Modern Outdoor Chairs-Easy to Build and Affordable

May 8, 2024
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Modern outdoor chairs! These sturdy and heavy-duty chairs are great for a patio or deck!

This is my spot! Where you’ll find me all summer long. Hanging out in my modern outdoor chair. The most comfortable spot on my deck.

Looking at starting some outdoor projects this weekend? Be sure to add this one to your list.

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Let’s head over to Home Depot, pick up the wood we need and build 2 modern outdoor chairs. Guaranteed to be one of the easiest DIY projects you’ve ever done.

And the best part!?? Building your own DIY outdoor chairs is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying them in the store. Coming in at less than $75 for TWO chairs! That’s a steal!!

Because of its simplicity and functionality….every summer, these modern chair build plans are one of my most popular.

Did I mention they’re an easy build? Haha! Did I also mention, they’re a solid build? No worries when the winds pick up, these chairs aren’t going anywhere.

Alright, let’s follow my free plans below and get started!

White chair with striped cushions and blanket

Want the warm soft blanket above? Here’s the link

How to Build Modern Outdoor Chairs

Before we jump into the step-by-step directions, let’s talk about a couple important details.

  • The wood we’re going to use
  • And the cushions I chose for my chairs

The Type of Wood I Choose for All of My Builds

I built my first pair of outdoor chairs a few summers ago and am happy to say they have held up great! To withstand northern Indiana winter weather, speaks volumes to their durability.

I might get some frowns from you “true” woodworkers out there, but I use Pine wood for all of my outdoor furniture builds. Why?

  1. I’m not patient! I can’t wait the recommended time to hold off on paint or stain. I want it done NOW!
  2. It’s cheaper than treated wood. And much much much cheaper than the extra cost of specialty wood….Like Cedar or Teak, for example.

So, how do I ensure it will hold up to the outdoor elements? Poly! Poly! Poly! I use a good quality poly (3-4 coats) and have had great success in durability.

Be sure to check out My Featured Video…

My favorite polyurethane is General Finishes High Performance Topcoat.  (It is a bit on the spend-y side, but the quality makes up for the cost).

Oftentimes though, my go-to is Varathane Satin Exterior Poly. And if you want the best of both worlds: Apply 2-3 coats of Varathane first and make your last coat General Finishes.

That will set your mind at ease and your furniture will hold up great outdoors.

Another key to making sure my outdoor furniture lasts for years to come? We cover them every winter with these outdoor waterproof covers.

As for paint….totally up to you! If you have a good poly, you can choose whatever paint you like. 🙂

I chose Rustoleum Linen White Chalk Paint for my modern outdoor chairs…(Amazon Affiliate Links)

But I have since painted them black…Sherwin Williams Black Magic, to be specific…

Outdoor black chair on a deck.

Choosing the Right Outdoor Cushions

When looking at seat cushion options, we need to consider three key factors:

  • Size
  • Durability
  • Price

Size of Cushions for Modern Outdoor Chairs

You’ll need a standard size cushion for these chairs….22″ x 24″.

Durability & Price Matters

While I would love to purchase all of my cushions through Sunbrella, they are more than I want to spend. Great quality, but a pretty penny!

So, instead I bought all of my cushions for my outdoor furniture at Target. They typically have a good selection. And the price point is good too.

Not to mention, they hold up well. We’re in our fourth year of using these outdoor cushions and they’re still firm. Not broken down at all. I’m happy with that!

Note: As you can see in the picture above, the cushions now have new coverings on them. While they are the same cushions as the ones in the picture below, I wanted a new look.

I had a local Amish gal change them up for me. I love the new neutral color. Especially with the black wooden chairs.

outdoor chairs made of pinewood

Alright, let’s get on with the step-by-step process of this build…

As I mentioned before, these chairs fit 22×24 cushions. Here’s a link to the ones I like. 

Seat of chair sits at 11.5″ tall WITHOUT the 6.5″ thick cushion added.

Wood Needed (to build two chairs):

  • 4 – 2x4x10 pine wood boards
  • 2 – 2x4x8 pine wood boards
  • 6 – 2x6x8 pine wood boards
  • 1 – 2x2x8 pine wood boards

Materials Needed:

Tools Needed:

(Amazon Affiliate Links Included)

Important Note: Plans are based on TWO chairs being built

Step One: Rip your boards (Optional)

This step is completely optional. I like to get rid of the manufactured edge on all of my 2x’s before starting any project. It’s the secret sauce to building furniture that looks like it’s straight out of a designer store.

A game-changer, for sure.

While it is a very easy process, it does require a table saw. I’ll share the width I’m ripping my boards down to for this project and then explain how I do this…

All of my 2×4’s will be ripped down to 3 inches. (Originally a 2×4 is 3 1/2″ wide)

And all of my 2×6’s will be ripped down to 5 inches. (Originally a 2×6 is 5 1/2″ wide)

Now for How I Do This: (Here’s a great post on how I give my boards this finished look)

Let’s use the 2×4’s for our example….I want all of my 2×4 boards to be 3″ wide. (Once again, originally a 2×4 is 3 1/2″ wide).

  • I simply set my table saw for 3 1/4″ and rip one side of my 2×4.
  • Then I set my table saw to 3″, flip my board over and rip that side of my board.
  • Now I have a 3″ board with straight edges on both sides.

I’ll do the same thing for my 2×6’s:

I want them at 5″ wide:

  • I simply set my table saw for 5 1/4″ and rip one side of my 2×6.
  • Then I set my table saw to 5″, flip my board over and rip that side of my board.
  • Now I have a 5″ board with straight edges on both sides.

This extra step gets rid of that manufactured curved edge and achieves a straight edge, finished look.

Note: You may notice that I did not take the time to get rid of the manufactured edge on this project. If I make these chairs again, I will be sure to not skip this step. It truly does make a difference in the overall look of your furniture.

Step Two: Make all of your cuts

First, I made my cuts…

2x's cut for project

Cut List:

Note: It’s a good idea to mark each board as you go. Or keep them in their own separate stacks, so you can easily grab them, without having to search for each board.

  • 8 – 2×4’s @ 22 1/4″ (Legs)
  • 12 – 2×6’s @ 25 1/2″ (Side Slats)
  • 4 – 2×4’s @ 28 1/2″ (Arm Rests)
  • 8 – 2×6’s @ 22″ (Front and Back Slats)
  • 2 – 2×4’s @ 22″ (Top of Back)
  • 4 – 2×2’s @ 22 1/2″ (Inside Cleats)
  • 10 – 2×4’s @ 22″ (Seat Slats)

Step Three: Build side pieces

Using your drill and 2 1/2″ wood screws, attach 3 side slats into each leg (as shown below). I used a 3/4″ scrap piece of wood in between each slat to keep them evenly separated….

2x4 attached to 3 2x6's

  • Side slats will be flush with back of 2×4 legs.
  • Top side slat will be flush with top of leg pieces.

You should now have one side piece that looks like this…

2x4 attached to 3 2x6's standing up

Repeat this step four times for 2 chairs…

4 chair legs and armrests

Step Four: Add arm rest

Attach 2×4 arm rest onto each leg, using 2 1/2″ wood screws. As shown below….

2 legs and armrests for chairs

Step Five: Build back of the chair

Using a 3/4″ thick scrap piece of wood to balance each slat, attach each of your 2×6 back slats (3 of them) to each chair…

outdoor chair being built. Sides and back being added

These should be flush to the end of the side slat boards (as shown below). Use 2 1/2″ wood screws to attach.

Back being added to modern outdoor chair

Use a clamp to keep your boards tight. My clamps belonged to my grandfather back in the day, therefore, I was unable to link the exact same ones. However, here’s one very similar. And here’s one a little less expensive, but will still get the job done. (Amazon Affiliate Links)

Step Six: Add front piece (front slat)

Flip chair over and use board to balance: attach front piece (front slat), flush with bottom side slat…

modern outdoor chair turned upside down

Flipped back over, upright…Here’s a view of what the front of the chair should look like now…

frame of modern outdoor chair

Step Seven: Add seat base supports

Attach 2×2’s (inside cleats) at the top of the bottom side slat 2×6 (as shown in the two pictures below). The easiest way to do this is to turn the chair over on its side and attach the 2×2, using 2 1/2″ wood screws.

Then flip to the other side and attach the other 2×2. This provides a support for your seat slats to sit on….

Supports added to frame of seat

Here’s another view of the seat frame with the seat base supports added…

Supports added to seat

Step Eight: Add seat slats

Attach five 2×4 seat slats to your seat slat supports you attached in step 7. Evenly separate each one.

AND add 2×4 (top of back). (See “Cut List” above for reference)….

chair built out of 2x4's and 2x6's

Step Nine: Finishing Touches

There you have it! Two modern outdoor chairs. For our last step, we need to add the finishing touches…

two modern outdoor chairs

WANT TO BUILD AN OUTDOOR SOFA?? HERE ARE THE PLANS!!

Perfect for entertaining or that coveted quiet morning time…

sideview of outdoor chairs on deck with striped blue cushions

And the best part–so affordable.

modern outdoor chair with plants

And for fun–a view of my new chair from a nighttime angle…

Night time view of sitting area on gray deck with a cute coffee table between two chairs

And one more peek at what my chairs look like now. I love the modern look of that black!

Modern outdoor chairs. Black. On a deck

Have you found the perfect place for your new outdoor chairs or have you added this to your upcoming projects list? Either way, I hope you found these modern outdoor chair plans to be helpful.

Look for a more in-depth tutorial coming soon on my YouTube Channel.

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

Be sure to join my VIP List below and never miss an upcoming post.

More great modern outdoor furniture building plans:  

DIY Modern Outdoor Sofa

DIY Outdoor Sectional Sofa

DIY Outdoor Table

 

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