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How to Shop for Adirondack Chairs

Rohini Mohan Mar 21, 2020
Adirondack chairs have been around for over a century and are still going strong. If you wish to add this iconic piece of American furniture to your patio or garden, a few simple pointers can go a long way in helping you make an informed purchase.

Did You Know?

Thomas Lee designed the first Adirondack chair in 1903, while holidaying in the Adirondack Mountains.
When you have no other choice but to choose Adirondack chairs on the basis of a few photographs, you will need to be doubly sure that you're not being fooled into buying a substandard piece of furniture.
While the chair may look grand, shiny, and well-designed, it is the quality of wood/material used as well as the construction of the furniture that determines its durability and cost-effectiveness. here is some helpful tips on how to shop for Adirondack chairs.

Parts of an Adirondack Chair

Structural Features to Consider

Back Braces

The back bracing of the chair is perhaps the most important feature of the chair, because it is responsible for the amount of weight it can support. Although at first glance, a cleaner design with lesser pieces of wood behind the backrest may seem more appealing, you should consider an Adirondack chair with at least two back braces. 
Since these braces strengthen the weak points on the backrest of this chair, the ones that are designed with three crisscrossed back braces are the strongest and ideal for long-term use. In case you plan on buying a foldable Adirondack chair, make sure that you buy one that has its back sturdily braced, and does not shift or squeak while being used.

Degree of Back Recline

Do not presume that the chairs which have more reclined backs offer greater comfort. As far as the Adirondack chair is concerned, these chairs were originally designed with the intention of being used on mountain/hill slopes, where the reclining back and sloping seat, actually made the user sit in a leveled manner. 
It is because of this reason that the classic Adirondack chair has such as steep recline. However, when used on a flat surface, the recline of the back needs to be adjusted so as to enable the user to sit and get up from the chair with ease.
Therefore, for use on flat surfaces, opt for a chair with a back that leans slightly, or has an adjustable backrest with grids on the chair's rear legs.

Curvature of Seat Slats

The classic Adirondack chair had a flat seat; however, the present-day designs feature prominent curved seats that bend at the front stretcher of the chair, and may or may not come with an extendable footrest. Although the comfort of the seat boils down to personal preferences, flat seats are not only comfortable but also better for your posture.
Sitting on an overtly curved Adirondack seat can lead to numbness and added stress on the lower back, sit bones, and areas under the knees. Therefore, if possible, test the chair by sitting on it before purchase, or go in for a flatter seat with a slight curve.

Curvature of Backs Slats

Like seat slats, the slats of the backrest of an Adirondack chair must should either be absolutely straight or slightly curved to lend support to the natural arch of your back and shoulders.
The feather-styled Adirondack chair is a perfect example of a slightly curved backrest, because the outer slats gently fold inwards towards the inner slats, to give a mild arched and cradling backrest. Also, chairs with overly curved backs tend to make the sitter hunch more than necessary, which can adversely affect his/her posture in the long run.

Chair Leg Support

The rear legs support much of the sitter's weight, and so, must be thick, made of strong material, and must be well-designed to rest on any surface. The front legs must have sturdy arm brackets that support the arms of the chair. Also, the front of the seat must be supported from underneath by a front rail that attaches to the front legs of the chair. 

Check the Wood/Material Used

Whether you're buying the chair from an actual store or through online shopping, make sure that you check the material specifications of the chair you intend to buy. 
To make a more Eco-friendly purchase, consider going in for an Adirondack chair made with 'Certified Sustainable Harvested Wood'. You can always ask the seller whether or not the wood used in their chairs are certified and sold by a licensed supplier. 
Among the different types of wood used for manufacturing Adirondack chairs, cedar wood and more specifically, red cedar wood is the most suitable softwood.


Cedar is durable and naturally resistant to termites, insects, and rot. When left untreated, the wood will turn gray, and may develop fissures and marks; however, these do not undermine the strength of the construction of the chair. Consider opting for a cedar Adirondack chair that has been given a primer finish and UV top coat. 


Teak is a great hardwood to use because it is extremely strong, heavy, and impervious to rot, termites, and mildew. However, it is comparatively more expensive than cedar, because it needs to be imported into the U.S. If you're looking for an inexpensive material and for short-term use, you may want to opt for chairs made of pine or recycled plastic.


Pine is a comparatively weak wood that is vulnerable to mildew, rot, and termites. That being said, the life of this wood can be extended by coating the furniture with a strong primer and UV-protected top coat. Plastic Adirondack chairs can last for decades if they are maintained regularly.
Finally, ensure that you buy an Adirondack chair designed by a reputable manufacturer, and go through its reviews before making a decision.