Faceoff – Adirondack Chair Vs Muskoka Chair – which is better?

Faceoff – Adirondack Chair Vs Muskoka Chair – which is better?

[Updated on 1 January 2024] 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 vs Muskoka Chair is better overall.

The easy answer is that there is not much difference in these chairs and you will most likely be happy with whatever you choose. From a sheer popularity standpoint, Adirondack chairs are the way to go, but there are certain situations where Muskoka chairs are a better option than the Adirondack variety. To know which chair is your ultimate choice it helps to have as much information as possible about each design.
I have compiled a list of questions you may have as well as some information on each chair to help you decide which design is best for your needs.

Origins and History

The Adirondack Chair

The story of the Adirondack chair unfolds in the early 20th century, as Thomas Lee found respite in the picturesque Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Inspired by the region’s stunning natural beauty, Lee aimed to design a chair that would maximize the enjoyment of the surroundings for him and his family.

In 1903, Thomas Lee created the original design of the Adirondack chair, which has since become an iconic piece of furniture. The vision was to create a chair that blends comfort seamlessly with the surroundings. Lee’s design introduced a departure from the traditional rigid and upright chairs of the time, bringing a fresh perspective and innovation to the field of furniture design. He designed a unique chair featuring a slanted backrest, a comfortable contoured seat, and wide armrests. An innovative design inspired by the human body’s graceful curves, perfect for long hours of relaxation amidst the breathtaking Adirondack Mountains scenery.

Lee’s chair design offered a remarkable edge over conventional seating choices, presenting a substantial advantage. The low-slung profile of the design provided a comfortable way for people to recline and enjoy stunning views without putting strain on their backs. The wide armrests of this outdoor chair offer a convenient space for resting drinks, books, or snacks, making it an ideal companion for leisurely activities.

Initially, the creation by Lee was named the “Westport chair,” after the town where he lived. The Adirondack chair, originally popular in Westport and the Adirondack Mountains, gained widespread recognition and adoption, becoming known by its iconic name. This iconic outdoor furniture represents relaxation, outdoor living, and an appreciation for the natural world.

The Muskoka Chair

The Muskoka chair is closely related to the Adirondack chair, with intertwined design principles. Although its origins are somewhat mysterious, emerged independently in the rugged landscapes of Ontario, Canada.

This chair, named after Ontario’s Muskoka region, is inspired by the area’s stunning lakes, charming cottages, and dense forests. The Muskoka chair is said to have originated in the early 20th century in the Muskoka region. Inspired by the comfort and practicality of the Adirondack chair, residents of the area created their own version. Canadians customized the design to match their preferences, creating the iconic Muskoka chair.

The Muskoka chair, resembling the Adirondack chair with its slanted backrest, wide armrests, and deep seat, has become an iconic representation of Canadian outdoor culture. The Muskoka chair, much like its American counterpart, is a symbol of leisure and relaxation. It is closely linked to the peaceful lakeside lifestyle that defines the Muskoka region.

The Muskoka chair has become a beloved symbol of Canadian culture, cherished by people from all corners of the country and beyond. It has become a crucial aspect of the country’s cultural identity, representing the pleasures of cottage life, campfires, and relaxation by the water’s edge.

Comfort and Ergonomics

Comfort is crucial when it comes to outdoor seating. The Adirondack chair and the Muskoka chair are renowned for their ability to offer a comfortable and pleasant seating experience. They provide distinct ergonomic features to accommodate different preferences.

Adirondack Chair

The Adirondack chair is celebrated for its remarkable comfort and ergonomic design. Let’s delve into the reasons behind its popularity:

1. Slanted Backrest: The slanted backrest is one of the defining characteristics that sets the Adirondack chair apart. Its unique design adds both style and comfort to this iconic piece of furniture. This ergonomic design provides an optimal combination of comfort and lumbar support, allowing you to recline with ease and maintain excellent posture. The backrest angle supports and comforts your spine, promoting a relaxed and comfortable seating experience.

2. Spacious Seat: The seat of the Adirondack chair is remarkably spacious. This seating option offers generous space for comfortable sitting, with the option to enhance it further by adding cushions or pillows for added softness and support.

3. Wide Armrests: The wide armrests of the Adirondack chair serve a functional purpose, not just for aesthetics. These wide armrests are ideal for arm resting or holding various items like books, drinks, or snacks. They enhance the chair’s comfort and usability.

4. Natural Contours: The Adirondack chair is designed to follow the body’s natural shape, providing extended sitting comfort. It invites you to settle in and unwind, which promotes relaxation and encourages a sense of calm.

5. Optional Reclining: Some Adirondack chairs have a reclining feature for adjustable backrest angles. Customization enhances comfort by enabling you to find the perfect position for relaxation.

Muskoka Chair

The Muskoka chair and the Adirondack chair have similar ergonomic features, but they differ in terms of comfort:

1. Upright Seating Position: The Muskoka chair differs from the Adirondack design by providing a more upright seating position, as opposed to a slightly reclined posture. This position is ideal for individuals who prefer sitting upright and engaging in conversation rather than reclining fully.

2. Deep Seat: The Muskoka chair, similar to the Adirondack chair, is designed with a deep seat for ultimate comfort, allowing you to relax and fully embrace its cozy embrace. The seat offers spaciousness for relaxation and flexibility in seating posture.

3. Wide Armrests: The Muskoka chair, like the Adirondack chair, features wide armrests that can be used as convenient platforms for your arms or personal items.

4. Comfort in Conversation: The Muskoka chair’s upright posture is ideal for socializing and engaging in conversations. This choice is suitable for gatherings around a fire pit or dining table and promotes face-to-face conversation and engagement.

5. Versatility in Use: The Muskoka chair’s versatile design offers both relaxation and functionality. It can be used for outdoor events, as a dining chair, or as additional seating.

Maintenance and Durability

Investing in outdoor furniture requires choosing options that offer both comfort and durability in different weather conditions. Get an in-depth understanding of the maintenance and durability of the Adirondack chair and the Muskoka chair in this closer look:

Adirondack Chair

Durability:

Adirondack chairs are commonly made from sturdy woods like cedar, pine, teak, or mahogany. Cedar is a famous choice for its natural resistance to decay and insects.

Adirondack chairs are constructed with corrosion-resistant hardware, ensuring long-lasting durability. High-quality Adirondack chairs can endure for years with minimal maintenance.

Maintenance:

  • It’s essential to clean it regularly to keep your Adirondack chair looking its best. Use a solution of mild soap and water with a soft brush to easily remove dirt and grime.
  • Many owners opt to seal or stain their Adirondack chairs to safeguard the wood from moisture and UV damage, although it is not strictly required. Performing this maintenance task can help prolong the lifespan of the chair while ensuring its appearance remains intact.
  • Over time, Adirondack chairs may develop wear or rough spots. The chair’s smooth texture and appearance can be restored by sanding and refinishing the wood.

Storage:

Some Adirondack chairs are foldable or stackable, providing convenient storage options for the off-season or harsh weather conditions. Storing Adirondack chairs in a dry, covered area during the winter can extend their lifespan.

Painted vs Natural Finish:

  • Adirondack chairs come in different finishes. Natural wood appeals to some, while others choose painted versions in classic colors like white, green, or red. Painted chairs may need touch-ups to keep their appearance intact.

Muskoka Chair

Durability:

Muskoka chairs, often made from durable woods like cedar, are a popular choice for outdoor furniture due to cedar’s natural resistance to decay and insects.

Like Adirondack chairs, Muskoka chairs are built to endure outdoor elements and can provide years of use with proper maintenance.

Maintenance:

  • Regularly clean your Muskoka chair with a mild soap & water solution with a soft brush to maintain its cleanliness and freshness.
  • Adirondack chairs and Muskoka chairs can be sealed or stained to preserve their wood and protect them from the elements. This helps maintain their appearance and durability.
  • Over time, Muskoka chairs with natural wood finishes develop a beautiful gray patina, adding to their charm and character. While some people embrace the aging process, others opt to preserve the original appearance by staining or sealing.

Storage:

  • Muskoka chairs, similar to Adirondack chairs, are not stackable or foldable. Therefore, storage should be considered during the off-season or bad weather.

Painted vs. Natural Finish:

  • Muskoka chairs are offered in painted and natural wood finishes, providing options to suit different style preferences. Painted chairs may need occasional touch-ups to preserve their color.

What’s the Big Difference?

Adirondack_Muskoka-Big-differenceBoth 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.

  • Adirondack_Great-investmentA 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?

Adirondack_AccessoriesThese 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?

Materials Used 

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. It is important to know which woods work best for your region as some woods fair better in specific environments.

Adirondack_Care-upkeepCare 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.

Price

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?

Adirondack_made from Pine-wood
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.

Related Questions

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?

Adirondack_chairs-stylesOf 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.
Adirondack_pressure-washer
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. It 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.

Conclusion

The Adirondack and Muskoka chairs are durable and long-lasting, requiring proper maintenance to ensure years of use. Routine cleaning, sealing or staining, and proper storage during adverse weather conditions are crucial to preserve the longevity and appearance of Adirondack and Muskoka chairs. Choose the Adirondack or Muskoka chair for years of outdoor relaxation, enjoying the beauty of your outdoor space with confidence in its durability against the elements.