History of the Adirondack Chair

Adirondack chairs are a uniquely American tradition of outdoor living. The design for the classic Adirondack chair dates back to the early 1900’s and is so named for the area in New York State where it was first developed. The credit of this for this classic American piece is given to Thomas Lee, a native of the Adirondack mountain region in New York State. Mr. Lee originally made it from 11 pieces of wood, with wide arms and a comfortable, stable design that was a welcome alternative to the uncomfortable Victorian furniture of the day. The classic Adirondack design includes a low, angled seat and back. Tradition tells us that this design was not only comfortable, but allowed the chair to remain stable even if placed on a downhill slope. This enabled people to relax in the chair even in hilly regions. The Adirondack was built to be durable, beautiful outdoor furniture that harmonized with the outdoors. This rustic, relaxing design became wildly popular in outdoor settings, quickly becoming the architecture of choice for resorts and parks. In fact, if you have ever spent any time in national parks or wilderness resorts, you have probably noticed a wide use of Adirondack furniture.

A Simple, Superior Design

Original Adirondack chairs were made from cedar planks, which provided aesthetically pleasing and durable material. The design of this chair was so perfect that Harry Bunnell, the man who submitted the patent on it, claimed in his application: The advantages of this construction will be obvious and many today would argue the same as the classic design has tested time and remains largely unchanged. Most carpenters and craftsmen still make Adirondack chairs by hand, though the 11 plank design is often modified with more or fewer planks, depending on the desired look. But the low, angled seat, wide arms and rounded back still make the Adirondack chair unmistakable.

Modern Adirondack Chairs 

Today, Adirondack chairs are available in almost any material imaginable. Teak and eucalyptus Adirondack chairs are excellent for humid climates or any region that experiences heavy precipitation. For extreme durability and low maintenance, Adirondack chairs made from recycled plastic are a great option. Most materials mimic the rustic look of the original cedar chairs; however, many people also choose brightly painted Adirondack chairs to bring color to their outdoor setting. Modern Adirondack chairs are often seen without tables in cafes and backyards alike because their wide arm design offers a resting place for books, drinks, etc. The extreme comfort, practicality, beauty and classic American design are just some of the reasons that Adirondack chairs have remained a popular choice for almost any outdoor setting.

Types of Wood

Shorea Wood

Adirondack chairs made from Shorea wood are a good choice for humid climates. Shorea is a tropical hardwood that is similar to teak. It has a high oil content that makes it very resistant to rot. It is also very resistant to insects, making it a durable and low-maintenance choice for your outdoor Adirondack furniture. Left untreated, this beautiful wood will weather to a lovely silver-gray.

Recycled Plastic

Poly-wood furniture, including Adirondack chairs, rockers, ottomans, gliders, etc. are made from a unique product made from recycled plastic. This durable material looks great in all its different styles and is available in both classic and vibrant colors to match any outdoor décor.

Yellow Pine

Southern yellow pine provides a great material for outdoor Adirondack furniture. This American renewable resource is the material of choice for outdoor recreational structures such as boat docks and ski lodge decks and gives your outdoor setting a classic, rugged look. This material is also insect and rot resistant.


A less well known material that makes excellent Adirondack furniture is Keruing, also known as Asian Mahogany. Although not actually related to Mahogany, it has a similar reddish color. It's commonly used in marine settings and hardwood flooring. It's durability against the elements and rich red color makes it a beautiful choice for your outdoor Adirondack furniture.


Cedar is the wood that first made the Adirondack famous. This material is still used today and makes rustic looking and long lasting Adirondack furniture. Cedar is naturally resistant to rot, insect and weathering. It is also comparatively lighter than some other wood materials. Untreated cedar weathers to a silvery gray, but can also be stained to match your current outdoor look.


Teak is a very popular choice for outdoor furniture, because of its weather resistance and beautiful appearance. Natural oils that exist in Teak make this type of wood durable even when not treated with oil or varnish. Teak comes from a tropical hardwood tree native to Southeast Asia and is perfect for any outdoor setting that receives large amounts of perception and higher levels of humidity.