version of a classic Adirondack Chair. Modern while maintaining a nod to the classic by being made in solid wood.

Some have taken more artistic license with the classic Adirondack chair design by sculpting and customizing the pieces of wood used around the base of the chair and the highlighted seat back.

Opt for these Adirondack styled chairs for a homey, cozy, rustic look.

You may be asking yourself, are these really Adirondack chairs at all? The deep seated chair base, the sloped back and the wooden slats are at least a nod, if not a true, Adirondack chair. These sleek Adirondacks will add to a clean, modern space. Also, because they are armless, and therefore, take up less space, they are perfect for those with a smaller garden space.

Armless Adirondack Chairs
Arm-less Adirondack Chairs will provide comfort and style in a small space

As you can see, the styling of the classic Adirondack chair may have changed somewhat but the comfort level has not.

Adirondack Chair Functionality –

While this relates somewhat to the newer altered styles of Adirondack chairs, it is more specific to the actual functionality of the chair itself. So, what, where and how do you want to use the chair? That will help you make a decision as to which Adirondack chair – based on function – will be best for you.

Folding Adirondack chairs.

Not much reason to mention this style as it is the original, except that there are now folding versions of the Adirondack chairs. The classic non-folding Adirondack chairs are generally quite large and take up quite a bit of space. So, if your space is limited especially in terms of storing the chairs, look for the folding Adirondack chair versions. You can also easily transport them either around your property – say, moving from your dock to your fire pit at night – or you can easily take them to a garden party or family bbq.

Folding Adirondack Chairs
Folding Adirondack Chairs – BEFORE being unfolded – Easy to transport either around your yard or to a neighbours backyard barbeque.
Folding Adirondack Chairs Unfolded
Folding Adirondack Chairs – AFTER – Unfold wherever you like and create new seating areas around your property

Ottoman or no ottoman with your Adirondack Chair

Do you like to really lounge? While a classic Adirondack chair provides a very ‘healthy’ lounge position due to its low back and seat, you may want a little extra comfort by adding a matching ottoman. There are many Adirondack chairs available today which come with an Adirondack styled matching ottoman. So, no loss of the desired style…just the addition of more comfort.

Adirondack Chair with Matching Ottoman
Adirondack Chair with Matching Ottoman done in faded worn-look wood slats. Perfect for a beachy look at your cottage.

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Rocking Adirondack Chairs

Are you a rocker? Or do you know someone who visits often who loves to rock? Get all of the comfort and style of a classic Adirondack with the soothing and comforting feel of rocking at the same time. An Adirondack Rocking Chair – how relaxing does that sound!

Wooden Adirondack Rocking Chair
Rock the night away on this classic Adirondack Chair Rocker

Upright Seat Back with Flatter seat

These newer versions of the Adirondack chair are perfect for those who have a hard time getting out of deep seated chairs. As you probably are aware, classic Adirondack chairs are very deep seated. I have heard many times of people talking about having a hard time getting out of them. (This could be for various reasons – maybe age, maybe a few too many bevies 🙂

HELP! I’m seated and I can’t get up!

Silly quote meant in jest especially for those – you know who you are – who have been guilty of the too many bevies thing, and have been stuck in an Adirondack chair – not the worst place to be stuck, I suppose 🙂

Regardless of the reason, some people prefer a flatter seat and back for a more upright position. And for those with age related issues such as arthritis, these may be the best choice of Adirondack chair for you.

Upright Higher Seated Position Adirondack Chair
Upright Higher Seated Position Adirondack Chair is great for those with mobility issues.

Bar Stool Adirondack Chair

Modified Bar Stool Height Adirondack Chair
Modified Bar Stool Height Adirondack Chair. Perfect for your backyard bar and patio.

Who would have thunk-it? An Adirondack chair styled and redesigned for use at a bar height patio. Genius! Not only are these Adirondack chair bar stools useful for sitting at an outdoor bar, they provide a perfect vantage point for viewing sunsets, sunrises or watching the loons on the lake at dusk or dawn.

Adirondack Chair Colors –

Of course, Adirondack chairs are available in wood color. Being part of the initial design, this is obvious. However, you can find different types of wood used which will have different wood color tones. As well, you may want to or need to finish your wooden Adirondack chair. This leaves the option to stain your wood with a non-natural colored finish or varnish. With the variety of standard and custom stain colors available, you can probably get the exact color you want for your wooden Adirondack chairs.

As for the plastic and resin Adirondack chairs, the color choices are endless…and no, that is not an exaggeration…well, maybe just a little bit. Thanks to the introduction of plastics and resins in outdoor furniture manufacture, these poly resin chairs are available in almost every color you can think of – from pink to turquoise to solid black. And because of the man-made materials and colors, these resin colored chairs will never lose their brightness and saturation.

From bright and bold solid orange and hot pink to brilliant tropical flower designs to themed hockey team Adirondack chairs, you will find the chair you want in just about any color, pattern or design.

Canadian Flag Themed Adirondack Chair
For any Canadians out there, grab this Canada Themed Adirondack Chair and show your true colours.

Not only will you be able to buy the color of your choice, you will be able to get the design features, functionality and stylized version of an Adirondack chair that works perfectly for you and your deck, dock, patio, lawn or backyard.

Happy Adirondack Chair shopping! You, your friends and family won’t regret it!


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