The Adirondack chair is a simple rustic wooden chair for outdoor use. In the original design it was made with 11 flat wooden boards, with a straight back and seat. It also features wide armrests.
The precursor to today’s Adirondack chair was designed by Thomas Lee in 1903. He was on vacation in Westport, New York, in the Adirondack Mountains, and needed outdoor chairs for his summer home. He tested the first designs on his family. After arriving at a final design for the “Westport plank chair,” Lee offered it to Harry Bunnell, a carpenter friend in Westport, who was in need of a winter income.
Bunnell quickly realized the cape cod chair was the perfect item to sell to Westport’s summer residents, and apparently without asking Lee’s permission, Bunnell filed for and received patent 794,777 in 1905.Bunnell manufactured his plank chairs for the next twenty years. His “Westport chairs” were all signed and made of hemlock in green or medium dark brown.
Today’s Adirondack chairs usually feature a rounded back and contoured seat. The founder of this style seems to be Irving Wolpin who designed his chair as early as 1938 and filed for and received patent 109239.The style has also been translated to other pieces of furniture, from gliders to love seats and tête-à-tête’s. Some modern Adirondack chairs are made out of plastic lumber or engineered wood instead of wood.
When made of wood a variety of types of wood are used. Each type reflects the longevity of the Adirondack chair.
Pine is fine for short term but is not termite resistant and is prone to water damage, mildew and rotting. To make pine last longer be sure to put a good finish on it including a primer and high UV rating top coat. Pine can last longer than a few years but it requires regular maintenance. This is a cheap wood available anywhere and is most often used in third world made products. Watch out for pressure treated pine as the chemicals used in pressure treating can be harmful to your health.
Cedar is the best softwood for longevity as it is naturally impervious to rot and the cedar oils deter insects. Cedar is the choice wood for decks, boardwalks, and such due to its high durability and easy availability in North America as it is a native wood there.
Marks and blemishes can be easily sanded away and cedar can last many generations. If left unfinished it will eventually turn to a soft silvery grey and in a decade small fissures will show up in the wood surface but they do not compromise the strength or life of the wood. There are many species of cedar but the longest lasting of them is western red cedar.
Teak is a very heavy hardwood that can last for generations. Its density creates the heavy weight to this wood and like cedar it is naturally impervious to termites. Teak is imported and not a native wood to North America and with its heavy weight and high demand it is incredibly expensive (up to 3 times the price of products made of cedar, and up to 6 times the price of products made of pine). Teak is difficult to care for as it does not take a stain well.
Adirondack chairs are becoming popular as outdoor seating at cafés because the flat armrests are suitable for setting food and beverages on, making it possible to provide individual seating without tables.
– Reference: Wikipedia