The Adirondack chair is arguably the most comfortable outdoor lounging seat. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to plop in one and get lost in its bliss, you’ll share the same thought.
Its long, slanted back, wide armrest, and sunken seat allow you to slide into a laid-back position. You can let your body loose because it supports all the right places for maximum relaxation.
Building Adirondack chairs for your enjoyment on the porch, poolside, or beachfront isn’t so hard. However, if you’re going to match up to the quality of the classic Adirondack chair, you must choose the best wood for the job.
What is the best wood for Adirondack chairs? The best wood for Adirondack chairs is a durable weather-resistant wood like teak. Traditionally, Adirondack chairs were made from teak, but other options include cedar, mahogany, and white oak, among others.
If the Adirondack chair is next on your list of woodworking projects, this article has your back in wood selection. We’ll uncover the best woods for Adirondack chairs.
Qualities To Consider
If you’re at least an intermediate woodworker, making an Adirondack chair isn’t rocket science. It’s like building any other piece of furniture and maintaining a distinct framework.
The mind-boggling bit is always choosing the timber, even for those buying the ready-made chair. Once you get the wood right, the rest of the construction will be a smooth ride, and you can expect incredible results and long-lasting creations.
Therefore, you should choose your lumber meticulously the same way you would when buying an Adirondack chair; most especially when it comes to a set that will spend its life outdoors.
You want wood that is durable enough for the application, be it indoor or outdoor. The following factors will guide your wood selection.
1. Durability And Strength
There are two types of wood, hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwoods are denser and have fine and tight grains, making excellent wood for outdoor furniture.
They have incredible strength and resilience against weathering and fires. Consequently, they come with a heftier price than softwoods.
Softwood is a cheaper option and very easy to physically manipulate with tools, so it shouldn’t be dismissed. You could use a selected few varieties of softwoods for Adirondack chairs.
Just make sure it is not too soft. Go for a species that is fairly strong, stable, and durable. You may also want to consider treating your wood for resistance to UV, water, weather, rot, and bugs.
Adding a few layers of protective paint and a sealant like polyurethane is also a great idea whether you’re using hardwood or softwood.
2. Weather Resistance
Weather resistance essentially means unwavering against constant contact or changes in water, temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure.
These elements badly alter wood, for example, when water soaks in. The best wood for Adirondack chairs won’t rot, swell, warp or crack after long-term exposure to the elements.
You could treat the wood but it helps if it already has natural defenses.
The Adirondack chair maintains a unique design from the 1900s. It includes joining pieces with precise curves and angles.
Building it is somewhat challenging and requires a little more than beginner woodworking skills. So unless you have mastered the woodworking trade, the last thing you want is wood that is difficult to work with.
Remember to also look into the acceptance of paint and other finishes. Some types of wood don’t receive paint/glue/polish as easily.
4. Resistance To Insects
Termites are very tiny bugs yet surprisingly wreak unimaginable havoc. They attack wood that is situated anywhere for a significant period of time, damaging it severely in a short period.
Since Adirondack chairs usually are outdoor furniture, they are even more likely to be ravaged by termites from underground. Therefore, when looking for wood, choose species that are resistant to termites and other destructive insects.
Treating the wood could be an option if you opt for species without natural termite repellent secretions. But for anyone who prefers chemical-free wooden furniture, go with wood that has oils and sap that naturally stave off insects.
Paying attention to the maintenance needs of wood before selecting it for your Adirondack chair is key.
Certain types call for annual maintenance, which is not only time-consuming but also expensive. Others will last up to 5 years before needing a facelift.
Opt for wood with very little infrequent maintenance needs once you’ve completed the project. Then you can sit back, enjoy, and not have to worry about retreating, revarnishing, or repainting it over and over.
9 Best Woods For Adirondack Chairs
It is normal and expected to opt for wood readily available within your locality. However, it may not necessarily be ideal for Adirondack chairs.
You might be forced to stretch your scope and budget a bit to find a good choice. Without further deliberation, the following are the best woods for Adirondack chairs.
If durability is your topmost priority, teak is unrivaled. It has been the best wood for Adirondack chairs from its inception.
Teak is aesthetically attractive and does not need any painting to enhance its beauty. The rich golden to dark brown hue stands out proudly with just a coat of polish as a finish.
This wood is water-resistant and repels insects naturally. It won’t decay in moist and saline conditions, making it ideal for Adirondack chairs for relaxing at the lake or beach shore.
Unfortunately, teak is not grown in the US. It is imported from Asian countries. Couple that with its excellent weatherproof properties and outstanding strength, and you have one of the most expensive woods.
Cedar is the most effective softwoods for outdoor furniture, including Adirondack chairs. It possesses all the properties you’ll want in outdoor wood; resistance to water damage, anti decaying, and insect deterrent.
Its color can range from reddish-brown to white when fresh and grows even more beautiful with age, turning a silverish gray color. It stains and paints well too.
Though not as heavy as teak, it is pretty durable and strong. It will dent and scratch when mishandled but serves you a long time when finished.
Cedar comes in a couple of variants but the western red cedar is the best wood for Adirondack chairs and requires minimal maintenance. It is also modestly priced.
Mahogany is an imported wood and is on the high-end of the price range. Other cheaper woods bear the name but are not true mahogany.
It is seriously tough with tight pores and insect and rot resistance. Mahogany is commonly featured in boat making and would function appropriately for Adirondack chairs for outdoor spaces.
Depending on the species, this hardwood is available in multiple hues, from beautiful pink to deep red and brown colors that tend to darken as time passes.
One thing to love about mahogany is that its growth progresses rapidly, making it sustainable. It is widely distributed, ubiquitous, and versatile.
Maintenance is key to keeping the original color and aesthetics of mahogany. It is a suitable luxury alternative to teak and close rivals when it comes to choice.
4. White Oak
Oak is a high-quality hardwood and is one of the most sought-after woods for premium furniture. It is tough, durable, and elegantly smooth after sanding.
Oak is impervious to decay and is also termite resistant. There are two types of oak: red oak and white oak. Red oak is a porous wood and absorbs moisture quickly. It must be oil-sealed regularly.
The white oak has better water resistance capabilities. It has smaller, tighter pores and doesn’t suck up moisture from the surface below, making it ideal for Adirondack chairs to be placed outside.
5. Ipe (Brazillian Walnut)
Ipe wood goes by several names. You might be familiar with Brazilian Walnut or South American ironwood. It is a hardwood that can have anything from a yellow to a brownish reddish hue. It is not only attractive, but its appeal doesn’t fade even after long-term exposure outdoors.
It is resistant to insect infestation and rot and is watertight pored. With a fire retardant grading the same as that of steel, ipe will not deteriorate quickly, even with no finish or treatments.
Ipe wood lasts a good 3-5 decades without any finish or treatment and even much longer when treated, finished, and maintained periodically.
So why isn’t it the top pick? Well, it comes with its fair share of cons. It is overwhelmingly tough, much stronger than teak, so it is extremely difficult to work with.
Cutting and planing ipe is strenuous to tools and even blunts sharp edges. Gluing it on the joints is troublesome. Ipe dust is also highly likely to trigger allergic reactions.
Next to Cedar, Cypress is another softwood deemed fit for the task of building Adirondack chairs. Surprisingly, it is often categorized with hardwoods.
It naturally flourishes in wet mushy surroundings, rendering itself rot-resistant. Perhaps cypress is often grouped with hardwoods because of its slow maturity rate, making it scarce and consequently raising its prices.
Cypress is a beautiful wood with straight grains and free from knots. It has a wide color range from light to dark brown.
Being a softwood, cypress dents and scratches deeply and easily. It must be oiled and sealed with routine maintenance to enhance longevity outdoors. If you plan on making indoor Adirondack chairs, you can leave your cypress untreated.
On the bright side, working with it is such a breeze. It sands, cuts, planes, nails, glues, and screws without too much effort. It is also widely accessible in the US.
Acacia is a readily available wood with abundant plantations in most parts of America and the world. For that reason, it is relatively cheaper than some other hardwoods.
It is a dense wood that is resistant to dents and scratches. Acacia is also water-resistant and easily workable. The wood hues are light to reddish-brown because there are hundreds of species in existence.
While acacia is very durable, it is not suitable for outdoor use unless treated and sealed. Without a protective sealing finish, it is prone to drying out, becoming brittle, and crumbling under pressure. Acacia will also fade and warp with excessive heat and humidity.
Therefore, if you choose to use acacia for Adirondack chairs that will be under the full glare of the sun, rain, and wind, you should be prepared for high maintenance. Otherwise, it is perfect for indoor Adirondack chairs or pieces for your patio.
Eucalyptus is a hardwood massively cultivated in Australia and recently in South America. It is relatively affordable than most other imported hardwoods.
Its rapid maturity makes it a sustainable option and contributes to its versatility for countless wood projects including Adirondack chairs.
To prevent cracking, warping, and other weathering effects, eucalyptus must be regularly maintained. The lumber ought to be cut skillfully and waxed or finished with oil to ensure it is water-resistant.
Occasional sealing, painting, and polishing are quintessential when using eucalyptus. Do this, and your Adirondack chairs could easily pass for some of those made from high-end hardwoods.
If cared for properly, it can be as durable as teak, yet it comes at a lower price tag. Eucalyptus is available in diverse hues with red, brown, and cream varieties.
Last but not least is fir wood. We suggest going with the most popular one, the Douglas fir. It has long been used in building houses from floors to decks and even garden furniture.
It is a favorite for its gorgeous appearance, but is it as durable as it looks? The answer is a resounding yes. Obtained from the coniferous family, Douglas fir is certainly strong enough to make Adirondack chairs for indoor and outdoor use.
Fir is resistant to rotting, decay, and insects and it is fairly waterproof. It doesn’t dry, swell, and warp from fluctuations in temperature, moisture, and pressure. The wood expands and contracts uniformly, maintaining stability.
Without any treatment, it can last for up to a decade. So you can only imagine how long it will live if you treat it. Fir is among the best softwoods for Adirondack chairs, not to mention that it is reasonably priced too.