[Updated on 1 June 2020] I’ve been thinking about picking up some new Adirondack chairs for late nights by the fire, but I am finding that the ones that I want coming with a hefty price tag. When you are looking to spend a sizable amount of money on a piece of furniture, you want to make sure that it lasts a long time. I also wanted to make sure to choose a chair that will stay stylish throughout the years. With price and style in mind, I wondered how long do Adirondack chairs last? It took a day of research to find an answer I liked.
What Type of Wood Lasts the Longest?
Different woods have different attributes that dictate their look as well as their durability. To better understand how long a chair will last, you must first understand the differences between the woods with which you are working.
A heavy and durable hardwood, oak will last a long time if cared for properly. The problem with oak is that it is more susceptible than other woods to damage from sun and rain.
Cedar is a durable wood, but not as durable as oak or teak. Cedar does better in wet climates and is resistant to insects and rot. This makes cedar a fantastic wood for cabins in the northern part of the country.
Pine is a beautiful wood, but it won’t last as long as others. It is softer which makes it more susceptible to scratches along with rot and insects.
This is the ultimate wood when you are looking to buy outdoor furniture that will last a lifetime. You will pay a little more for teak, but it is resistant to pretty much anything you can throw at it.
Shorea is rarer than teak, but it shares many of the same properties. It has a beautiful natural finish and natural oil that stays in the wood long after it is cut repelling elements that are harmful to your chair.
Is There a Way to Increase Longevity?
Each wood has its advantages and disadvantages, but there are ways to get around those disadvantages to keep your chair in great condition for a long time.
- Keep it Clean – These chairs are part of many great nights, so there is no doubt that food or beverages will occasionally get spilled on them. If you don’t clean the spills right away the can stain, or even worse, rot the wood. Everyday dirt and grime can also create an inviting home for mold to grow.
- Wood Finish – If you want to keep the furniture’s natural look, but still protect it from the elements it is important to choose a good finish. Some wood stains will keep with the natural look of the wood. Otherwise, you can also find clear finishes that will repel UV rays and keep water out.
- Paint – Perhaps, the best way to protect your outdoor furniture and give it more longevity is to paint it. The paint offers a good seal to keep out insects and rot and also offers protection from the sun.
Paint does have its disadvantage, though. You will lose the natural look of your furniture, and it tends to chip, so you need to recover the chair once or twice a year.
- Storage – If you live in an area where you are not going to use your furniture for part of the year store it in a dry place away from the elements. Cover your furniture to protect it from any pests that may try to make it their home in the offseason.
- Replace Parts as Needed – It won’t happen often, but there is a chance that metal fasteners will become rusted and threaten the integrity of the chair. One or twice a season check the non-wood parts of your chair to make sure that they are holding up and replace any parts that need it.
Do Wood or Plastic Chairs Last Longer?
Something that I haven’t mentioned up to this point is the option of plastic chairs. Plastic chairs are a more economical option than their wood counterparts, and they are a lot lighter and easier to move making them a great option if you host a lot of guests. These chairs are often made to look like real wood, and a more expensive plastic chair will fool the eye into thinking that the material is nicer than it is.
The problem with plastic chairs is that they are highly susceptible to UV rays and they will degrade and break much faster than their wood counterparts. They can’t hold nearly as much weight as wood chairs either. On the other hand, plastic chairs are waterproof and undesirable for bugs.
Plastic chairs are not the worst option in the world, especially if you are looking to save a little money but if you are looking to make a high-style purchase that will last a long time wood is the way to go.
What Do I Do if I See Signs of Wear?
If you start to see signs of wear in your chairs, don’t freak out. A lot of people love the look of naturally weathered chairs, and if you have a more expensive wood like teak or shorea they will take care of themselves without ever needing to be finished. As the wood ages, it will start to dull into gray tones with dark streaks.
It is not uncommon for shallow cracks to form in the wood as it ages. This is not a sign that your chairs are falling apart and will only add a little character to them.
If you notice that your chairs are retaining moisture, it is important to remove them from the elements and allow them to dry. Once they are completely dry, refinish them with a water-resistant finish and allow the finish to dry all the way before putting them back outside.
How Much Do They Cost?
Cost is a major consideration when it comes to choosing one of these chairs. If you are like me, you don’t mind paying a little more if you know that your purchase is an investment. Many factors dictate the price of an Adirondack chair, but the biggest one is the type of wood used.
A decent hardwood chair like cedar or oak will run you about $200 on average, but the price can swing in either direction. A more expensive wood like teak or shorea will run you closer to $700 for a single chair, but it is also the last chair you will ever need to buy.
You can find cheap plastic Adirondack chairs for as little as twenty dollars in some places, but they will usually retail closer to $100. Don’t forget that with these chairs price is almost always connected to the durability of the wood and the craftsmanship that went into its construction.
What About Folding Chairs?
Folding Adirondack chairs have a lot of benefits, the most important being easy storage. Like with any product, the more moving parts it has, the more chances there are for something to break. If you are looking for a chair that is going to last decades, it is a better choice to pick a solid construction chair.
How do I Clean a Chair?
There are some ways to clean your chairs to keep them looking in top shape. Wood cleaners, soap, and water, or a pressure washer are just a few options you have to keep the everyday dirt off your chairs.
Remove the cushion from the chair; these can be machine washed separately if needed. No matter how you choose to clean the chair, start at the top and work your way down, so, the dirty water is always moving away from the clean area.
Once the chair is clean, rinse it again with fresh, clean water to remove any residual dirt or soap. All the chair to air dry completely before replacing the cushions.
Are There Other Accessories to Buy?
Adirondack chairs are great by themselves, but if you are buying a chair that will last a lifetime, you are going to want to buy accessories that match it in style, function, and longevity. A few added pieces to look for when you buy your chairs are side tables, add-on cup holders, and matching footrests.