How to Choose Outdoor Club Chairs

Outdoor club chairs are comfortable outdoor seating that imitate the 19th-century club chairs. Furnish your patio with a set of beautiful club chairs and your outdoor living area instantly turns from just functional to classy.

What's the history of the Club Chair?

Club chairs originated in England and France. Suitable for a single gentleman to sit comfortably, they were often found in gentlemen’s clubs during the 19th century. Originally, they were upholstered with lambskin. The square, supportive design became popular and soon the chairs were available with less expensive coverings.

From the Club to the Poolside

None of these original upholstery types would be suitable for outdoor club chairs. Philippe Starck, a designer from the 70s & 80s, developed the Bubble Club chair. These chairs were constructed of polyethylene molded into the familiar club chair style, and were accompanied by a molded sofa. Impervious to damp, they were the first outdoor club chairs.

Today’s Outdoor Club Chairs

You will find no shortage of outdoor club chair styles for your patio or garden. Access any catalog listing “outdoor club chairs” and you will find chairs that have the traditional arm and back styles created from a wide variety of modern materials. Weather-resistant outdoor fabric selections with UV resistance create added options for upholstery.

Not all club chairs are upholstered all over. In fact, the outdoor chairs frequently have a wicker, metal, wood or synthetic framework with seat and back cushions that can be removed. This keeps the cushions from getting wet with rain or dew, and allows sturdier materials, such as metal, to be left outside all year round.

Brown Wicker Rattan Steel Outdoor Patio Chair With Cushions
Brown Woven Outdoor Patio Chair With Cushion
Charcoal Metal Patio Chair With White Cushions
Brown Wicker Rattan Steel Outdoor Wicker Patio Chair With Beige Cushions
Metal Outdoor Club Patio Chair With Cushions
Natural Stained Acacia Solid Wood Armchair

What to look for when buying outdoor club chairs?

A Chair That Fits You

If possible, visit an outlet or department store that displays the brand or type of chair that you like. Any comfortable chair should allow you to place your feet flat on the ground. When you sit back in the chair, it should support your back and thighs while allowing your knees to bend easily. Your knees should not be pushed up above your thighs, nor should your feet dangle.

To order online, measure from the back of your knee to the floor, and from the back of the knee to a vertical line at your back. You should be able to fit comfortably between the arms without pressure. In fact, there should be enough room to add a decorative cushion.

A Chair That Matches or Coordinates with Your Patio or Garden Décor

If you have rustic furniture, then you might want a chair made with wood or wicker. But you might be able to get away with a simply constructed metal chair that echoes the shape of your other outdoor relaxation area.

If your garden has a rustic bench with iron scrollwork at the ends, and a wooden seat, then you might want your club chair to reflect that style. All you need to bring it into being a club chair is to add indoor/outdoor seat and back cushions.

The Right Chair for The Area

If you have a roofed patio or balcony area, you can get away with having club chairs that are more permanently upholstered. It’s still a good idea to have indoor/outdoor upholstery. Even covered areas can sometimes have rain or snow blow in on them.

For a poolside area, those classic bubble chairs are perfect, and so are molded plastic chairs. If you want something a little posher, add those wonderful removable cushions that are upholstered with indoor/outdoor fabric.

Black Plastic Weatherproof Patio Chair
Black Gray Taupe Plastic Arm Chair With Black Cushion
Natural Teak Solid Wood Patio Chair With Beige Cushions
Brown Acacia Solid Wood Patio Chair With Polyester Blend Cushions
Light Gray Solid Wood Outdoor Patio With Dark Gray Cushions

What are the best materials for outdoor club chairs?

  • Wicker: Excellent for roofed patios or porches. Often having sturdy bamboo frames with decorative rattan weaving, these chairs are airy and cool when compared to overstuffed chairs of the same design. Cushions can be added separately and brought in out of the weather.
  • Iron Scrollwork and Wood: This is an ever-popular choice for outdoor furniture. With weather-resistant wood, they provide comfortable seating for many years. They are not quite as comfortable as wicker, but are more durable.
  • All Metal Lawn Chair Style: These are a classic porch or lawn chair style that does fall into the club chair classification. Add a removable seat or back pad, and you are all set to relax in the shade.
  • Molded Plastic: The ubiquitous molded plastic lawn chair, which is both weather and water-resistant, is also modeled after the comfortable club chair. Useable with or without a fabric pad, they offer inexpensive, quick, and often stackable, seating for parties, unexpected guests, or a place to relax by your garden or pool.
  • Barrel Chairs: What did our ancestors do with a surplus of used and possibly leaky barrels? They made chairs out of them. Cut away half of one side of the barrel, take off the top and transfer it to its middle to use as a seat, and add a comfortable cushion. Voila! You have a club chair. For those of us a little less handy, you can purchase barrel chairs that look like barrels or that simply use the shape as a style.
  • Adirondack Style: While this might be stretching it a little, you can get club chairs that are made similarly to the famed Adirondack lawn chair in that they are constructed out of milled lumber and use slats for the back and seats.
Natural Stained Acacia Solid Wood Folding Adirondack Chair
Green Metal Steel Barrel Chair With Cushions
Gray Polypropylene Plastic Patio Chair
Natural Teak Solid Wood Patio Chair With White Cushions
Cherry Pie Metal Lounge Chair
Gray Wicker Rattan Metal Patio Chair With Cushions

What are the fabrics for outdoor club chair upholstery and cushions?

Although the originals were upholstered in leather, outdoor club chairs do better with a durable frame and all-weather fabric removable cushions. There is a huge variety of durable, colorful fabrics available for use as outdoor chair cushions. Listed below are just a few of them.

  • Ottertex Waterproof Canvas: Sturdy, made with a plastic PVC backing, this polyester fabric is both waterproof and mold and mildew resistant. It’s UV resistant for up to 500 hours in the sun and is often used to make covers for boat seats. Available in more than 20 solid colors, you can easily select a color for your club chair cushions or upholstery.
  • Richland Fresca Polyester Fabrics: Want something brighter for your cushions and upholstery? This company puts out a line of brilliant print polyester fabrics that are suitable for outdoor cushions and upholstery. It’s a little stiff, but is durable for up to 1000 rubs, and UV resistant for up to 500 hours of sunlight exposure. This is nice enough to be used indoors, as well, especially where you have pets or active children.
  • Sunbrella Outdoor Fabrics: This is another big brand name for outdoor fabrics. Available in solids, prints, checks, stripes, and nearly any design color or print you can imagine, this is another fabric that is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

    Their fabrics come in a variety of weights, as well, ranging from heavy polyester canvas to vinyl mesh sling fabric. Most Sunbrella fabrics are rated for 2000+ sunlight hours, are soft and flexible for easy home sewing if desired, and are easy to clean as well as being mold and mildew resistant.

  • Phifertex Wicker Weaves: PVC wicker weave threads are ideal for slings and umbrellas, not quite so ideal for cushions and seat backs, but a good fabric for seat and back supports.

You can get away with slightly less durable materials when furnishing a covered patio or porch.

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