The wide armrests. The long, angled back with slatted seat. Sound familiar? You’re looking at a classic piece of American designed furniture, the Adirondack. Even better, the reclining Adirondack chair adds an extra level of comfort and convenience to the already nearly flawless design. The different types of materials that go into making these chairs exhibit their various pros and cons.
A wooden reclining Adirondack chair is a classic move. When you think of the first chairs, conjured up in the Adirondack mountains back in the 1800s, they were made of wood. The iconic Appalachian "settin" chair is originally also wood. There are different kinds of wood that work, some better suited than others for outdoor use. In general, wood requires yearly maintenance. If you choose to paint it, you may need to reapply every few years, as over time the paint will chip and blister in the sun. This is a somewhat lengthy process that involves stripping the wood down to its surface before repainting. Finished wood requires only the occasional application of oils and stains to keep it looking shiny, as well as waterproof and protected from weather conditions that will cause cracking, rotting, splitting, and warping of the wood, along with an increased chance of infestation and mildew. Teak is one of the best woods on the market because it produces its own resinous oils which do the exact same thing, so they require little upkeep and are much sturdier than some other woods.
Metal is very common among patio furniture retailers, but it doesn’t necessarily translate as well into a reclining Adirondack chair. Its form simply does not cater to it, especially having the long, slatted back. Plus, metal tends to be heavier, and so it wouldn’t be as easy to operate a manual reclining mechanism. Heavier metals like galvanized and wrought iron make for beautiful and old-world tables, chairs and more, but do not convey the same casual, outdoorsy feel of the Adirondack. There is, however, aluminum, a lighter metal in both weight and color, that works well for this style of furniture. The only problem with metal is that it runs the risk of developing rust spots, especially when left out in the rain for prolonged periods. Also, saltwater increases the oxidation process, so a metal reclining Adirondack chair would not be advisable for the beach.
There’s also resin, a specific type of fortified plastic that’s sturdier than other plastic furniture and designed specifically for long-term outdoor use. A resin reclining Adirondack chair can be made to look very much like the wood ones in shape and color. The great thing about synthetic materials is that they can be molded to emulate other materials, like wood, stone, concrete and more. They can also be carved or embossed with any number of patterns and painted with all of the colors in the rainbow. Plus, they’re considerably lighter and cheaper than wooden recliners. Maintenance is also a breeze. The waterproof material can be wiped clean and hosed off with little more than soap and water. On the downside, resin shouldn’t be left out in the sun for long periods on especially hot days, as the plastic could begin to crack, warp, or in the worst case, actually start to melt.