[Updated on 1 December 2020] Spring is right around the corner, and I’m looking to updated my patio set. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted until I started searching for seating and found that the answer was not as clear cut as it seemed. I wanted an Adirondack Chair, but through a bit of research I came across the Muskoka chair; a similar design but just different enough to have its name. Both the chairs are the type of Westport chair, so named for Westport in New York by Thomas Lee. Though many people interchange the names of these two designs, there are a few key differences that set them apart. So, I started to wonder if the Adirondack Chair or Muskoka Chair is better overall.
What’s the Big Difference?
Both of these chair designs have the same general shape. They sport short legs, angled seats, tall backs, and wide arms that are perfect for balancing a cool drink. The biggest differences are the Adirondack chairs a little wider and higher off the ground than the Muskoka variety making them better for larger bodied individuals. The higher legs of the Adirondack also make this chair a little easier to get out of for those with weak knees and backs or people who otherwise have a tough time getting up. One other unique feature that sets these two apart is the yoke on the back of the chair. The wood beam that stabilizes the back of the chair is straight on an Adirondack Chair and curved on a Muskoka which is a notable design difference, but it doesn’t affect the function of the chair.
Why Choose One of These Chairs?
With so many options for outdoor seating, you may be wondering why to choose one of these chairs that can be significantly more expensive than plastic patio chairs. There are so many reasons why but I have highlighted a few that prove why Adirondacks and Muskokas are the best choices for outdoor living.
- A Great Investment – Unlike plastic chairs that quickly succumb to environmental factors, wooden Adirondack and Muskoka chairs will last for years. A chair made from a premium wood like Teak can last for 70 years or more with little upkeep.
- Sturdy – These chairs can hold a lot more weight than a plastic patio chair or camping chair. This is great for larger bodied individuals or the parent that ends up with at least one kid and a dog on their lap while relaxing.
- Made for Relaxation – Patio chairs are ok for sitting around a fire pit or patio table, but when it comes to relaxing and enjoying the outdoors the slanted design of Adirondack and Muskoka chairs is unbeatable.
- Aesthetics – These chairs look much better than other options. They make a statement and set look fantastic in your backyard when they are not in use.
Does Either Chair Have Accessories?
These chairs are awesome by themselves, but if you are looking for the ultimate in design and relaxation, there are a few more items you will want to buy with your chairs. One common accessory that often sells with these pieces is a footstool that elongates the chair and makes it even better for relaxing. There are also side tables that are perfect for resting drinks and snacks on, and some of these chairs even come with clip-on drink holders that are perfect for a wine glass. It’s always a good idea to get any accessories you need at the same time you get the chairs to make sure that they are made from the same wood and finish.
It’s not just about making your chairs look good, its also about making the chairs as comfortable as possible. To do that you can add cushions that are made specifically for these chairs or everyday pillows along with headrests and back support if needed.
What Should I Consider When Comparing Chairs?
When comparing which chair to buy, the first thing you want to look at is the type of material that is used to construct the piece. These chairs are best and last the longest when they are wood. Not all wood is the same though, and it is important to know which woods work best for your region as some woods fair better in specific environments.
Care and Upkeep
Once you have your options narrowed down, an important factor to consider is the care and upkeep of whichever chair you choose. Different materials need different care and knowing how much upkeep you will have to do to keep the chairs looking nice may make your choice for you.
Weight and Size
Depending on your space and your needs, the weight and size of your chair are important. If you plan on moving these chairs around a lot you are going to want a lighter wood. Remember that Adirondack chairs are slightly larger than true Muskoka chairs so if you are tight on space the Muskoka would be the way to go.
Since their designs are so similar price should not be a noteworthy factor when comparing these chairs, but it is always good to double check. If you do see a large gap in prices, take a closer look to see what is making one significantly more or less expensive.
How Much Do They Cost?
These chairs can cost anywhere from $100 to upwards of $1,000 if you are willing to invest in them. A lot of the cost is due to the kind of wood used in the construction of the chair, but there are a few more factors involved.
For overall look and longevity, you want a beautiful hardwood like teak or shorea, but they come with a price. Chairs made from these woods go for $700 on average. If that price seems a little steep for you, don’t worry you can get chairs much cheaper. Chairs that use softer woods like pine cost closer to $150 to $200, though they take significantly more annual care which will add to their cost of ownership over time.
Other factors that dictate the price are whether the chair is bought solid or needs assembly, whether the chair folds which requires extra hardware and any other accessories you buy at the same time.
Why Not Buy a Cheaper Chair?
Buying a cheaper chair will save you from having to do the research and comparisons, but it is going to cost you a lot more money in the long run. Buying an Adirondack or Muskoka is an investment that will last you a decade or more while cheaper patio or camping chairs rarely last two years. The wood chairs are also much more comfortable than a plastic chair that won’t recline.
Are There Any Other Chair Styles to Look For?
Of course, there are hundreds of different styles, designs, and materials to choose from, but none are going to treat you as well as the chairs above. Adirondacks and Muskokas are built to offer maximum comfort and last a lifetime with proper care. So, yes, there are other chair styles out there but, in my opinion, they are not worth your time.
How Do I Care for One of These Chairs?
Depending on the type of wood used, there are a few steps you should take to care for your chairs.
Hardwood chairs need little to no care at all because they produce oils long after they have been cut down. This oil protects the wood from external elements including sun, water rot, and pests.
Softer woods like pine and oak need a little more care to remain in good shape. For these woods, you will want to finish them once a season with paint or a wood finish that protects the wood from the elements. If you are going long periods without using the chairs, it is always best to store them someplace dry to prevent further damage from the elements.
For any wood, the best thing you can do is to give it a good wash every once in a while. Keeping your chairs clean keeps the grime off of them that can get into the crevices and cause problems and makes them look as new as the day you bought them. You can do this easily with a rag, soap, and water, but the best way to clean any patio furniture along with your patio itself is with a pressure washer. These machines blast away dirt without using harsh and potentially dangerous chemicals.